We chatted summer, making music, MadTech, DJ egos, Groovefest and more with Londoner and recent breakthrough DJ and producer Alexis Raphael.
Hi Alexis, how are you doing today?
Hey, I’m really good thanks. I've been in the studio today, getting over the bank holiday weekend’s fun!
How was your bank holiday weekend?
Great! I played in London at Ican Studios with Him_Self_Her and some other great artists. Was a packed out party. I live literally round the corner so it was one of the only gigs I’ve ever walked to. I had been out the night before watching the boxing at Clive Henry’s place with Alex Arnout and another friend and that had kind of continued through to Sundayafternoon… Got home with enough time for a few hours sleep, woke up, got some chicken and chips and headed down to Hackney Wick to play!
You’ve just had a track featured on MadTech’s Ibiza Sampler. How did you get involved with MadTech?
Well I’ve played with Kerri Chandler a couple of times and even took him to Sankeys Ibiza to party once, it’s his label and I had a release on Moda Black a while back, two tracks called Shutdown and Exlcusive that were possibly going to go on Madtech so the connection has been there a while. My management sent a heap of new music to the guys that run the label and they came back and wanted Fire Burning and that was that. I'm just working on some more bits for them at the moment for a full release.
When making music are you an in the box producer or do you relish any hardware equipment? If so, which are your absolute favourites?
Well when I finished school I studied sound engineering and music production and got myself an Akai s2000 sampler an E-Mu proteus and some other bits of hardware for my bedroom. Back then things were so expensive but I started on hardware and I’ve always pretty much preferred it and found it more inspirational. I think with hardware you turn it on and the sound is there, fat and ready, especially the low end stuff. Having said that lately I’ve been using more soft synths in my music. My Jupiter 8 is my pride and joy although I haven’t used it much lately! I love the FM8 soft synth as well.
Do you have any new releases in the pipeline that you can tell us about?
Yes I’ve got quite a few things coming out. I’ve got a single with my old partner in crime Cozzy D on Lower East, the label I released Kitchens and Bedrooms on which helped kick start my career really outside of London. The A side is a real dark, slammer and the B side has a sweet vocal and returns to the sound that kind of people originally knew me for, so it shows both sides of what I like really. Hopefully people will dig them.
Then there’s releases coming on Resonance, my good friend Max Chapman’s label, with remixes from Josh Butler and WaFF I believe, so excited for that, they're artists I both love. Also a track on the Resonance compilation. On top of that I’ve got a single with YouAreWe, the London party and now label, from my good friends Wildkats and Ashley Wild. There’s a real mix of music across these labels hopefully shows my diversity in what I like and produce and something for everyone.
I recently saw a post on your Facebook page with a picture of the old Club Phoenix in North London where you mentioned you played your first ever DJ gig. Since you started DJing, where has been your favourite place to play, and what are the main differences between clubs then and now?
Well that’s a long time ago now, you’re talking coming on 20 years. Back then everything was a lot more raw. The internet did not exist and things were not so image based as Facebook is etc so it meant instant picture uploads didn't exist. Essentially though things are the same in that it’s young people going out to have a bloody good time to electronic music. It’s amazing how big the scene is now globally, back then many countries were still listening to heavy metal and rock. Dance music has really taken over. Favourite places I’ve played, well I love South America; Brazil and Ecuador have been great. Playing an early morning set in D-Edge was a highlight. Obviously DC10 was one to tick of the list and Fabric’s main room for WYS!
Summer is almost upon us and you’ll be flying over to the Dominican Republic at the back end of the season in September to play at Groovefest. You've played their before, what do you make of it?
I’ve played groovefest twice before. It’s so different to any other festival and that’s why as long as I’m invited I'll keep going back year after year. There’s a really intimate feel to it and a family vibe, you get to know a lot of the faces during the week and there is free food and drinks. It’s is a no brainer, you’d be silly not to give it a go!
I’ve heard a lot about the festival, with the organisers mentioning it being a “throwback to a bygone era where everyone is part of the experience”. What’s your opinion on DJ snobbery?
I've seen certain DJs being so rude to fans or ignoring them. If you haven’t got time for the people that make you who you are and you some how think you’re above them because you play music to them, then I think you’re missing the point and need to take a long hard look in the mirror and realise you’re the same as every single person on the dance floor. Big egos aren't cool.
You’ll be playing alongside the likes of Anja Schneider, Cuartero, DJ Pierre, Kenny Dope, Kevin Saunderson and Randall M at Groovefest this year. Is there anyone you’re particularly excited to see yourself once you’ve got some time to get involved?
I haven’t actually seen the full line up yet. DJ pierre is someone I massively respect and I saw on the Space Terrace years ago, he absolutely smashed it. His set really blew me away so I'll be looking forward to catching him again!
Thanks Alexis, we hope you have a great summer!
And you guys. Nice to speak with you.
You can catch Alexis Raphael at Groovefest this September in the Dominican Republic alongside the likes of Green Velvet, DJ Piere, Dennis Ferrer, Kenny Dope, Kevin Saunderson, Lee Foss, MK, Nick Curly and many more.