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Voyage Direct: a journey in time with Gerd

Voyage Direct: a journey in time with Gerd

18-01-2013 | 11.27

Gerd aka NY Stomp aka Geeeman aka Literon aka… Gert-Jan Bijl. Are you still with me? Saturday 19th of January, this icon will be visiting Trouw together with Tom Trago and Jan van Kampen, using his alias… Gerd. 

Voyage Direct is known as a sublabel of Rush Hour. Here Tom Trago collects his favorite tracks and producers. One of these is Gert-Jan Bijl, a household name for over 20 years in the world of electronic dance music, but also known for hiphop, breakbeat en jazz.
Gerd released on labels like Clone, Joris Voorn's Rejected, Jimpster's Delusions Of Grandeur, Global Communication's Evolution/Universal Language, Kirk Degiorgio's Op-ART en Music Man. Arkest’s Blaze sold a respectable 15,000 copies. Dance pioneer of the first hour, he is still very much alive and kicking. Last September he played at the Panorama Bar of Berghain for the fourth time and next month he will be part of the line-up of Tender Hooks at the Corsica Studios in London, where he sides with Serge, Legowelt and Semtek. In all these ventures he uses the alias of Gerd, the name that guarantees ‘stomping house music’. After long periods in which he explored techno under the alias of Literon and breakbeat with the alias Delgui, he is now back at his old love: deep house. Time for an update.
 
Let’s go back to the early days of house. In 1991, you and Speedy J where the first non-Detroit artists that released a track on Malego, a Detroit house label that was set up by John Acquaviva and Richie Hawtin. What’s the story?
 
‘It’s a rather funny one. At that time, I ordered a lot of house music from Eastern Block in Manchester, a store that stocked records unavailable in the rest of Europe. One of the employees knew my taste of music and on the telephone, he used to play his choice of records and shipped the ones I liked to the Netherlands. One day I received a transparant red record with a phone number written on it. It turned out to be the number of Plus 8, the label of which Malego was a sublabel. To cut a long story short: I sent a cassette and this resulted in a release on Malego. The track was called Afterglow, performed by It’s Thinking. The record was cut by NSC, the National Sound Corporation. At that time, it was already the most prominent masterstudio for Detroit techno, a real institute.’
 
You are known as a real chameleon. House, techno, soul, disco, P-funk, hiphop, breakbeat, jazz, ambient: there is no genre that you do not master. For all those phases in your career, you used different aliases. But now you call yourself Gerd again. Is it a cyclus?    
 
‘Music has always been a continuing quest for me. Early in my life, I developed an interest in house music, starting with Marshall Jefferson’s The House Music Anthem and the obscure acid of Phuture and Mr. Fingers. Because a lot of this music was hardly available at that time, I started to produce myself. It was a great thing to do, but I also had my moments of creative despair followed by moments of boredom. In response, I ventured into new musical directions: jazz, latin, hiphop and breakbeat. I consider this an organic development, but now I am back at my roots: deep house. I felt an urge to dive into the recording studio, independent of musicians. I guess you can call it a cyclus.’
 
You are a man of many talents. Remixes, underscores for commercials, movies, TV, theatre. What kept you busy in the past year and what’s in stock for 2013?
 
‘Last year I did remixes for Romanthony, Matt Tolfrey & Marshal Jefferson, Mateo & Matos, George FitzGerald, Alden Tyrell, Nicholas, Arttu, Martin Landsky, Marc Romboy, Elef, Rush, Low Jack, Burnski & Manik, etc. And I did a lot of DJ-ing. In 2013, I will not do any remixes, I want to focus on the sequel of my last single Palm Leaves. It dates from 2011, so it’s time for a new one. Furthermore I am developing my own label 4lux. And yes, I want to DJ more. To have a residency somewhere again, that would be cool!’
 
I read you prefer playing other people's tracks. What do you think of dance music at this moment? What are the three last records you bought? 
 
‘There is so much good music, house and techno are still improving. It is the development of technology which makes this possible. If you have a computer and the right software, you’re up and running. The treshold for producing is low. At this moment, there are some 60,000 releases – per week! I usually spend a day per week to filter the best music for myself. Yesterday I bought some records again. By memory: Hoop Dreams by Blacksmif, Edition 2 by various artists from the Metrolux Label and Mushroom by Luca Ballerini. Really cool house tracks.’
     
Saturday you will play at Voyage Direct in Trouw. What is your connection with Tom Trago?
 
‘I know him from Rush Hour. He was searching a soul vocal for his first album. I hooked him up with Olivier Daysoul, an American whom I discovered in 2005 on MySpace. I am really looking forward to play with Tom this Saturday. By the way, at ADE 2012 I really liked playing at Trouw. Good reception, good soundsystem, good crowd: everything was right!’
 
Thanx, Gerd!
 
More info www.soundcloud.com/gerd
 
Text: Bonita van Lier