Dax J: 50 Shades Of Black
I noticed your Electric Deluxe podcast was an homage to old school D&B, is this something that still inspires you?
Yeah definitely. Like I was saying with amen breaks, I grew up listening to jungle and D&B and old school hardcore. It was so fun to make that podcast, because when I was preparing it and going through tracks, what to play and it brought back so many memories. I hadn’t played some of those tracks for like ten years! I recorded it all at home. I went through all my tracks and pulled out all my old vinyls and it was really fun as you don’t normally get the opportunity to do that. I really enjoyed doing that podcast. Again, that was something where all the tracks that are personal to me and each track on that mix reminds me of a different memory from when I was at school.
Your love of hardware is well documented, how come it’s taken so long for you to put a live show together and how was your live debut at Berghain?
It takes a long time to get it together. So I was putting it off for a long time. I knew it would be big job. I had just moved here about a year ago and I had just finished off a couple of EPs that I thought were quite strong which I wanted to showcase as a live set. You need to prepare yourself mentally first, do research, buy equipment. I bought the Elektron Octatrack which is just so complicated to start with. I nearly threw it out the window the second day I had it! You can’t just jam and it starts to make sense. When I got it running, we decided I should get a live show together. Once it was ready my agent sent it out to people and Berghain were interested, and that was it. It was a good start. I was practising a lot. Maybe the month before, I was practising every day. So the set was one hour, so it’s not too long to do. I was well prepared. But then when I went to the show, about two hours before, I started getting really nervous! I never get nervous before gigs, but this one I did. I had all my mates round, everyone was drinking and having a good time and there I was straight sober, a bit on edge. Finally I went there and started and at the end of the hour I was so drained of energy. I’ve never felt so shattered. Because of the adrenaline, I’ve never felt so tired after a gig. I felt the pressure I suppose, because it was my first live show I didn’t want anything to go wrong. I was thinking “What if the power cables come out?!”. When I’m DJing, I’m drinking, having a laugh, high five-ing people. But this, the whole hour was a 100% concentrating. Since then I’ve done the live set three more times.
Introspectively speaking, what would you say separates Dax from anyone else on the scene right now?
The political answer would be everyone’s unique!
What do you think you bring to the table?
I try to focus on bringing a lot of energy. A lot of power. I’m really into the ’90s sound. I’m bringing a lot of that back. I’m releasing a lot of old style stuff. So I’m pushing the old ’90s sound in a new modern way. I’m not saying I’m the only one doing that, but that’s the sound I’m trying to push right now. I’m trying to bring the BPMs up. There are a few other people do the same, but I think we’re a minority. I think it’s coming back now, it’s getting more popular. People are more into the harder faster stuff. I recently played in Paris and I was down to do a seven hour set. I was closing, I came in at 9am and the guy before me Ayarcana, he was playing at like 137! I walked in about 8am thinking “Shit, this is fucking fast and hard!”. France is really strong, really good scene there. I’ve been booked in France more than anywhere. I think I’ve been booked 6 times in France this year.
Finally, what bit of advice would you give yourself when you were first starting off?
Don’t listen to what anyone says. Try not to let anyone influence you. I’ve learnt to do that. You end up doubting yourself. I doubted my taste, or I would doubt a track I made. I would make a track and think that I really like it, but not sure if other people would. Or when I’m choosing tracks for an EP but I would think of what would sell better. So because you’re thinking about other factors… what I’ve realised now, whatever I like, I do. If I like a track, I put it on the EP. I don’t care what people think. I don’t care if someone says “That tracks not gonna sell. People aren’t gonna like that.”. If I like it, I trust my taste and my gut instinct and go for it! You just have to trust your taste and your heart!
Dax J’s debut album ‘Shades Of Black’ is out now. Buy your copy here