A Guy Called Gerald is the stage name for the musician, record producer and DJ Gerald Simpson (born 16 February 1967, Moss Side, Manchester, England).
He is best known for his early work in the Manchester acid house scene in the late 1980s and the track "Voodoo Ray". At that time, he specialised in techno music produced using equipment such as the Roland TB-303 bass synthesiser and the TR-808 drum machine.
Early influences and music:
Simpson was influenced by his Jamaican roots; his father's blue beat, ska and Trojan reggae record collection, his mother's Pentecostal church sessions and the Jamaican sound system parties in Manchester's Moss Side area where he grew up.
He absorbed jazz fusion at clubs such as Legends in Manchester, where the dancefloor in the early 1980s inspired him to study contemporary dance. Around 1983 with electro booming and early hip hop, breakdancing and b-boy culture making its way from the US, he left dance college to immerse himself in electronic music. At this time music from Detroit and Chicago - from producers such as Juan Atkins, Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson was being played by Stu Allen on Piccadilly Radio and imported directly into Manchester's specialist record shops.
Inspired, Simpson began experimenting with tape editing and drum machines and the regular jams in the attic of his house led to forming the Scratchbeat Masters. Using cut up beats, samples and turntables they would challenge other bands and their sound systems. They released a 12" single called "Wax On The Melt", a collaboration between a number of crews and Graham Massey and Martin Price together with whom he would later form 808 State. Their first album, Newbuild, was released in 1988, but he soon left the group to concentrate on his solo work.
Success and releases:
The result of heading back into his bedroom studio was "Voodoo Ray", played first at the Hacienda in 1988 and then the underground clubs before entering the UK Singles Chart a year later. It was one of the first acid house tracks produced in the UK, and released on a small Merseyside independent label (Rham! Records) based in Liscard, Wallasey. "Voodoo Ray" entered the UK record chart in 1989 rising to number 12. It was also the best selling independently released single of that year.
At the same time a track Simpson started before leaving 808 State, "Pacific State", was released and hit the charts. However, according to Simpson, they had finished and released the track without his permission. Although Simpson was credited on its first release on the album Quadrastate both as a writer and co-producer, the dispute escalated as Simpson claimed to have written the entire track. The dispute was eventually settled out of court.
In 1991, after CBS / Sony released Automanikk, he started his own label, Juice Box Records, releasing a string of 12" singles - the seeds of what became known as jungle and later drum and bass. The first singles were compiled and released on his third album 28 Gun Bad Boy (1992). In 1995, his next album, Black Secret Technology was released. He released a remastered version in June 2008.
In 1997, he moved to New York and, in 2000, released Essence on the independent label !K7 Records. Essence was Simpson's first song-based rather than dance/club album, featuring guests such as Lou Rhodes, David Simpson, Lady Miss Kier and Wendy Page. In January 2005, he released a more ambient album To All Things What They Need, also on !K7 Records.
In August 2006, Proto Acid / The Berlin Sessions was released on the German label, Laboratory Instinct. A continuous mix album, it was recorded live in Berlin. It was followed up by Tronic Jazz / The Berlin Sessions in 2010.
Juice Box Records:
Juice Box Records was an independent record label in the United Kingdom established by Simpson in 1992, after he left SME Records, and closed in 1998. It took its name from the sound system that Simpson operated with MC Tunes. The label provided an outlet for seven years for Simpson's work, with thirty three titles released under various other pseudonyms such as The K.G.B. and Ricky Rouge, and collaborations between Simpson and artists including Lisa May, DJ Tamsin, Goldie (as 'The 2 G's'), and Finley Quaye.
The label has been identified as being responsible for influential releases that provided the blueprint for what was to become jungle then drum n bass, with early singles on the label described as "genre-defining". The early singles on the label were compiled on the LP 28 Gun Bad Boy, of which Simon Reynolds of Melody Maker stated in a review of the album, "If there was a blueprint for what would transform rave into jungle/techno, then this is it." Reynolds also stated in a Melody Maker article in October 1994, about Simpson's Juice Box-era music, "Gerald's tracks take the jungle mesh of polyrhythms, cross-rhythms and counter-rhythms to new levels of insane detail." Gerald's Black Secret Technology LP was released in 1995, including contributions from Goldie and Finley Quaye, and is regarded as the first full-length Jungle album ever released. In 1998, the label closed, with Simpson relocating to New York.