An evening in the studio with Guy Gerber
It’s 8pm on a Wednesday. Across the winding drive of Laurel Canyon Bvld, I’m carried into the hills in search of Guy Gerber’s studio. As he would later tell me, his house is located just one mile from where Jim Morrison used to live.
Guy Gerber is a hard man to track down. He spends his summers in Ibiza and the rest of the year jet-setting around the world for international gigs. Recently, however, the Israeli producer has settled down in Los Angeles, setting up shop in a mid-sized home near Hollywood. When the opportunity arose to visit his studio, I jumped at the chance.
It’s not often you get to see inside the mind of one of the underground’s more iconic producers. Artists like Guy Gerber have earned their namesake by crafting timeless tracks while leaving the finer details of their creative process shrouded in mystery. Gerber’s abilities in particular saw him recently collaborate with P. Diddy on the left-field, after-hours album, 11:11. Yet with the project in the rearview, Guy is putting all his focus into his own work, which, at the moment, includes a new artist album and live show.
When I arrive at the studio, Guy is fiddling with some gear, contemplating the arrangement of the room. He’s dressed in all black with a feather poking out the back of his hair. It’s a small space, no bigger than a standard bedroom, but within it stands a grand array of analog hardware. A quick glance around the room reveals classic synthesizers on all sides, from the Juno-60, to the Roland SH-101, to the Moog Prodigy. The centerpiece of the layout is a Fender Rhodes, surrounding which sits both a TR-909 and a TR-808: dance music’s most iconic drum machines.
I’ve caught Guy at a serendipitous moment. He’s coming off the back of a particularly fruitful month and he’s got plenty of new tracks to share. “For the last four weeks I’ve barely left the studio,” he says. The creative spurt has been centered around his new artist album: “it’s my personal album that I’ve been working on for years now,” he explains. “I’ve got all new material for it.”
In the moments that follow, Guy pulls up a few projects on to give me a taste of the new album. The first one he shows me is 11 minutes long and currently in its 12th revision. It’s steady and hypnotic — much like the tracks that have come to define his new Rumors label — yet he’s infused a bit of his own guitar work to give it a live element. The second track he shows me continues the trend. With a half time syncopated beat, it bangs with the kind of crispness you’d expect from a session drummer. As I inquire about the direction of the project, he says: “It doesn’t sound clean. It’s more like a rock album.”
By the third track, things are getting funky. Guy takes a minute to explain the story behind these songs. After his set at Sound Nightclub a few weeks back, he returned to his place with 50 people or so. At one point during the party, he was struck by the urge to go downstairs to the studio and work. “It turned out to be one of the most amazing nights,” he said. “Most people don’t see me while I work. And the way I work I actually play. I don’t use MIDI — I play on the synths, I play on the guitar. Usually I’m pretty shy playing in front of people… because it was an after party vibe, I didn’t care that much.”
And thus with the sun newly rising, he began playing and creating for hours on end. “I worked like five new tracks,” he says. “And after everybody left, I was so enjoying it so I kept going. After a few hours, people came back. So for two days in a row, people came in and out of my studio.”
This marathon studio session was something of a turning point for Gerber and his new album. As the hours drove on and the weariness set in, Gerber entered one of his more coveted creative states: “I have this thing, when you don’t sleep, and you’re tired… all your fixations, your fears, everything is tired… I see things more clearly. You discover new directions. I ended up doing some stuff that is more soulful. It’s kind of fresh and new. I would never get into this if I go for a few hours. After staying up for two days, I ended up playing some of these funky basslines.”
The sound is evident immediately upon listening to his new material. There’s a certain strangeness to it that is both playfully eccentric yet irreversibly endearing. It’s a sound which has come to not only permeate his new album, but something he’ll be translating to his new live show as well. While further details on both projects are still under wraps, one thing is certain: Gerber has found his home in Los Angeles and he’s not going anywhere anytime soon. With a final declaration, he asserts: “Los Angeles is my favorite place in the world for making music.”