GSD – The Surfadelic Summer Sound

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By Stewart Filbey

Photo credits –

Lomas Gration skate shot 
Adam Firman car shot
Daria hupov Polaroids

Nearly 5 years ago now there was a time we were confined to a lockdown, dreams of waves lapping at your feet or the feeling of sand between your toes were so distant. We could only dream of meeting up with friends on the beach for a surf, skate or BBQ.

Whilst being caught up in the Lockdown in Rome these dreams were being turned into sounds, the idea for a concept based loosely around the inspiration of MGMT, Foster The People and Jamiroquai tied in with the the longing for beach holidays or being by the pool and that feeling of freedom was being encapsulated by upcoming sensation GSD aka Leo Robarts.

After much success with his bands Sweet Crisis and Kontroversi the pandemic forced Leo to be creative alone as he found he had no contact with anyone, no one to mix or record with no bands available so after a long time of lockdown and after toying with some ideas while away Leo returned to England an opportunity presented itself for Leo to look after his grandfathers home in Grantchester in the Meadows as his grandfather was in Australia. Leo had some time alone and undisracted so he built a home studio/laboratory in the living room and began to experiment and GSD and the very first concept titled Unmixed and Unlocked was created.

This attracted the attention of ASongs a UK publisher and the very first EP was produced with close friend Jasper Byrne and Living Young, Living Free EP was born. The success of the first EP has led him on a path to secure US Publishing and the opportunity to record with Graham Cohen at the London based studio The Old Hit Factory.

GSD is project that is a unique blend of guitar inspired retro wave funky dance music for lack of a better description or as we have come to call it Surfadelic. Its a west coast beach inspired soundtrack to happy summer times and all the feelings that summer envokes.

During these last few years GSD has had incredible success and critical acclaim for his single releases Ripples, Living Young (Living Free) Freshly Cut Grass, Melted Brain, Valley of Gold, Little Old Surf Song, Forever to name but a few. With his latest release Footsteps this week this makes it a whole hat trick of singles that have attracted the attention of BBC Sounds and BBC Introducing Record of the Week.

Leo has been incredibly busy creating a whole back catalogue of music of this very unique subgenre, his passion behind the project and the creativity involved with the production of his work really makes each individual track a very different journey. Although he equally still managing to maintain this nostalgic feeling of good times in the heat if summer to an electronic back drop, its like a vision of the future of music from someone living their best life on a beach in 1985.

It’s a very postive projection of happiness with a feeling of optimism that things will get better from the perspective of being in a lockdown and having these things taken away.

Now the lockdown is long gone the GSD live show experience came. After several successful local performances of a one man show, GSD playing a combination of Synths and Guitars live using an interface and several other instruments at his disposal. This one man experience starting showing quite literally the world what GSD is and how GSD can influence you to think that life is not all bad and that the Freshly Cut Grass is always Greener!

GSD has played to crowds in the US, Italy, Bulgaria, France as well as local shows in Cambridge and London. The success of these shows has led to the creation of The Summer Sounds Collective. This is a regular event that is hosted by GSD and SMF Production Services in which the aim is to bring together a collection of artists that all share the same principles as GSD and have similar visions so spreading positive energy and nostalgia. A club night with live performances and DJs.

The very first Summer Sounds Collective show was in Cambridge and featured very good friends GoodVibes Sounds which they can be best described as if (Pink Floyd spent 6 weeks at an Ibiza retreat in the late 80s!) but they’re a whole other article to write. The night also features DJ Mr Margret Scratcher who spins classic funk, disco and retro dance classics in is very own style and unique DJ performance.

The whole idea of Summer Sounds is to bring the sunshine and beach indoors to any venue at any time of the year!

Summer Sounds has had such succes that the event was brought to London and the Summer Sounds Collective was hosted on a boat on the Thames which was a full house and a truly epic evening loved by all.

Since then GSD has now put together his full debut album Aquatic Fantastic. A deep dive into life and everything that is good about life and everything you feel or want to feel in the summer or just when you need some sunshine to lift you up out of the darkness and remind you that things are not all bad and if you keep taking Footsteps in the right direction we could all reach our own Valley of Gold.

Aquatic fantastic is not due until an August release which it will have a full album launch party in London with a Summer Sounds Collective one day event, a Boat Party in fact! Tickets will be on sale soon and potentially special guests to announce so watch this space. I will also follow this up with a full album review.

I hope that anyone happening to read this article pays GSD a visit on Spotify and has a listen to his extensive back catalogue and finds something they can connect to. GSD is currently on Coupe De Ville Records and has just recently been signed by big Los Angeles based publishers Rip Tide so there are big things happening.

So I highly recommend getting aboard on this Aquatic Fantastic Surfadelic journey especially with the summer on the horizon and find your BBQ or Surf soundtrack.

Link to music and Bio –

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