Exclusive Interview: Alexis Raphael
We recently caught up with one of our favourite London-based artists, Alexis Raphael. The north-Londoner gained a name for himself after dropping some stellar tracks on Hot Creations and Lower East, over the last year though he’s been a little bit quiet on the production front – his last release coming via Heidi’s Jackathon Jams label. However, he’s going to be back with some new music soon and has an exciting Ibiza season ahead of him too with his party Creche taking up a residency at Gatecrasher. So we caught up for a chat, and, below, we got him to name some of his favourite tracks from the electronic music genres that he grew up with…
Tell us a little bit about what you’ve been up to because you’ve been a bit quiet, production-wise, lately.
Well, everything happened with my party and the Hot Creations releases. I had my track “Spaceship” on the first Hot Waves EP and DJ Mag chose it as the best track on that release – and that put me into the limelight, things went crazy for a year. I just needed to reconvene and work out my next step really, so I took a break from putting stuff out there to really think about what I wanted to make and to work on new material. In terms of DJing I’ve been playing every single week but release-wise I’ve had a few things, a remix on Get Physical, a remix on Leftroom, but I haven’t had a single out since the Jackathon Jams EP.
You seem to be heading in a different direction with the new Lower East EP?
The thing is though, I like so many different styles. I mean you have these guys who focus on a particular style and that’s what they’re known for but I like so many different types of music, even just within house music, and because of that it’s difficult to know what to make. I’m trying to make stuff that I’ll play, and that’s the key. I want to be booked based on my music and I want to be able to play that music to people.
It’s a conundrum that affects so many artists; you want to be booked and you want to have a following, but a lot of producers also want to be able to diversify. It’s not easy if you want to be marketed to people.
Yeah, it’s a difficult one. If you can make tracks that appeal to the masses and the DJs, you’ve got it cracked. A lot of the tracks I make that go unnoticed by the masses, DJs will come up to me and say, “I always play that track, it’s wicked”. I did a remix for Culprit that so many DJs contacted me about privately to say they were feeling it, but I’m not sure it did that well with the wider audience. It’s trying to please both sides.
Tell us about the Lower East EP, because it’s a different direction for you?
I wanted to show people that I can make techno. People pigeonholed me into that whole Hot Creations thing and thought that’s all I was about, so I wanted to show that I can do different stuff as well. “Assault Weapon” is just full-on with that kick drum, but there’s a swing too, that garagey swing – I never keep my music too straight, I like groove and swing. And then “Mega” just happened, I don’t what it is.. what is it?! It’s a mix of all different styles, but it’s been received really well. Then we have German Brigante on the remix of “Assault Weapon”, which is straight up house.
With electronic music now I need to hear stuff that moves me, stuff that’s interesting. I’ve been following electronic music since 1991 and I need to hear evolution, it needs to be doing something. A lot of the stuff I hear that’s in the Beatport top 10 I’m like, “What’s it doing?” It’s not doing anything but it seems to do well because it’s generic. These tracks are different and I hope people play them.
So what’s happening for the summer?
I’m booked up pretty much every week, I’ve got an Australia tour pretty much confirmed, I’m going to Dubai soon and quite a few UK gigs. Then we’ve got Creche in Ibiza. We put it on hold for a bit because things went a bit crazy here and we needed to pull it back, you should know when to give things a rest. Eden is under new ownership, they’ve spent loads of money on it, the sound system is on point and we saw a gap in the market to put on a good party with quality line-ups in San Antonio. A lot of people stay there, so it makes sense to do it – you have kids who stay there who have to get in a cab to Playa D’en Bossa and spend loads of cash getting in to clubs. We’re offering line-ups that are just as good, in a wicked club with a great sound system on their doorstep for a lot less money. We’re taking the party on tour around the UK later in the year and we’re in talks to bring it back to London, which I can’t really talk about properly at the moment! It’s all good man, I’ve just moved into a new place and I’m working on a second EP as well.
We wanted to finish by asking your opinion on how the London scene is now compared with when you first started going out?
I don’t want to bring any negativity to the discussion because things change and evolve, but what I will say is, when I remember the parties back then, people went out and partied. Now, people sit on the internet and moan, and complain and analyse everything and judge everything. I think a lot of people go to parties because they think it’s the cool place to be whereas, before, people just went out and had a good time. There’s too much moaning now and I meet people and they say, “Have you heard of this party?” talking about it like it’s cool rather than going for fun. I think a lot of people take it for granted because it’s something they’ve grown up with, and London has such an abundance of parties every weekend, they’re spoilt. It’s maybe not as special as it was when it first started. Back in the mid-eighties there wasn’t a fraction of what we have now, you’d have to go down the pub and that would shut at 11.
On the other hand there’s good things, back then there was a lot of dodgy stuff going on, it wasn’t as safe or regulated as it is now. If you look at RA’s event listings, there’s about 150 events every Friday and Saturday, there’s loads going on here. London for me is the greatest city on earth and in terms of electronic music we lead the way. Berlin has its thing but in London we have everything, any music you’re into you can come and immerse yourself in it here. In New York for example, I played there recently, there’s a handful of things going on it’s not ingrained into youth culture like it is here.
ACID HOUSE: Index – Give Me A Sign
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HARDCORE: Bitin’ Back – She’s Breakin’ Up
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JUNGLE: Firefox & 4Tree – Warning
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DnB: Adam F – Metropolis
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GARAGE (4×4): 24 Hour Experience – Allnighter
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GARAGE (2-STEP): Groove Connektion – Club Lonely (Dem 2 Don’t Cry Dub)
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