Alexander Ridha has made a name for himself. Performing under the name Boys Noize, he’s been able to perform with the biggest names like Tiesto and Skrillex and collaborate with Snoop Dogg and Jarvis Cocker — all without major label representation. We caught up with Ridha at Electric Zoo in New York City to talk about his newest album “Out of the Black” and find out what influences him and keeps him going.
Oh, and we also have a stream to his brand new album, which dropped earlier this week. Check it out while you read.
Metro World News: “Out of the Black” is coming out throughout October. What inspired you on this album?
Boys Noize: One of the big parts of this album was really getting back since it’s my third album. I was trying to get this feeling back when I first started producing. Most of the time when you don’t know what you are doing that’s when the magic happens. I was really clearing my head and forgetting about everything that is going on right now and what is hot right now. It’s a very personal album. I would say it’s a mix of my first and second albums.
You have a lot of disco and hip-hop influences. Is that what you grew up listening to?
I have a 10 years older brother, and at the end of the 80s he was buying all those early house records so I was always into that, into real house music and rap at the same time, Run DMC and Public Enemy and stuff. When I started to buy records I was buying both, like hip-hop and house. The way I always mixed house music as a DJ was also more in a hip-hop way. I was cutting music and loops.
Who would we be surprised that we listened to? The Bee Gees?
(Laughs) I don’t have anything against the Bee Gees and Donna Summer, but that was more my mother’s side. She was all in that disco stuff like chic.
What kind of hip-hop did you listen to?
The old school stuff was kind of like Pharcyde or Wu-Tang. When that sh-t came out, I was able to rap the whole ODB album, the first one. Even though I didn’t understand anything because I was German, I was rapping along! I stopped buying hip-hop records towards the beginning of 2000 because it got too much like jiggy, and it was only about like rims and stuff. But I was still a big fan of any Neptunes or Timbaland production, and of course Dre. And of course Snoop!
Speaking of Snoop Dogg – or Snoop Lion, I guess…
Not on my album! On my album he’s Snoop Dogg! (Laughs)
What was it like working with him on “Got It”?
It was amazing. It was like a dream come true. I was always saying to myself, “If I would be able to make a track for him, I could stop making music.” I grew up with his sound. It was cool.
You know he wants to vibe first so we hung out a little bit. In the beginning of this year we had the chance to record music together, hang out in his apartment and stuff. It was really nice and he’s such a great guy.
Onto another collaboration. I’m a huge Jarvis Cocker fan. I love Pulp. What was it like to work with him?
You’re the first to ask that! It was fantastic because it was something I really didn’t expect him to do. I did the music with a friend of mine, Erol Alkan. We didn’t want it to get like the standard remixes, we just wanted to make something really outstanding and came up with this idea.
We asked him, and he did this kind of a cover version of an old Leonard Cohen song which is called “Avalanche.” He was speaking all those words. It’s really amazing if you think about making music with Jarvis Cocker. He’s a genius.
How do you pick who you collaborate with?
Normally on my music, I don’t collaborate with a lot of people. I never have featurings on my album except that Snoop joint. But, when I make music with other people, it has to be someone who inspires me as well, where I can learn something as well. Someone with a total different background is interesting as well. Something where you make music with a person something comes out that you wouldn’t do on your own, like really creating something different. Working with people that inspire me as well is really important.
One of your collaborations is Dog Blood. How did that come about with Skrillex?
Yeah I’ve heard about that (laughs). It’s like two crazy guys. They are also from two different backgrounds. I heard they made some music in Berlin. It’s pretty cool. I like their stuff.
Did you guys just meet up one day?
We’re good friends as well. He’s a cool guy. He’s super super smooth as well. We just played around with some stuff.
Random question: There’s so many crazy dance moves. What’s your favorite dance move?
Maybe the housebuilder? (Makes a Vogue-like box with his hands and finishes it with his hands shaped like an arrow on top. Maybe the sword fighter? No, I like the housebuilder.
What else can we look forward to from you besides your new album?
I’m going on my first live tour. I’m going to do a crazy production as well. It’s going to be something I’m really really excited about. I’m starting the tour October 6, and I’ll be in the U.S. I think from November 23. It’s going to be f-ing crazy I told you. I just wanted to make something new. I’ve been lucky to play all festivals with my CDs, and it definitely had a live element as well because I do a lot of improvisation or remix live on the go. On the next thing I want to present is a full show of my own music, which I haven’t done yet. I have so much of my own with my third album that it just makes sense to try something new.
You have this DIY ethic. Why is it important to keep that up?
It’s been the most important thing in everything I do to be very careful where to put my name and where you place your name next to. I think for me, it’s like my baby and I see music as an art. I want to look back and think everything I’ve done is 100 percent cool. It’s not the easiest road you can take. It’s so easy to do things for money and partner up with whatever labels and mangers and whatever. For me it was important to stay true to whatever I do. In the end it’s about music, and I never saw music as a business. I wouldn’t produce a track to make money off it. I make music because I love it, and it’s in my heart. If it happens that I get popular with that and mainstream, then it’s the way you crossover, then it’s cool with me. But, to make music to get to the people or to please the people is not my approach. I just don’t think you should mix music with money too much.