Beside running 4lux and its sublabel the DJ from Rotterdam is also known under numerous monikers for various musical expressions. He is active since the late eighties and his impressive catalogue as a producer features over 200 records and more than 300 remixes. As one half of the duo Sensurreal he released two albums and a bunch of EPs since 1994. Solo his alias Gerd is world-wide known for albums and EPs full of House with soul that has been released on such labels like Life Enhancing Audio, Royal Oak, Clone Basement Series, or 4lux. On his own label he publishes music by such artists like Zimpala, Natalie Gardiner, Phil Asher, or Môme. As our Carhartt WIP Radio Show November 2013 features a mix by the French DJ and producer Môme that strictly dives deep into the catalogue of 4lux, we talked to Gert-Jan Bijl about his work, his long lasting passion for all sorts of music, and of course about his label 4lux.
(Gerd by P+C Harrison Reid)
Where and how did 4lux start? What was the impetus behind the start-up of the label?
Gerd: 4lux started in Rotterdam in 2002. At that time I got sent so many good music from people that couldn't find a home anywhere else. So, I decided to release it. On 4lux White I release downtempo Electronica, Nu Jazz, HipHop, and Soul. On 4lux Black I mainly release House records.
What is your musical background?
Gerd: I have always been interested in music. From a very early age (around nine or ten) I was a DJ for a local radio pirate. When House music turned up at the local import shops mid 80's, I instantly was addicted and I knew I was going to compose my own tracks and release a record at some point. In 1991 I released my first record on John Acquaviva and Richie Hawtin's Malego Records. Since then I have released over 200 records and over 300 commissioned remixes under a large variety of aliases.
If you could describe the 4lux sound in one sentence, what would you say?
Gerd: G(D)M... Good (Dance) Music.
Since the beginnings the musical style of 4lux has developed from an eclectic mix of all genres to more Techno and House in the last years? How come?
Gerd: Not really... we still release different styles of (electronic) music. However we are more known for House at the moment. I guess that's because of the popularity of this sound right now. We also get offered more House than downtempo shizzle, so obviously we release more House compared to other sounds.
What process do you follow for getting new artists?
Gerd: No process really. Sometimes I play in a city where I get a demo by a local crew, sometimes I hear a tune on soundcloud but mostly we get sent demos through email.
What exciting stuff do you have in the pipeline currently?
Gerd: We have Chesus coming up with a solid House bomb called Decisions. The Organ Grinder hooks up with local talent Le Horn and will release the much anticipated Spanner In The Works. Belfast talents Schmutz have an EP coming up with lo-fi House cutz. And Môme has a release ready with off-the-wall nuggets.
Do you have a "wish list" of musicians you'd like to see on 4lux?
Gerd: I just hope we get sent a lot of good stuff by young unknown producers. So we can introduce their talents to the world.
How does living in Rotterdam shape the work at 4lux?
Gerd: I really have no clue...
Can you give some advice to someone who is interested in starting his or her own label?
Gerd: Don't do it. It's a lot of hard work and headaches. But if you really wanna go for it, then search for a reliably pressing plant and make sure you have saved some money so you can fund three or four releases right from the start.
How important are the non-musical components of your releases, i.e. packaging and album art?
Gerd: Very important. We do NOT use CMYK artwork for instance. Only Pantone colors. If you check out our artwork on Discogs, you may not like what you see, style-wise, but I am confident everybody will tell we are really trying to make something special.
What was your biggest hit so far?
Gerd: My biggest personal hit, you mean? That was Arkest's Blaze, originally released on Speedy J's Beam Me Up label. Later licensed to Music Man. I also had a very big hit with Metro Dade - The Andor Voyage. It was some sort of a Trance record before Trance even existed.
How do you think your generation is going to leave its mark on club music?
Gerd: I am not sure really. But when you think about it... When we started to make House late 80's (or at least trying to make House), there was no internet, no tutorials, etc.. We really had to dig in and try to find out how for instance this Acid sound from Chip-E. and Adonis records has been made. There are a lot of known (and even more) unknown pioneers (both local club DJs and producers) world-wide who paved the way for everybody that's (still) involved now or is about to get involved in the future. It is amazing to see how people still search for the great classics by all those big names,... you name them... But I also know a lot of under the radar producers from my generation making incredibly forward thinking music in the late 80's and early 90's. They now have 'normal' jobs... but they inspired a whole new generation, maybe not directly but their impact can't be mistaken. If you think about that, it's pretty damn impressive!
What makes a track exceptional to you? Tell me a classic that you feel is really outstanding and describe what it is about it that moves you so much.
Gerd: I think the human voice is the most powerful instrument in the world. So, if you pose me a question like that, I'd go for vocal tunes. I recently had the honor of remixing Romanthony's Let Me Show You Love. His vocal is so powerful, so uplifting. Same for Zhana's Sanctuary Of Love (also used in NY's Finest that I recently remixed). Another vocal track that blew me away was Urban Soul's Alright with incredibly powerful vocals by Roland Clark. The melody, the timing, ... everything is just mindblowing. I was asked to remix this as well... it's a co-incidence really but if you listen to those vocals... man... they give me goosebumps all over.
How important is the internet for what you do business-wise as well as musically?
Gerd: Internet is very important nowadays. Can't do without it. Reasons are obvious, I guess: reach, comfortability, speed, etc.
What can music do which all other art forms can't?
Gerd: In general? I don't know. But for me personally music can really, really, ... i mean REALLY move me.
Can you please recommend to us two artists which you feel deserve attention and why?
Gerd: Môme and Chesus because they make good music. Period!
You are located in Rotterdam. What are your favorite spots and secrets in your hometown that you would recommend to somebody that comes around for a visit?
Pierre: A nice French restaurant.
Destino: A nice Spanish restaurant.
De Gouden Ton: For the best wines.
Clone: Good record shop.