I hope you’ve had a good chance to digest some of the beautiful sounds created by AlexisK.
Now, let’s delve deeper into the mind-set of one of Dubstep’s most exciting and innovative future legends!
GB: Who are you, please introduce and tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m AlexisK. I’m from Wellington, New Zealand. I am a 23 year old female producer and musician 😉
GB:How long have you been producing music and what’s been the plan?
I started using FL studio 8 in September of 2008. I’d been using guitars and recording on cool edit and cakewalk pro for a year or so before that but was given a copy of Fruity Loops by a good friend who introduced me to drum and bass in may of 2008. First track I ever heard was Audio – Vigilante and then The Qemists – Stompbox (Spor Remix). TO this day, both are my favourite tracks and I am lucky enough to have them both on vinyl 🙂
It was January last year that I decided that I wanted to be a producer. Not just a bedroom musician but a real producer. Someone who knows how to craft sounds and songs.
As far as plans, I have a list of goals I’m working towards. There are labels that I am working to be a part of, definitely, but mostly I want to be working with the people who inspired me to be better at what I love doing. I love vinyl and a huge goal for me is to be releasing on vinyl by the end of next year. Its something that really drives me to push in different directions with the ideas for tracks.
GB:When did you first get into Dubstep?
First heard dubstep at Phat 09. Was lucky to catch an amazing set by Skream and Benga. Was just blown away by the huge wall of bass. Was pretty much sold on it after that. I loved the heavy crisp stuff by the likes of Rusko and Caspa and owe Rusko a huge thanks for his producer masterclass vids for filling in a lot of blanks on dubstep for me.
GB: How did you get into it?
My DJ partner Spinsta (Nieta Moore) has been my best friend for nearly 13 years now and she has been a hugely dedicated and driven DJ for the last 5 years, it was her influences that totally got me hooked on dubstep and dnb. With any style of music, you can learn to really appreciate it if you find someone who can show you how to listen to it. Show you what to appreciate about it and how. She did that for me with Dubstep and DnB.
GB:What is the Dubstep scene like in New Zealand?
Dubstep is gaining a lot of momentum here in New Zealand with some really amazing work being done by some very talented producers. Truth, P-vans, Optimus Gryme, L Que, Olie Bassweight, Majiika…there is a lot of talent which is really starting to get some good following. Can only mean good things for our whole music scene really 🙂
BEING A GIRL
GB:Tell us a little bit about your experiences of being a women and involved in a predominantly a male driven genre?
I wouldn’t say the genre is male ‘driven’ as much as male ‘orientated’. I haven’t had to deal with as much of it as some of the female DJ’s I know as I haven’t played out yet. I’m definitely glad there are more female DJs, producers and MCs coming through now and doing there thing. There is a lot of talent waiting for the opportunities.
GB:How are you perceived by guys in the scene and other women?
There is definitely a lot of pressure to ‘tart it up’ in the scene. But its about the same from both guys and girls so I think that its more a general thing throughout the scene.
GB:Is there anything you would like to change about perceptions or about the scene generally as it relates to women?
I’d like to see people get the opportunities that they deserve. That they have worked for. And not have their gender, sexuality or anything else of that nature be the first thing that defines them.
I’d love to see an equality in expectations for everyone. So if people like what you do, they would say you are a talented producer. Instead of your talented for a girl 😉 having said that. I like that I can be proud of being female and able to produce music that people enjoy. Multi-tasking has its up sides 😉
UP COMING RELEASES
GB:Tell us a little about some of your upcoming releases. Of course there’s a couple of tracks that you’ve kindly put aside for me and away from public view as I’m hoping to license them for one of our Generation Bass Compilation releases this year..heee…heeee. Aside from us, do you get approached by other labels for licensing requests and if so who/what do you have coming out?
I started pushing a few tracks out in January this year as I felt I had progressed enough with my tracks over the last year to start sending stuff through. The initial idea was that, even if the quality wasn’t up to standard, hopefully the idea’s came across strong and it would get me on the radar. Has been a pretty amazing month though.
I Am in the process of finalising 2 EP’s with Permanent Damage Records.
The first, The Death of Everything Cool, is a 4 track EP coming out in March. The second, as yet, is untitled. Also have 3 tracks coming out with them on compilations over the next 3 months. I also am just finalising a 5 track EP with Optimus Gryme Recordings here in New Zealand which I’m really excited about aswell.
Besides the EP releases, I have a few tracks coming out on compilations from HBBR Radio UK and have a track on the soundtrack to American Dance Legends TV show in the US coming out in April. The aim is always vinyl though. Hopefully by the end of next year.
TUNESMITH & INSPIRATION
GB:You’re pretty prolific on the churning out the great tunes. How are the musical ideas conceived and how do you go about turning an idea into a fully formed track?
Sometimes I just click ‘new’ and start playing with a synth and a drum kit. Most of the time, I have a theme or general idea or concept for a track and collect and/or make some samples for the concept.
I have a bunch of samples for different concepts so that when I dont have a fresh idea in mind when I click ‘new’ I can choose from the concepts I’ve already pre-worked. Some of them are just trying to capture a ‘soundscape’ of a moment.
For example, the track Sewer Rats I was trying to make it sound like you were listening to the track in the sewers and the sounds represent a story.
In the track ‘Easy Company’ I wanted it to tell an audio-visual story about being in Normandy during World War II on D-day. Trying to make the song evolve out of the atmosphere from the place was fun. Built that whole soundscape from scratch.
I have about 70 or 80 concept ideas in there at any one time and am just slowly working my way through and adding more as I think of them.
GB:What sort of equipment & software do you use to make your music and what are the processes involved?
I use FL studio 9 XXL now. Edirol Orchestral vst, Albino 2, NI Massive and currently a Moog Analogue synth. Also use a digitech rpx400 and OM3 Mic for live recording.
When I started, I wanted to get to the point where I could make tunes efficiently. By that, I mean that if I had an idea for a track, or a melody in my head, I wanted to be able to jump in the studio and be able to make it, to hear what is in my head on the computer. So I started to learn everything I could. Still am now.
But there are things that people don’t tell you. Like, to define your own sound. You should spend a lot of time going through samples and making your own drums. I use the same drum kit through all my tracks (is a variation on 24 different snares, 4 kicks and a series of hats and 3 amens). I layer them different each time to give the sounds some uniqueness but overall, the tracks have a similar ‘sound’. It’s like choosing your electric guitar and amp or your drum kit and sticks. It’s a huge part of your sound but it also comes down to how you use them.
GB:How many tunes do you have in your bank of tracks and how many are you presently working on?
I only started finishing tracks properly in the last week of December last year so have been going back over some older tracks and finishing/rebuilding them. But currently have 31 ‘demos’ that I am pushing (or will be soon) to labels. about 70% are Dubstep (or dubstep oriented) and the rest are dnb or triphop.
I have about 6 tracks I have started in the last 48hours that should be finished within the next few days (including the one to accompany this interview) and most likely would have started another 3 or 4 from the list of concepts or just out of interest to see what happens by monday (its thursday as I write this).
I tend to work on one track for an hour or so, then switch to a different one, then another after an hour again. That way I am sparking off different Ideas from each project into the other.
A lot of the time I will build just the main 64bars of a track listen over and over for an hour or two until it sounds dull and then build it again or rework it until it sounds fresh again, so by the time anyone else listens to it I’ve heard it about 50 or 60 times.
GB:Where does the inspiration come from for your stuff. Cause one minute you’re churning out a tune with a 7/8 time signature with Middle Eastern inflexions, the next minute you’ve produced another awesome Movie Score-Step (Cinematic Dubstep) tune and the very next you’ve got another Drum and Bass baby popped out…how, where…why!!!!
I just try and capture what I am feeling in that moment. When I was playing guitar all the time, you could always tell what I was feeling by what I was playing. I set out to learn how to do that with production. To get to the sound and vibe I want as quickly as possible. Which is why I structured the way I taught myself producing so I could do it quickly. To capture that ‘spark’ that happens.
I love film and games and have always wanted to write the music for a feature film and or a video game. So a lot of my focus on melodies has been from listening to a lot of film soundtracks. Trying to figure out how they create a mood with certain sounds and notes. I try to recreate the same mood with different instruments and sounds 🙂
GB:I’m really, really, really interested in your Transnational Dubstep stuff and that’s what brought you first to my attention. What else you got cooking on that front?
Definitely more Transnational Dubstep coming along. Some really ambitious ideas that may or may not work but I’m definitely loving the vibe that comes from different cultures music.
GB:Where does the influence/inspirations come from for the Middle Eastern, Indian and South American stuff?
A lot of that influence comes from my metal and rock background. I used to play guitar in a thrash/metal/grunge band. I grew up listening to Deftones, Tool, Incubus, Korn and Limp Bizkit. Soundgarden, QOTSA, Perfect Circle, Sepultura.
I mean, if you listen to a lot of the tribal drumming or the bass rhythms I use, a lot of them are based on the sounds, scales and rhythms metal guitarists use. I basically am trying to make rock/metal with a dubstep soundscape in a lot of tracks 🙂
Also, there is something magical about the Middle Eastern modal key and South American percussion. Just does things to me…
GB:What are you feeling when you’re making the Transnational Dubstep stuff?
Usually an exciting tension that builds as the track comes together. The melodies and rhythms tend to find you when you have chosen the sound. Sometimes it’s the most amazing thing to just pick a set of sounds, or a theme, and then just see what happens. Usually the vibe of the track comes through from the sound and you can feel where it needs to go.
GB:If I had to choose, my favourite track of yours, I would have to say either Undertow or Tribal Grind, both of which are Transnational Dubstep tracks, what are they about?
Undertow was about the growing discomfort with the way things are heading in certain parts of the world. The vocal is a prayer. I felt moved by it and even though I don’t know what was said, I couldn’t help but feel humbled by the passion that came with it.
The Tribal Grind is a long story but it kinda is meant to be the soundtrack to a fantasy that a friend of mine shared with me 😉 apparently it fits it well.
GB:Will you promise that you’ll define all your Dubstep tracks that come with an ethnic inflexion within the genre of Transnational Dubstep from now on..lol..
I think I can definitely give it a try!
GB:Do you live for music?
It’s probably closer to say that I live despite the music. I literally spend all my time, from the moment I wake till the few seconds before I fall onto my bed asleep surrounded by music. I’m always that girl who is dancing in the club with headphones round her neck because she couldn’t stand not having music for even just the 10min walk to town or the 20minute stumble home at 6am.
GB:Please give us your TOP 10 Records, dance or otherwise!
Well, these are more albums but in no particular order:
Deftones – White Pony. Soundgarden – Superunknown. Audio – To The Edge of Reason. Burial – Untrue. Massive Attack – Mezzanine. Portishead – Dummy. Thomas Newman – American Beauty OST. Amanda Fucking Palmer – Who Killed Amanda Palmer. Amon Tobin – Foley Room. Everything from Freak Recordings.
GB:How did you get into music, what are your musical influences?
My dad was a musician and still plays a mean guitar and bass! Grew up listening to Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, U2 and Paul Simon. I think a lot of that comes through in my music too. Edge from U2 uses a lot of echo and I draw a lot of inspiration from them all.
GB:When you are not working on music, what sort of music do you listen to?
Everything from current value (tightest production I’ve ever heard) and Doc Scott through to Santogold and MGMT. Have a huge love of Mars Volta, and Fall of Troy. But still usually end up going back to the triphop stuff of the early mid nineties.
GB:Who you do you rate at the moment?
-DJ’s: DJ Spinsta @ Radio Active, DJ Foster from SubFM. Definitely rate Blackplanet from Chch for their live show. Am loving Truth’s massive sets and eagerly awaiting their new album coming out soon.
-Producers; Love Current Value 2012 LP. Been really digging wagawaga, Macka, Fujiwara and Riccicomoto from Soundcloud. Also some mint local talent from NZ at the moment; Majiika, Olie Bassweight, Bit Jax and P-Vans.
-Artists; Digging this solid rock band Kabanaz from Wellywood lately and some of the new stuff coming out from a new Welly producer ‘Fis’ is amazing. This guy is a serious talent waiting to break loose!
GB:Your all-time favourite song/piece of music?
Thats a fricken hard one! Probably the red roses theme from American Beauty or the track Alice by Cocteau Twins (theme from The Lovely Bones)
GB:Your all-time favourite movie?
What Dreams May Come. Dir. by Vincent Ward. Starring Robyn Williams.
GB:Your all-time favourite book?
Checkers by John Marsden.
GB:Your greatest influence – music or otherwise?
My dad. His love of music and all his influences gave me the passion and appreciation for what makes a good song. What makes a melody feel beautiful, even if it’s something dark.
GB:How do you see the future for Dubstep?
I see it expanding into more areas. It has so much potential to be a huge umbrella term for a whole group of different styles. at 140bpm its pretty much open to being mixed with any other genre so its fairly limitless in terms of unique songs that can come from it.
GB:What is next on your musical agenda?
At the moment I’m concentrating on trying to get a dnb EP signed. Working on alot more dnb (and dubstep of course) but also have electro and triphop stuff that I have been thinking of putting out again. I’m just basically seeing what happens when I start with a blank track.
GB:Where do you see yourself in another 5 years time?
Hopefully crashing the couches of a list of talented producers I have put together who I really want to collaborate with. Its a long list and includes some pretty ambitious names. But its always good to have big goals to work towards.
There is a huge culture of ‘remixing’ in dubstep (which is great) but I think we are overlooking what can happen when people actually come together to make something new. Can spark off something that neither could have thought of by themselves. SO, hopefully, doing alot more of that in 5 years.
GB:If there is one thing you would like to say to the world, what would it be?
Be open to a shift in perspectives, it keeps life interesting.
GB:Who is your favourite blog (wink, wink) and why?
Generation Bass! Because it’s the first one I’ve read this year!
THE GENERATION BASS XCLUSIVE DOWNLOAD
When I first suggested that we do a big feature on AlexisK , she immediately offered to make a track especially for the blog in my favourite Transnational Dubstep style.
Within a matter of days she’s come up “Gumby’s Night In Cuba” which we are very proud and honoured to be the first in the world to stream and to offer as a free download.
It’s a Dubstep track like no other that I’ve ever heard. It’s SALSA-STEP….with a tinge of 1940’s JAZZ-SWING!!!
It’s XCLUSIVE, UNIQUE, BRILLIANT and IMHO created by a GENIUS!
Limited to 100 downloads only, so be quick and grab it!!!
|Get this player from Fairtilizer!|
THANK YOU SO, SO MUCH AlexisK…
THIS IS NO HYPE..YOU ARE THE FUTURE!