By Jacob Katel
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Since time immemorial, skinny young men have learned how to play guitar in order to start bands to impress girls. French electro remix king Simon Delacroix, a.k.a. The Toxic Avenger, was no exception. From the onset of puberty, he sang and played guitar in a variety of punk, emo, and metal bands hoping to meet Miss Right Now. That worked until 10 years ago, when Delacroix fell hard for a girl who worked at a French electronic music radio station and had no use for Weezer or the Smiths.
Eager to woo her musically, Delacroix abandoned his guitar and went to work on a crappy computer — and accidentally discovered his new musical trademark. "My sounds were way too cheap," he laments by phone from a recent Chicago tour stop. "It sounded so bad. So I started saturating my sounds to make it sound better."
The result of Delacroix's experiment: a boombastic, distorted, low-end sonic groove that was the perfect weapon to shake the dance floor. It transformed him from an obscure hoodie-collecting rocker to an internationally famous electronic superhero. It's a sound that can incorporate just about anything, like the Borg from Star Trek.
No popular music genre or subgenre is untouchable. On his tour's mixtape, Delacroix makes a musical tapestry that includes Metallica, the Chemical Brothers, T-Pain and DJ Khaled, Darth Vader's theme from Star Wars, and Michael Jackson. "Those are just my influences," he explains, shrugging off the notion that pop culture references are an important element in rocking the dance floor. "A mixtape should tell the story of the guy who did it. Well, that's my point of view!"
The Toxic Avenger's own tracks are a little more of a mystery, for there are very few of them in comparison to his remix work. His debut EP features only two original works — and three remixes of those songs by other artists (including one by Mixhell, the electro project of Delacroix's hero, Sepultura drummer Igor Cavalera). "It's easier to remix something because you already have foundations," Delacroix opines. "When you create an original track, you are forced to create on nothing. I am working on my LP. It takes time! It's going to be a lot poppier than my last release. I want the LP to be listened to at home and at clubs at the same time — popular and risky."