Out Of The Black and back on tour: Boys Noize
Boys Noize made his ascent to the top of the pile a few years ago, rising up around the time when Erol Alkan, A-Trak and their ilk were also climbing up the ranks. His sound is typically rough, raw and analogue-driven with plenty of bass and jacking beats to keep crowds bouncing the world over.
Recently he recorded a few tracks with hip hop legend Snoop Dogg, as well as releasing his third album Out Of The Black, so I grabbed him for a few minutes to see how it’s all going for the Berlin-based producer.
How is it all going at the moment?
It’s going good, I’m just working on my live show.
Is that quite a new development for you?
Yeah, it’s sort of a new thing for me really, it’s going to be the first time I try to figure out how to perform all my own songs and it’s going to be the first time that I present a full concert more or less.
Have you been working on that in tandem with the album? Is it something that you’ve developed together because you’re going to be performing your album tracks, right?
Well to be honest I thought about performing them after I produced them! It’s not easy because I use a lot of analogue gear in my productions but I never use them just as they are you know, I record them and then I cut them up and use whatever bits so this [music] never exists just as it is in the machine. So I’m trying to figure out what’s the best way.
Are you finding it quite easy at the moment or is it proving to be a bit difficult?
Well the only difficulty really is that I’m alone on stage. It would be better if there was another me with the same hands so I could control more things at the same time but as it’s just me that’s, I guess, the big challenge.
Maybe you could host some X-Factor style auditions to try and find yourself a double?
[Laughs] Yeah lets find a couple more Boys Noize to perform!
And what characteristics would they need to be you?
[Laughs] Good question. They’ve got to have my ear right! My ear and my hands would have to be cloned. And maybe my brain as well!
So tell me a little bit about the album. How long ago did you come up with the idea of getting it together?
I was preparing the first one or two tracks last year and I really got into the album production mode early this year, that’s when I started to really get into the studio every day and record a lot of sounds. It was cool because I really got into this creative feeling of being in the studio just trying out things and letting myself go from whatever thoughts about what’s going on right now, I really cleared my head. That was pretty good; I actually took time off for that as well so I could be more into it.
It’s nice to take a bit of time away from everything just so you can get your creative juices flowing.
Yeah exactly. I mean I was so deep into producing for other people over the last two or three years, after that I just wanted to be alone in my studio again and make my own music.
Does the album have a particular theme or is there anything cohesive that brings it all together?
It doesn’t really have a theme, the first track I did was Ecstasy and the second was Reality and at that point I was like “there’s a theme of ecstasy” [laughs] but then it all got a bit loose again because of the different types of tracks and styles. I would say that the new album has a lot of elements from my first and second album as well. I have similar feelings with some of the tracks on it like there’s sort of more of a raw feeling and it’s not too functional as well.
How would you say your sound has evolved with this album?
I’m always looking for new sounds generally, before I got in the studio I bought some new machines and some old synthesisers but the only thing that I always do is try not to use the same sounds. So if you look back on all the remixes I’ve done and the two albums, I’m happy that it all sounds different but in the end it all sounds like me as well. I always try to come up with new things and new sounds and I always start from zero so sound-wise it’s hard to say how it’s evolved. Maybe I learnt more about production and engineering in the last two or three years because I never went to an engineering school so I keep learning little tricks and stuff.
What important lessons have your learnt in the process of making the album?
Well the most fun part of making an album is always the creative part but finishing the shit is most of the time is a bit more of a pain because there’s a lot of things you have to do and for me its always more office work and getting the mix right but also there is some sort of art and always a more uncomfortable feeling. Generally I think I’ve learned a lot as a producer in a more traditional sense. I think when you work with people you have to be very sensitive about their feelings, about the music and what they want. Also, being the person who guides people you have to have an ear for what they want and where they want to go, so I’ve learnt a lot about all this kind of communication as a producer in the past few years.
And are there any albums in your own collection that have kind of inspired your own work?
Yeah there are a lot of albums that inspire me and a lot of different styles and producers. You know I listened to my first two albums and I was really happy because I still feel every track I produced and I still like everything I’ve done, although some of it sounds super raw produced. But for me I’m always inspired by albums that stay longer that their time, you know, an album that you can listen to in 20-30 years and it still sounds fresh. Not many people manage to do this so for me it was quite important to try and do something timeless.
Away from the album are you doing a lot of touring?
No, er, well… yeah! [laughs] I had a little break this year, I didn’t do festivals, I only played like two but I didn’t have this crazy festival summer. I only played like one gig per month so that was cool but now with the new album the touring will start again and it’s actually going to be pretty crazy.
Do you have a lot of gigs booked in already then?
Yeah I have around 55 gigs in three months!
Wow! And speaking about that kind of the busy, touring lifestyle. What do you enjoy most about it?
I love to travel generally, I’m really happy that I’m in a position to travel and do what I love. The most fun is always to go to different cities or places you haven’t been and discover their culture and food and I just love that thing, I’m very lucky that it’s like this.
Is there anywhere that you always look forward to going to?
Yeah! Japan. I’m a big fan of Asia but I love Japan and their culture, everything from the food but also the people and to play there is really nice to and they’re really into underground music. You can play a white label or a bootleg and they even know the credits so they’re very much into that but at the same time they’re very open-minded.
What are the negative aspects of touring?
Flying is probably the part I dislike the most. I think I spend one month in an aeroplane per year. That’s quite depressing if I think about it but it leads me to nice places! If only there was a teleportation device!
There is a Twitter account called DJs Complaining which retweet tweets by DJs complaining about trivial issues that can become a problem when touring. Can you remember a time when you’ve complained about something that was not important but seemed like a big deal at the time?
The sleep and food situation when you tour is sometimes really fucked up and I get really moody if I don’t get to eat something [laughs]. So at one point I was so annoyed by the food I was getting at airports and train stations because it’s always those horrible white sandwiches. I remember complaining about that a lot when I was touring heavily, especially with festivals when you have to fly twice then drive an hour, that means you have to get up from the other place at like 8am then your arrive and have to play straight away then there’s no real time to eat and you just wish for a good meal and not airport food!
Apart from the album what else have you been doing music-wise?
Not much really! I want to just keep everything clear. I’ve done a couple of beats here and there for other people but most of them were done before I worked on the album. Kano came to the studio one or two months ago and we did some new stuff but nothing super serious, more bits and pieces.
I have to ask you a little bit about the track with Snoop, why did you pick that track to release?
Are you talking about the I’ll House You track? That one I’m not allowed to use it right now on the album. We had to switch it to the track Snoop wanted to release as his single which is a track called Got It. That’s a track he picked from my beats and actually I did the beat with Siriusmo, it’s like a slow rap beat that’s really amazing actually and I was so happy he picked that one and we did it, it’s actually amazing I’m so happy!
Did you get to spend time with him as well then?
Yeah I was in LA earlier this year and we hung out and I played him all the stuff I’ve made and yeah it was really cool!
Did he get you pretty stoned as well?
Yeah! [Laughs] How can you not?
It must have been a real moment for you as someone that you admired in the past?
Yeah I was so stoked and nervous before I met him it was pretty special for me!
Who else from the hip-hop world would you like to work with?
Actually right now I think rap is really getting a new spring again, there’s a lot of cool rappers! I would love to do something with ASAP Rocky or Jay-Z, there’s a couple I really like and I’d love to do stuff with.
There seems to be a lot of crossover between hip-hop, electronic music and R&B.
Yeah, but most of it I find too cheesy. I don’t want to make a dance/rap song with like a Coldplay breakdown and a three-minute snare roll… I love rap so I would rather go into that kind of thing and do it my way, more electronic.
Where do you see yourself going in the next few years?
You never know but the only thing I know is that I will keep producing music and I do have some ideas about the music I want to make for sure. I still want to do some weird side stuff and I guess I’ll just keep on producing music. And even when I’m 40 or 50 I’ll still be doing DJ gigs!
Out Of The Black is out to buy now, for more information on Boys Noize visit his website HERE.
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