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Boys Noize | Interview

Without jumping on the EDM bandwagon, Germany's Boys Noize has reached international stardom.

Photograph: Michael Maier
Boys Noize

In a club scene dominated by cookie-cutter house and that incessant dubstep grind, it’s refreshing to see success for the mold-breakers. Germany’s Boys Noize (a.k.a. Alex Ridha) has been putting his own spin on electronic beats since 1998, melding techno’s steeliness with electro energy and disco and hip-hop playfulness, racking up an international following that rivals marquee names like Skrillex or Avicii. With his third LP, Out of the Black, just out on his own Boysnoize label, Ridha hits House of Blues Saturday 8 with an overhauled live show, so we rang him up at his home in Hamburg to talk about his success—and what it’s like working with Snoop Dogg.

Rolling Stone just published its 25 “DJs who rule the world.” You were No. 9. How does that feel?
I don’t go crazy with these kinds of rankings. Every year it’s the same thing. The good thing about that one is that Rolling Stone is very cool.

It talked up your work with acts outside of dance music. Do you feel that’s impacted your success?
When I started doing remixes for bands that have nothing to do with electronic music, like Feist or David Lynch, this was not the most usual thing. I’ve always just liked to challenge myself. Otherwise it gets repetitive.

You also seem to be open to diverse collaborations.
Starting around 2009, I worked with other bands to get a foot into that production world. That was a lot of fun, but I wanted to go back to my own music and lock myself in the studio.

Do you feel taking that time gave Out of the Black a different result from your first two records?
It’s always about new sounds that I’m looking for. The new record gave me the opportunity to go in some new directions, like this hip-hop track with Snoop Dogg.

How was your experience with Snoop?
He invited me to his apartment, we hung out and I was actually playing him a lot of Chicago house stuff like Trax Records and Dance Mania. He was all into this. For me it was really important to make something fucking cool with him, to make him sound really cool.

Is it hard to balance that with your own sound?
I’m honestly very uncomplicated in the studio. The reason I make music is because it’s my passion and I do it to have fun, so I’m cool with putting out music in a certain moment and that’s my sound of that moment and then I can move on. I get satisfied very easily and am happy with that.

It’s working for you. This latest is your biggest tour in the U.S. yet.
It’s the first time I’m performing my own music live. As a DJ, of course I dropped my own music but it’s just the track itself. Now, I have every element of every track that I’ve produced and have way more possibilities to make it sound different and remix my own tracks live.

You often reference Daft Punk as an influence and note how envious you are of their anonymity. How do you feel about all this star power in electronic music now?
It’s much more about entertainment and giving people this experience and it’s not so much about the music, which is actually kind of sad. The entertainment is cool, I love to be onstage and be in front of people, but I’m curious how far it can go.

Boys Noize performs live at House of Blues on Saturday 8.

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