Alix Perez, a Belgian-born drum and bass phenom, was fed a healthy diet of classic jungle and techno records as a child, which eventually led to him crafting his own bold music. With a nod to the origins of electronic music, Perez’s rich musical knowledge and impeccable production skills have made him one of the most versatile producers in the music world right now.
Perez’s first album, “1984,” is still regarded by many as an unrivaled drum and bass record. His third album, “In Praise Of Darkness,” made with friend and equally gifted bass contortionist EPROM, was released this year. Together, EPROM and Perez make up the group Shades, serving neck-snapping darkness with a powerful balance of light.
With countless collaborations, EPs and a new album under his belt, Perez also launched his record label, 1985, in 2016. We talked with Perez about everything from the gems in his mom’s record collection, his love for ‘90s rap and the most overrated rappers of all time after his set at Shambhala Music Festival this year.
DOPE Magazine: You started your label in 2016. How satisfying is it to have a showcase only two years later at a festival like Shambhala?
Alix Perez: I was pretty surprised when they asked me to play in Shambhala again. When they offered us five hours on the AMP stage, I was like, “Okay. This is definitely a good look,” so obviously I was like, “Yeah, let’s do it.” It’s good that we managed to have Monty, Skeptical and Chimpo. The opportunity to have them over and do it, it was great. And it went really well. The stage was a little bit empty to start when Monty went on, but it just gradually got busier and busier. By the time I went on, it was pretty packed. I had good laughs with all the staff. Everyone working the stage were really nice.
When you were a kid, I understand your mom had a massive record collection, as well as a turntable and a mixer, which helped spark your interest in getting into production. Was your mom a deejay herself?
Yeah. She still has a record collection, and it’s a pretty precious one as well. She’s got a lot of great records from the ‘90s, mainly techno and jungle. It was more of a recreational thing. She never really aimed to make a career out of it, or play at venues. It’s more for her passion. That definitely influenced me and sparked my interest. That’s kind of how I got into listening to records, and then eventually [to] try and make records, and now I’m here and still doing it, which is pretty cool.
My mom’s been a massive influence. She’s supported me all this time. I still value her opinion on my music. She’s a good mentor, just in general. She’s been a good person to me. It’s quite neat to have that relationship with my mom. My dad’s a music guy as well. He’s not so much electronic. More like ‘70s, ‘80s kind of music, but it’s great to have parents who understand what I do.
Did your mom help to teach you? Have you ever played together?
No. I’d love to put her on an early set some time. They have a set of decks at home, and her and her boyfriend, they play back to back and it’s quite cute. At home, we still play records and sort of share records. I’d like to put her on at some point, but I don’t know. It depends whether she’d be up for it or not.
What were your favorite records growing up? Sounds like there were some classic jungle and techno slaps in there.
Last year for my birthday — I’m not really a massive presents birthday guy, but I said to her, if she wanted to gift me one of the first records I listened to from her collection, which is an Adam F record, on Metalheadz, called Metropolis, which is … it’s quite an influential record for me — one of the first things that I listened to from her collection. So, it’s framed at my house, basically. That’s a pretty important record for me. And she was kind enough to gift it to me. That’s one of my most precious records in my collection.
In an interview at the Lights Out! festival, you said that you hate light venues, and that it’s not about the show — it’s about the music. I love that, and completely agree. What are your thoughts on cell phones at shows? Do you think they are a distraction from the music? Some artists are going as far as banning them from their shows.
Yeah. I’ve seen a couple artists do sort of [an] airplane mode kind of thing, where it’s no distraction. I wouldn’t be as forceful as banning phones, but definitely being more conscious of it and making an effort, everyone together at shows. Make it a conscious effort to not be distracted by cellphones and be involved in the music and what’s going on — which I think makes it a better experience for everyone. It’s a bit more intense, and there’s more of a vibe as opposed to people just staring at their phones, or documenting everything rather than actually taking it in.
I don’t personally take many photos or videos when I’m playing, ‘cause I’m so into my performance that I just don’t really think about it. Sometimes I wish I had some footage. But then, you know, you can have photographers or videographers to do that, anyway. I think it’d be great if people made more of an effort.
You retweeted EPROM’s tweet that created a lot of conversation. He said, “Don’t wear a Datsik shirt to our show. I’ll throw you out.” As I am sure you know, Datsik has been accused by several fans/women of sexual assault/rape. Was that the initial reaction for both of you after finding out about those accusations?
Well, we knew about the accusations and we noticed one person wearing a shirt at one of our shows, and it was a bit like, “Why is this guy wearing this shirt?” I mean, the whole subject and the whole issue is very dear to me. I think it happens a lot, and a lot of people are not vocal enough about it. We want everyone to feel comfortable and feel safe. That’s the main thing. We don’t want to be going out with the fear of anything happening, and that is the case a lot of the time for women at dance parties. If we can do anything to make it a better place, or make people aware that it does happen, I think it’s only positive, and hopefully, it will eventually eradicate that.
Next October will be the 10-year anniversary of your debut album, “1984.” From the outside looking in, you have accomplished so much since then. What do you hope to achieve in the next 10 years?
I didn’t even realize it was almost 10 years, Jesus. That makes me feel old. I knew it was coming up, but I was kind of not looking into it. The last 10 years I’ve mainly been working with other labels, like Shogun Audio and Exit [Records], and they’ve been great. They’ve allowed me to do projects early on in my career.
I think my main concentration in this music thing is providing that for other new, younger artists. That’s what we started doing with our label, 1985 Music. Basically providing that platform for other people … a platform that’s going to give them a really positive experience. For them to work with us and feel happy, feel creatively free— not feeling like they should bend their sound, or change things to be on the label. Giving a platform like that to younger guys and sort of giving back. Do that as much as I can and build a team, and a group of like-minded people and really build something, like I borrowed. That’s my aim.
I read that you’re a big ‘90s East Coast rap fan. Who is the most overrated ‘90s hip hop artist, in your opinion?
Underrated — Big L is like my favorite rapper from the East Coast. Slightly underrated, but also died, so he didn’t go as far as he could have in his career due to that, obviously, which is tragic, ‘cause he’s literally my favorite rapper I think, ever.
Overrated — I know a lot of people would disagree with me and probably be quite upset, but I’ve never really got the Tupac thing. I mean, I like some of his music. He’s definitely a talented guy and a really interesting person. I’ve watched documentaries and stuff, but musically, for me, his style of rapping was never anything to me. So for me, maybe a little bit overrated.
Top three faves?
That’s really difficult. Definitely Primo and Guru. Mobb Deep, probably ‘cause of Havoc’s beats. D’Lo, obviously. There’s so many. Producers: Pete Rock, Havoc, and [DJ] Premier — I think they would be my top three producers.
Originally Published on RIZE Entertainment
Also Syndicated on DopeMagazine.com