The ‘guy from downstairs’; usually the name tag given to a person you may pass by from time to time that may know little or nothing about. Usually there’s a sense of wonder about what they get up to or what their about, but nine times out of ten they remain an enigma within close range. This ‘Guy From Downstairs’ started much the same, in both the literal and fabled sense of meaning. MEOKO got a chance to de-mystify the ‘Guy From Downstairs’ as some insight into his underground odyssey was given…
So… GFD, Guy From Downstairs, Victor? I think your name has to be one of the most original names that people come across when they’re first introduced to your music; I guess i’d like to know how did you get to that name? A guy named Colin told me a story once;
Well, around 2008-2009 I ended up living in England in the same house with friends from back home Romania. I‘d never released music officially at that point and I was getting ready for my first digital EP. The amigo named Colin (which you mentioned – he was living above my room) was the one who simply made a joke that I should use “Guy From Downstairs” since I was living in one of the rooms on the ground floor, making beats all day. Lacking any second option that moment, I said, “sure why not” 🙂 He’s a very special friend of mine, not only did he come up with the moniker that I use today but he was also one of the first people who opened my eyes to the deeper, “special” minimal sound.
Haha… Very original indeed! So Colin first introduced you to the “special underground music”. What were you listening to back then?
Oh man, a bunch of stuff. First, I wouldn’t say I knew too much about that type of techno before getting to England. Of course I would hear the classic house – kind of sound – here and there and I loved that, but I was all about Hip Hop mostly. The turning point was when I met my friends in England that were into the underground minimal scene. It changed my perception of sound, of what you can do with a rhythm and how you can use some elements to create magic. I was already into producing hip hop instrumentals but then I found some records that made me reconsider what I wanted to express in a track. For example, I certainly remember that my brain went really crazy when I heard “Gow – Jiffy Hornswoggle”.
It’s also funny that I started to discover the music that Romanian artists were making when I was living in the UK. I think Ali Nasser, Negru, Livio & Roby and [a:rpia:r] were the first ones that I listened to.
Hip hop seems to have a strong foundation with a lot of Djs and producers in the underground scene. It’s funny that you discovered home grown talent in the UK! So it was production first and DJing followed?
Yes, production was first. My personal experience with the transition was that I could find more room for creativity in the minimal sound. The “trippiness“, the oddness, the improvisations that turn into jams, the feelings that you can express through some rhythms and patterns, the analog machines, the people getting together to enjoy the never-ending music. I got hooked immediately, could’t help myself! Of course Hip Hop is still my first love, but my religion is the minimal sound. Or the house sound. Or is it techno? I don’t know, that’s why I always hate to label it. 🙂
And yes, in terms of labels its all of the above, there are way too many, but those three are just perfect. Your experience is one we all share, so your “religion” is more than appreciated. You’ve had many releases in recent years both digital and vinyl, but this year you decided to launch your own label; GFD. Firstly congratulations, I know the first release GFD001 had a lot of success and initially sold out. What made you take the leap into creating your own imprint?
Thanks! What made me create the imprint? Hmm, well maybe just because it’s fun to release music just the way you want to without any pressure 🙂 At first I didn’t regard it as a label in its traditional term, mostly thinking about releasing a little 12-inch collection with some of the tracks that, I felt, represent my sound to the core. I was really happy to see the positive feedback from the start.
GFD002 was released this November, and hopefully it has the same impact as the first release. It must be a good feeling when you find footage, with the likes of tINI & Bill Patrick, Daniel Bell, Livio & Roby, Tofu Productions and more playing your GFD sound around the world?
Yes, I’m always happy to see when the music gets to the right ears and I know that the infinite hours spent locked in the studio pay off when people are feeling your tracks on a massive sound system somewhere “out there”, whether it’s a dark London club or a tent by the Black Sea.
I can imagine it must be a cray sense of fulfilment?! The GFD label artwork is pretty funky, is that your creative influence or is it all left to the artist?
The dude that creates the artwork, Alexandru Ceaus, is my former desk mate from high school, one of my best friends today. We share a common love for urban art and cartoons; I always loved his style and I could not conceive the label without his drawings. Either he wants it or not,he now has a job for life as visual artist for the GFD label.
Keep them coming! Do you have any plans to collaborate on the GFD label, or will you keep it just for your own productions?
Yes I’ve been working with a few friends that I connect with very well in the studio; there will also be collaborations featured on some of the upcoming GFD releases. Who/what/where – you’ll find maybe sooner than you know 🙂
We look forward to more from the label 🙂 A quick rewind to 2014; you made a trip to Ibiza to play at Sankeys on the Randall M & friends line up. Was this a massive turning point in the GFD story?
Yes, it was! I got to see Ibiza for the first time and had a great time playing alongside Randall in the Spektrum room at Sankeys; it was amazing to experience the island, spend time with friends and simply enjoy every moment!
Fast forward to 2016 and the I guess I could say you have been back on tour? The US and Berlin have had the privilege of the GFD sound. Firstly, how was the US?
It was sweet (and super hot!); was really looking for the chance to spin in the US at some point in the “GFD story” and this year, in August, it finally happened. I’ve played a couple of parties in Brooklyn, hosted by my lovely people from Green Room, one in a very colourful ”Brooklnyesque“ location and another one on a rooftop all night long. And. also in Miami at the Electric Pickle for my friends from Unmute which was super lovely!
And more recently your played in Berlin?
Berlin was more recently and it was also an awesome experience and a milestone for me. I was lucky to have my debut at Chalet, from 5am, picking up the decks from Julian Perez, playing through the morning for a few hours. Loved every second of the vibe 🙂
Sounds like an amazing summer, but one work hard for over the years. What does the Bucharest winter have in store for GFD?
Did you say “GFD showcases”? Or maybe I dreamed about it.
Haha, some weird telepathy going on here… Well?
Bucharest always likes to be surprised. So I will do how Bucharest pleases; surprises will be.
Keep us posted, we’ll be keeping a keen eye on what’s in store & thank you for your time.
And thank you!
Listen MEOKO Podcast 233 x GUY FROM DOWNSTAIRS
Interview by Anwaar
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