Gerra & Stone Interview – Exclusive Guestmix

Gerra & Stone are a duo from Southampton that I’ve witnessed DJ in both a Moat (Outlook festival) and a Bulgarian strip club (Horizon Festival). They’ve played a whole manner of renowned club nights and events with what could be deemed quite a small back-catalogue, a rare feat and something that perfectly emphasises the strength of each of their releases to date.

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he duo dropped their debut Dispatch Recordings release, the mighty ‘Backhand/ Tenfold’, in the summer of last year (2013) and well, we’ve been desperate for more ever since! Fortunately, last week (05.10.14) Gerra and Stone’s long awaited follow up ‘Too Deep’ EP finally surfaced! One of drum and bass’ most eagerly anticipated upcoming producer duos have cemented themselves as a staple with a release on pivotal drum and bass imprint, Dispatch Recordings – the wait has been worth it!

All things considered, we figured it was about time we had a chat with them, here’s how things went down:

Hey guys, so first things first, how was it playing The Moat stage at Outlook Festival?

Hi there! Playing in the moat at Outlook has been the highlight of our year so far. It was our third year playing the festival and it was a great feeling to be up there representing Dispatch on our favourite stage. We played early but it was full by about 30 minutes in which was a pleasant surprise!

Too Deep EP dropped on Dispatch last week, could you tell us a bit about the release?

We feel the EP reflects our journey in Drum & Bass so far. After the success of our previous Dispatch release we knew we really wanted to put out more material on the label, so we set about writing an EP of what we consider to be our interpretation of the ‘Dispatch Sound’. All of the tracks are written with a similar mentality; a strong dance floor presence that will work well as a DJ tool but also music that has plenty of character – this is something that we believe is vitally important in dance music today. 

Do you have a background in any other genres?

We both come from live music backgrounds, experimenting with playing in bands in our teenage years. We also both studied music at college and University, which gave us the opportunity to spend all of our time on music during those years and enabled us to connect with people doing the same thing – which was definitely valuable.

There’s been quite a gap between the Too DeepEP and your first Dispatch release ‘Backhand/ Tenfold – how would you describe your artist evolution over this period?

The EP was actually signed at the beginning of the year but due to various shake-ups in the industry took until this point to surface. However, this turned out to be a mainly positive thing. In the time since we signed it we have spent countless hours in the studio learning and refining techniques and also experimenting with new styles. We have also been fairly busy with gigs so without releasing any music for a year we feel we have evolved a lot, as artists

I’m aware that you’re both from Southampton (although one half of Gerra & Stone recently moved to Bristol); do you think your home city has played a part in crafting your sound?

In terms of crafting our sound, no, until quite recently we had no idea any other established DnB producers actually lived in Southampton. Our journey in production has been very much confined to experimenting in our home studios and learning bits online, as opposed to being influenced by other artists directly around us.

In the last couple of years though we’ve met Paul (Meth), Mark (DJ Red) and also heard that Big Bud (Good Looking Recs) lives here – so there are a few heads around!

It definitely helped when we were coming up as DJs that there used to be a reasonable little DnB scene in Southampton, there were a few different nights going on monthly but that’s died down a bit recently.  

In terms of the way you work together, do you work separately on different parts of the track? And what traits do you feel each of you individually bring to the table?

Our production process is by and large split down the middle – by the time a track is finished we will both have worked on all aspects within it.

This is done separately though for the most part; bouncing parts back and fourth to each other in separate studios, we normally then come together to expand on initial ideas and to structure the track out. This is something that has evolved slowly over a few years. We used to write everything together in the same studio, but realised after a while that working ideas through in our own time alongside joint studio sessions meant we could go into more detail on certain parts of track without the worry of ‘killing the vibe’ – this can happen when working together all of the time.

Within that process though there tends to be areas that we will each focus more on: samples / atmospheres for Harry and bass/ mix downs for Dave.

You guys have promoted as well as producing – Could you expand on this? And is there anything working as a promoter has taught you that perhaps gives an interesting behind the scenes insight to drum and bass?

Dave – I started the Release events with Matt Freeman back in 2010. We had to work our arses off as Southampton has a very small music scene (let alone D&B) but ultimately we had some great nights and are very proud of what we managed to achieve in a small town. We had a friendly, open-minded crowd of regulars who made it all worth doing. This has subsided for the mean time, but there are plans to move the event to London in the New Year – so watch this space!

Working as a promoter and also as a full time events manager for a club has definitely given me a better insight into the way things work financially (or don’t work a lot of the time!), it’s also taught me to be realistic about what to expect. It’s fair to say that being a promoter is no easy job and it’s just as hard being a venue owner/manager – that’s to say if you’re promoting real music as opposed to the latest plastic trend in order to attract the masses.

Wherever we play I am always telling promoters how much I take my hat off to anyone doing it, a lot of the time they’re out of their own pocket because they love the music that much. So big up to all the promoters out there who are still keeping it real and not bowing to trends!

You guys have been very kind and done an exclusive guest-mix for us, how would you like listeners to interpret this?

In any way that they feel is right! For us it’s an accurate representation of what you will hear if you see us play, plus a few slightly deeper indulgences for home listening.

What should we be looking out for from you in the near future? And what would you like to accomplish over the coming years?

Our next release is a 12″ on ProgRam in December; it’s a release that we’re really excited about and we definitely aimed at the dance floor with that one. Early 2015 we have another EP with Dispatch, this release has much more of a soulful / melodic vibe to anything we’ve put out before – there’s live keys and a full melodic track.

In early 2015 we also have a remix 12″ on Dispatch with the mighty DLR – featuring his remix of ‘Back Hand’ and our remix of ‘Pain’. So that’s a fair bit to look out for soon, plus the pile of tracks nearing completion that we are currently sat on!

In terms of what we would like to accomplish, as we’re now getting more comfortable with writing EP’s, the next logical step to a debut album is definitely on our minds. We won’t say any more than that yet, but with it being such a strong12 months for Drum & Bass albums it only seems right that we start putting the wheels in motion at some point next year!

Big up for coming to chat to us lads, Safe to say, we’re looking forward with things to come 🙂

And if that wasn’t enough… heres an exclusive guestmix.
Tracklist inside!