The Mind Music team have been digging deep recently to handpick our next set of industry people to interview and we have managed to catch up with the man behind one of our fave tracks ‘Kitchens and Bedrooms’ – ‘Alexis Raphael’.
Krystal: Great to catch up with you Alexis. You’ve been quiet for a while, where have you been and why the long break?
Alexis Raphael: Hey, thanks for wanting to chat! I got to a point with everything where there was a lot I wasn’t enjoying, so I started making some changes. Part of that was going back to vinyl, part of it was stopping doing gigs that I wasn’t feeling and part of it was having a rethink about the music I was making.
Last year I was still gigging but less than before then I went travelling with my girlfriend for 5 months. There’s a whole world out there to explore. You know I love all this so much and Electronic music has been my life since I was 10 and I cannot do it, no matter what the money, if it’s not true to me. On top of that as much as I love DJ’in, I just wanna enjoy my weekends and not be in that environment every week. So I guess I’ve been having some time away from regular gigging and kind of going through a transition from the old me to the new me but in that time I have been making music. So, once my label gets out there and if people are digging the music then I’ll start playing at parties based on the new music but I don’t just wanna play for the sake of it at gigs where they wanna hear music that I don’t play.
Krystal: It’s always good to do what you feel is best and enjoy it. Now for the label, I saw you were looking for vocalists, singers and fresh tracks when can we expect to hear previews of the first release which I believe will be yours?
Alexis: Yes the new label is launching as soon as I can get the vinyl pressed and out there. I will do digital but vinyl will be first.
I’m hoping to put clips of tracks on my SoundCloud in the next month or two and I may release a fresh mix soon with some of the tracks on there; the first 2-3 releases will be my new music and then I hope to get some great upcoming artists to release for us and grow a little family of DJs.
Krystal: I’m looking forward to hearing the new music! Alexis, I know you undertook a sound engineering course shortly after getting into DJ’in, when it comes to producing music how do you find inspiration for a new project?
Alexis: I studied music production and sound engineering for 2 years after finishing school all the way back in 1999. What I did recently is start a course specifically on mixing and mastering. I’ve always had engineering and that’s the bit I’m not great at I’d say. I realised 2 weeks into the course though that actually it wasn’t needed and left. It’s all about having good ears anyway more than anything the course wasn’t much help was way too basic; I just need to start doing more mixes myself.
My tracks are finished and then I go to anther studio to mix them at the moment. I think it’s good to get another set of ears on things anyway to be honest. All high quality music generally has producers, engineers and musicians working on the records and I don’t see why it should be any different with house music.
Inspiration for tracks comes from all the other music I listen to, the feeling I have inside of me and trying to make music that will stand the test of time and not just the latest Beatport banger!
Krystal: As an artist, you have had some incredible gigs across the world. Do you have advice or tips for DJs who are trying to build themselves to gain more exposure and gigs?
Alexis: My advise is to focus on your music and yourself, not anyone else and be different. Go against the grain, that’s when you will stand out and get noticed!
Also, I’d say becoming a DJ to become a DJ is kinda the wrong way to go about it if that makes sense. Just enjoy your passion an share it by trying to get gigs, if things happen to make it your career then that’s a bonus.
I never thought I would do this for a living, it just happened organically because I loved it so much!
Krystal: Totally agree! Due to various factors, festivals seem to have become very popular over the last few years. Have they killed club culture in your eyes?
Alexis: Festivals have always been around and popular although there are probably more nowadays. Before they were called raves also. I was going to Creamfields, Homelands, Tribal Gathering, Dreamscape outdoor festival, Gatecrasher Summer Sound System… the list goes on, all in the 90’s.
Its nothing new, whats happened is the club culture has kind of died in favour of one off event etc which includes festivals. Before, up and down the UK people would go to a club night because the club night was special and had its own vibe, it was probably local to them. Nowadays people go to events mostly for the line-up rather then the party because of that, I guess festivals which have the biggest budgets can afford the biggest line-ups and attract a lot of people.
With my own party ‘Creche‘ I really try to make it about the vibe, music and party rather the line-ups. There are ways you can do that as a promoter by using your promo to talk about other the things other than who’s playing. It’s defo true that club culture isn’t what it was, but I think Electronic music culture as a whole is a much bigger global scene now.
Krystal: As a DJ, producer, label owner & promoter, how do you manage to keep a balance with the projects and give time to everything equally?
Alexis: Thing is some producers/artists can spend 5 days a week in their studio and feel content. I’m not like that my brain needs not just creative thinking but also the kind of thinking that goes towards running parties etc and other stuff.
My week is divided into creative days and event planning days and whatever else. I love having the mix of stuff to do and I enjoy all aspects of the music from host parties to playing records to making tunes. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Krystal: That’s a great way to break up the week. So Alexis, Mental Health has recently become a high topic in the music industry with many DJs suffering; what is your experience on this topic?
Alexis: I’m lucky that I don’t suffer from any serious depression and I’m generally happy. I’ve had loneliness for sure at times, whether its being alone in the studio or travelling a lot alone. In general, drink & drugs, the kind of lack of sleep and everything else that can come with the DJ lifestyle can affect people badly.
I think people don’t realise the downsides of the work. Forget what you see on Instagram behind the pic is a person who’s probably been travelling alone for hours until 3am just for those two hours to do the thing they love. I guess the main thing is recognising when things affect you and stopping the substance abuse or whatever else, slowing down touring and registering when things are taking their toll. No money or fame is worth making you ill.
Krystal: I like your reality there! As a promoter what things do you feel should be the main priority to ensure a good event?
Alexis: The main priority is peoples safety, that the venue’s staff are good, security are decent etc and it’s the music, sound and vibe. For me, whats been lost is how to build music on a night. Theres so much in not giving people everything until later on. Hold things back, build the anticipation. I feel like lots of promoters just stick line-ups together to pull numbers not thinking about the musical flow. DJs need to work in some kind of order musically, build and take the crowd on a journey. I’d much rather 4 not so known DJs that I know can play and play the right sound without trying to steal the glory, building the music so a headliner can then do their thing later on.
Krystal: Thank you for the chat Alexis and I cannot wait for the new music!!