If you were even remotely within earshot of a dance floor this year, you probably heard the Boys Noize banger “Jeffer.” With Power, the follow up to 2007’s Oi Oi Oi, Alex Ridha, the German maestro behind Boys Noize, has solidified his standing as one of electro’s power players. Here, Ridha discusses the making of the new album, his numerous side projects and collaborations, and what’s up next for him -- including, he says, a remix album and a return to the U.S. for a tour this spring.
In the past you’ve mostly done DJ sets. Do you plan to do a live tour at some point in the future?
It’s not a classic DJ set. I bring a lot of live elements into it, and with the right mixer I can do a lot to make my set more special. DJ’ing was always super easy, so I try to make it the most exciting for myself, too. I’m still planning a live set, though.
Power was one of my favorite dance records of 2009. How did you want this album to be different from Oi Oi Oi?
I didn’t plan anything. It just came out like this, because when I’m in the studio I just go from sound to sound. Power probably sounds different because I try not to repeat myself and to surprise with fresh stuff.
What was the creative process like for making Power?
Some tracks I did two years ago, like "Starter" and "Jeffer." In 2009, I still liked the idea of the tracks, so I finished them and tested [them] in the club. Some tracks, like "Trooper," "Rozz Box," or "LL," I did in three hours. Then there were some other ideas I took with me to my holidays in India: "Kontact Me," "Gax," and "Nerve." All the tracks were mixed again in my studio after testing them several times in the club.
You don’t use vocals for your tracks, and I don’t believe you collaborate with anyone on Boys Noize songs. Is there any particular reason you like to work alone on Boys Noize stuff?
It just happened. During my gigs, I went to the studio and did this stuff -- I didn’t plan to do an album, I just did the tracks like I usually do. Regarding vocals, it’s simple: I don’t play vocal tracks in my DJ sets, but I’m a big fan of robot voices, and I have this crazy machine that can generate vocals.
“Jeffer” has been played in every DJ set I have heard in the last four to six months. It’s an awesome song, but have you gotten tired of it, or do you continue to play it because it’s so popular?
For some reason, I haven’t gotten tired of it yet. I think this is a good sign.
Let's talk about some of the other work you've been doing. The tracks you and Erol Alkan did together are also everywhere right now. I've heard you and Erol have more tracks coming out. Will there be a full album? How did you guys decide to do a project together in the first place?
Indeed, there will be more tracks to come in 2010, but no album is planned. We just have so much fun in the studio. It was really interesting, too, because we both come from different backgrounds. In the studio, it’s a real collaboration where both of us put the same amount of input into the music.
I also talked to the Faint earlier this year, and they told me they had been working on a project with you. What’s the latest?
I went to Omaha, Neb., and we did two totally fucked-up demos. But we never finished them. Let’s see…
Are you still in the middle of producing Gonzales’ album, or is it finished now? What can you tell me about that?
It’s 99 percent finished. I am the happiest person to work with Gonzales -- he’s such a genius and so talented. The music we did is based on his piano songs, and I tried to fit in there. It’s like black and white coming together. If you know Gonzales, the album will be quite colorful.
How did you become involved in producing for the Black Eyed Peas and Kelis? When will those tracks be released?
Black Eyed Peas contacted me because Will.i.am is a big fan of my Oi Oi Oi album. When they were working on their new album, they asked for beats to sing/rap over. I sent two or three, and one of them ended up on their album. It's called "Simple Little Melody" and was originally an instrumental I did for myself. After I met Will.i.am in the studio, he rapped on a couple of other beats -- one of them became the "Boom Boom Pow" remix 50 Cent and Gucci Mane rapped over as well. I met Kelis in L.A. and played her some beats, too. I produced four, but I'm not sure if they will end up on the album.
Is the Puzique project with D.I.M. still active?
Yeah, Puzique is us, so maybe [D.I.M.] has a track to fit on the flip side to release a new 12-inch. Though he just moved to Berlin, so we [are] gonna do some new tracks soon.
After all that, is there someone you’re dying to work with?
I’d like to do another album with Gonzales.
What are you listening to at the moment? Any new artists you find exciting or new tracks that you are excited to play out in your DJ sets?
Yeah, I’ve got new tracks from my boys at Boysnoize Records. Djedjotronic is such a talented producer, it’s incredible. His new tracks are so good. I've also been listening to new bangers by Les Petits Pilous.
What else is going on at Boysnoize Records?
There will be remixes for my track "Transmission." I think I’m going to release three 12-inches with mixes from Mr. Oizo, Tiga, Djedjotronic, Untold, and James Ruskin. After that, we will release the new LPP and Djedjotronic stuff.
Any other projects coming up?
I’ve been working with U.K. grime rapper Kano. We did two songs already. He’s a super dope rapper, and he reminds me of Talib Kweli.
And finally, what would people be shocked or surprised to know about you?