To say I’m excited about XXXChange‘s upcoming show at Transmission would be a massive understatement. Over the last few years, few other DJs and producers have impressed me as much as this man, as he effortlessly switches genres and styles without ever suffering a drop in quality. He first came to my attention as the producer in chief for Spank Rock‘s Yoyoyoyoyo in 2006, and since then his remixes have been a permanent fixture in any of my sets or mixes. Disco remixes of Pase Rock and Thom Yorke (his own personal favourite); funky reworkings of Björk and CSS; full on rave banger remixes of The Virgins, Bloc Party and Panda Bear. Not to mention his collection of re-edits with buddies Devlin and Darko as part of the Fully Fitted crew.
As a DJ he first caught my attention with the riotous Spank Rock contribution to the Fabriclive series, but it was his guest spot on Tim Sweeney‘s Beats In Space show that truly showed his versatility and willingness to eschew any sense of genrefication. While DJs like Diplo and A-Trak explore genres and throw together hip-hop and electro, XXXChange is more likely to look for some 70s disco or 80s punk. See Voila, his mix with Chris Rockswell. Featuring tracks from ESG and Led Zeppelin alongside Destiny’s Child and, of course, Spank Rock, it is a musical journey unlike any other. Alex himself cites this, alongside Couche Tard, another mix done with Chris, has his favourite mix project. “Hopefully we’ll do another one of these soon. The Fabric one was a royal pain in the butt because you have to license all the songs and we usually like to be pretty free and unrestricted about what material we use, and also we really like to put in a ton of records, which the licensing process doesn’t allow for.”
Since Yoyoyoyoyo his work with Spank Rock has calmed down, as Naeem (Spank Rock’s hyperactive frontman) branched out and worked with Benny Blanco on the 2 Live Crew-influenced Bangers and Cash EP: “I don’t travel with them on tour anymore but I’m still helping out in the studio. Naeem wanted to retain a little more creative control over the project for this album so I’m just trying to help him out whenever he gets stuck.” Which I guess means there’s a new Spank Rock album in the mix – something to look forward to. As for his own solo work, it’s also on the way. “I’m working on a solo LP right now except I seem to be constantly in the studio working on other people’s stuff. so I think it might take quite a while to finish it up.” As well as that there’s a 12” due this summer on Turntable Lab, and if it’s anything like his production work to date it’s something worth waiting for.
While his own work hits the blogs on a regular basis, there’s an abundance of material splattered across the internet almost every day. How is it possible to separate the wheat from the chaff when there’s so much to get through? “I think the amount of stuff that’s worth checking out is about the same as it’s always been. Since most of us find out about music from the internet the absolute glut of information can be overwhelming. I find it’s a bit easier to just wait a few months and see what rises to the top, see what people are still talking about. Obviously with DJing you need to be on top of new music so it’s nice to find a few good sources to filter the information for you, there’s a few good music blogs and also you can look at different DJ’s playlists, whose taste you trust, to find out about new stuff too.”
Surely someone like XXXChange will be a little but more discerning than most: “As far as what it takes to impress me it’s just when you hear someone doing something original and taking risks etc. I’m not really interested in scenes.”
When it comes to his own DJ sets, Alex takes each night as it comes. “Usually I just try and play stuff that I’m feeling at the moment! But of course it depends on who’s in the room. In Europe I usually end up playing more electro and house type stuff which you can’t always do in the US.” So I guess that means that come Saturday, we’ll be hearing more rave than slow-burning disco. And you know, who ever said that was a bad thing.