As one of his country’s prime house and techno exports, Alex Rubio is a man who’s very much responsible for repping his country on the international stage. A native of Mexico, he’s spent the past few years as a sort of global ambassador for the country’s scene, in the process earning major props thanks to his work at the MEXA label and more recently, Cohesion. As a producer, Rubio is still – by his own admission – still finding his feet, but early signs would seem to suggest that he’s just as excellent a producer as he is a label owner and a DJ. With all this in mind, we picked his brain recently to find out what’s what in his world…
When did you start writing/producing music? What or who were your early passions and influences back then?
I started by doing edits of random songs I liked at the moment when I was 14-15 years old, which led me to make my own sounds afterwards. I’ve been producing for some time now but I don’t release much. I’ve always been a techno and progressive freak so I guess that has been my main influence. It’s weird but I’ve never had specific influences artist-wise.
And when did you find your style and settle on it? Did you emulate others before you really settled on something?
I’ve never really settled on a style since music is always changing and it’s fun to try new things or just go off on a different path. I’m very versatile like that. But you’ll always find some techno in my sets. Regarding emulating others; not really, I do learn from other people but I always try and do it my own way.
Starting out, what were the main production challenges for you? How have these changed over time?
I’ve never played an instrument, which really bums me out because playing in key is somewhat hard for me, but practice is all it takes. Thanks to some friends, however, I’ve been able to improve my ‘in key’ abilities. Another challenge is the mixdown. It can be a pain in the ass sometimes. It takes me more time to mix the track than to create it sometimes. But, like everything, with practice it’s improving.
Tell us about your studio, if you would. What tools do you always lean on? And how has it evolved over the years?
It’s very simple. I have a pair of HS8 Yamaha speakers, GAIA by Roland and a huge PC filled with lots and lots of fun VSTs. Some of my favorite software toys are the Fabfilter Bundle and the Soundtoys bundle, I always use them in my tracks. A close friend of mine owns a Moog Sub Phatty, MS2000, and some other cool analog synths and drum machines that I’ve had the pleasure of using lately, so that’s really fun.
Do you need to be in a good frame of mind to make music? How important do you think mood is to the production process?
I believe so, but it does not necessarily have to be “good”. For some it’s a good way to release stress and just express yourself through music.
To answer the second question; it’s predictable to say that if you’re sad, for example, the tendency will be to create something more melancholic maybe or something close to it, obviously it’s different in every person, but it does happens so I strongly think mood has a lot to say in the production process.
Are you usually a quick producer or a slow one? When were you at your most inspired as a musician would you say?
I’m a slow producer. I like to take my time and play around and see what I’m capable of. I do think that if I knew how to play an instrument and have my ‘in-key’ abilities top notched my creative process would be a bit faster. But I can’t really say when I was most inspired. It’s an everyday process I have to work on.
Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a track that’s particularly close to you?
Limiting myself to the very few tracks I have released, I’m going to choose “Shadows In The Night”. I started with the drums and chords to create a groove. After that I added the bass and had a good loop going. Louie [Fresco] listened to it and sang the vocals and my neighbor played the guitar in the breakdown. After that came I just finished the structure and final details.
What track makes you happiest? Saddest? And what’s the track you always use to rescue the dancefloor?
I don’t have a particular track for any of those questions and there are too many that make me happy or sad, choosing one would be very hard and unfair to the rest.
How important is the dancefloor to the music you make?
Usually very important because I like making dancefloor tracks but there are always those tracks that are just different and maybe for listening purposes.
Do you make music more for yourself or for others?
Mostly for me.
What’s the next logical step for you in your career do you reckon?
There are so many things to do but mainly improve my production skills.
Do you think electronic music has lost a part of its soul recently?
Depends on the eyes it’s seen with. I don’t think it has unless you let all the bullshit stand in the way.
And what’s next for you and the labels?
I started a new project called ‘Bareback’ with a good friend and singer, Bobby Vidales. We have about 7-8 tracks finished that I’m very excited for. Hope to share them with you soon. For the label, Cohesive, I have an upcoming VA called ‘Cohesion 01’ with 9 awesome tracks by artists like: Solaire, Sakorka, Rolbac, Bonaca, Carl Nev, Mario Armanino, Yellow Page, Randall Jones & PAX. I also have more EPs in the making and already planned for the label. As you can see I love hosting new and unfamiliar names in my label. There are so many good things out there and I feel very lucky that these artists have trusted me with their music. I’m truly honored and thank them infinitely. Also, MEXA Records is on standby. I’ll soon relaunch it with a remixed EP with Mexa’s greatest tracks.
Words: Ian Fleming
Cohesion 01 will be out soon on Alex Rubio’s Cohesion label, more information here.