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Israeli DJ Guy Gerber Breaks the Mold With Diddy

Dance music broke so big, so quickly, that it often feels normal to talk about artists solely in terms of earnings or major festival bookings. Yet EDM’s big tent allows for plenty of producers and DJs who would still be making the same music even without the brand partners and major agencies involved.

Israeli techno whiz Guy Gerber is one such figure. A former rock musician, Gerber spent years as a sort of Frank Zappa of the Ibiza scene, with last year’s “Wisdom of the Glove” and this year’s “Rumors” shows introducing a touch of the avant-garde into the resort island’s soundwaves. Next month, his counterintuitive album-length collaboration with Sean “Diddy” Combs, “11:11,” looks to spread the confusion even further.

On collaborating with Combs: Part of my idea, when he wanted to do something with me, was to do something that would be shocking. Because he’s so famous and known for what he does, I thought if we did something kind of emotional and deep and not at all in your face, that would be the most shocking … I come from the more cutting edge underground world, so doing something with Puff, people might think it would be very commercial and not so easy to support. But I was determined to do something that someone like my mom could understand, but also some afterparty guy who plays only vinyl in Berlin can see that it’s cool.

On getting attention from brands and fashion houses (Fendi and Givenchy are among the brands that have recently reached out): I think the medium is the message. I like when things touch a lot of people and bring them together. But at the same time, how ridiculous is it to have me, with my personality, which I would say is not the most conventional, get to the point where these people are approaching me? I don’t compromise at all. Like zero. So when these people were coming, I did think of it as a little victory. Not only for myself, but also for the people in the genre that I’m coming from.

On the rise of mainstream EDM: This business may be booming in the U.S., but this music comes from all different kinds of styles and sounds, yet a lot of people only hear the (mainstream) EDM stuff. Me personally, all of the EDM bullshit doesn’t really upset me, because I feel like it’s something else completely than what I’m doing. Most of the time I can’t even call it electronic music, it’s just like, really shitty pop. Because pop can be great: Justin Timberlake has great producers, and sometimes he’s really funky. But this other stuff is just music to bang your head to and get fucked up and scream. … It’s like this permanent spring-break music. There’s just nothing there.

On dream projects: I have this inspiration to do a beautiful ballad with Chris Isaak. That’s my out-of-the-blue idea.

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