A bottle of Held Vodka with A Guy Called Gerald

von Lev Nordstrom

Darf ich vorstellen? Das ist Vodka. Hallo Vodka. Und Vodka, das ist Gerald. Hi Gerald. 78 Stunden vorher: Lev, wir machen ein Bottled-Interview mit A Guy Called Gerald. Okay Richard. Alles klar. 20 Stunden vorher: A Guy Called Gerald spielt bei Twisted Elements in der Ritter Butzke. 10 Stunden vorer: Ich laufe die Kantstraße hoch und telefoniere mit Megan, Geralds Managerin. Das Vodkainterview wird wahrscheinlich flach fallen. In Ordnung. Ist mir recht. Gehe ich eben mit meiner Patentante zum Thailänder etwas essen. Obwohl – das stimmt nicht ganz – ich, meine Patentante und Karl-Theodor Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg, der sich aber leider mit seiner Familie und drei verkabelten Personenschützern an einen anderen Tisch setzt. Buh. 4 Stunden vorher: Ich mache mich gefasst auf einen entspannten Abend. 3 Stunden vorher: Mein Handy klingelt. Gerald hat Lust. 2 Stunden vorher: Flasche kalt stellen und duschen. 30 Minuten vorher: Ich sitze im Taxi auf dem Weg in die Ritter Butzke. Mein Handy klingelt. ‘Lev? This is Megan speaking. Gerald just called me. There’s a slight change of plans. Gerald is hosting a birthday party at his place and won’t make it here on time. So he asked, if you would be okay with having the interview at his place?’ 10 Minuten später: Megan gibt mir Geralds Adresse. Ab in den Osten. 40 Minuten später: Wir stehen vor einem großen schwarzen Tor. Ich rufe Gerald an. 10 Minuten später: Gerald kommt runter und macht uns auf. Wir laufen über den Hinterhof und hoch in den 5. Stock. Vor der Tür liegen um die 60 paar Schuhe. Please take off your shoes, sagt Gerald. I’ll explain later. 5 Minuten später: Gerald führt uns durch die verschwitzte Küche in sein Studio. Schlüssel rein, Tür auf, Schlüssel rein, Tür zu. Wir stehen in einer weissen Zelle aus dem Jahre 2056 – wir und lauter Keyboards, Synthesizer, Rechner und sonstiger Gerätschaft. 3 Minuten später: ‘I don’t usually drink Vodka straight!’ Neither do we Gerald, neither do we.Jetzt: Cheers!

Is there a way of geting more light in here? We brought some cold Vodka.

Wow, you guys came prepared! So do you guys do this every night?

No, once a month. Cheers!

Have you got insurance?

Life insurance? I drink for a living. You only played a two hour set this morning. How long do you usually play?

I play all night man.

Do you plan your sets in advance or are you at a point in your career where you just improvise?

I kind of plan them in advance. I’ve got a library of new tracks. That’s what I do most of the time here. I just make stuff for playing live. I used to make tracks to put out on vinyl, but now I produce tracks to play from the computer.

Which you don’t release?

No, I don’t release them. About 2-3 GB worth of files, but they’re not even mp3’s or anything. They’re just files in a software.

So when somebody asks you in a club, what the track is that you’re playing and where to get it, you tell them sorry, it’s not going to be released?

Get on with the dancing. There are millions of tracks that you can buy from other people. Some of them I have as MP3s and there’s a Japanese friend of mine who picked out thirteen tracks to put together on an album. I actually have an album – if you can call an album an album anymore – called Tronic Jazz that’s going to be released in May. It’s basically a section of some of the tracks that I do for my live sets.

You were a dancer as well.


Do you still dance?

Yeah I do, I dance.

So you get up in the morning and start dancing?

I dance. I get down. I just get down man. I really do. That’s my prayer.

Do you have good neighbors?

Yeah. I’ve got an Aikido-Center downstairs.

So they don’t mind.

They’re cool. There’s not many people that can, but if you can live above someone who’s slamming someone else’s body to the floor, then you know that they’re not gonna be complaining about your noise.

Talking about dancing in clubs even before break-dancing, how do you see dancing nowadays?

It’s not sexy anymore. It’s really strange for me. When I was growing up the whole social thing was around dancing. I would be at a party and there’d be a girl. And I’d be like, I want this girl to see how I’m gonna fuck.

So you gotta show her how you dance.

Exactly. How the hell is she going to know how I move? How is she going to know my syncopation? And that’s how we used to do it. In the ghetto. It’s the ghetto style.

Cheers to that! So you decided to figure out how to make people move?

I was actually thinking more of myself than the people. I’m not really a people person. I don’t think as such. I mean like old school, those guys could really move! For me that was what I was into. The people that were really dancing. I wanted to make them move.

When did people stop dancing? And what made them stop?

I think around ’96 or ’97. I was in a place and the energy was just so low. I think when the E’s came in, a lot of the black people stopped going to the parties that I used to go to. I’d still go because I was more into the music. If I had been into the dancing, I would have stop- ped. Because dancing stopped. Dancing just mingled away. You had these guys – I’m talking about early rave – so you’ve got a guy who’s seriously trying to get down and then there’s another guy next to him with a dummy whistle in his mouth and a pair of white gloves on. You know what I mean? It just totally changed. Then again, what’s interesting is that the other side of that is a really cool – or rather cheesy – guy from the ’70s with a medallion and a hairy chest going ‘hey’. So between the guy with white gloves and like a John Travolta type guy, there was actually a period of time where people were really throwing down. It was probably just my age group at the time. That’s why it all seemed like that to me. (laughs)

How’s your German? You’ve been in Berlin for five years now.



Hoch die Tassen! I’m not going to be able to walk when I leave here. This was a bad idea.

Welcome to the club!

Let me grab the remote control for the light.

You have a remote control for the light?!


Are you serious?


No, honestly, you’re sitting in here all day and then you don’t want to get up to turn on the light?

Actually I do want to get up.

Seriously, what’s the deal?

I’m drunk already.

Me too.

Stop firing so many questions at me! Is this an interview or something? No. I’m just turning on and off the lights outside. I thought that might be funny. (laughs) If someone would just be walking around out there and then all of a sudden the light goes off. But they all seem pretty sensible. I don’t even think they’re that drunk. I thought, what I was gonna do is make everybody take their shoes off because then, if they’re smoking they won’t want to take their cigarette and stomp it out on the floor.

Ah. So that was the idea. Cheers! Being from Manchester, do you have a tight affiliation with the football team?

Let me put it this way. I don’t get foot- ball. I’m confused.

What, the rules?

The rules, anything. Full stop. I mean come on mate. You’ve got a load of grown men running around on a field, after a ball, in a pair of shorts. What the fuck’s going on there?! Seriously, I’ve looked at it from all sides, but the way I see it is, you’re a man, let’s go fist to fist. Let’s just slug it out.

I need to go to the bathroom. Would you let me out? 3 Minuten später: I’m back.

Did you find the bathroom allright?

Sure. But here’s the deal. I go to your bathroom and there are four books laying by the sink. There’s the New Testament, there’s the Inside Story To Manchester Gangs, there’s a Dictionary Of Banking Terms and the Sound On Sound magazine. That’s the stuff you read?

When I’m on the toilet. Yeah. I like to get down and learn about some banking terms, when I’m on the toilet.

Did you just put your gum in my shot glass?

We’ve got plenty shot glasses.

Was that your way of telling me to stop?

Yeah, stop asking me questions! So many questions.

What is this book about? Reality Revealed?

It’s a book I started reading.

Who’s it from?

From a guy called Douglas…It’s pretty heavy reading, very scientific, very spiritual. It’s about a type of multidimensional reality.

Talking about reality, Cheers!

I can’t really explain it on vodka. I’m gonna figure out a way how to play you some music.

That would be great because we still have a lot of vodka to go and I am running out of questions.

I’m not really that artistic. I’ll tell you, soundwise for me, it’s all about dynamics. I grew up in a soundsystem situation. I mean a Reggae-Dub soundsystem, which you’ve probably never even experienced. Can you imagine, you’re in a hall. Right? And there’s only one light. And it’s not flashing, it’s red. And that place is absolutely packed. And then all of a sudden…can you imagine…all of a sudden

You fall?

No. The floor falls. But you’re still there, but the floor’s not there. You know that there’s nothing there. When – that’s what they used to call it – when ‘the weight drops’, when the B-Line hits you feel it here and here and here and all over. But there’s no floor. Very low oscillations.

So music to you is…

For me, at the end of the day, music is the key to anything. People come and they go. But I’ve still got their music. And it will always be. I don’t know why. Ask Voodoo Ray. Can you imagine that you’re trying to produce something totally different? If you’re a genuine artist, I don’t know, maybe not. Okay, outside of the financial world, let’s think of, like, you’re not thinking of… Okay. Let me go raw. You just made love to this girl. You had sex. You had raw sex. You’re fucking shagging this girl. And she came back the next day and you say, should we shag the same way we shagged last night? We did it near the sink, first of all. We shagged near the sink. So let’s do that tonight. Nah, I don’t think so. Let’s go and do it somewhere else. And that’s music! That’s real music. If you embrace the technology, you embrace all that, but make it Jazz. There you go. Improvise.

In music, where do you see yourself?

I see myself in my own dimension, really.

150 Minuten später: Wir sind auf dem Weg ins Watergate. Ohne Gerald. Die Sonne geht auf. 2 Stunden später: Zurück in die Ritter Butzke. Mit Gerald. Hi Gerald. Darf ich vorstellen? Das ist Vodka. Meet to nice you! Cheers!

A Guy Called Geralds neues Album, Tronic Jazz: The Berlin Sessions, erscheint im Mai

Interview Lev Nordstrom

Images Richard Kirschstein

more images on flickr.com


A Guy Called Gerald DJ Sets by aguycalledgerald


Lev Nordstrom

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