Guy Gerber is freaking the fuck out. I'm watching him unravel from a corner of his room in the glitzy jewel of New Williamsburg, the Wythe Hotel. He scrambles from one edge to the other, flipping over sofa cushions, crawling under his bed, and anxiously scratching his chin of three-day scruff. Shit is not going well.
The Tel Aviv-born DJ has just arrived in Brooklyn after spending the "best summer of his life" in Ibiza, the Mediterranean island that basically turns into the Disneyland of dance music over the warmer months. The nightlife mecca's political and economic landscape is constantly shifting, and this year, Pacha Ibiza—one of the most profitable nightclubs in the world—lost its regular A-listers Tiesto, Luciano, and Pete Tong to its competitors.
Guy recorded this Essential Mix in his Ibiza apartment. He describes it as a farewell to the biggest summer of his career, and it features unreleased music from his forthcoming 11:11 album with P Diddy.
This led to the club doing a 180 and awarding residencies to underground legends like Guy, John Digweed and Solomun instead. Guy's big break came in the form of a weekly party called Wisdom of the Glove, a carnivalesque bacchanal where acts like Four Tet and the Chromatics spun next to magicians, fortune-telling machines, and puppeteers. The New York Times championed the party as symbolic of Ibiza's return to its weirder yesteryear—before the big money rolled in. By all accounts, Guy should be elated. But instead, he's losing his shit.
Apparently, a series of small calamities have been trailing him since he left the party island. First, his airline lost his luggage. Then, his management sort of "disappeared." And now, his phone is missing. He won't tell me how it disappeared, but based on his stressed-out mutterings about two women who are now at war with both him and each other, I suspect it was the result of a ménage-a-trois gone wrong. One of them had just called, leaving her number at the front desk.
I'm starting to get anxious too—we have less than two hours before Guy is slated to headline a massive rave in Bushwick, organized by the Burning Man collective Robot Heart. It's going to be a costume-required kind of bacchanal, and I've been charged with helping Guy find his Halloween getup. After 20 minutes, Guy finally gives up. He flashes me the kind of apologetic grin that probably landed him in the ill-fated liaison to begin with. "Just wait," he says in a heavy French accent. "In five minutes, my mood will completely change."
Guy's trademarks—lush melodies, exotic instrumentation, and an air of ethereal melancholy—are on full display in his track "Claire."
We hop in a cab and speed into Manhattan, swiftly crossing the Williamsburg bridge as the dull lights of the city skyline loom above us. Guy sighs and turns towards me, leaning his tousled curls into the leather seats. "I think the collective sub-conscious is testing me," he says. "But in a sick way, I enjoy getting stressed by other people… so I can stress them back. People think I'm like the Larry David of techno." Why? Does he get histrionic about everyday trivialities? "Because I take it as my duty to society to stand up against douchebags."
Getting under people's skins seems to be Guy's favorite hobby. His main goal for his party at Pacha, he says, was to bother people—because everyone takes themselves so damn seriously. The idea for Wisdom of the Glove came to him at a jungle rave in Mexico, before he even landed his big Ibiza residency.
"I was at kind of like a Burning Man party, and someone gave me a cheap Michael Jackson glove," he explains, "And because it was a cheap glove, I would touch everyone and think, 'How creepy is that, this texture is touching you.' But after a while, I realized that the outside of the glove was soft and pleasant. Which means that by touching someone, I'm actually just creeping myself out." The more he rubbed up against ravers, the more he realized the glove was charging him with weirdness. That, he says, is what the Wisdom of the Glove means. He raises his arms at me and pretends to shoot electricity from his fingers. He leans in. "Are you following me? Are you understanding?" Sort of, I say. I do know that this guy is a hell of a lot weirder than most of the Ibiza-crowd DJs I've talked to—and it's really fucking refreshing.
Unlike Afrojack, Swedish House Mafia, and the rest of the EDM royalty in the New Yorker's recent story about Vegas' exploding nightlife scene, Guy has never been paid $100, 000 for a gig. He came up in Tel Aviv, before moving to Madrid to start his own record label, Supplement Facts. He landed the Pacha gig through a combination of good fortune and good timing—much like how he also landed a collaboration with P Diddy, who he's been working on an album called 11:11 with over the last three years.
"Stoppage Time," one of Guy Gerber's biggest hits, came out of a five-hour jam session.
We finally pull up at Halloween Adventure—the biggest costume store in New York City—which is, predictably, a mob scene. Guy wanders in like a kid in a candy store, eyes open wide, with a goofy smile plastered on his face. "Wow," he laughs, "This is so cool." He peruses a pile of light-up white gloves. "We need to find gloves," he announces. "Now that I have this Wisdom of the Glove character, kind of like an alter ego, I can be anything—because it's so ridiculous. It's actually real freedom. I can do controversial things, and people don't know if I'm joking or not." A teenager with bright pink hair and heavy eyeliner asks if we want to try on some masks. "No thanks, I have lots of these at home," he says, then turns back to me. "With this alter ego, I've started, for the first year in my career, to really enjoy myself."
We push through the swells of people to find something more bombastic, more over-the-top, more appropriate for a DJ who'll be spinning in front of a crowd of several thousand people later that evening. "If I brought Wisdom of the Glove to an underground club, it would be pretentious," Guy continues, "But bringing artists like Nicholas Jaar and Four Tet to Pacha, the most commercial club in the world, it becomes ridiculous. In Ibiza, people were bothered by this. They were like, 'Who do you think you are, coming with this ridiculous thing? People were freaking out.'" He reaches up to grab the most elaborate headpiece in display—a red and gold number that looks like something a medieval court jester in drag would wear—and slid it on to his head. "It was great."
Guy likes the red-and-gold headpiece. But he wants a few more options, so we soldier on into the crowd. He swipes random objects: desert-worthy sand goggles, zebra print masking tape, a crab-shaped glove that he wiggles at me, describing it as "so creepy, so awesome." We've only been in the store for 45 minutes, but the swells of human bodies pressing in from all sides makes it feel more like two hours. Finally, we take a breather in a corner buttressed by skeletons and crystal balls.
In the spirit of the season, I ask him if he believes in the afterlife, or has ever reached out to the other side of the ether. "Let me tell you a story, it will blow your mind," Guy says. "I was in therapy and depressed, so I went to a psychic. She said that there are two 'characters' in my head who are trying to help me, but that I always go against them. Then she lowered the lights and told me to try and find them. But because I have ADHD, when I concentrate, I get stressed. So I said, 'No, not for me, forget it.' But she made me do it anyway."
"And this time, immediately when I closed my eyes, I started crying—just pouring. I told her, 'I feel like I've disappointed them for so many years.' And she said, 'No, it's tears of happiness because you've come home.'"
"So I went home to my studio, opened a track, and erased everything so I just had the beat I could jam on. The track already sounded kind of possessed—there was an energy in it. And all of a sudden these drums kicked in, in perfect rhythm; out of nowhere, as if I'd planned them. But I hadn't. I just had forgotten to erase them."
He takes a deep breath, and looks into the distance with glazed eyes. Everything around us—the shouting security guards, the jangling Halloween music, the shrieks of sugar-loaded children—fades into a background din. We are sharing a Big Moment. "It's not necessary whether you believe in it or not, but life is just more interesting like this," he says. "I feel lucky to be a believer. If you don't, life is just what it is. There's nothing beyond that. I find that boring."
And then, just like that, the Big Moment is over. It's getting late, and Guy has an army of event promoters and PR reps waiting for him back at the hotel. We jump back into a cab and hightail back to Brooklyn. Guy looks exhausted. Arabic pop floats out of the car's speakers. He looks up and smiles, "That's so funny. I was planning to play exactly this kind of music tonight."
Michelle will not be a sexy cat for Halloween - @MichelleLHOOQ