Hard as a ”Brett”, then soft as butter again – the music of Alex Ridha aka Boys Noize is charmingly contrasting. That might be due to the fact that the German DJ, musician and producer lives in two worlds: a regular commute between Los Angeles and Berlin. Raves in America and underground clubs in Europe, two influences that are noticeable in his work and that also shape his current album “+/-”.
Alex began his career as a DJ at the age of 15, and today he is one of the world’s most sought-after musicians and producers. He has released countless tracks and remixes, and 12 entire albums, all on his own label Boysnoize Records. Of course everybody wants to work with him today. From superstars like Lady Gaga, Snoop Dogg or Rammstein to hip underground greats like Tommy Cash, Rico Nasty and Louis Vuitton’s Menswear creative director Virgil Abloh – who actually has Alex to thank for his very first track release a couple of years ago.
像“Brett”一样坚硬，然后又像黄油一样柔软——Alex Ridha aka Boys Noize 的音乐形成了鲜明的对比。这可能是因为这位德国 DJ、音乐家和制作人生活在两个世界：洛杉矶之间的定期通勤洛杉矶和柏林。美国的狂欢和欧洲的地下俱乐部，这两种影响在他的作品中很明显，也塑造了他当前的专辑“+/-”。
Alex 于 15 岁开始了他的 DJ 职业生涯，如今他已成为世界上最受欢迎的音乐家和制作人之一。他发行了无数曲目和混音作品，以及 12 张整张专辑，全部由他自己的厂牌 Boysnoize Records 发行。当然，今天每个人都想和他一起工作。从 Lady Gaga、Snoop Dogg 或 Rammstein 等超级巨星，到 Tommy Cash、Rico Nasty 和 Louis Vuitton 男装创意总监 Virgil Abloh 等时髦的地下巨星——实际上要感谢 Alex 几年前发布的第一首单曲。
Where do you live at the moment?
Most of the time I am in Berlin, but whenever I come to the United States I stay in LA and rent a place to work during the week and gig on weekends. I have been doing this for a few years .. trying to escape Germany for the winter season and happily I am able to do it and it works well so far.
You worked four years on your new album, why so long?
Well, I didn’t rush it. Over the past years I’ve recorded a lot of music and the album was finished a while ago. I wanted to be able to release it and play it in my DJ sets, so I’ve pushed the release back a little bit and it’s great, because now the album even makes more sense to be out post lockdown time. The world has changed. At the same time the songs and the sounds really didn’t age. A lot of time electronic music colleagues of mine they know that is important to fit the sound to the particular time, it’s going to come out immediately. But with this record I wanted to keep it as timeless as possible and I am pretty happy with the album.
好吧，我没有着急。在过去的几年里，我录制了很多音乐，这张专辑不久前就完成了。我希望能够发行它并在我的 DJ 演出中播放，所以我将发行推迟了一点，这很棒，因为现在专辑在锁定时间后发布更有意义。世界已经改变。与此同时，歌曲和声音真的没有变老。很多时候我的电子音乐同事都知道让声音适应特定时间很重要，它会立即出现。但是有了这张唱片，我想让它尽可能地永恒，我对这张专辑很满意。
What do you mean exactly when you say that the sound has to be particularly fit in the time?
There are always trends in music.
Like the 90’s trend now…?
Yeah, now it’s getting back to this trancy, ravy fast things and on the other side there is always techno stuff which got a little faster. Next year… who knows what’s next year. Maybe Dubstep comes back. There are a lot of producers who either start the trend or jump on the trend, and whenever there is a trend my reaction is to go the opposite way. For example, when everybody was producing minimal techno, I was not doing it. It’s just the way I am and just my personality. It takes me back to the times when I was working in the record store. I was working for like five years and a half in the record store called Underground Solution in Hamburg. During that time when you work there you get all the promo and records that are coming out later, so I would play those, but when the records would come out I would stop playing them, because everyone else plays them. I try to find new music, to have fun playing it, to impress other DJs seeing my selection and so on. When I play these records for me it doesn’t make sense. I take inspiration from club music and stuff, but if it comes to the sounds I am looking for something that I don’t hear in the records I play. I am looking for things that are perhaps missing in electronic music. I try to ask myself like .. well I am not doing it but intuitively… what I can contribute to electronic music, because basically everything has been done in the way and it’s a lot of recycling, production gets better and sounds better… I love to push myself into territories that haven’t been explored yet.
是的，现在它又回到了这种恍惚、快速的事物，而另一方面，总是有一些技术变得更快一些。明年……谁知道明年是什么。也许 Dubstep 会回来。有很多生产者要么开启趋势，要么顺势而上，每当有趋势出现时，我的反应就是反其道而行之。例如，当每个人都在制作极简技术时，我并没有这样做。这就是我的方式和我的个性。这让我回到了我在唱片店工作的时代。我在汉堡一家名为 Underground Solution 的唱片店工作了大约五年半。在那里工作的那段时间里，你会得到所有的宣传片和稍后发行的唱片，所以我会播放这些，但是当唱片发行时我会停止播放它们，因为其他人都在播放它们。我尝试寻找新音乐，玩得开心，给看到我选择的其他 DJ 留下深刻印象等等。当我为我播放这些唱片时，这是没有意义的。我从俱乐部音乐和其他东西中获得灵感，但如果涉及到声音，我正在寻找我在播放的唱片中没有听到的东西。我正在寻找电子音乐中可能缺少的东西。我试着问自己喜欢..好吧，我不是在做，而是凭直觉.我可以为电子音乐做出什么贡献，因为基本上所有的事情都已经按照这种方式完成了，并且大量回收，制作变得更好，听起来更好.我喜欢将自己推入尚未探索的领域。
Do you search for a specific sound for instance, when you say you want to contribute, or is it more of a construct of the track or a sound set?
Everything starts actually with the sound. I am not thinking of what track or style. I’ve got heavily into the modular world as well and my studio is full of gear. I know how sounds are being made and I hear when I play these records I would know how to create them.
The gear in your current studio…is it all yours? Do you bring all that equipment to Los Angeles? Can you take it to the airplane?
Yes, I brought my modular system here, just in a smaller kind of case.
That gives me the opportunity to build my own instrument and to create the sound. And basically polarity on the album it all started like this – the first check was green point and when I’ve made that sound – I had that moment where I thought ‘I have never heard this before’ – like in no single production in the whole entire world.
It’s funny, because it actually reminded me of The Art Of Noise.
Amazing, it’s a great reference, I love The Art Of Noise.
So, coming back to the gear which you brought by plane, is it the same that you brought to Lady Gaga’s apartment? Where she poured water over it accidentally?
Was it this equipment? That’s what’s cool about the modular system, basically that I can make a smaller version of it. Put together modules I think I need for a particular time. I did the same in that session I had, a similar case, a bit smaller than I have here with me now, but probably 50% of those modules were there as well and they survived the water.
是这个设备吗？这就是模块化系统的酷炫之处，基本上我可以制作一个更小的版本。将我认为我在特定时间需要的模块放在一起。我在那个会议上做了同样的事情，一个类似的案例，比我现在在这里的要小一点，但可能有 50% 的模块也在那里并且它们在水中幸存下来。
Back to your new album. You worked with many artists like Tommy Cash and Chili Gonzales. For journalists or most of the people who don’t make music they imagine the process of working together like a concept resulting in sending out requests. It’s probably more about liking each other and hanging out together. Is this correct?
Yes, it’s 100% my vibe. Every single person on the record – Kesley Lu, Ghost Culture, Jake Shears, Rico Nasty, Tommy Cash & so on – all of these people, we were all together in the studio and creating all together. For a long time when I make music and I make let’s say I make a beat like a “girl crush” beat, a slow techno industrial type of beat . A lot of time I am sitting in the studio thinking “What if”. What if a rapper would go over this or what if someone that I like would sing over this. And it’s basically never happened. Either I have never been able to be with a person that likes my music as much as I like theirs or I’ve been in the studio with a rapper and I would play them stuff and they’d like it, but they don’t see their voice on it. So for the first time on “polarity” the guests who are on the album are real connections. They aren’t afraid to dive into my music and I think that’s what really makes that special. The fact that Rico Nasty – coming from the rap world and trap music, like you know she plays all those rap festivals and so on – like for her to go on something like a beat from “girl crush” is crazy actually. There are not many records that I know from the past, where that type of collaboration was happening. So to me it’s that sort of musical fantasy coming true. The same with Kesley Lu… like she’s more in the classic world – she plays cello and maybe she did some records that are more that kind of universe. For her and me get together and make the track like “Love & Validation”, to me that’s the hot shit, the most amazing thing that can happen in music and I’ve never heard a record like this. And you know I love 80s, I love 90s music and obviously you can hear that in my music, but I don’t find these collaborations very often and it’s quite rare. So this is like the place, where polarity, the concept comes together, so you have these kind of almost paradoxical musical worlds. I was able to get them together and I really created something new to me and so every collaboration on this album sort of represents that.
回到你的新专辑。您与许多艺术家合作，例如 Tommy Cash 和 Chili Gonzales。对于记者或大多数不制作音乐的人来说，他们将合作的过程想象成一个概念，从而导致发出请求。这可能更多是关于互相喜欢和一起出去玩。这样对吗？
是的，这是我 100% 的感觉。记录中的每一个人——Kesley Lu、Ghost Culture、Jake Shears、Rico Nasty、Tommy Cash 等等——所有这些人，我们都在工作室里一起创作。很长一段时间，当我制作音乐并制作时，假设我制作的节拍类似于“女孩迷恋”节拍，一种缓慢的技术工业节拍。很多时候我坐在工作室里想“如果”。如果一个说唱歌手会唱这个，或者如果我喜欢的人会唱这个怎么办。而且基本上没有发生过。要么我从来没有像我喜欢他们一样喜欢我的音乐，要么我和一个说唱歌手一起在录音室里，我会演奏他们的东西，他们会喜欢，但他们不喜欢看到他们的声音就可以了。所以第一次在“polarity”上，专辑中的客人是真正的联系。他们不怕潜入我的音乐，我认为这才是真正的特别之处。事实上，Rico Nasty – 来自说唱界和陷阱音乐，就像你知道她参加所有那些说唱节等等 – 喜欢让她继续像“女孩迷恋”那样的节拍实际上是疯狂的。我从过去知道的记录并不多，发生这种类型的合作。所以对我来说，这是一种音乐幻想成真。和 Kesley Lu 一样……就像她更喜欢古典世界——她演奏大提琴，也许她做了一些更像宇宙的唱片。因为她和我聚在一起创作了像“Love & Validation”这样的歌曲，对我来说那是最棒的音乐，这是音乐中最令人惊奇的事情，我从来没有听过这样的唱片。你知道我喜欢 80 年代，我喜欢 90 年代音乐，显然你可以在我的音乐中听到这些，但我不经常找到这些合作，而且非常罕见。所以这就像一个地方，极性和概念汇集在一起，所以你有这些几乎自相矛盾的音乐世界。我能够把他们聚在一起，我真的为我创造了一些新的东西，所以这张专辑的每一次合作都代表了这一点。
It sounds like you do your music not for certain usage, like “this is a dancefloor track” or do you? Because I guess as a DJ you must also think about specific aspects, like is it danceable, how fast can I go and so on.
Yeah, I think it’s totally true. Me as a DJ is sort of the foundation for everything I do. So in production I always have in mind to make it sound like I am able to play it out in the club. Obviously there are records that have more vocals – I might play less, or I might make edits for the club or something like this. But honestly I make music to make music and it’s hard for me to have an idea already and go after it, because I always get distracted on the way. It rarely happens, where I am like “ok, I am going to the studio today, because I want to do this” and then I turn on my machines and I make something. Immediately I am like “Ouch, this is cool too” and then I am already distracted and I am going somewhere else so… it’s hard to me to have this concept beforehand I make music. The polarity concept came throughout the process, because all of these things happened along the way.
听起来您做音乐不是为了某些用途，例如“这是舞池曲目”还是您？因为我想作为 DJ 还必须考虑特定的方面，比如它是否适合跳舞，我能走多快等等。
是的，我认为这是完全正确的。我作为一名 DJ 是我所做一切的基础。所以在制作中，我总是想着让它听起来像是我能够在俱乐部里演出。显然，有些唱片的人声较多——我可能会少弹一些，或者我可能会为俱乐部或类似的东西进行编辑。但老实说，我做音乐是为了做音乐，我很难有一个想法并去追求它，因为我总是在路上分心。这种情况很少发生，我会说“好吧，我今天要去工作室，因为我想做这个”然后我打开我的机器，我做了一些事情。我立刻就像“哦，这也很酷”然后我已经分心了，我要去别的地方所以……我很难在我做音乐之前有这个概念。极性概念贯穿整个过程，因为所有这些事情都发生在这一过程中。
How did you start making +/- ?
First track I’ve recorded in 2017 and it didn’t have that kind of drop part yet, the funky part, but the main thing was there and I didn’t touch it for a year, and the same with the “Girl Crush” or The “Greenpoint”, which I recorded in 2016. It was one of the first tracks which I made with my modular system, when I got super into the modular world. So I’ve recorded a lot, I had like 500 tracks on my hard drive they are all cool, but for the album I’ve picked the ones…
Also coming back to your question before where I determined like is this for myself or is this for club, is this techno or whatever, I do have the cool thing is by now I released this album “Strictly Raw” and “Strictly Bunker” and I have three of those and those are basically, so here is my process : I record a track .. Everything starts from recording whatever .. sessions, where you get a raw idea of the track or techno track, slow track or whatever I am inspired by that day. Then the next step is like “Ok, do I leave that track in it’s raw thing or I just edit ”, so it works in the club context more in tool way and basically and I don’t produce it so much or recording require going deep in and make every single sound have a reason to be there. So I separate these two approaches. “Polarity” is fully produced, I went in every little element and every little second is fully thoughtful put together, whereas on my “Strickly Raw” records I just basically do the same, I have that recording, but I don’t produce it that much I just edit it and make sure that it bangs on the soundsystem, so that’s why there are those differences between these two types of albums that I release. It’s more about really deciding in the moment : “Can I take this recording to the next level?” I have these trippy road tracks there are cool there are fine I can send them to my DJ friends and I can play them all, but to me there is something about pushing myself harder as a producer to do something that is more difficult and not many people do, because I feel like the more simple the techno tracks – I mean I can always release those – but to release the album like “Polarity” it takes a bit more time and it take more things to put that together.
我在 2017 年录制的第一首曲目还没有那种下落部分，时髦的部分，但主要的东西在那里，我一年没有碰它，“Girl Crush 也是一样”或“Greenpoint”，这是我在 2016 年录制的。当我进入模块化世界时，这是我用模块化系统制作的第一首曲目之一。所以我录制了很多，我的硬盘上有大约 500 首曲目，它们都很酷，但是对于专辑，我选择了那些……
同样回到你的问题之前，我决定这是为自己还是俱乐部，是这种技术还是其他什么，我确实有很酷的事情是现在我发行了这张专辑“Strictly Raw”和“Strictly Bunker”和我有其中三个，基本上都是这样，所以这是我的过程：我录制一首曲目..一切都从录制任何..会话开始，在那里您可以对曲目或技术曲目，慢速曲目或任何我有一个初步的了解受那天的启发。然后下一步就像“好吧，我是把那首歌留在原始的东西里还是我只是编辑”，所以它更多地以工具方式在俱乐部环境中工作，基本上我不会制作那么多或录音需要去深入并让每一个声音都有存在的理由。所以我将这两种方法分开。 “Polarity”是完全制作的，我加入了每一个小元素，每一秒都经过深思熟虑，而在我的“Stricly Raw”唱片中，我基本上做了同样的事情，我有那个录音，但我不制作它我只是编辑它并确保它在音响系统上有效果，所以这就是为什么我发行的这两种类型的专辑之间存在这些差异的原因。更重要的是在当下真正做出决定：“我可以将这段录音提升到一个新的水平吗？”我有这些迷幻的公路曲目，很酷，也很好，我可以将它们发送给我的 DJ 朋友，我可以播放它们，但对我来说，作为制作人，我需要更加努力地做一些更困难而不是很多的事情人们会这样做，因为我觉得 techno 曲目越简单——我的意思是我总是可以发行这些曲目——但是发行像“Polarity”这样的专辑需要更多的时间，需要更多的东西来组合它们。
I find it interesting that you made it as an album, because it’s not album time anymore, it’s track time. But it’s interesting, I listened to it and I thought “Yes, it’s a real album”. It could even work on Spotify or any streaming platform as an album. Because when you start to listen and stick until the end, it tells a story somehow. I think it really worked out.
Thank you. I could probably take the whole album apart and release every song as a single on Spotify. It would probably have done better streaming wise, but you know to me the album is still the best way to express myself, because as you know I like to move around styles within electronic music. To just release a house track, or to just release a techno track would be fine, I do that too sometimes, but I love to put out albums.
我觉得你把它做成专辑很有趣，因为现在不是专辑时间，而是曲目时间。但很有趣，我听了之后觉得“是的，这是一张真正的专辑”。它甚至可以作为专辑在 Spotify 或任何流媒体平台上运行。因为当你开始倾听并坚持到最后时，它以某种方式讲述了一个故事。我认为它真的奏效了。
谢谢你。我大概可以把整张专辑拆开，把每首歌作为单曲在 Spotify 上发布。明智的流媒体可能会做得更好，但你知道这张专辑仍然是表达自己的最佳方式，因为正如你所知，我喜欢在电子音乐中移动风格。只发行一首 House 曲目，或者只发行一首 techno 曲目都可以，我有时也会这样做，但我喜欢发行专辑。
Your upcoming release is going to be out on vinyl as well. Do people still use vinyl for DJing? Or is it rather like a good book you can keep on the shelf?
No, they don’t spin vinyl anymore. I was probably one of the last DJs who played vinyl in the clubs, but I am still collecting. I have 30,000 records at home.
您即将发行的唱片也将发行黑胶唱片。人们还在用黑胶唱片做 DJ 吗？或者它更像是一本可以放在书架上的好书？
不，他们不再旋转乙烯基了。我可能是最后一批在俱乐部演奏黑胶唱片的 DJ 之一，但我仍在收集。我家里有 30,000 条记录。
30,000??? Wow, that’s a lot. Do you live in a castle?
Actually no 😉 I do have a lot of vinyl, I still buy vinyl. I was buying some records here the other day in the States as well. But yes, it’s changed. But It’s fine that we are talking about vinyl, because when I started Boys Noize Records that was the one thing that would make me the happiest the most to release my music and it was solely on vinyl. No one knew who I was. I didn’t have to make a promotion and you get feedback from DJs and that was making me the happiest. Obviously that whole culture has been sort of deleted. There are still some people that buy vinyl, but it is just so small. There are people who collect vinyls and there are some handful DJs who will still play but it’s really small.
实际上没有；) 我确实有很多黑胶唱片，我还是会买黑胶唱片。前几天我也在美国买了一些唱片。但是，是的，它变了。但是我们谈论黑胶唱片很好，因为当我创立 Boys Noize Records 时，那是让我最高兴发行我的音乐的一件事，而且它完全是黑胶唱片。没有人知道我是谁。我不需要升职，你会从 DJ 那里得到反馈，这让我最开心。显然，整个文化都被删除了。仍然有一些人购买乙烯基，但它只是那么小。有些人收集黑胶唱片，也有一些 DJ 仍然会演奏，但真的很小。
Speaking about past vinyl times, there are also past Grammy times. Because these prices are also kind of analogue, they belong to the TV era. But still, it was probably a big honour for you that “Rain On Me”, which you produced for Lady Gaga got a Grammy or not?
I am honoured. It’s totally sick that I was able to make music with Lady Gaga and that we made a track which won the Grammy. To win a price like that is great, but it’s wasn’t on my agenda. I am still not attracted to making pop music. It’s so nice to be able to do it with her. It was a very cool experience. It was for her record, the production has changed so many times, so I don’t have much to do with that as well, it was just a writing part.
说到过去的黑胶唱片时代，也有过去的格莱美时代。因为这些价格也是模拟的，属于电视时代。但是，您为 Lady Gaga 制作的“Rain On Me”获得格莱美奖可能是您的荣幸？
我很荣幸。我能够和 Lady Gaga 一起制作音乐并且我们制作了一首赢得格莱美奖的曲目，这让我感到非常恶心。赢得这样的价格很棒，但这不在我的议程上。我仍然不喜欢制作流行音乐。能和她一起做真是太好了。这是一次非常酷的体验。是为了她的唱片，制作改变了很多次，所以我也没有太多关系，这只是一个写作部分。
She’s very talented – a great piano player and singer. It’s especially great to see that when she is performing live.
There are not so many people in her league that also write her own songs and she’s a great writer. That was pretty impressive to see as well.
Another person you worked together with was Virgil Abloh, with who you produced “Orvange” in 2018, an EP with 3 tracks
Actually it was his first release..
与您合作的另一个人是 Virgil Abloh，您在 2018 年与他一起制作了“Orvange”，这是一张首张专辑的 EP。
Oh really? His first ever? How come?
We’ve been mutual friends for a while and it was one of his early visits to Berlin. We always hung out and used to come to my place, where my studio used to be, until the time that I had a shitty neighbour that forced me to move out with my studio. At that time we were just hanging out and that one day we were at my studio, my back room in my apartment. We were just listening to the music and I was starting to play some stuff. In my set up it’s like as soon as I start playing “press play” on one drum machine everything starts to run at the same time. We were playing around, messing with the drum machine and he made a pattern there and we recorded it and we had like two, three tracks done.
I personally really like it, I have it in my playlist. I could imagine the track with this kicking beats being played at a fashion show. Very cool.
It’s another timeless banger. It’s not like people completely lose their minds like on some of my other tracks, but when I play it it creates such a dope vibe like suddenly you feel it.
He was playing me a lot of African tracks and we were listening to some stuff and it’s kind of inspiring, that EP is also inspired by that too. That makes the great collaboration as well where I get that input from the other person and you sort of work it out and something magical happens there. We were both loving both tracks, so we decided to put them out.
Interview 作者: Sabine Röthig
Translation 翻译: Emi
Make up : Nadia Kosh
Hair : Hendrik Gebhardt
Sabine Röthig works as a journalist and managing fashion editor at Berliner Zeitung’s weekend edition. She has graduated in cultural studies and art history and done a doctorate in media and music on Aphex Twin. Further journalistic stations were the Berlin based magazines Numéro Berlin, Fräulein Magazin and Intersection Magazin Germany. She also worked as a DJ in the past.
Sabine Röthig 是柏林日报周末版的记者和时尚主编。她毕业于文化研究和艺术史，并在 Aphex Twin 上获得了媒体和音乐博士学位。其他新闻站是位于柏林的杂志 Numéro Berlin、Fräulein Magazin 和 Intersection Magazin Germany。她过去也做过DJ。
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