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Avataar

Boys Noize: Believe The Hype!

Alexander Ridha only wants to make timeless, underground, club music. Success is incidental.

By Scott Wood


Boys Noize
Fans dancing at a Shane Philip concert
My thumb is a trigger finger on the record button, anxiously awaiting my interview with Alexander Ridha, the man known as Boys Noize. Then a skateboarder nearly collides with us. He misses us but falls of his board, nearly eating asphalt in the alley behind the Plaza nightclub. While we wait for the skater to get on his way, I tell Ridha that when I bought the Boys Noize CD Oi! Oi! Oi!, it was filed under the “French Electro House” category at Best Buy. This makes both of us laugh, since Ridha is from Hamburg, Germany. Neither of us consider what he does “electro house”—but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Ridha is a die-hard independent, releasing his record on his own label. He also avoids any trappings of big money labels and management. His thick but pleasant accent rolls of the tongue: “That’s the way I want to be. I really don’t like the ways managers do their jobs—like sending out emails to everybody, saying, ‘Hey my act is the new shit and stuff like that.’”

“I was always the guy who bought music and discovered music on my own. When I think something is good, it is good for me. A press quote doesn’t matter. If I think it’s good, it’s good and if it’s bad, it’s bad.”

I make Ridha laugh at the irony in his last remark when I remind him that he has a lot of hype behind him right now.

I try to be outside of the hype or not to be the hype. It's very, very short term and I don't like to be an act that is happening for a short time, because I produce more club music that should be more timeless than just that electro rock 'n' rave kind of shit. “I try to be outside of the hype or not to be the hype. It’s very, very short term and I don’t like to be an act that is happening for a short time, because I produce more club music that should be more timeless than just that electro rock ‘n’ rave kind of shit.”

“I must admit because of the other big protagonists, like Justice—they support me a lot, so I am glad to be in that wave, but not be the act of that wave.”

In addition to Justice, Boys Noize has toured under Soulwax/2ManyDJs.

“Well actually, 2ManyDJs have been a big impact to me, DJ skillswise. When I was 16 and had my first gigs, I was really looking up to them, because they mix quite fast. They come from more of the hip hop point-of-view for mixing than from the classic house or techno. For me, it also seems a little bit boring to mix just house records that you can mix for just two minutes or one minute. You don’t need to be a great musician to do that.”

After the tour, he still stays in touch.

“I pretty much send them demos of mine or fresh remixes before I finished them. I am only talking to Dave and he’s always telling me, ‘It’s great. It’s great. It’s great.’ But I kind of need that—a little bit of somebody who tells his opinion, because, as I said, I am always alone in the studio. It’s good to have a judge from somebody who knows about production and how it works.”

Working alone works for Ridha but it also has its drawbacks. When it came time to release his first full length, Oi! Oi! Oi!, he found many unforeseen challenges. His label was used to releasing vinyl for DJs, not a CD for new audiences. As a consequence, Oi! Oi! Oi!, almost got lost in an avalanche of excellent electronic releases last year.

“After that big flood of releases, it’s way more hard for me to release a record. It was done at the beginning of the year [2007]. I wanted to release it in May, but as I am doing everything on my own, it’s kind of hard to put out an album than a 12-inch—which I am used to. It’s different than putting out a 12-inch—I never did any promotion for anything. Obviously for an album, you have to do something to get a little bit of attention. Also all the others are all with big labels…”

Because there was so much major label great electronic music last year, Ridha often gets compared to Justice, UK production team Simian Mobile Disco, and fellow German duo Digitalism. Reviews of Oi! Oi! Oi! often contain quotes like, “If you’re not tired of Daft Punk and Justice, then go for Boys Noize” or “If you want more Simian Mobile Disco and Digitalism, then check out this album.” Quotes like those don’t do the record any justice—and almost tell the reader to buy other records first—so I ask Ridha what he thinks differentiates Boys Noize from those other bands.

I was always the guy who bought music and discovered music on my own. When I think something is good, it is good for me. A press quote doesn’t matter. If I think it’s good, it’s good and if it’s bad, it’s bad. “I think Digitalism is way more electro-clash indie. Honestly, I am not a big fan of their music, but they have maybe the same attitude as well as Justice, which I really like. Also that record is more pop—and they definitely arrange songs differently than I do.”

“My record is really for the club only and for DJs only, because I am a classic DJ. I always wanted to have an album I could play every track off of. My intention was not to have an album you can listen to on a Sunday morning at home. Well, probably some crazy kids do—but not me. I wouldn’t say it’s a classic album, I would tend to say it’s a compilation of great club tracks and more a DJ tool.”

“Speaking of Simian Mobile Disco, I think they sound is completely different. They are way more bleepy. They do club music of course, but they do more electro house. I am way more techno. I have a way different sound design and production than them.”

EdBanger records DJ SebastiAn—who is also a friend of Ridha’s—is another artist often compared to Boys Noize.

“I like the way he works with samples and cutting stuff. He is doing so much out of nothing. He just works on computer and doesn’t really have equipment. It’s quite amazing what he gets out of that—the quality is so good.”

“I think it’s just because you press always need to categorize something.

“It’s always a little shitty to compare, but obviously I think Justice is the nearest comparison, if I would choose one. But still, I wouldn’t say it’s the same music. My album is way more club music than the songs they do”.

Boys Noize is also known for making killer remixes. So far, he has put his stamp on songs by Snoop Dogg, Marilyn Manson, Kaiser Chiefs, Feist, Justice, Cut Copy, Tiga and Para One—among others. One of his (and my) favorite remixes is his retouch of Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus.”

My record, Oi! Oi! Oi!, is really for the club only and for DJs only because I am a classic DJ. I always wanted to have an album I could play every track off of. My intention was not to have an album you can listen to on a Sunday morning at home. I wouldn’t say it’s a classic album, I would tend to say it’s a compilation of great club tracks and more a DJ tool. Ridha is proud to tell the story about how it came about: “I was such a great and big fan of Depeche Mode. I went to their concert in Berlin. And two days after, they contacted me, saying one of the band members was a big fan. They wanted me to do a remix of one of the classics. I was going crazy. Then they sent me the part, and I heard Dave Gahan’s vocals with out any effects in my studio. It really made me have Goosebumps.

Was working on his childhood idols, nerve-wracking?

“Ah well no. That was pretty easy for me because I knew already what to do what that song. And I wanted to make a new electronic Boys Noize version of that song. I didn’t want to fuck it too much up.” 

Tune in to the interview show with host Scott Wood, every Monday @4:30pm on CJSF 90.1FM for more interviews with your favorite indie acts. You can also listen online or find podcasts at www.cjsf.ca.

Boys Noize track list. Required listening! These tracks will make you blow a corner while playing Need For Speed.

Boys Noize “Oh!” (A-Trak)
Boys Noize “Don’t Believe the Hype” (Surkin remix)
Boys Noize “Lava Lava” (Feadz remix)
Justice “Phantom pt 2” (Boys Noize remix)
Depeche Mode “Personal Jesus” (Boys Noize remix)

plus one more down tempo track and it’s CANCON!
Feist “My Moon My Man” (Boys Noize remix)

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