Alexander Ridha is back to terrorise the dancefloor with his third Boys Noize release, Out of the Black. The legendary Berlin DJ talks EDM poseurs, laptop DJs and chilling with Snoop Dogg.
How do you think your sound has changed since you first started out?
From the attitude and the vibe, I haven't really changed at all. As a DJ, I like checking stuff like old school rough tracks. I’m a big fan of records that don’t sound clean. I have a big collection of house and techno music like this – about 15,000 records. But I've learnt a lot over the last years as a producer.
What was the first record you ever bought?
My brother sent me out to get a vinyl when I was five or six years old – the song was called Put Your Hands Together by D Mob.
What was the record that made you want to become a DJ?
One of them was Thomas Bangalter's Trax on the Rocks. And his first EP on his label, when I heard it I was going crazy. I was like 14, 15.
You grew up in Hamburg. What was the scene like there when you started out?
Berlin was the techno city, Hamburg was the house city. But once the house music got more and more vocal-y, I really didn’t like it too much and that was the time when I got more into electro. I like a lot of those early vocal tracks, like Frankie Knuckles, but it got too much like handbag house…
What do you think about the rise of EDM in places like the States?
For me, ‘EDM’ means more mainstream. Of course I’m a part of it, but I still think there’s something wrong in putting like good stuff like Warp together with David Guetta. But the generation that gets into it will probably start with mainstream music and you might have a good chance that they’ll start digging deeper after a year and find out that there’s so much more amazing music.
What’s it like to play at big American EDM festivals like Electric Daisy, then?
I know what I’m getting into. It’s not easy because on every stage you hear a redneck’s Cotton Eyed Joe trance remix or like, a Coldplay breakdown after three minutes of snare rolls. It’s tough for me to get on that level. I actually can’t. I’m pretty happy that people over there know that: “All right, it’s this German guy and he does his thing and we love it for what he does.” So I’m just happy to be around there without doing the same tricks.
Recently, a lot of people have criticized DJs for turning up to their sets, pressing ‘play’ and letting smoke machines and confetti do the work for them. How do you feel about that part of the industry?
Everybody talks about it – and it’s true, you know. There are a lot of people who have DJ sets that are the same everywhere they play. They know exactly what they play, and the music is very functional. It’s just about crowd pleasing and playing hits.
Before you go, we gotta ask – Snoop Dogg is on one of your singles, Got It. What was the Dogg like in person?
I was really nervous, but I kind of broke the ice when I played a lot of like Chicago dance mania booty stuff to him. He smokes a lot, so he’s so super chilled. I was hanging around in their L.A. office all day as well and there was a basketball game, he was entertaining everyone… He’s a homie, you know?
Out of the Black is out now. Boys Noize is currently on his European tour, check boysnoize.com for more details.
Words: Zing Tsjeng
Images: Bjorn Jonas