Ahead of this weekend's ABODE In The Park, we caught up with Hot Creations superstar Alexis Raphael. After an already huge 2017, it seemed only right we talk to the ABODE favourite about what the rest of this year has in store for him. Take a look below.
Alexis Raphael, the Camden born producer and DJ has been at the forefront of the house scene for over 20 years. Growing up in North London, surrounded by some of the country's best record stores, raves and pirate radio stations have let Alexis develop a sound that is both unique and clean. The raver-turned-producer and DJ has seen huge success in recent years through deep house classics like "I Know", right the way up to hits like "It's Kinda Jazzy" - a favourite of house music legend Carl Cox.
Having been collecting records since the age of 13, it has almost been Alexis' destiny to end up in the music industry one way or another. This Sunday sees him face one of his biggest and best shows to date, playing at ABODE In The Park on the Sankeys stage at the festival. We caught up with Alexis ahead of what's going to be a huge weekend for him. Check it out below.
First of all thanks for sitting down with us today - we understand you’re really busy at the moment!
Well, I’ve just started trying to put my 10,000 or so vinyl into some sort of category order! It’s a big old task as they’ve been kind of sitting there for the last 3 years untouched and a bit of a mess. But as I've decided to go back to DJ’ing vinyl and am buying new stuff every week, I also want to dust off all the old stuff I have which is mostly from 1987 - 1998 and start playing that in my sets too! So yes, I’m super busy with that but always have time to talk to you lovely lot!
How did you get into the world of DJ’ing?
In short, I became obsessed with electronic music and rave culture from a very young age. Part of that was getting myself a set of decks and buying the records. I was 14 when I got my Technics. I never thought I was going to become a DJ - it was just an obsession, a natural passion that has somehow organically evolved into my job!
Who were your main influences that made you want to start producing your own music?
Well, as a teenager I was listening to jungle which evolved to drum and bass, and it was really the labels like Metalheadz, RAM, Moving Shadow and some others that were my main influences. The music that was being put out on them from artists like Goldie, Andy C, Doc Scott, Foul Play and others made me want to make music. In fact, I always knew I would make tunes, I never actually thought or cared about DJ’ing but making tunes was something I always wanted to do!
How do you feel your sound has developed since your early days with tracks like “I Know”?
Well I guess it’s important to evolve and I've tried to push things forward. I never think that I have a particular sound - I think I did in the ‘I Know’ days. I’ve kind of struggled in a way to have such a distinct sound since then and have toyed with various styles. If you listen to ‘Assault Weapon’, ‘Your Metal Head’, ‘It’s Kinda Jazzy’, or the upcoming ‘House Of Chorge’. On Relief, they are all completely different tracks. I like so much music I find it hard to stick to one style.
But to answer your question, the use of sweet vocals has gotten less I guess and the music has become heavier. Having said that my next release on Sidney Charles and Santé’s 6 AVOTRE label, the lead track ‘Purple Jacket’ is fairly tough but also has that sweet vocal from my old stuff! I hope everyone likes it.
For those who don’t know you, how would you describe your sound?
Like I said above I think it varies. But I guess I take influence from the UK acid house era, the UK rave era and the early UK house and garage era and combine those influences, each to different degrees in different tracks, with upfront house and techno. I think all of these genres sort of mashed together is what gives me my sound.
2017 has another big year for you, releasing on Hot Creations again, what can we expect from you for the rest of 2017 production wise?
The next release is on AVOTRE with remixes from Mele and Sirus Hood, then there’s a full EP on Green Velvet’s Relief, including a collaboration with the man himself as the title track. Then there’s a full EP on Mihalis Safras’s label Material with remixes from Luca C and Camelphat, as well as EP’s coming on ABODE and plans to sign off on lots more stuff.
I’m also working on a huge ongoing collaboration with someone very successful who has previously had hugely popular records out, and we are in discussions over the possibility of starting a vinyl label together! I can’t reveal anymore now though. There’s also a shed load of music I'm working on at the moment so basically, there’s loads coming!
You’ve gained some real notoriety playing for ABODE in Sankeys this year, tell us why you love playing for ABODE?
The party goes off and I love the guys that run it. Simple as that really! It’s been a really, really good series of parties this summer! Fair play to them!
You’re also playing at the upcoming ABODE in the park, how big is that going to be?
I think there’s going to be as many as 10,000 people in Finsbury Park. I am especially looking forward to it as it’s in my neck of the woods. Got loads of my old DJ pals from pirate radio days hitting me up asking to come along! It’s gonna be a roadblock for sure!
Tell us about the playlist you’ve put together for us
The playlist includes 11 huge records from the last 30 years guaranteed to make people smile and the dance floor go crazy! Simple as that.
Have you got any other big plans for the rest of the year? (Tours, festivals, Ibiza dates etc)
My main focus is to spend a lot of time in the studio now until the end of the year. We are currently planning Australian and South American tours, and there are other bits in the pipeline!
What’s one piece of advice you’d give someone looking to start producing and DJing?
If you want to be a DJ I would say you probably shouldn't bother ironically. Being a DJ is just about having a passion for the music. You should be doing it before you've thought “I want to be a DJ, I’ll buy some decks”. Producing is a lot of time commitment. You need to be able to lock yourself away for hours. Ignore calls from your mates when they want to drag you out. I wasn't good at avoiding those social calls which is why it took me 10 years to get any music out properly after studying music production! I had a bloody good time raving it up though (laughs)!
You’re stuck on an island with only one song on your iPod, what’s it going to be?
Pink Floyd – ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’. It’s long enough that I can get some good time out of it. Oh, and it’s an epic piece of music.
Finally; festivals or Ibiza, which do you prefer?
Coorrrr that’s a tough one. I love Ibiza as an island, forgetting the clubbing side. It’s got such a tranquil and beautiful vibe to it. I'm thinking of moving there. So, Ibiza wins.
Anytime, thanks for talking to me.