While it's true that hype makes the electronic dance music industry go 'round, so does hard work. Just ask Inxec (AKA Christopher Sylvester), one of the most in-demand DJ-producers on the transtlantic house and techno scene.
With releases on some of 2011's most hotly tipped labels, including Leftroom, Culprit and Crosstown Rebels, not to mention a hectic international booking schedule, Inxec's hard work is certainly paying off.
So you could say the man deserves some wintertime R&R in sunny Miami -- the place he's currently calling home. Something tells us that living in the 305 is not going to slow down his work schedule one bit, though. For one thing, he's already booked to perform with SAFE at the Electric Pickle this Thursday!
Crossfade: You've been producing electronic dance music for a good decade now. How did you first get into it and how do you think it has evolved over the years?
Inxec: My voyage into the world of production came about in the late '90s. My brother was given Music 2000 for the Playstation one Christmas, and I basically stole it from him and spent the next six months toying with loops and making very basic melodies on this little grey box of magic. (Yeah, they were grey once.)
Then one typical English summer's day (pissing it down and colder than a polar bear's fridge), I was with friends who were already "producers" and got them to listen to my tongue-in-cheek demos. I'd been nagging them for weeks and I think I finally broke them by plying them with cheap student-worthy booze. I was surprised to find they actually really liked them. And furthermore, I got shepherded onto a more "pro" software: Reason.
A few months later, I released my first single as Sound Alliance on Distinctive Records and got paid the biggest advance I have to this day ever got. Like some football shirts or something.
What was your turning point from unknown to internationally recognized artist?
Like most things for me, it's been a gradual process. But I think, personally, when you give up your day job, it's a big sign that things are changing. It was, as I recall, a very gentle phasing-out period back in 2007 -- going from working 70 hours in a kitchen to going part-time to then helping out a mate a few hours a week with his company. It's liberating, but at the same time intimidating -- doing what you love, but knowing you have to do it well to eat.
How did you first hook up with Matt Tolfrey and the Leftroom label?
I met Matthew (as he likes to be called these days) back in 2001, when he was studying at Nottingham Trent University. I was doing a radio slot for some reason on the university radio, and Matt was on after. I think we said probably three or four words to each other that day. And in typical style, we slowly became friends.
Leftroom came much later and I wasn't really, at the point of its birth, available to make music for Matt's label, as I was focusing on Contexterrior. But I think by 2008, we had talked enough about getting together on a project, and made the plunge into the studio to make the record for Cocoon.
[The relationship between Matt and me] in the studio has fizzled of recent. We have moved in very different directions musically and in living distance also. But I feel the music we did make together really helped us both with recognition as accomplished producers.
This month we spoke with Droog, who told us about working with you on their debut EP for Crosstown Rebels. What can you tell us about the collaboration? Can we expect more of it?
I first met Andrei [Osyka] back in 2009 in L.A. with Matthew. We were playing at Avalon and were staying at Andrei's, even though he was out of town until that Sunday. I thought it was pretty sweet he would entrust us with his home.
Thankfully, we didn't break anything. And when team Droog got back, we all met up at the Standard Hotel and hung out. We got on pretty well and Andrei even managed to get us to start some work (post-Standard) towards an EP for Culprit.
Over time, I kept returning to L.A. to play, and managed to stay a few extra days (I always stayed a few extra days, but they were mostly spent getting into trouble) and sit down with the boys and see if anything became of it. Turns out, there was something, and "Unhinged" was born. We sent that and another track, "Rehinged" to Damian [Lazarus]. He loved the aforementioned track, and that was enough to get me back to L.A. and make Westbound and the rest of the EP for Crosstown.
It was an epic few days, and so much fun. We hired a Jupiter 8 from this amazing synth place in the Valley, and got to work. It just came together. I feel it is probably the most mature and well thought-out EP I have had a hand in, and I am very proud of the work we put into it. As for the future, ironically because of what success the EP gave us, it's been hard to get time when we are all available to sit down and plough out another. We have got another EP lined up for Supernature, due early next year, which is exciting, and a bunch of high-profile remixes coming soon!
What are the pros and cons of being a globetrotting DJ playing hundreds of international dates a year?
For me, personally, it's pretty much all pros. I enjoy all of it. Who wouldn't? One of the only cons is when you don't get paid. But that's a given, really. And the other is a more recent one -- missing my girlfriend. Sounds a little soppy, but even DJs have feelings.
What prompted your recent move to Miami? And how long do you plan to stick around?
I'm here for the winter to work on the elusive album. Also, my girlfriend lives here, so I will be nice to her a lot. Last year, I spent the winter in NYC, which sounds awesome. But it was stupidly cold and snowed a lot. So after talking a lot with friends here and a sweet spot coming up for rent with my friend Diego [Martinelli], I made the move to Miami for a warm winter. Thing is, it appears no one told Miami it's supposed to cool down and just be pleasant in December.
Has living here so far impacted you creatively in any way?
Yes, it has. I haven't made any music yet. But I have hired a U-Haul, eaten Cuban-style pork sandwiches, and been to watch the Heat at the AAA. Once I have finished this interview, I am going to go directly to the studio and work on a remix or two, promise.
Having spent your fair share of time playing in the US, how do you think the crowds here compare to the ones in Europe? Do you think there are any cultural improvements needed to make the scene here as good as the one in Europe?
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This question pops up a lot. I think they are the same, pretty much. People go out to listen to music and have fun. And if you do your job right, that's basically what happens wherever I go. It's a little inaccurate to suggest that European crowds are more in-tune. America is a big place and there's a lot of stuff going on here. Not to mention, electronic music -- techno, in particular -- was born, nurtured, and grown here. There's no such thing as immigration in music anymore -- YouTube, Spotify and Beatport, to name but a few, are the out-of-control coyotes across the planet.
What have been some of the highlights of 2011 for you? And what do you have in store for next year?
Hands down, warming up in Room 1 and then playing live in Room 2 at Fabric on the same night! Not to mention, being on the same bill as Ryan Elliott, whom I consider possibly one of the best DJs on the planet. To put so much work into a project and then get that applause at the end was worth every sleepless school night.
Inxec, presented by SAFE. Thursday, December 22. Electric Pickle, 2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Ages 21 and up. Call 305-456-5613 or visit electricpicklemiami.com.