Touring America is the dream for many UK bass artists… But few artists have taken things into their own hands in the way Axel Boy has.
The Bristol-based producer born Alex Joyce has just returned from a successful mini-tour in America which he funded himself. He’s landed back in the UK just in time for the release of his EP on Never Say Die’s Black Label. As you’d expect, it’s bulging with some seriously weighty bass. Weighty bass like this…
“Getting support from SKisM and the Never Say Die crew is absolutely awesome,” says Alex. “I wanted to get the EP completely right so I spent a lot of time tweaking all of the tracks before sending them over and luckily it seems to have paid off.”
We caught up with Alex to get the lowdown on how his debut trip across the pond has paid off, too…
Welcome home! How are you feeling?
Thanks man! I’m feeling a little bit turned over, not from the excessive partying, but from going through all of the different timezones in America. It’s a huge place and all of that travelling really takes it out of you!
Yeah, America is fairly large… Where has this tour taken you?
I started in Washington DC on the west coast before going to LA, and then finished up in Minneapolis. It’s been pretty nuts.
And what was your highlight?
LA was my favourite city place by far; it’s a city full of energy and the EDM scene is huge there. I supported Doctor P and Jayceeoh at a sell-out show and it was gnarly!
How did the tour come about? You must’ve been pretty hyped to part of it?
I’m part of an agency based in LA called Arcane Talent, it’s definitely one for people to look out for – they’re throwing some great parties out there and it’s only getting bigger. Yeah I was buzzing! It was huge for me to be part of the tour. It was my first time in the states full stop, let alone first time DJing over there. The tour was all independently financed and the intention wasn’t to make money, it was about creating hype for my music and giving the fans across the pond a taste of my music in person. Sort of an investment for the future!
Props on that! What was the main difference you noticed between the scene over there and the scene in the UK?
In the UK, bass music originated from dark, dingy clubs and then the showmanship came after it, whereas in America they seem to make much more of a visual display out of everything. That means there’s a much different vibe over there to the one here; I felt more pressured to put on a good show, it kind of felt like I was doing more of a performance as a DJ and that’s what I want to be doing. The production was just crazy at all of the venues.
Does this emphasis on production affect the music side of things, too?
Yeah definitely. Over there, EDM is just one thing – people don’t try to pigeonhole genres and they don’t mind if you mix it up when you’re DJing. In my sets over there I played all sorts; I usually played bits of dubstep and trap before going into some melodic future bass and it went down really well each time. In the UK, people might get a bit funny about a DJ changing the genres up so much.
And did you notice anything different about the crowds over there?
I love the crowds here in the UK but people seemed to be a bit hungrier for the music over there, probably because it’s newer to them. They’re more engaged but they’re not so critical about it; they just want to have fun no matter what genre it is. This critique nature that British crowds seem to have can be seen as a positive thing as well though, I guess.
So would you say that you think the scene is healthier over there than here?
Everything in America is candy-coated and generally bigger; the fact you can get a donut burger says it all! And it’s not just their food that’s larger than life, the music is too. Here in England, we seem to always gravitate back to that dark underground sound. As much as I love that sound, I’m more about bright music as opposed to dark music, so for me, the scene is healthier over there, but that’s just a matter of opinion really – everyone has different tastes and views.
Fair enough. Did you chat to any of the big boys when you were over there?
I didn’t get to catch up with Doctor P unfortunately but I did see his set! I managed to catch up with 12th Planet though; I went round to his house one night where we had a few beers and listened to some tunes together which was cool. He’s a big player in the scene over there so it was good to see him. He’s always keen to collaborate with smaller artists so hopefully we can sort something out in the future…
Did anything funny happen when you were out there?
I got locked out of my agent’s house one night and I had to pull off some serious Spiderman shit to get back in! It was scary at the time, but pretty funny looking back.
When you’re not doing your best Spiderman impression, what can we expect to hear from you in the future?
I’m all about making different types of music, I don’t just wanna make one kind of thing. The fact I’m not massive at the moment means I’m not restricted to make a certain kind of track – I’ve got free rein over what I do for now, so while I’m in this position I’m all about experimenting and making anything that sounds good. So many producers seem to bracket themselves and don’t explore their full capabilities, which is a huge negative in dance music. I want to do the opposite to that.
Sounds good! What’s in the pipeline then?
I’ve got a big future bass release coming which I’m really looking forward to getting out there, but I can’t reveal any more about that one just yet… Then there’s obviously the EP on Never Say Die which I’m also really hyped for. Both releases are going to show my versatility as a producer.
I’m looking forward to playing in Bristol again, as that’s where I was born and there’s such rich musical heritage there. I want people to become a bit more open to non-dark music in the UK – hopefully I can help do this!