|A Guy Called Gerald: The Big Time|
Who is this guy who calls himself A Guy Called Gerald? What is a 'Voodoo Ray'? Why can't you drink 'Hot Lemonade'?
To find the answers to these questions and many more, I got in touch with the man himself, twenty-two year old house music maestro Gerald.
"I like the anonymity of not using my surname. I also like the idea of confusing lots of people all over the country." Says Mancunian Gerald.
Can you imagine the fuss and bother it must have caused when hip punters all around England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales decided to go out and buy Gerald's record?
Hip punter: "Hello, I'd like a record by A Guy Called Gerald."
Shop assistant: "Any Gerald in particular?"
Hip punter: "Yes, A Guy Called Gerald."
Shop assistant: "I'm afraid I'm going to need a bit more information than that."
Hip punter: "Look under 'Voodoo Ray' will you."
Shop assistant: "Who's he, some-one out of Black Sabbath or the Cult or something?"
Hip punter: "Look I'll just have 'Hot Lemonade' if you don't mind."
Shop assistant: "I'm sorry but this is a record shop, not a cafe."
See what I mean? For those of you who are still confused, 'Voodoo Ray' is the name of a single by an artist calling himself A Guy Called Gerald and 'Hot Lemonade' is the name of his album. 'Voodoo Ray' is so called, because it's a bewitching tune, of course. And 'Hot Lemonade'? Over to Gerald again.
"You know when you leave a glass of lemonade lying out in the sun and you go back to it after a couple of hours and you pick it up, thinking it's going to taste alright, then you sip it and . . . YUCK. Well, I thought straight away after I'd finished the album, that it would be a great name." He laughs. That's not a very good plug for yourself is it? "No, but it doesn't matter people are still buying the album."
A year after, Gerald's 'Voodoo Ray' E.P. was a smash hit in the clubs, it received almost non stop airplay, and hey presto, it had a second life and bounded straight into the top 20. But despite his success, Gerald isn't as rich as you'd expect him to be. In fact he still has to walk or ride on buses to get to his gigs.
"The guy who owns the record label that 'Voodoo Ray' is on can't be bothered to pay me. He's paid everyone else on the label for their work, but it's like he's taken exception to me personally. I want you to print his name, he's called Peter Ley and the record label is called Rham."
In fact, things are so bad for Gerald, that on the day of this interview he had to pack all his belongings, including his musical hardware and move back into his mother's house because his land-lord boarded up his flat, after he failed to pay the rent.
"It's really bad," complains Gerald "I've just decorated the place with my girlfriend and now we have to move. Of course I understand that my landlord has every right to chuck us out, but it's still very hard on us and embarrassing all the same. This Peter Ley guy has the nerve to call my managers, Terry Hollingsworth and Jerry Hempstead rip off merchants. He hasn't even paid them for the promotion work they did for 'Voodoo Ray', it's a really shoddy way to treat people. I'd set my heart on all this wonderful new equipment with the royalties from the record, but as it is I've got to stay with the little I have got. It's all quite low-budget, my set up, but it's worked for me.
With the 'Voodoo Ray' E.P. I really needed a BPM (Beat Per Minute) Counter because the tempo fluctuates from 119 -120 bpms; it's only one beat, but it's enough to piss some djs off."
Gerald says that he now has little more than he started off with, which is a little more than the bare essentials. "I started making music for myself when I was about 16 or 17 years old. I saved up and bought a Roland 303 Bassline and a 606 Drum machine. Then I decided I wanted to do full tracks that people could dance to, so I got myself a SH-101 Keyboard (the one I used on 'Voodoo Ray' in fact), and an 808 drum machine."
"I borrowed a sampler, an S9-50 Akai from a group called Chapter, who are also on Rham Records." "Before the guys from Chapter taught me what to do with a sampler I didn't have a clue. When they showed me that you could simple things backwards on it, it just blew me, and I had to incorporate that into my sound straight away."
"On 'Voodoo' you can hear a girl called Nicola singing. We into a studio in Manchester called Johnny Roadhouse and she sang everything normally and I put her voice into the S9-50 and reversed it.
"On 'Rhapsody In Acid', I've sampled some Tibetan Monks chanting and used their voices for the basis of the song. The sequencer I use is the ASO-10". Gerald first started recording tracks at his mother's house after school. Local groups such as the Ruthless Rap Assassins, Nicola and the Scratch Beat Masters used to turn up on his doorstep and disturb Gerald's parents and the neighbours until the wee small hours.
"I think my mother was quite relieved when I left," chuckles Gerald, "the poor woman's going to have to cope with me all over again."
As well as his work for Rham records, Gerald has recorded a soundtrack for a book (yes, you read right) which is out on CBS Records.
"The soundtrack is four tracks long and the book's called 'Trip City' by Trevor Miller."
A four track long soundtrack? Either these tracks are very long, or the books very short, which one is it? "The tracks are normal 12" mix length and the book is your normal paperback size, you can choose whether you want to just set the scene with the soundtrack or keep rewinding it and playing it while you read. I'm really happy with the way the soundtrack turned out, CBS put up the money for the studio time, and did things the way they were meant to be. It was a breath of fresh air after having so many problems."
Amongst other people, Gerald has had problems with another Manchester group called 808 State (after the drum machine), who he claims tried to rip him off. However he got his own back after they phoned him and gave him some verbal abuse. "I've recorded everything they said, and I'm going to put it to music and release it as a track, and call it 'So You Wanna Hear 808 State'. I don't think they'll be as popular as they are now when people hear what they say in unguarded moments. I'm releasing the track to teach them a lesson and as a warning to other people who fancy taking me for a ride. This experience with Peter Ley and Rham Records has really toughened me."