LAXX has just released his mental Step One EP on dubstep powerhouse Never Say Die Records. Somewhere between dubstep and trap, LAXX describes his sound as “twitch”,which perfectly describes the screw-faced convulsions that overcome the dancefloor when his tunes are dropped. I had the chance to pick LAXX’s brain recently regarding the method to his madness, the visuals that accompany his sounds and some favorite weird tunes.
Great to get a chance to talk to you, huge fan of your work personally. Nice seeing a label with the power of Never Say Die championing your sound. How has it been working with them on this release?
The NSD guys are great. Working with a label so driven and creative is what I needed. They’ve always gone out of their way to make sure everything is perfect, and they’ve had to put up with the fact I’m a bit of a control freak, especially about artwork etc, but as soon as I saw the cover for Step One I knew they ain’t playing around!
I can’t say enough positive things about them in all honesty. I know this is going to be a massive year for me working along side them, and that’s driven me to smash it more than I already have been doing.
You’ve mentioned in the past that you see music visually, a quirk a few of us at BnC share but struggle to put into words. What are some visual descriptors you would use for the Step One EP?
The track Step One to me is just shapes and colours, its kind of a mix of jagged
spikes with the lead sound, mixed with the more curved warm sub sounds, crossed with
the punch of the drums. Like you said its really difficult to understand, but in my
head it kind of looks like a mess, but a beautiful mess.. It all makes perfect sense
The Unknown is just darker and more grimey, just feels like a post apocalyptic
nuclear wasteland. It sounds more mechanical and twitchy, sort of alien sounding.
I’m not sure.. But it just felt right, kind of like putting pieces of a puzzle
Gold Plated is nuts, I don’t know what it feels like, just mad lightning colours and
shape. This is the first time I’ve been asked to describe any of my tracks and I’m
struggling! It does feel like trying out different combinations to fit together, and
I’m very critical about what I use so it has to fit the vibe before, I’m very
critical about what I play too because I want the tracks to compliment each other
and have the same intensity of sound and colour or pattern.
You have a keen sense of what will make a crowd lose their minds in the dance. Are there any particularly special nights out you’ve had from which you draw inspiration?
I started mixing vinyl when I was 14 and it just went from there. I was huge into
drum and bass, and I actually taught myself to mix purely listening to Andy C and
Friction sets on my battered mp3 player which could only fit about 15 songs on. When
I first got them and bought a stack of vinyl I just looked at them for two weeks
knowing I had no idea how to use them but loved it either way.
I guess it came from buying records, I used to dig every weekend, looking for those
gems which no one else had, that made people turn their heads and go ‘bruvvvv what
is this?!’. Playing out live is a lot of fun, but I put in so much work to try make
my sets stand out, because I’ve found more and more recently, I’ve just heard sets
of the same thing the whole way through, and I wanted more than that.
I like all different types of music. I try go to all different types of nights and
find out what works in different places, but to be honest, it’s what works for me. I
want to play things people haven’t heard before and go all the way through different
sounds and tempos.
Highly technical DJs such as Skism and Megalodon love to drop your tunes, do you construct your productions with a mind to them blending so well in a mix?
It’s the same as drum and bass. Some tunes are just rollers and you need them to
break up the sets or just smash them into the mix to keep things live. My earliest
example was DJ Hazard – Use Your Brain/ Selector. The tune just works in the mix,
it’s not going to blow everyone away but its just got its own vibe to it. Its one of
the hardest things to describe, because they normally are pretty simple tunes but
they work just as well as the bigger tunes.
I wanted to write rollers, but with the emphasis on not being so flat and in the
background of the mix, more upfront and smashy but simple. It took me a long time to
get the hang of what people wanted to play out, but I used to get a lot of artists
cutting them to dubplate to play at shows, so they had to be bangers for people to
do that. So it just took a long time, I knew what I wanted to write and I knew what
I liked, but its not as simple as just being able to write them as I saw fit, it’s
just trial and error. I’ve got thousands of unreleased tunes, so it’s not been a
quick thing, but I know what works for me and what makes me screw up my face and
think, this is a smash.
Despite always evolving your sound in new directions, you’ve faithfully kept your productions at 140 bpm. Why is this? Any plans to release material at different tempos in the future?
Not all of my new productions are 140, I usually write about 145 but I do
everything! I love moombahton, hip hop, house, garage, grime.. And I can write those
genres all day long, but its not what my heart was telling me to write, I still felt
like 140 was basically untouched, however oversaturated it was, and still is, I
hardly have any tracks in the bracket that I felt were new and exciting. So if you
imagine me as a brave knight coming to take back the genre by storm that would be
ideal… I need a lifesize painting for my studio of me on horse back holding a
couple of CDJs.. Fan art please! Hah.
What can we expect from you the upcoming year? Any collaborations in the works? (crossing my fingers for more with Farkas)
Farkas is one of my favourite producers still. He’s got so much energy in the studio
and can write the most ridiculous noises and make it work. Only few producers I
listen to have this colour in their music which makes it stand out to me, not in
just the sounds used, the mixdown too. So yeah biggup Joel.
I’ve got a lot of things to get down for myself at the minute, I still want to take
‘twitch’ to a next level. Twitch is what I started calling my genre when I felt like
it didn’t fall into any other categories. It called that because I love the little
gaps and glitches to it. It kind of has a step back step forward sound to it, and it
makes me just get loose and shock out.
There’s a few things coming which I can’t really mention, but I’ve got a pretty full
year in terms of music, there’s a lot coming out and I’ve got more to come. I want to
write all different genres and styles and try do it on a next level.
Finally, what’s one especially weird track you can recommend to our intrepid readers?
Weird sounds are my specialty… Somehow. Hecq – Pulverised is a banger, but still
one step away from being able to play it out because its a bit too offkey, but still
sick. I rate The Tuss, which is potentially another Aphex Twin alias, but their
tunes are MAD, especially Rushup I Bank 12, and AFX – VBS. Redlof.B (another Aphex
Twin Alias) is one of the tunes that inspired me to take my style a little more
commercial, but blend it with some weirder elements.
(I’ve added streams for these awesome selections below)
Thanks for giving us the chance to get inside your head. Best of luck the upcoming year, you’ve got our full support!
Biggup you lot, make sure you grab my newest EP Step One which is out now, and Step
Two is following very soon on Never Say Die Records.
Once again, you can buy the Step One EP on Beatport now. Do it, especially if you’re a DJ as these are a joy to mix.