Gerald Simpson, better known as A Guy Called Gerald, is a man who knows how to make people move. Renowned for his early involvement in the Manchester acid house scene, A Guy Called Gerald went on to be a pioneer in drum ‘n’ bass and jungle, producing records including the highly acclaimed Black Secret Technology. He’s a seminal figure in electronic dance music, and he continues to be a musical innovator to this day.

We talked to Gerald about the changing culture of dance music, the disappearance of music ‘scenes’, and the secret to making people move.


Listen Now: A Guy Called Gerald – Voodoo Ray


Where are we at today with music in the north of England, and what do you think about it?

I don’t live in the North anymore, so I can’t really comment. But, from what I can see around me in London, the concept of a ‘scene’ is dissolving or has been dissolved by the speed of information afforded to us today.

Basically, in former times you had pockets of culture that would develop and feedback on itself to create something unique. I suppose these unique pockets of culture were called a scene or created a specific sound. It’s hard to do now as everything is shared so quickly. I mean, you can look at how the timespan has changed for the popularity of genres. Notice how easy it is for genres to split off into sub-genres. During the early 2000s this started to happen at a global scale and at such speed. It’s almost as if there is a general global scene.

a guy called gerald usa tour 2

We’ve seen a huge amount of evolution in dance music over the past few decades, and you’ve been intimately involved in that process. Where do you see it going next?

It seems to me that in many places the crowd is the entertainment more than the music these days. Compare a club night these days to a northern soul night in the 80s – the people knew all the tracks – it was more about the music.

It seems to me that in many places the crowd is the entertainment more than the music these days. Compare a club night these days to a northern soul night in the 80s – the people knew all the tracks – it was more about the music.

I think the way music production has gone has also affected the way dance music is portrayed. One of the most important things for the DJ to be doing in current times is to beat match. Also, the studio equipment has crossed over into the DJ world so you get simpler beat match-friendly pieces of material, which has nothing to do with dance music production as an art form.

That’s not to say that everything is like that. But because it’s so easy to ‘produce’ a track, the majority of music that is being made over time is buried in a mass of mp3 DJ tools masquerading as music.

I would love to things evolve to hear more individualism, more tracks (less DJ tools) and the DJs actually knowing the music they are playing. Some DJs do this, but most of them are not the ones you get to experience, as they’re not booked as much.

Dancing has always been important to you – what part do you think dancing plays in culture right now in the UK?

Truthfully, every now and then there is a little craze. The way dance music was made used to be influenced by crazes in dance. So hip-hop was influenced by body poppers, breakdancing. It was a self-generating energy – the music would feed the dance, the dance would feed the music. I’m sure this will happen again in the future. Dancing played a massive part in cultures surrounding my childhood growing up.


Watch now: A Guy Called Gerald – Boiler Room Live Show


All the critics agree that your music has been hugely influential within the context of UK dance music. Why, in your own words, do you think you’ve had such an impact?

In 1988, I was a bridgeway between two different worlds. I grew up in a city of diverse music, from reggae to punk. I’d been influenced by different styles of music and I wanted to fuse different types of music together in my own style.

An early influence was the fusion of jazz and funk – which for me was a perfect medium for dancing. I followed jazz-funk through to electro-funk, and it was round about that time that I started to be interested in recording studios.

So in the middle of my studio, in my head, is a dancer. That is the rarest and the most brilliant part of any music machine – a dancer in your head in the studio.

So in the middle of my studio, in my head, is a dancer. That is the rarest and the most brilliant part of any music machine – a dancer in your head in the studio. It’s not about the equipment. The energy – there’s got to be an output place – you can have all the equipment in the world and know all the manuals back-to-front, but you still might not be able to make the people move in the club.

If you have a little dancer in your head – it helps. When you go into the studio you might not even know what you are going to come out with. But your dancer can be the paintbrush that throws the first paint on the canvas.

What do you hope to bring to electronic and dance music as a producer and artist going forward? What can we expect to see from you in the years to come?

Hopefully some education and some inspiration – a mixture of different styles of music and experimentation.