story / GINA TRON
photography / KAREEM BLACK
It’s a hot summer day when I met up with electronic DJ and producer Alexander Ridha, the mastermind boy behind Boys Noize at The Standard Hotel. Alex is cute, he is really cute. Who would have thought I would develop a fetish for a uni-brow and freckles. I noticed he was wearing a necklace that combined two charms: small cross charm and an anchor. I asked about its symbolism. “I put a little bit of a meaning there because I’m from Hamburg originally, a harbor city so it reminds me of my home.”
His new album, Out Of The Black, reminds me of my home. Fantasy is ingrained in the foundation of the record, Terminator-style! And there’s nothing on earth that can please this cyborg bitch more. “TERMINATOR 1 is one of my all time favorite movies!I love the soundtrack of it so much,” he gushed. What’s not to like? The TERMINATOR series has created its own fantastic atmosphere, even down to the font selected for the film’s credits.
A lot of Alexander’s new tracks incorporate TERMINATOR 1 audio elements. “I researched what synthesizers that were used on that soundtrack.“ He then went out and purchased said synthesizers, to help create some songs that really bleed that true TERMINATOR feeling. One particular track is entitled “Reality” and there’s “a couple more that kind of have if I’d have to put it in color I’d say blue-black, kind of like TERMINATOR!”
Themes of the eighties sci-fi film will also be woven in the upcoming live performances that he would be doing to accompany his new album drop in October. He foreshadows it all to be a “brain melting experience,” in which he will be performing from a “TERMINATOR-esque stage.” He wouldn’t delve too deeply into the performance details but he did inform me that it would be, “next level.” I suggest playing TERMINATOR while synced up to his album, sort of like a WIZARD OF OZ / Pink Floyd party, only TERMINATOR/Boyz Noise style. His eyes lit up like two robotic light bulbs, grinning he says, “TERMINATOR 1WOULD BE THE BOMB!!!”
Adorbs! The technotronic cutie also got excited when I told him that the day I was interviewing him was the same day that Marty Mc Fly went back in time in the film Back To The Future. “No wayyyyy!” he exclaimed. I asked him if he got the opportunity to time travel where and when he would travel to. “I would probably go back to the end of the seventies when disco died because that was a really exciting time. The first drum machines had just come out, and the first good synthesizers came out.” Perhaps he also selected this time because he is a big fan of disco. He made a Donna Summer tribute entitled “Donnastag,” which he had created back in 2006, but made available to fans after her death to celebrate the her life and musical talent.
He was super enthusiastic when telling me about how exciting it was to work with people he had looked up to. Alexander has done remixes for Snoop Dogg, The Chemical Brother, N.E.R.D, and has collaborated with such big names as Skrillex, The Black Eyed Peas, and Kelis. He also remixed a music project for David Lynch back in 2010. “It was cool to do because I could make something weird and interesting!” And David Lynch is sort of the king of weird and interesting. Alexander also told me how exciting it was to work with Depeche Mode, a group that he was a fan of growing up.
He wasn’t jaded in the least, despite the fact that he has been living the fast life and working in nightclubs since he was just a kid. He began his DJ career at 14, and spent the majority of his teen years working like a dog so that he could drop a grand a month on records. By 17 he was deejaying with Felix Da Housecat. Being in that scene so young, older girls would often approach him and he got a boys eye view into all the vices the nightlife can offer. “Maybe because I saw everything so intense very early, I was kind of shocked by it, so I never got crazy on drugs.”
As a result of all that city living, he often indulges in rural life fantasies. Alexander imagines himself “living somewhere on a mountain, with forests and by the ocean. I’d have pigs and a lot of farms.”
For Black And Blue, Alexandertook the time to look back at his previous 2 albums. He re-evaluated his musical past, and then moved forward with the information he had processed to reach a higher progressive state. “I was looking at myself for the first time, what I’ve done and where I am.” From there he was able to feel more free, and confident.
He told me he dislikes music that is seemingly perfect, music that is technically proper in its production, yet lacks personality. “It’s so saturated and so generic but it misses a lot of that soul, a bit of human.” When he is recording, sometimes he will leave a track just as it was when it was first recorded, and will avoid trying to perfect it after. “So the flaws are what makes it perfect in a way,” I inferred. “Yeah exactly,” he told me. “I don’t like when everything is perfect.” And that is what makes both him and his new album imperfectly perfect.
Skrillex and Boys Noize will ring in the new year with The Bang Palace at the Auburn Hills in Detroit on December 31st. Click on flier to get your tix!