A Guy Called Gerald

Where to start with a GUY who grasped the absolute beauty of a brilliant new music as a kid and has never let go?

Where to start with a GUY who in his own laconic, vaguely self-depreciating way, shines as brightly as any anti-star of the underground?

I mean, where exactly do you start with......A GUY CALLED GERALD.

We could give the beginning a go...right back to a church in Manchester, England in the early Seventies. Gerald Simpson sits in a church with his mother. He listens as the organist plays and decides:

"I want to do that. I knew right then that I wanted to be a musician"

Music, as he put it, saved him from boredom. He heard the Jackson 5 and was rescued in an instant. Then soul turned to funk and funk turned into hip-hop. By now he was experimenting on an Amstrad twin cassette deck, ripping and shredding Herbie Hancock's 'Rocket' into a twisted skeletal form.

He joined the Scratchbeat Masters, (which included amongst its number Nicky Lockett-MC Tunes) concentrating on similarly lo-fi scratch works (releasing a track called 'Back to Attack') before teaming up with The Hit Squad which became the seminal group 808 State. It took too long for the truth to surface, but eventually we learnt that it was actually Gerald who wrote the shimmering proto-UK techno anthem 'Pacific State'. After a long dispute Gerald received public acknowledgement as a writer of this ground breaking title.

It was in 1987 whilst working with The Hit Squad that Gerald launched his alter ego, A Guy Called Gerald. In addition to completing his first tour of the US as a solo artist in 1988, he was featured on the John Peel Show for Radio 1. This session included 'Time Waits', 'Rockin Ricky' and the hugely popular club track 'Emotions Electric'. As this was all happening he was continuing to write. He released 'Voodoo Ray' and by June of 1989 it had jumped from clubs and warehouses to Number 12 in the National Charts. Gerald, meanwhile was keeping his head down "Basically, I made the track because I wanted something to play on my Walkman" he says, humbly. "I was looking for a simple dance vibe, just a basic track and then everyone went mad for it!" "I didn't push that record. It did what it did." He continues. "By the time it went into the charts, I was hiding."

Gerald used the success of 'Voodoo Ray' to secure a deal with Sony in 1990. Everything was looking rosy 'Automanikk', his first LP was released and he was off again to the US. On his return from the States, he took the major step towards creating his own studio, 'The Machine Room'.

Then it went all wrong.

Gerald's music was advancing at a rate that Sony could not keep up with. They rejected his follow-up, 'High Life-Low Profile' and subsequently negotiated a release from his contract. After that, Gerald, well, kind of disappeared...........

"It was a brilliant time, very peaceful" laughs Gerald. "I'd built a great studio and just started working on hundreds and hundreds of tracks. People were coming up and asking me 'why don't you want another hit? You've had one big record, so you could easily have another.' I'm more of an adventurer than a Top of the Pops star"

He then went out on a limb and set up 'JuiceBox/JuiceGroove Records' and continued to supply the clubs with cutting edge material. As the influence of breakbeat, the roots of Jungle started to displace techno, Gerald surged further into the unknown. Little was heard from him until 1993 and the release of his '28 Gun Bad Boy' album.

Amid the tension and dynamics of brutal Drum+Bass it was written that a master was at work again.

In 1994 'The Machine Room' recording studios were moved to Ducie House in central Manchester. Wi th the production of 'Finley's Rainbow' with a yet known Finley Quaye and three remixes from the Suns of Arqa EP, 'Govinda's Dream', the continual process of innovated development was maintained.

As Jungle's profile rose so did Gerald's. By 1995 and the release on JuiceBox of his genre breaking 'Black Secret Technology' LP, he was held aloft as a bonafide pioneer of the UK's increasingly sophisticated dance export. After a series of shows playing underground licks on Radio 1, A Guy Called Gerald had hit an all time high.

He relocated 'The Machine Room' and 'JuiceBox' from Manchester to London, signed a publishing deal with Chrysalis Music

As 1996 began, so did writing for 'Aquarius Rising' his follow-up, at the same time he was remixing and deejaying across the globe. In 1997 'Aquarius Rising' was finished, it featured the likes of Lady Miss Kier, Louise Rhodes of Lamb, Wendy Page and rhyming skills of MC Kusta it was bound to impress just as 'Black Secret Technology' had done before.

Towards the end of 1997 Gerald quietly signed with Island Records, in America and his assault on the world was being carefully planned.

Then it all fell apart, again.

Chris Blackwell, the founder and Chairman's much publicized tension resulted in his departure. This in-turn resulted in their parent company, PolyGram to bring in a new Chairman and President. They didn't understand Gerald music and again he was released from his contract months before the album was to hit the streets.

Now the process starts all over again.

"I've always been into finding new sounds, That is the one thing that has remained the same." He explains. "If it feels right in my ears, I'll have-it; keep it" he continues, "I'm a explorer, I'm not into the idea of having an easy life. I just can't sit back. I have to keep moving."

So, as Gerald's journey continues he finds himself in New York City, one of the few places in the world he felt comfortable in. Now in 1998 a new start-up label in the works, Hard Drive, his assault on the world is low-key, more subtle but just as affective......

Watch this space.

A Guy Called Gerald also played at...