You may know him under the Guy From Downstairs diguise, you may not know him hiding behind some obscure aliases or the frustrating Unknown Artist (but, hey, we need a bit of mystery in our lives). An odd name, probably related to some angry neighbours that don’t give a shit about the beauty of a muffled bassline coming from his flat / studio on a Sunday morning and an intriguingly sunny atmosphere throughout his production efforts draw up a positive personality for Victor. So, curious about what lies beneath the music we had a long chat with GFD about inspiration, influences, studio gear, record labels and vibes.
Parts of these radiant vibes are breathing into his tracks, even if he didn’t intend it. “What I intend or not, I believe it’s up to the ones that hear the music to decide how they feel, in the end. The sound is moody and feelings can be of different kinds. Each track has its own vibe that fits to a specific moment in time and space. I’m usually good vibes but there are occasions when things can go in strange and odd directions too.”
Strange directions, indeed. Victor smiles from the center of an apparent chaos, in terms of musical ideas, wires, patterns and empty coffee jugs, a chaos that miraculously gives birth to his signature sound. “Most of the times I just start by throwing sounds around, creating patterns on the drum machines, trying combinations, playing with this and and that, see where it goes. Ideas are always laying around (or in my head), whether it’s a vocal I want to use, an old project that needs reviving, an atmsophere I want to create […] [mks_highlight color=”#d37e7e”]Things are pretty much chaotic. I guess through the years, some sort of natural/unconscious way of flowing has developed in the affair with production. I never have rules set to follow[/mks_highlight] I simply like to have fun, experience and jam as much as possible on the machines. In time you get a sense of what’s working and what not, so I try to keep things as lively and refreshing as possible. Kind of a “guided” randomness.”
Guy From Downstairs started his initiatic journey into electronic realms around 8 years ago, drawn by an inner calling of creating beats and the cultural context that comes with this urge. Early efforts appeared on Cossington College around 2012 yet the real breakthrough came in 2016 with the essential Torna Fratre EP from XIII. Jumping from a stripped down neverending beat to the sickest tech house molded in a deep textured cake form, the feeling is that inspiration comes from everywhere. “Inspiration comes from everything and from nothing. That sounds like a text you’d read on an bad motivational poster right? But it’s true! :) There are days when I jam in the studio from the moment I open my eyes until I go to sleep (the next day). Also there are periods when I can’t touch Ableton and everything I come up just doesn’t sound cool.”
Countless hours spent in the studio and tones of unreleased material waiting patiently in their binary form to be released into the wild underground evolved into his own vinyl imprint, sharing the same name. “I spend an awful lot of time tweaking before actual finishing a track but when I record on the spot I always like to keep a continuity going (like layering and automating), not worrying too much about eq-ing or sounding perfect. As much as I love analog, Ableton is still at the core of recording and putting everything together, so that’s also an important part of the creation process.”
In just a short amount of time his studio became his second home. “There’s always gear coming and going, old & new, but mostly, I use a few Electribes (which are my favorites), different TRs from Roland, some pedal FXs and a couple of vintage synths (like the Poly800). I process the drums through a 3-band EQ from Moog which adds some extra hot sauce. The 12-channel Mackie mixer goes into the Focusrite interface and a couple of midi controllers from Korg help me to map knobs and faders in Ableton. Also, for quite some time I’ve been lucky to host in my studio the Eurorack modular system courtsey of a very good friend. It has opened up a unique approach to making music so I’ve been recording large amounts of modular bonanza. Actually, now I’m running out of space from all the blips and blops. Of course 90% of the crazy stuff you’ll never use. Ever. But, hey! It’s. So. Much. Infinite. Fun.”
Although pretty happy with his musical environment, he wouldn’t say no to a hot-tub-on-a-terrace with panoramic view from the studio over the city: Frankly, I’m quite happy with the space I currently have, as I’m able to create and experiment as I once dreamed I would. Though I would go for better room acoustics, and it’s also true that you can never have enough gear. If I’d have to name specific equipment I would add, I would die for a Pultec EQ, a Roland Space Echo or a Korg Mini Pops, just to name a few :)) Surely, a panoramic view from the studio over the city, something like the 15th floor of a building, would definitely be part of that wet dream studio.
Assuming both the tough role of A&R and the ungrounded position of a producer, GFD takes inspiration from one side and feeds the other side. Or the other way around. It’s the result that counts: a volatile musical personality, changing in the most unexpected sound combinations, as proved with his latest release on Curtea Veche, Rodul. “It’s only natural to try to evolve and change is part of that process.[mks_highlight color=”#d37e7e”]Sound wise, my style (or vision, approach – however you want to call it) is something that’s part of me and probably that will never change.[/mks_highlight]At the same time, I’m always on a quest for making the productions sound better and better. That implies staying open-minded, learning every day new things about getting those frequencies right etc. So if there ever will be a change I hope it will come through improving :) “
Yet the best way to reveal sources of inspiration is to dig up Guy From Downstairs’ musical roots with a 5 track selection
Mistadobalina – Del The Funkee Homosapien
Florian Pittis – Sunt Tanar, Doamna
Circulation – Emotions Unknown
Underworld – Jumbo
Jean-Michel Jarre – Zoolookologie
** Roots aims to take a look at the electronic underground through a different perspective, filtered by the artists’ inspiration and influences, presenting the true values of the undeground scene.