Crafting zaps and zings with The Gene Dudley Group

When you first sit back and take listen to The Gene Dudley Group, you can only wonder how many people were involved in creating this musical masterpiece filled with deep soul and funky music, but the joke it seems is on you.  It is in fact, a one-band man. At the age of 11 Gene Dudley knew how to play the guitar, by 15 the piano and at the age of 16 the drums. The 27-year-old self-taught instrumentalist resides in North London, his method is to grab an instrument, learn it and once he gets bored move onto something else.  

Gene Dudley reveals to Stimulate Your Soul about what it’s like creating music in your undies at his home studio, how he created an electronic synth which he dubbed the ‘Space Bongo,’ and why he stopped playing the violin because it would make a grown man cry. Margaret Tra writes.

You are one talented man; they say men can’t multi-task… how do you do it?

Thank you. I don’t really know how – I just do. I’ve loved playing music since a really young age. Once I get a grasp of an instrument, I get a little bored and grab something else. It’s a great way of brining that naive joy back into music making. Grab an instrument – and once you’re getting a sound out of it you’re well on your way!

You have a studio in your bedroom, do you or do you not make music in your undies? If so does this have an effect on your sound?

You could say that. The main way it affects my music is that I record music when I really feel inspired. When I don’t I go and do something else. Having your own studio is an ultimate freedom as far as that goes.

How did you learn to play all these instruments?

I’m self taught on every instrument I play. I’m not anti education in anyway, but I had a good understanding of guitar by the age of 11. That went across to piano smoothly at about 15, and drums was at the age of 16 – after school & college. I went to learn about recording as a student. That meant free studio time more than it did getting educated and I really got to feel for how to make complete music. Doing music by yourself makes it a great hobby, a way to fill your time whenever you feel up for it. Horns I got into a few years ago in my early 20s – I just went out and bought a cheap starter trumpet and was watching you tube clips how to play the basics. It grew from there. I got obsessed with it and within a few weeks was recording parts on it. Now I have a decent grasp on it and love it! Same happened with saxophone. Only that came really quick. That’s an enjoyable instrument to get going on! You can get a sound in a day. A melody in a week. Do a gig after a few months. I’m no expert but knowing the rudimentary in lots of instruments can get you pretty far with the right arrangements. Having limitations can help make song writing decisions for too!

In a live performance you chose to use young musicians to help you out, why is that? And how do you select them?

They’d be flattered by the term young musicians. It came really naturally – I got offered a gig supporting The Hot 8 Brass Band in London and asked around some friends and there it was. I’ve been doing music a while now. So I know a lot of great musicians and people.

You are quite experimental, what would be the weirdest tool you’ve used as an instrument?

I’m into my soldering and building equipment and effects. I built this electronic synth drum which I named ‘Space Bongo’ it gives out these tasty Sly & Robbie style zaps and zings. That’s probably up there in the weird list.

Is there one instrument you are completely bad at playing?

I bought a violin. Big mistake… I can do this fast tremolo thing on it that I’ve recorded a few times – but everything else I try and play sounds repressing, depressing and would make a grown man cry.

Walk us through your musical process. What would a typical session be like?

I normally throw some piano chords on a track first. Then I jump on drums and lay a beat. Grab the bass – get me some low end. Then I grab a trumpet or sax and start making up some melodies – layer those up nice and thick. Grab some effects, tape echo and spring reverb mostly. Start getting fresh with all that lot, maybe pop some guitar in after to link it all together. It can make for a great day.

What is next for you?

Plenty of gigging! Want to spread this record out to people who are in need of a new record!

What stimulates your soul?

Surprise, surprise – music. It’s so broad, that even when you’re totally bored of one angle of it, you can turn to a totally fresh angle and the love comes right back.

Listen to The Gene Dudley Group.