Guy Gerber is an electronic music artist who can frustrate the short-attention-span masses used to the nonstop aural pop shots of top festival DJs such as David Guetta, Afrojack and Deadmau5.
His sound is ethereal and groovy, sublime and cinematic, optimistic and airy. The Israeli artist's work has been featured on John Digweed's Bedrock label, and he often spins with Diggers and his longtime musical affiliate, Sasha. In fact, Gerber is opening for Sasha in a Saturday lineup at Avalon Hollywood that includes local legend Kazell.
The performer's style is a bit under the radar for the mega-rave crowd, but he's received one huge endorsement recently — P. Diddy.
Diddy looked him up out of the blue after listening to his album Late Bloomers on Sven Vath's label, Cocoon. The result is a surprisingly introspective and electronic project that could see a release this summer.
In the meantime, Gerber, working out of his new home base of L.A. (it seems the entirety of the DJ world has moved here in the last five years or so), is releasing a new EP, The Game, on the Visionquest in March and says he'll also likely unleash a follow-up on his own Supplement Facts label in April.
Ahead of his performance at Avalon tomorrow night, we caught up with Gerber and asked him a few questions.
So you moved to L.A?
Gerber: I'm by the pool right now looking at the palm trees. I came here in January [from a stint in New York]. I love it. I find it a really inspiring place. I've been living in many cities, Rome, Paris, Berlin, Madrid. I was always looking for a certain feeling I didn't find. I love this place.
Have you found that there is a musical identity to Los Angeles?
If you think about the Doors or Tupac or Snoop, you can really hear the L.A. in it. In New York you can't really translate the city into music. Here there are more open spaces and cruising and you have to drive and you have these contradictions between fake glamour and darkness. It really inspired me.
How did you end up working with Diddy?
Apparently he heard my first album from 2007. One day he just called me from nowhere and said, “I like your stuff. Come to New York and let's make some music together.” They got me a room with gear, synths. It was a dream come true, but I didn't know exactly what I was supposed to do. I was just jamming with a friend of mine.
The next day he came by and I think he really liked what I was doing. I said, “Let me take this opportunity to do something more interesting and challenging, very weird and very chaotic and psychedelic.” He said, “You know what let's make an album, a project, just me and you.” He just inspired me and pushed me to push myself to a level I didn't know I could do. This could possibly be released in summer. We want to release it in a special way.
Your appearances are more performances than DJ sessions. What do you do when you're on-stage?
I do Ableton [Live, a software program for triggering samples and sound clips] and I usually play live so I can improvise. I was doing this almost from the beginning. I thought that there were so many good DJs out there that if I wanted to do something it had to be like really special. I always want to bring an atmosphere to the club that nobody else can bring. Beautiful melodies, trying to make it sound pretty.
At the beginning I was doing it with an MPC [Akai sampler/trigger pad]. I have usually a synthesizer, analog, that people rent to me. Sometimes I rent more synths. A computer. A controller, effects and always a synth.
The sound of the moment — David Guetta, Afrojack, et. al. — is very banging and in your face. How do you fit in with your more subtle, understated, building style?
This is actually in a way kind of easy for me. My sound is cinematic and I always try to take people on a journey. I start ambient, with some tension. I start from almost quiet. Usually at the beginning I play much deeper than most of these people. People in the club are not so sure, but then it's building and building. And I like this feeling when people aren't so sure, when someone played so hard before me and I see the faces of questioning in the crowd. Some DJs, if the crowd is upset, they take it personally. I find it really funny.
What do you think of the pop-like direction of festival dance music?
I'm 37. I don't have a problem with it. The music is horrible, but I respect the work and how professional they are. Unfortunately these days the border is not that thick between underground and commercial.
It's fun to show people, though. Music doesn't have to be so strong and hard and one dimensional. There's nuance. It can be a journey. Electronic music — you should be able to close your eyes and dive into it.
Dive in tomorrow night with Gerber, Sasha and Kazell at Avalon Hollywood. Info and tickets.