Aphex Twin’s free new sound design software ‘Samplebrain’ has been 20 years in the making
Berlin based Alex Ridha has been DJing in clubs since the age of 16. Ten years later he has found international success in production as Boys Noize with a mutant take on techno like his peers Justice and Erol Alkan. Though he doesn’t play live Ridha is a technically incredible DJ with sets filled with his own music and remixes, he also has an arsenal of weapons from his label Boys Noize Records (BNR). Since 2003 he has signed Housemeister, Sirisimo, D.I.M, Strip Steve, and Shadow Dancer and has recently taken the latter three on tour with him coming to the UK this week to take in dates in Manchester and London. Expect to hear new tracks from his second album due in September. Dummy caught up with him the day before he mastered his new single. “I’ve just been i-chatting with Erol Alkan about what to call it. I think it might be called Thunderdome.” Sounds like it’s going to be a noizy one.
You and your Boys Noize crew have just returned from the Miami Winter Music Conference. How was that?
Miami is a strange place. A lot of the hipsters don’t get in the clubs because they wear trainers and so you get a lot of guys with the big cigars and the cheap girls hanging around. It’s cool in one sense because there is a bigger audience now for the kind of sound we play and also labels like Mad Decent but at the same time, a lot of the people come from a commercial background so we don’t want our music hi-jacked by them. In the States it’s really at the peak of all the hard noisy stuff. They are a bit behind, it’s like New Rave over there at the moment. In Europe people are more open and are educated to new sounds quicker.
What do you look for in an artist when you sign them to BNR?
I’m never looking for a hit, just something that will surprise me. I’ve been producing for ten years or more and so I have good ears for production and what is new and different. I’m a big fan of rough electronic music, the kind that could be made in your bedroom, like all the early Moodymann music. Everyone on the label is quite different; Strip Steve is more filter house and sample based, he is the baby of the label. He recently moved to Berlin too. We need young guys who don’t give a shit. His demo’s make me laugh, his ideas of what house music is are too ridiculous. He’s intelligent but has an attitude which is quite rare at that age. And he has a lot of special ideas. Housemeister is more analogue and Sirisimo is a proper musician, he never DJ’s. He plays piano and guitar and used to be in a band. But he’s also a famous graffiti artist over here and he is busier with his drawing so it is hard for us to interest him in playing live or DJing. You have to respect his decision.
Shadow Dancer has a new album out too…
It has been good to support him on the tour He has a more cut up, electronic style than the rest of us. It’s best if he plays earlier in the night as his sound is not for tired ears. It’s quite a complicated style. I found him on MySpace something I started using quite late. I just came across him. It’s a good way for me to find acts. I don’t A&R acts that much though, I like to give them some freedom though I am there if they need an outside opinion. Luckily with Shadow Dancer the tracks he chose for the album were also the ones I would have chosen, so that was easy.
How did you meet D.I.M? You’ve worked with him for some time haven’t you?
D.I.M I met in 1997 through a record shop I worked in in Hamburg. I was already DJing and someone asked me if I wanted to make music and they hooked me up with him. I was already trying with a shitty programme I used at home and he had the same one so that helped. We produced together for four or five years as Kid Alex. Then I moved to Berlin and went solo as Boys Noize. He’s a very good friend, a super personality and a good laugh. He never used to like my early Boys Noize demos and now his music is often harder than mine. It’s very noisy and in your face. But then he is an old punk.
Your new album is out later this year, have you been trying out any new tracks on the tour?
I play seven or eight new tracks in my DJ sets at the moment. I’m going to release two tracks in June. The first side is what people will expect from me, a Boys Noise banger. The other track is more housey, a happier sound. The forthcoming album kind of takes up from where the first one left off. They are tracks you can play in a club. I don’t want singing on my album and it’s not that I’m lazy, it’s just what Boys Noize is about. If I want to make a different kind of album then I will use a new name for that project.
What else have you been working on?
I’ve been producing the new Gonzales album. There’s some disco stuff, Ennio Morricone sounding stuff with a touch of Boys Noize. There’s also some perfect pop. It’s mostly instrumental. It’s fun to work with him as he does everything perfectly in one take. He’s a super great talent.
Do you think you will ever take Boys Noize out live?
People thought I played live after Oi Oi Oi came out but I was just using the CDJ’s and playing the album tracks but with separate parts and live edits. If it was just me up there with a lap top I think I would die. Clicking away up there. It would be frustrating to watch. I’m still waiting to think of a great visual idea.
You looking forward to playing Manchester and London this weekend then?
Yes I can’t wait. The kids that came out last time I was in those cities were very open to what I was playing. I’m going to play some fresh music, test out some of my album tracks.