Guy Gerber is a popular guy. It’s Memorial Day weekend and we’re in Detroit’s Hart Plaza for the annual electronic-music bacchanalia, Movement, seated side-by-side in the artist area with Chicago’s own DJ Sneak jacking a house beat on the main stage within earshot. A parade of dance music’s elite is stopping by to say hi. First I’m introduced to Steve Bug, then Claude VonStroke, then techno legend Carl Craig’s wife—who lets Gerber know about a barbecue they’re having.
It’s all part of a busy year for Gerber. In addition to a headlining set at Movement—and subsequent after-party sponsored by Spy Bar—he’s just moved to L.A., released a stellar single on Detroit-Berlin label Visionquest and mixed the latest installment of the esteemed Fabric DJ series, plus he’s performing at the inaugural Montrose Beach dance party, Wavefront Music Festival, this weekend. This bustle points to a new phase for the deep-inclined tech-house producer.
“Dance music has to be functional. It means you have to do an intro and an outro that will be good within a mix. For an artist, this can be a little bit boring,” he tells me. “You know, in this art form the reaction is very immediate: If they don’t dance, it doesn’t work. But even if they do, it’s important for the music to be interesting…” A tall, tan woman walks by, taking his attention with her. Gerber—slim, with loose black curls, perpetual five o’clock shadow and an accent that hints at his Israeli upbringing—seems to be a troublemaker with the ladies.
Either that or they’re trouble for him, something he alludes to when discussing the moodiness of his Fabric mix, which consists entirely of his own productions, most exclusive to the release. He was getting someone out of his system, he tells me. “For me, sometimes, I feel really exposed,” he says. “It’s very emotional music, very melodramatic, like me. It was missing some anger, maybe some more hard parts, but it really describes my ups and downs.”
The mix, as well as his other recent output, is in stark contrast to the more peak-time, progressive work he originally made his name with, like 2004’s “Stoppage Time,” which surfaced on John Digweed’s Bedrock label. Now, it seems, he’s rediscovering his indie roots, stuff like Joy Division. “I want to sound as if a band is playing,” the 36-year-old says. Working with computer programs, he points out, has too many options. “I said no, I want to stay only with these synths. When I play live, these are the only instruments I’m playing. So I used the same sounds and just changed the melodies.”
His move from Spain to L.A. is also a factor. “Of all the places I’ve been to, I think it’s the place I find the most inspiring to make my kind of music,” he says. “For the music I’m doing at the moment—because it’s very pretty but very sinister—there’s glamour there, but I still find it very dark.”
There’s also his recent time in the studio with rap mogul P. Diddy, which can’t hurt his confidence or drive. Diddy discovered Gerber in Ibiza and quickly became a fan, asking him to work on a collaborative project called 11:11. “He said, I’ve been going to Ibiza for ten years already, listening to the music. Now it’s come to the States and everybody has been hailing it, let’s do something to show them how it really is—not like this David Guetta shit.” If everything goes according to plan, and I hope it does, we could be hearing a lot more from Gerber in the months to come.
Guy Gerber gets feet moving at Montrose Beach’s Wavefront Music Festival on Sunday 1.