Alix Perez

Alix Perez 1984 interview

With his stunning debut album 1984 having been unleashed on Monday to a rapturous response from punters and critics alike, Knowledge caught up with man-of-the-moment Alix Perez to get the full story over a spot of lunch…

“I wrote all the tracks specifically for the album,” begins Alix as we take our seats in an Italian café in a leafy suburb of North London. “Before I even started writing I thought about the concepts quite strongly. I could have made loads of versions of ‘I’m Free’ [recent massive lead single from the album], more dancefloor orientated tracks but that wasn’t the point. I wanted to write something that would be listened to by various audiences and be really rich musically. It’s nowhere near as perfect as I want it to be but nothing ever is with me, I’m a perfectionist! I’m always going to hear something that I could have done better.”

Alix’s determination to make a ‘concept’ album partly stems from his love of soundtracks and his admiration for their composers: “Recently I’ve got into soundtrack composers like Vangelis, Lalo Schifrin, Ennio Morricone and all those guys. I really like the concept writing, where they were writing specifically to create a mood. I took that influence through to my album in order to take you on a journey. It’ll be quite melancholic then suddenly it’s more uplifting, through different moods and tempos but all within one sound. It was about writing for a concept and having a vibe to the album where it’s solid and round but also quite diverse at the same time. That’s similar to writing for film and specifically wanting to create a certain mood.”

The variation in styles and moods on ‘1984’ is immediately noticeable with Alix exploring a number of different tempos throughout the record. He also enlists the assistance of an impressive list of collaborators, ranging from rappers Foreign Beggars and Yungun, through major league vocalists Ursula Rucker and Peven Everett to those repping the deep d&b side of the coin:

“The d&b collaborators [Spectrasoul, Sabre, Zero T] are all people I’ve worked with before. Because we already worked together it just happened naturally. With Foreign Beggars I’m a fan of their stuff and I’ve known Pavan [Orifice Vulgatron] for quite a long time, he was on the d&b circuit a while back and I met him through mutual friends. With Yungun, the opportunity came up to work with him so I took it and it went really well. He’s a really cool guy. With Peven Everett and Ursula Rucker, I’m a big fan of their stuff so having those guys on the album made me really happy, it was like an honour having them on there.”

The diversity on display on the album is reflective of Alix’s scope of influences, with him citing his parents as having played an important part in his early musical development.

“My Mum and Dad had a quite varied taste in music,” he reveals. “My Dad was into quite a lot of funk and soul and they had a really wide knowledge and didn’t listen to anything too commercial. I was living in France and got into quite a lot of French hip hop. That was when I actually started buying CDs around the age of 12 or 13. I was into people like MC Solaar, Iam and Funky Family. Then I got into US hip hop and that’s been a massive influence, from early 90s ‘golden era’ stuff like DJ Premier, Pete Rock and J Dilla. They’re definitely huge influences. I even released a couple of tracks using their samples [‘Crooklyn’ and ‘Solitary Native’] which were basically tributes.”

Alix is positive when questioned about the current state of play within the d&b scene: “It’s really diverse at the moment. I’m particularly liking the fact that people are stripping back and just using the core elements again. Some d&b stuff is so far away from what it used to be. For me, some of it’s so synthetic which doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing, but some of the d&b out there is so cold and soulless. People used to go out and listen to d&b to actually listen to the music but now kids just want to go out and get really off their faces. I’m just really happy that some of the producers in the scene are stripping back and doing something interesting again. There’s space in the tracks again, it’s quite deep and quite musical but still dancefloor. There’s quite a healthy pocket of that stuff emerging.”

And on that note our time is almost up. The waiter is clearing our table and Alix has an album to promote and a world tour to get ready for. Before that, however, he offers a last thought on the album’s title: “1984 is my birthdate. It’s also a reference to the George Orwell book but it’s really about a concept name that would reflect the album’s image. It just seemed right. It worked!”

And we’d have to say he’s right about that.