It’s been a calculated campaign that’s defined the lead up to Australia’s Subsonic festival, and one of it’s headline artists has spent a few moments with us to discuss his own relentless pursuit of electronic fulfilment. It’s perhaps this focus that places his perspective in a more realistic space that insists on originative reconnaissance, rather than a dilute solution that often others find comfort in.
These traits played an imperative role in securing consistent releases at Laurent Garnier’s F Communication’s imprint – a reassuring sense of purpose, surely. Now, as we move forwards from those earlier successes he’s broadened his own expectations, that he’s solely placed on himself, leading to an eclectic foray working alongside the likes of Spencer Parker, Phonique and Pig & Dan.
This weeks interview guest, Alexkid, will provide further elaboration.
Kn: It’s been some 14 years since your first release “Playground”, and having the backing of Laurent Garnier would have fortified your own confidence. How did that moment eventuate and what did you immediately take away from it?
A: The immediate effect was that my family understood I was being serious about making music. Before releasing a record, your family always thinks you’re daydreaming and don’t really understand. On top of that, the release was on Laurent Garnier’s [label] who was already widely known in France. It is funny how your music materialized as an object suddenly makes people understand you’re serious about it. I have to admit that my mother always supported me in my choices, but this made her feel secure about what I was doing.
Now, if we talk about confidence, I never had an approach to music as being someone who was doing the right thing. Confidence is when you know what you’re doing but I don’t think that the opinion of someone else validates your choices. I never ask my friends if the music I do is good. Either they do like it, either they don’t… so, to make it short, releasing on FCom helped me, and of course it proved me and my family that I could be doing this “for a living”, but it never made me feel my music was better than someone else’s. As an artist, I believe it is good to have doubts, and the fact that I’m never 100% happy keeps me going. We’re all in search of the perfect beat.
A: Here in Australia, the french scene is mostly represented by the likes of Daft Punk, Ed Bangers, and Institubes. I feel this is not really good. It’s been shadowing other artists who truly want to defend electronic music. I’m friends with some of the before mentioned guys, but I never did relate to their music. I think it is pop, not electronic. At the moment there’s a little crew in Paris doing amazing stuff, and also being great djs. I would name all the people from Lola Ed (Dyed Soundorom, Shonky , Yakine, Seuil, Okain) and also people like Varoslav, Mlle Caro, Molly, who bring a fresh vision on the music and are passionate about it. There is a bit of a Renaissance and I hope it will last. The scene at the moment in Paris is much more interesting than when I left Paris to Berlin about 3 years a go.
Kn: Earlier forays into Drum ‘n’ Bass and Nu Acid would have aided in a diverse outlook, surely. How did you create a cohesive assortment of ideas amongst the deafening noise of the electronic music fulmination?
A: Ha… good question. I actually just do what I like, I don’t know if I am cohesive or not. I always felt I wasn’t making much sense! I grew up with House and Techno but started with Downtempo and Drum and Bass… I did so because I play guitar and it felt more right to include these elements in this genre. Now that I barely ever put any live instruments in my songs, I feel like doing house and techno.
Kn: On a similar note, you’ve worked with a range of artists and vocalists. How do these projects take form? Are you proactive or is it something that mutually solidifies as you cross paths with others in your life and are there any examples in particular that have redefined your perspective?
A: I work only with people I have a good feeling with and I leave a certain amount of freedom as I believe good music appears from collaborations. I like being surprised and being put in danger, artistically, so I’m always keen on hearing something I didn’t expect. Though, it has happened that I didn’t like some of the results and asked to restart again. It is important to keep in mind that an artist needs a certain margin of freedom to feel comfortable in doing something, that’s what I try to give to the people I work with.
Kn: F Communications was your prominent base for sometime – how do you work with labels these days given the fact your work has appeared on various platforms that have their own direction?
A: My latest stuff was with Cadenza, Freerange, Rekids, Cabin Fever, NRK, and now Desolat. I feel that all of these have a link in common. It is some kind of leftfield House, beat driven but a bit edgy too. I feel this mash up represents me. F Com at the end had too many expectations regarding what I should do and it eventually led me to release a third album (Caracol) that to me is a bit in between two worlds but not in a right way. They would have loved me to release more “Come with Me”‘s and “Don’t Hide it”s but I didn’t want to go that way. I always compare electronic [music] to jazz and we, as electronic musicians, are supposed to explore. I like pop but that’s definitely not what I want to do as Alexkid. I love putting vocal tracks in an album but I dislike that they’re the ones becoming club singles… they should be aimed at radio play.
Kn: As mentioned, many labels harbour their own visions but those that approach it from the angle of constructing a family certainly allure intrigue. What are your thoughts on the over all approach of newly erected labels today? What sets some aside from others?
A: Hmmm… difficult. In my opinion, very few succeed to have a real image at the moment and some of them had it but lost it trying to follow a trend. Also, and Alas, the whole digital era has brought a lot of confusion to the situation and people have lost perspective of what they should really do, and most of all why they should do it. Less and less people are passionate about it. A big part of the young generation of dj’s do it because it is cool to be a dj but they don’t wake up with that thing in their guts that keep them going. You can also apply that to producers and labels. Everything is diluted, now that it is so easy to come up with something semi-decent. We have semi-decent-tracks- released by semi-decent labels, played by semi-decent dj’s and all the good stuff is lost in this tsunami of half-decent, generic music (not to say that most of it is pointless).
Before, if you wanted to make electronic music you had to buy hardware, spend a lot of time learning; the labels would be more picky to release you music because vinyl has a cost and djs would be more picky because a vinyl was 8 or 10 euros. Now, the value of music is lost. Why would a young kid try to put value in his music and have people feel the compulsive need to buy it when they themselves download the music for free on the internet?
I would like people to do it with Love. Thank god there’s people doing so. Maybe some should just stop making music, if they do it for Fame.
Kn: The Subsonic festival here in Australia that you’re participating in this weekend is going to be a defining moment on the summer calender and you’ll also be joined by other well respected artists. How are you approaching the lead up to this festival as opposed to a standard tour or club event?
A: I’m really looking forward to this. I’ve only heard amazing feedback about it as being a first class festival as a matter of comfort and vibe. I have played a few times already for the guys, and they’re lovely, so I can’t wait for the fun times ahead. I really do not know how I’m going to approach this but I will do my best to bring something maybe a bit different. It is always a connection to the audience. Sometimes there’s a great connection, and you can go far, sometimes it is a bit more tricky and you don’t have the exact same freedom. I’m sure it will be a blast.
Kn: All the effort and prolific work in the past sets a precedence – where to from here? Talk us through what’s going on in your head space that’s dedicated to tomorrow?
A: If I only knew where I’m headed, I most likely would be able to get there… but I like taking unusual paths. Maybe I will end up doing arty installations, who knows…
Alexkid plays Subsonic Festival this weekend in NSW, Australia. Tickets available directly from Subsonic Music