A Sit Down With DJ Alex Metric

After experimenting with the sounds of UK’s big beat scene, London based producer and DJ Alex Metric began crafting his own style, drawing influences from soulful indie rock and french electro sounds.

Over the last five years, he’s built up a massive collection of remixes for artists like PhoenixGorillaz and Depeche Mode, and original releases (Head StraightOpen Your EyesAmmunition Pt. 1-3), securing him a spot as one of the most in-demand artists of the moment.

With a plethora of productions and left field remixes, Alex Metric’s creativity is as vivid as his vibrant personality.  He’s the bloke who can make cool synth-pop, disco house, Electro, or progressive and determine which is the right sound for the song as well as what he is feeling.

 

“They seem to really love what I do and get what I do… I don’t think that I’ll have to feel like I have to do anything other than just play what I want, and play the music I love.”

 

Why do you think your music has such broad appeal?

My love has always been chucking everything in the pot, the first thing I really got into was the big beat days, Skint and Wall of Sound, and then the French house thing, Super Discount and Etienne de Crecy, and I think that throwing everything into the blender is definitely something I try to do in my tracks, to have all these different influences. I love going out and not knowing what you’re gonna hear next, you’re never sure which direction it’s gonna go in. That’s the exciting thing about going out, the music that surprises.

You don’t do a lot of remixes like the other guys do, how do you choose which remixes you go for?

I turn down about 4 times as many remixes as I do. I tend to only remix songs with lyrics, which is my general rule. I don’t really like doing club remixes of club records because all you are doing is just moving some sounds around to make another rhythm. If I choose a song, 9 times out of 10 it will be because there is a lyric in that song that actually has a fucking meaning to me. Although it is a remix I do sometimes feel like I am writing another song with their lyrics. For example I am splitting up with a girlfriend at the moment, and in the “DNA” song there were some lyrics that I could relate to and made me feel like I had an emotional connection to their song. That was the reason why I did it, if I can tweak those lyrics and make it feel like it has a meaning to me then you flip it on its head and it is going to mean something to someone else. I think that all of the best remixes that I have done in my career have always happened at times when I have had personal things going on and have related the songs to my life. It sounds like a weird way of doing it, but 90% of the time that’s the reason because it means something to me. The “take me away” part was perfect, because I was literally feeling like “get me the fuck out of this situation.” I think that is a good way of doing it and it gives an extra depth to the remixes and feels less like fucking with someone else’s song and more like something that you feel and is real to you.

What do you think about the dance music explosion that’s happening in America right now? 

I think as a British DJ who comes over to America quite a lot now, my attitude towards it is, there’s a fucking amazing opportunity in America at the moment to shape the tastes and opinions of a generation kids. I don’t see what the point is in sitting in the studio and being snotty about it. Fucking get on a plane, go to America and play them some different music and you can have a part in changing things and showing them other stuff, you know? I think it’s a crazy exciting time in America at the moment! And I certainly think from my last tour there, Miami was a real eye opener, in that everyone was really open to different sounds. I played more disco sets there than banging club sets. I enjoy the challenge of going over to the states and doing shows where I kind of play music on my terms and still hopefully capture the imaginations of an audience.

Writing, producing and singing – have you always been D.I.Y. and independent in your attitude towards music?

The reason I got into production is that I used to just be purely a singer, and having to rely on flaky producers wasn’t much fun. So I decided to take it upon myself to do it all myself, and as I got into production I kind of stopped singing for four years or something. My music didn’t fit having my vocal on it, until I really discovered what the music that I wanted underneath it was. But now I feel that I’ve come to a point where I’m happy with the style I’ve got, so it made sense to get back on the mic again.

How do you keep a record playing and keep promoting it in a way that people don’t lose interest in it and still buy it the first week? How do you keep that balance going?

Ministry knows what they are doing in that respect. They have been drip-feeding different mixes of it, the video and the Mind Vortex remix. We still have the Marcus Marr from DFA remix to drop as well. Keep in mind that at the moment we are still only working the UK, you guys are getting this via the internet and there isn’t even an American release date set at the moment.  We are talking to who we are licensing it to, but I feel like the record has a long shelf life and that it is going to be a gradual record as all the different territories come on.

Your music has been compared to the likes of Ed Banger’s output. Do you feel an affinity to the new French electro crew?

That sound has come back round again. I guess I feel an affinity more with the first round of it, I guess my sound is similar to those guys but with a bit more of an English twist. I don’t want to be deemed as doing a pastiche of those guys, I think that the whole French and ’80s thing is something I’ve always been into, and a lot of people like it again.

When the two of you work in the studio do you fight over the keyboard, how does that work?

No, not at all. I know that Stuart is a much better keyboard player than me, so I let him play it quite a lot. I think that when you work with someone that you have so much respect for, you could feel like you have to let them be right all the time and feel a bit conscious of their status and their talent, but the refreshing thing about working with Stuart was that there was none of that. Stuart would send me some ideas for the track when we were working remotely, and the fact that I was comfortable being able to tell him that I didn’t like something helped me learn a lot. I think the best and most interesting thing about working with him was that there was no pretension and no bullshit, just two creative people making a record together.

What do you think of RAM so far?

I think it’s… FUCKING incredible! Madeon put it really well when I was speaking to him the other day. He said Duft Punk have attempted to make a masterpiece and that should be applauded. It’s gonna make people think about what they do. Even if they don’t like it but still react to it, it’s doing a good job.

Any advice for producers who are just now getting into music?

I think the main thing to say to them is, do your own thing. Be brave enough to stand apart from the crowd. That’s how you’ll get your head above everyone else. Don’t make music based on what is popular or what you think is gonna get you somewhere quick. Work out what it is you love and make those records.

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