Miss Foxy gets the lo-down on DJ Alexis K, as she exclusively interviews the artist on her upcoming album Alexis K vs Unsub out this coming November.
Miss Foxy: How did you first get into music production?
Alexis K: I used to play in bands for years (first a drummer, then bassist, then guitarist and occasionally a vocalist). After struggling to find reliable band mates I started recording the full tracks myself using cool edit and pro tracks. I worked as a runner for STL Audio in Wellington NZ and helped setup the studio there before being introduced to drum and bass by my bestie Spinsta (Nieta Moore). I picked up a copy of Fruity Loops in late 2008 and never looked back really.
Miss Foxy: Has your main passion always been dance orientated music?
Alexis K: My first and biggest passion is metal. Having been the first to put out metalstep in 2010 (Unsub - Exhibit A EP; Breeders. Gen Bass) was me bringing those influences back into dance music. Have always had a huge passion for dnb though since I first heard it and have been moving back towards that the last 6 months.
Miss Foxy: How did you begin your involvement with Real Big Groove?
Alexis K: Real Big Groove started as a concept between Spinsta and I back in 2005 to create a way to identify people with similar values, ideals and drive. It's evolved beyond that to be a sort of network of trust but the core idea is always the foundation that keeps it strong.
Miss Foxy: Do you feel the label has helped your progression within dubstep music?
Alexis K: It's helped in that its kept me grounded. Having a solid support network of people is essential to being able to push through the bullshit that is around every corner in the industry.
Miss Foxy: You say your work is more like a diary to you then a collection of club tracks to dance to. Do you feel your presence on the music scene is changing the way dubstep music is listened to?
Alexis K: It did when I started. I tried to take dubstep into a multitude of different directions in order to deal with a lot of things and capture things I was feeling at the time. In doing so I was the first to create a lot of the styles that then became subgenres (acoustic/blues dubstep, samba-style, metalstep). I haven't actually made a dubstep track in over a year though. When I started it was a very open genre, there weren't really any rules except being around 140bpm and half time beats (although that was even open to interpretation). It's why I went that way because I could explore any vibe, feeling, emotion or memory and have the freedom to move around and take a journey. Go from A to B. And because it was still relatively underground, people would listen. Now, not so much. One of the things I hear most often from people who hear my music is "I don't really like dubstep, but I like your music". I don't think my presence is changing the way dubstep is listened to at all. I think that at best it might help broaden the horizons of what dubstep is and can be again; to something more closely resembling the thing that so many of us loved when we first heard the style being born out of the UK.
Miss Foxy: I love your remix of Sierra Leone by Agent K & Bella; I can see the aspect of creating a track to escape into. Do you find the key to a successful track is to create an individual experience for the listener?
Alexis K: To be honest, I don't think about music that way. I just start making something based on a vibe or a sound, anything that triggers a melody and go into a weird kind of zone where it feels like I'm just going on this journey being shown something and I'm just the vessel putting it down. I wouldn't know how to make a successful track in the way most people define it. To me, it's one I can still listen to a year or 2 later and it still takes me somewhere. Makes me feel differently to when I first started listening to it. If that happens when someone else listens to it, in a good or bad way, then it's successful to me. I kinda don't even think about someone else listening to the music until well after it's finished a lot of the time. Having said that, the last year I've been playing a lot of festivals and the people I've met have definitely influenced the music I make so the story is always on-going. Sometimes I'll create something to try and capture the spirit and energy of a person I've met and in that respect the goal is to resonate with them which, luckily, has been the case most of the time. Although sometimes it's not always positive, it can capture something that the person doesn't realise is about them but they still resonate with it.
Miss Foxy: Who inspires you the most currently within the music industry?
Alexis K: Dominic Owen has been a huge influence and inspiration. He's one of the biggest producers I know that isn't a household name and has been a mentor, guide and good friend for years now. Temper D, Rob Sparx, Tony Anthem and High Rankin have all been really good friends to me so have inspired me in different directions and to try new things. Jillian Ann has been a really big influence in my life personally as well so naturally has inspired me musically. As far as people I haven't gotten to know but have inspired me musically? Amon Tobin, Burial, Tool, Deftones, Perfect Circle, Phalaeh and most recently Dusty Fungus from here in Australia.
Miss Foxy: Are there any other producers within dubstep you feel are playing key roles in the scene right now?
Alexis K: I really don't know, I haven't kept up with dubstep since the beginning of last year really. I still listen to a bit of the darker, deeper stuff from Mala, DMZ, Requiem Audio and such but I kind of lost interest in where it was heading. I loved it originally because it was so open, people were doing interesting things and pushing the boundaries, making it more complex. But it seems to have been continually dumbed down more and more to a lowest common-denominator type music the same way hip hop has been. I've made more than 300 dubstep tracks since 2009 in a massive variety of directions and to hear a lot of the same sound and style emulated over and over was boring so I stopped listening.
Miss Foxy: I can see you have changed your name a considerable amount of times! Alexis K, Kidsader, Sub Affair and Unsub to name but a few! Does your name change dependant on your style, or have you simply kept evolving your image to go with your music?
Alexis K: I've not really changed name as much as they are separate aliases doing their own thing. Sub Affair was a collaborative project with Qel-Droma of Stupid Fly Records. The 2 main aliases I use are Unsub and Alexis K and the new album out Nov 5th is Alexis K vs Unsub. Trying to consolidate the two. It's more of a darkside and lightside and the battle between them. There is a more complicated reasoning behind why I need so many aliases and how they are a complex coping mechanism for a difficult set of circumstances to do with MPD but it's something that I'll have to go into a bit more at a later stage as it's still an on-going process so I'll leave it at that. I do try to make a lot of points with my music and the stories I'm telling and each alias is telling a different story. Like, for Unsub it's that image shouldn't be important when it comes to music and it has caused me a lot of grief and frustration but I think it's worth it to be judged on the music and not what I look like (which is hugely frustrating as a female producer) but it's also why Unsub is often mistaken for being male. Alexis K told a story of a very difficult time I was going through (and still am to some degree) and about overcoming adversity and discrimination through positivity. Fighting hate and misunderstanding with love, compassion and patience. All the aliases are tied together in some way; Unsub was born from the hate and suffering of Alexis K and so on. It's a complicated story but that's what being an artist is about I guess.