- Wed, 2012-02-15 17:10
Over the last eight years Boys Noize,a.k.a. Alexander Ridha, has grown to become one of dance music’s most respected figures. His forward-thinking blend of electro, house and techno has captivated and excited fans in the form of both his own singles and albums, as well as remixes and productions for other artists. His most recent venture has been to team up with the legendary French producer Mr Oizo to create the production outfit Handbraekes.
I Like Music hooked up with Boys Noize in Berlin via Skype to chat about the Mr Oizo collab, whether software will ever truly replicate the vintage synthesizer, Kraftwerk, and what Boysnoize Records has up its sleeve for 2012.
"I Like Music because ... the music likes me." Boys Noize
ILM: What have you been up to recently?
Boys Noize: It’s been a bit quiet in the last month for me. I’m taking some time off right now. Having a holiday, you know! I’m back in my studio and really want to work on some new stuff: new tracks and a new album. I just want to enjoy my time in Berlin. For the next six months I’m not doing many gigs. Just one a month, and no festivals this year.
ILM: No festivals? Everyone is going to be really disappointed!
Boys Noize: Yeah, I just really wanna concentrate on the new album and enjoy my time in Berlin for once!
ILM: It’s awesome to see Boys Noize team up with Mr Oizo on the Handbraekes project, how did that come about?
Boys Noize: I was always one of the biggest Mr Oizo fans, he's one of my few hero-producers. A couple of years ago I came to know that he was a fan of my music and was very happy about it! We met at a festival, did a club gig together then just started to meet more often. I invited him to Berlin once, then I went out to him in L.A., so we were always becoming better friends with each other, and we just thought “hey, why don’t we try to do something together?”
It was a very, very uncomplicated way with him. We realised that we both have a very similar approach in our own music. We have a lot of fun with it and don’t take things too serious. He was sending me a few noisy bits; really Mr Oizo style. Different kinds of noises and glitches, and no music. I cut my way through it and added some beats and arrangement. That was really it. We did everything over the internet, and never met in a room. All the tracks on the EP were the ones that I finished the quickest, tracks that just took me a couple of hours. It’s been a lot of fun, and I like it that way. A lot of people take their music too serious.
ILM: Can we expect any more Handbraekes material?
Boys Noize: We haven’t done any new stuff so far, but if everything goes right we’ll do another one. The reactions are very diverse, which we like a lot. A lot of fans of mine get so upset with the music. They just hate it so much! I love it when I see that reaction, because for me it’s the most fun to fuck people off with my music. That’s how I started off in the first place. I had a lot of people who were really not into it, and a lot of people who were really into it. For me that’s always really fun to see. I saw so many funny comments about people hating the stuff [laughs]!
ILM: I saw some amazing photos of your studio recently, you've got an impressive collection of synthesizers. There’s a lot of software available these days built to emulate those vintage synth sounds; do you think they can ever replace the real thing?
Boys Noize: No, I don’t think so. They do something else, but they can’t really replace it. I’m not saying that either of them is better than the other, but the synths themselves and the way you record them is a total different approach. When you record a drum machine or an analogue synth you always tweak it while you record. Also, the way you record it...sometimes you have the cheapest cables, and that already gives another character to it, or you run through some panels... I think it gives a bit more life to it.
On the other side, I use a lot of plug-ins as well. I’m super-interested in the new ways of destroying or making sounds. So, for my world it’s really the way in the middle, but I try to record everything analogue first, and then bring it into the digital world. It was the same with the Handbraekes stuff as well, and I think you can hear it. It’s not as generic as electronic music can be nowadays. Again, I don’t think you can make better music with analogue stuff, it’s really more subjective. For me it’s always more fun to turn the nobs on the synth than clicking with the mouse. So it’s more a personal taste thing.
ILM: Destroying sounds...? How do you go about that?
Boys Noize: Well, it’s tough nowadays to really create new sounds. I guess it’s more a matter of putting new sounds together that haven’t been together before. Destroying a sound for me is always a good way of using a sound that is better known, but then changing it. You can do it with different things. You can use some weird effects pedals, or plug-ins... There are some great plug-ins today from places like Sugar Bytes or Audio Damage that you run things through and random stuff happens. I’m a big fan of randomness in music, especially in electronic music. If you record some of that randomness and find good bits in it then you can definitely find a way to stick out a bit compared to other producers who do similar stuff.
ILM: A Boys Noize label collection, BNR Trax 01-10, is being released on beautiful red vinyl. Could you tell us a bit about your passion for vinyl? Does it play a big part in your sets?
Boys Noize: I’m not playing with vinyl anymore because it’sw just too tough with travelling. I play CDs, but I record a lot of my vinyls, so I have a lot of exclusive tracks that people haven’t heard. It’s always good for a DJ to have secret weapons! So vinyl does actually play a big part in my set, because a lot of the tracks I play haven’t been out digitally yet, and that’s a good thing for me.
I have a huge record collection too. Around 10,000-15,000 records at home. I use them for productions and inspiration. They play a big part in my life. I still buy vinyl as well. I try to go out every week to find vinyl. It changed a lot in the last year with vinyl. Nowadays I think it’s very important to buy vinyl again because there are so many young guys and labels that do release things on vinyl only, so you find a lot of special tracks; white labels, bootlegs. Also, I just love going into a record store and listening to the track on your headphones rather than on your laptop speakers. On the laptop you can never hear the bass unless you put it on a big soundsystem. Vinyl is still alive in my life!
ILM: Do you think vinyl will outlive the CD?
Boys Noize: It’s tough to say! Some people say yes. I honestly don’t know. With my label vinyl sales are so, so down. Two or three years ago people thought it was the worst time for vinyl, but it just became worse and worse. Nowadays it’s not a tool to play music, it’s rather a collector’s item. People put it somewhere like a painting on a wall: “I have this vinyl, it’s so old-school and cool!” It’s not the kind of cultural thing that it used to be. It’s not so important for the new generation.
ILM: We’ll just have to wait and see...
Boys Noize: Yeah. Though what I can see right now is that more and more DJs that played with a laptop are now playing CDs. They realise that it’s not so cool to be playing in the nightclub with a laptop. But I don’t know if that helps or not!
ILM: When do you find that you’re at your most creative?
Boys Noize: I’ve had moments of inspiration a lot when I was on holidays. When I didn’t hear any music or any sounds, then suddenly my brain starts to make sounds. I’ve had it in the last three years when I was on holiday for a month somewhere that there was nothing, and suddenly I get all these ideas. A lot of great tracks that I’ve done, I did the main idea when I was on holiday.
ILM: Have you been sent any cool promos or come across anything new on the scene that has particularly inspired you?
Boys Noize: I get sent so much stuff, you wouldn’t believe it!
ILM: Do you get to listen to it all?
Boys Noize: Yeah, I try to! I’m so interested in it. I’m a fan as well! I wanna find that young guy that I’m a fan of and support him. It’s my passion. I just found this young guy called SCNTST, who is now already signed to Boys Noize Records. He’s very inspiring. He’s 17 and he sends me so much music. He reminds me a bit of me as well, maybe that’s why I like him! He hasn’t been DJing that much, but it’s just great to see the possibilities of making music on your laptop. He does so much great stuff. There’s a lot of young guys who just grew up in a different musical surrounding. Where I was always the guy who was always sampling ‘70s or ‘80s records because of the house thing, those guys are like “well why don’t we sample Mary J Blige from 2003?” That’s really cool. They can do a lot of interesting things with that new view.
ILM: I saw you tweeting about Kraftwerk the other day. What influence have they had on your music?
Boys Noize: They're a big time influence. I have to say, I'm a sucker for robot voices or all types of voices that are not sounding too human. That was a big part of their music as well. Also, their minimal approach. It's just fantastic to get emotions and interesting sounds with not a lot of things and they do this so good. They do it so well. I just met a friend of mine called Atom TM – who also makes tracks as Senor Coconut and a lot of different names; he’s made like 3000 tracks already – and he’s also into all that. He knows one of the guys from Kraftwerk. So yeah, I’m a big fan!
ILM: Do you remember when you heard them for the first time?
Boys Noize: I think it was in the ‘80s with my brother. I have a brother who is ten years older, so I definitely heard some Kraftwerk at home when I was a kid.
ILM: What are your plans for the rest of the year?
Boys Noize: There’s a lot! There’s a new Boys Noize & Erol Alkan coming very soon. I just mastered the two new tracks yesterday, and they will be released through Boys Noize probably at the end of March. Before that we’re gonna do a Miami Moize compilation that sounds really, really great. Then we’re gonna release some new remixes for Spank Rock: Addison Groove did two remixes, SebastiAn did one and SCNTST did two...and I did a remix of the SCNTST remix [laughs]! That’s all gonna be out at the beginning of April. We’ll also be celebrating seven years of Boys Noize in April as well. For that we’re gonna do a ‘best of’ compilation: BNR Volume 2, which I’m just about to choose the best tracks for. Then what else...? Strip Steve is working on a new album, which he’s about to finish very soon. It’s very house, very disco. There will be a new SCNTST EP, a new Djedjotronic EP, and of course some new stuff of my own. I’ll try to release a new EP or single by the summer time. And I’ll just take it easy ‘til then. I’m not leaving my studio until July!
This interview prompted the following feature - Boys Noize made me dig Kraftwerk vinyl