Israeli EDM Sensation Guy Gerber Talks Working With Diddy, Lil Wayne, and Drake
Guy Gerber is that rare breed of electronic dance music producer who's always done his own thing. And "Stoppage Time," his 2004 breakthrough hit on John Digweed's Bedrock label, was a slice of epic big-room techno that became a global club anthem and continues to sell by the truckload.
Today, Gerber has stepped straight into the mainstream by collaborating with hip-hop artists like Diddy, Lil Wayne, and Drake. The latter is widely featured on a new mystery album that has fans eagerly awaiting its release. In the meantime, Gerber's new EP Isolar is out on Supplement Facts June 27, and he's touring North America in support of the release with a requisite stop at the Electric Pickle this Saturday.
Crossfade: You're a former pro soccer player. How did you end up in the EDM game?
Guy Gerber: Well. I still love soccer even though my team Maccabi Tel Aviv really sucks these days. It's just that when I was 16, it seemed easier to get girls while playing guitar rather than scoring goals. When I grew up, I realized it was a mistake. Later, I felt that in electronic music I could find my own voice because the genre is still evolving and the borders are yet to be defined.
What can you tell us about the EDM scene in Israel? Did it have any bearing on the development of your sound?
When I started, the scene was huge and we had the best DJs coming every week, like Richie Hawtin or Derrick May and Deep Dish, that were amazing. But the more I progressed with my skills, the vibes in the parties were changing because of the political changes in the area. When I actually gained international recognition, the situation was pretty bad in Israel and I felt like I have to carry the flag on my own. The good thing about it is that since there wasn't a real scene of producers who were making my kind of music, it left me free to do whatever I wanted rather than being in Berlin or Paris and being tied to the particular sound of that city. My biggest influence of the area will be the Mediterranean sea that is there all the time, with its clear blue.
What prompted your recent move to Madrid?
My beautiful girlfriend, who I love so much.
You're known for your compex melodic arrangements. How do you typically approach a track from inspiration to completion?
Well, I try not to repeat myself, so I don't have a particular approach. But in general, my creation is based on jamming rather than thinking, in order to bypass the things that I know and to look for a more inner, raw feeling. But one thing that always leads me is that until the melody gives me that emotional rush, I don't stop. It's really the best moment in the world for me. To sit for hours and to know that everything sounds good but not good enough and insisting on continuing to work for hours and hours. And then all of a sudden comes something that is much more magical and then I know that it was worth staying in the studio all night.
And how has your production and performance M.O. evolved over the years?
Well, I would say that musically I transfomed my live act from one hour long to an almost never-ending experimental DJ set that is based on my music and I would say that the beats are constantly changing. The way I see it is that in the studio I make more pop and indie these days because I'm less intrested in producing techno. But I do work on adding more musical stems to my live act, so when I play in the club I still have fresh music to play to the people. I also started using some polyphonic analog synths. And for next year, hopefully, I will have a whole new structure. But I'm still working on it.
How did you first hook up with Sean "Diddy" Combs? And what can you tell us about the new mystery album you collaborated on?
Well, he just called me one day and said that he loved my music and sampled one of my tracks for the intro of his album, and asked me to come to New York and hang out in the studio. At this point, he didn't know what he wanted. But I was just working out some beats and some musical landscapes and he was totally into it, even though the music was really deep and weird. Then he said, why don't I make a whole remix version of his album Last Train to Paris, some kind of a more underground interpretation. And I decided to take the opportunity to make something really different. I have to say that Puff really inspired me and pushed me to the limit. And I just took some time off touring and started making music that I'd never done before, and he was really supporting whatever I was doing. I think that is just great that he could have this vision about the whole project.
You have also collaborated with Lil Wayne and Drake. What draws you to work with such mainstream hip-hop icons? Are you trying to crossover to their side? Or bring a different sound to the underground EDM scene?
I'm trying to make music that can show that mainstream music can be as dark, deep, and intriguing as an afterparty that has been going for three days and no one knows when it's gonna end.
You were part of the Visionquest label showcase and Sunday School lineups this past March. What were some of the highlights of Miami for you that week?
Well, that Visionquest party was great. Visionquest are such close friends and I was so happy to play with the. Sunday School was also great like always, and I would just say that I love Miami, just as it is. I find it very inspiring with the colors, the flamingos, the palm trees, the bodybuilders, the dolphins. I really do like this place.
It's ironic how you often refer to your Supplement Facts label as merely a 'hobby' considering its quality releases and success over the years. What do you have in store for the label next?
Well, I like to be ironic. I think life would be boring without irony. In reference to describing the label as a hobby, I meant that my main thing is to make music, while most label owners base their careers on signing other people's music. But after almost four years, I am slowly starting to get to where I wanted. And that is to release albums rather than just club tracks. We have just signed David Kemoun with his extraordinary music, also a band called Millennium that is a project of the guys from Renaissance Man, and also a fabulous piece of music from No Regular Play. And of course, we have a big tune coming this month from dOP called "Mix Ur Sex."
What else do you have going on the rest of the year?
Well, still finishing the "mystery album," but I just started working on a new project with Juanita Bell from the band Howling Bells. I will also release two EPs on Supplement Facts and I'm touring heavily all summer. But I definitely will be making a lot of more music.
Guy Gerber. Saturday, May 28. Electric
Pickle, 2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Doors open at 11 p.m. Ages 21 and up.
Call 305-456-5613 or visit electricpicklemiami.com.
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