|Records That Changed A Guy Called Gerald|
January / February 1995
A bit of a change for this issue. Gerald Simpson had picked out a few artists and tracks prior to this interview (Miles Davis' 'Taboo', Herbie Hancock's 'Rockit', Afrika Bambaataa's 'Planet Rock', Various projects by Goldie) but instead went off on a jazz-style freeform journey through the 'music and scenes that changed his life' taking in contemporary dancing, clarinet doodling, graffiti tagging and good old acid house along the way. His present pitstop is jungle - check out his sophisticated take on the genre on his new album 'Black Secret Technology'. Gerald is Mancunian born and bred but the city's ignorance of jungle culture is making a future move to London look likely. "Manchester is like that film 'The Stepford Wives' everyone that goes to the clubs dressing in similar clothes and not looking like they're really enjoying themselves..."
The early years - jazz, a kid and his clarinet
"'Tap Step' by Chick Corea, that was the first jazz record I was given . I got into it through jazz dancin'. I was too young to go to clubs so I used to listen to the radio and tape things off the radio. How old was I? About thirteen, it was the early-eighties. I liked the flavour I was getting from Chick Corea, he's really experimental, freeform, electronic, classical - there's loads of styles in there. From that lead I dug deeper and got into some of his earlier stuff like 'Return to Forever' and various L.Ps. I go for certain tracks, there's one on the 'No Mystery' L.P called 'Sophistifunk' that was like acid! Using all those keyboards and bass - acidy. From Chick I got into Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock all those pioneers. I really considered taking up music then but I didn't know how to..I had a clarinet which I just used to doodle about with - a closet clarinet player! My mates were into early rap but I had a passion for this kind of music. From the clarinet I moved onto bass, messin' about with that, used to do a lot of slappin' and pickin'...from there I got a drum machine so that I could play along to it. I got so into the music that I got into doing contemporary dance and classical dance.
From there I got into Airto Maria which was just like percussion and Brazilian kind of stuff. I got more into my drum machine - it was just one of those little Roland things. I tried to get Brazilian sounds out of it when I used to jam. Then I got into taping what I was doing, playing it back and playing records over the top, that's when I put my bass down and got into playing records with the drum machine."
The hip hop electro thang - DJ Ski and his mam's rockin' loft
"Round that time Run DMC were coming out with their first L.P. I got into them - Jammaster Jay the scratcher, I used to try and scratch on me Mums Amstrad - J-j Jam master Jay! That swung me 'round into listening to hip-hop. I stopped doing classical and contemporary dance and got into breakdancin'. I got into the electro side more than anything. I started a group thing with me and my mates called Scratch Beat Masters - got hold of two turntables and started doing a bit of mixing, scratching, putting some drum machines over it . We used to do youth clubs and all that business. Used to go down to Bagley Hall and do breakdancin' down there. 'Round that time there were other groups Street Machine, Broken' Glass. I got into all sides of it including graffiti. My graffiti tag? DJ Ski. In those days you had to have one of them names.
I moved all the stuff out the attic at me Mums and built these speakers. There was a building site across the road, robbed a load of board from there, there was a music shop in town - I can't mention the name of it - robbed some speakers from there and built these big massive speakers. Got an amp to power the speakers, echo chamber - got one of them, got some more speakers. In the end we had like a full-on P.A in the attic. Put the turntables in the middle and sat in there all day cuttin' and scratchin' - all that kind of business. We had a challenge with a local sound system called The Spinmasters and totally wasted 'em. We'd get hold of an 808 drum machine and five or six sets of double decks! It took place at the Salvation Army, we rigged it all up in there and turned it up and got to scratchin' and cuttin', then half way through stuck the drum machine in and totally devastated 'em! That 808 bass drum...wasted'em. (The Spinmasters ironically went on to become '808' State).
Transmat stuff, Voodoo Ray - acid house mate!
"I hooked up with the Rap Assasins, we used to go back to my house and jam. I got more into the production side and started to get hold of little drum machines and keyboards and an acid machine, I had one of them before acid, which I used for more hip hop tracks with MC Tunes. Then I heard some stuff on the radio - Stu Allen's show - one of the first Chicago acid tracks and I thought 'hang on it sounds like some of the stuff I'm doing!' So I got hold of a little four-track and started doing these tapes and I went into Spin Inn one day and played the tape to Kenny Grogan and he passed it onto Stu Allen - next thing my tapes playing on the radio, I was dead chuffed. Someone heard it who was signed to Rham records in Liverpool so I started doing stuff for them. At the time I was working with this girl called Nichola, I was doing a soul track with her, she came in the studio and I was spinning off one of my tracks and we thought why doesn't she do a bit of singing on it? I reprogrammed the track and it became 'Voodoo Ray'. It went on to sell 500 copies in Eastern Bloc in its first week and escalated from there.
"I was heavily into all the Transmat stuff, it's what influenced me into getting into it in the first place as I felt it was similar to what I was doing, though the Transmat stuff was on a different plane. Even now listening to it, it's on a different level. The reason 'Voodoo Ray' didn't sound totally acid was because I was trying to make it sound more like what was happening in Detroit but it came out wrong (laughs). I was really heavily into all Derrick May tuff, still am."
A Guy Called Gerald's 'Black Secret Technology' is out on his own Juice Box label in February.
[Author: Jockey Slut]