Gilb’R is a man who doesn’t need an introduction in the music scene. Versatile Records label boss for over twenty years, half of CHateau Flight with I:Cube, The Big Crunch Theory producer, member of Aladddin with Nicolas Ker, always exciting solo producer and encyclopedic DJ, whom we will be welcoming to the Midnight Chardonnay Antwerp Edition on the 31st of March.
We chat with Gilb’r about his consistent label, records and djing.
GASS: Hello Gilb'R, How are you keeping in 2018 so far? What's the latest?
GILB’R: I’m good, thanks. Playing quite a lot, traveling to cool places, working hard on numerous releases we will have this year, which will be one of the more productive year for us, releases wise, since I have started the label twenty two years ago. And most importantly, enjoying life.
GASS: You have been running Versatile Records for over 20 years and managed to keep it relevant throughout the decades. It is definitely not an easy thing to do, no matter how DIY or how huge the operation is. A lot has changed in the music industry in the last twenty years as well. Always searching for a perfect beat and making it sound fresh. How did you succeed to do that?
Gilb’R: Maybe by not having a major success. More seriously, by having the passion for what I consider good, fresh music… And a lot of naivity, probably.
Also, I am so lucky with the artists I’m working with, who are so talented and keep it good since then.
I am, for exemple, working with Etienne Jaumet for ten years and with I:Cube since twenty two years… And they amaze me everytime. You will hear it this year too.
GASS: You have recently relocated from Paris to Amsterdam. What inspired you to do so and how do you feel living in the Dam?
Gilb'R: Love love love.
It was a conjonction of different things that made me move. My dutch girlfriend, my kids grew up, I was tired of Paris and needed a change. Amsterdam is exactly what I was looking for and I’m very grateful to everybody who warmly welcomed me. Size wise - it's perfect, airport wise - it’s perfect, weed wise - it’s amazing and life wise - it’s great.
I like the intimate feeling of the city and at the same time the fact that there is so much going on. I learned a lot about music and made some new friends.
GASS: Judging by your latest Redlight Radio shows you've got plenty in store for us this year with your Versatile Records label... Can you quickly update us on the upcoming releases we should be keeping our ears peeled for?
Gilb’R: As I said, this year will be crazy and it will be impossible to release it all. Here is an overview of what's to come.
We just released a beautiful synth LP record by Jonathan Fitoussi and Clemens Hourrière called Espaces timbrés.
We currently have three records in the production, all to be released in May... Rex Ilusivii compilation. All unreleased music from the late Serbian mastermind. A 7” from Oeil Cube, with an old jam from 1996 and a great edit from Abel of Redlight Records.This one is for the boogie lovers. Then, a double pack from the unstopable I:Cube - five heavy club tunes. In September, Antoine Kogut and the solo project of the guy who made Syracuse with Isabelle on Antinote few years ago. Etienne Jaumet’s new album, where he covers jazz classics in his own fashion. There is a new Chateau Flight 12” - five new tracks that we've recently recorded in Amsterdam. This is a first record in five years, I think. Some music of mine as well and a 7” of Noredine Staifi, unsung algerian hero from late 80’s.
GASS: How do you find the music for your label? It doesn't seem like you're the type of guy, who spends his nights on Soundcloud listening to demos. What is your process of releasing other people's music on your label? How do you find them and what is important for you?
Gilb’R: I do try to listen to what I receive and it’s often a nightmare but there are good surprises sometimes. It is mainly the usual suspects and some people I know. I want to see the mind of the people behing their music. I don’t like musical tricks and the production is also important to me. And of course, I like to be surpised.
GASS: How does a young talented person get lucky to be signed to Versatile?
Gilb’R: Acutally, I wish to sign a younger breed, as we are all almost over forty on the label but who cares?
GASS: Over the years, you've been involved in so many projects with so many people including your label mates. I:Cube new record is on its way. What are your plans for solo or collaborative releases.
GILB’R: Well, I finally got Cube to come over here. The orginal plan was just to hang out but it turned out like five days, and in five days, we’ve made five tracks. Cube mixed them afterwords but they were already structured when we finished the session. I think, we never made music that fast. I am really happy with the result. It is a sort of the trip from 132 ultra trippy techno to jackin house, an ambient tune and even some short electro funk funny skit. So the vibe was totally intact and somehow got even better, cause ever since, we’ve both, kind of, improved. I also have to big up the Red Light records crew, espcailly my boy and the great dj Calypso Steve, who allowed us to take any record we wanted to sample. He just let the shop open all night long for us… You get the vibe? That’s Amsterdam, even if Calypso Steve is Scotish.
GASS: What is your take on digital music releases vs vinyl releases? It seems like the hype of releasing music the minute you rendered it is fading away and people are into buying a complete product like vinyl again but there is a big digital market out there which you can't ignore...
GILB’R: I don’t ignore it. I again ( and again ) had a long coversation about it with Cube yesterday, who’s more attached to the vinyl thing. Me too but as a DJ, I find it very much handy to play with a ( USB ) stick. I spent a lot of time encoding records and I still do... A lot of records every month. But I find vinyl fetishism pretty ridiculous and it comes from DJ’ing, to be honest.
For the rest, we’ve never made a digital only release. The opposite - yes, it happened and still does.
GASS: Let's talk about the artwork. How do you connect the artwork and the music together for your Label? Who does the artwork and how important is that for you or your releasing artists.
GILB’R: We have been working with La Boca for years. He’s great but very busy nowadays. So the last years, Cube made the artwork. For some projects ( like Zombie Zombie ), artists choose their artwork. I consider it normal for an artist to like what he has on his record. So as you see, it is pretty heteroclite. The latest Fitoussi/Hourrière record has a crazy artwork, with an extra printed plastic cover for some of the Moiré effect, and honestly, when I see this record in the shops, I think it was worth all that effort...
GASS: We know you are heavily into photography. Recently you had your own opening in Amsterdam representing your new book - The Fluid. Tell us more about this passion of yours?
GILB’R: I have been taking pictures since many years now. I also had a lab in my parents basement back if the days. As I explain in the little text in my book, it is the opposite process from the music. I have to think fast, don’t ask myself too many questions and it’s pretty much it is done when I press the button. The chance factor is also essential. It is also a good way to explore places with my open eyes. I also like the solitary aspect of it, which changes me from the dj world.
GASS: What do you think it takes to be a badass DJ?
GILB’R: Guts, or ( equivalent for women ) technique and intuition.
GASS: We are super excited to welcome you to our 1st Belgian Midnight Chardonnay Edition. We love you as a DJ and the fact that your sets are always so diverse and never one straight up genre of music.
As a selector, can you give out a few names or a few new records that you're listening to nonstop at the moment?
GILB’R: I am not a selector ( even I know this name is very trendy right now ), I am definitly a DJ!
Really like the Wa Wa Wino Crew, Jan Schulte is also very productive and interesting and there is always a minimum 20% of unreleased Versatile stuff in my sets. Some of them won’t even be ever released.
Photos 1, 2, 3, 4 are Gilb'R's photography.