Sunday, 15 May 2011

Alex Moul

A Bite My Wire interview with Alex Moul is long overdue. The guy turned pro at 15 (we think) and immediately beat Ed Templeton in his first pro contest. He went on to blow minds with every one of his video parts, noseblunt-slid handrails 15 years ago, and late-flipped over picnic benches. You should do yourself a favour and track down as many of his parts as you can. When he went to the US with Flip in '94 industry heads turned, and the rest is history.
All the while, Alex has been DJing and producing drum and bass music, eventually signing to DJ Lee and Brillo's 'Timeless' label. He's still skating- repping Santa Cruz- still making beats and is one of the nicest people in skateboarding.

What are you up to just now? What's happening?
Music-wise, I've just started a few new things. There's a few bugs in the studio that need fixing... when I say studio... I mean my bedroom. Dead tech! It might take a bit, I've got to get some new hard-drives and stuff like that. Skating-wise, I've just got over a couple of injuries. I was out skating the whole weekend. I'm pretty cream crackered, I got kidnapped by the Santa Cruz team- they whisked me off, I thought I was only going out to skate for the night at the Vans park but it ended up all weekend, staying in hotels. Skated a pool with Salba on Saturday! It was pretty cool to meet him. An old legend, he's currently on Santa Cruz veterans division. 

Is there any trick you can't late shove-it out of?
Haha! Many. There are many tricks I can't late shove-it out of!

What do you think of the current crop of 'live' drum and bass bands like Pendulum, who sell out arenas, compared to what people like London Elektricity and Reprazent were doing years ago?
Hmm... That's a good question. I think Pendulum, and Chase and Status, and people like that make wicked tunes and they're bringing drum and bass to a much wider audience. I heard a Pendulum tune on KROQ out here, which is a rock station! I don't know if I can really compare it to London Elektricity and Reprazent back in the day, I only really saw Krust play live in LA- which was a long time ago- and that was pretty cool, but obviously that's on a smaller scale. Seeing anyone beat the drums at that speed is amazing anyway. So anyway, I think it's a good thing. Why not?! The thing about drum and bass is there's no rules. Go for it, do what you want! 

What do you see in the future for drum and bass?
I don't know, usually with drum and bass it goes full-circle. I've noticed there's a lot more jungle sort of tunes being produced again at the moment, which is nice. Then there's all this drum-step malarkey which is happening, you know? Some of it I get along with, but mostly I like to keep it drum and bass. It's quite trendy out here in California at the moment to just play big drum-step tunes and shy away from the actual drum and bass, and I'm not really down for that, although I'll lob one in every now and again if it's good. As far as the future, production's just going to get better and better. I hope mine does anyway! Ha! There's all sorts of genres coming out. You've got the electro, the disco-y vibe, and then the tech-y stuff. It's going to be good. I like a bit of everything so it suits me! 

Where do you go to find music nowadays?
Well, it is the MP3 era, so I actually get a lot of music off artists I know in England, they tend to send me over tunes on AIM and things like that. Off of people like Total Science and Camo and Krooked. That bloke Camo... I hit him up last year to ask him to send me some tunes, and he was cool with that, then I saw some skate footage of him- he's an absolutely amazing skater! If I can't get the tunes I'm looking for I'll find them online, on Drum and Bass Arena or, or any of those sort of sites. 

Who's doing it for you at the moment? Any recommendations?
Yep, again- Camo and Krooked. The Brookes Brothers, (DJ) Fresh, Total Science... there's too many to mention, there's loads of really good people out there at the moment. Artificial Intelligence, Days of Rage, VIPs... loads of people! 

How did you get switched on to drum and bass?
I got into DJing and the music scene before it was really called drum and bass- it was just rave music. When rave music cut off into all different genres, when all of a sudden it went from just being 'dance music' to house music, techno, jungle, drum and bass, all these different categories. It was kind of a shame. I just went the drum and bass route. All the new drum and bass is influenced by the old scene, so that's pretty good. 

It seemed like you totally committed yourself to it, with skateboarding taking a bit of a back seat for a while, around about the time your records came out. Were you conscious of this at the time? How did you split your time between the two?
I don't know if I totally committed myself to it, or if maybe I didn't really notice... I'd kind of got burnt out on skateboarding for a bit, on the way he whole attitude was in England, and I was DJing a lot and working in a record store. I met this bloke called Graham, also know as Lucida, and he had a little bedroom studio, and he was like "Would you be interested in making a tune?" He was from my hometown, Abingdon, so we made a tune and it got a bit of interest, so we made a couple more, and we had a little release on Code-001 Records. Then the next thing we did, we got signed to Timeless Recordings so we started doing stuff for them. As for skateboarding... I suppose I was mostly DJing, working in the shop and making tunes at that point... skateboarding do go on the backburner- I'm conscious of it now, yeah! I would skate every now and again, it's not like I just totally gave up but I'd just skate on my own rather than be in any kind of limelight. I wasn't skating a lot, every few months or something. Skating was on the backburner and music was my main focus, so it's not even like I split my time between the two! Haha! 

What kind of people were you DJing with?
In those days it was people like Total Science, DJ Lee... I had a gig at Speed (legendary drum and bass club) for a while, so LTJ Bukem, Fabio, Kemistry & Storm, all sorts of people. I used to DJ at the Zodiac too, in Oxford. I had my slot there, and whoever was headlining would go on after me so pretty much everybody who was big in the drum and bass scene! 

What kind of gear were you using then? What about now?
All we had was an Akai MPC60 and an SY85 keyboard. That was it. We didn't even have a mixing desk at first. Then we got a little 12 channel mixing desk thing, and we got some sort of an effects unit. We'd have to borrow DAT machines to master stuff. That was all we had then. Nowadays I use a computer, I've got the bedroom studio going on here, so I do everything myself. I use Logic and various Native Instruments plug-ins. Probably the same shit that most people use these days for making electronic music! No outboard stuff, it's the digital age isn't it? 

What do you think of all the changes that have come about since you had records out, like digital distribution and the lack of vinyl?
At first with CDs I was like "Oh God, how terrible", because I do love the feel of vinyl. I missed the feel of it, the smell of it and cutting dubplates and stuff. But financially it wasn't that good for me anymore. I'd have to spend $40 on a dubplate and travel up to LA. Or to Music House when I lived in London to cut plates.Now you can finish a tune, burn it and play it out that night. It's a lot more convenient but I do miss a bit of dubplate action! It's good now. You can't really bring it back. Why would you? You can play stuff out now and see the reaction. You can think "Do I need to change the levels, or the mix down?" or what have you. 

Do you still DJ as much out there?
Yep, I'm DJing out here in LA and in San Diego. Wherever I can get bookings. I do some stuff for a crew called Adrenalin who put on nights out here. There's a good crew of drum and bass people out here, like DJ Toxic, the Heavy Hitters, STF-1 and the Merge crew. There's some good stuff in LA, but I haven't been playing up there recently. My last gigs have been in San Diego, Orange County and around here in Huntington Beach. I'm still loving it an enjoying the vibe. 

What music do you think works best in a skate video? Have you got a favourite skate video soundtrack?
Good bloody question. I don't know. I think probably the good old rock music vibe is still the best way to go. The Lakai video had some pretty wicked tunes actually, like that Fischerspooner tune ('All We Are') and M83 ('Lower Your Eyelids To Die With The Sun') at the beginning. Arcade Fire ('No Cars Go') too. But I don't know. Probably the rock, sort of indie vibe is best. Favourite skate video soundtrack... that's too difficult. My favourite video is Blind's 'Video Days' so I'll probably just say the soundtrack to that. I hope I can get away with that! 

What do you think of music being commissioned for a skateboard video?
My mate Baron did the Flip stuff, and I thought a lot of it was pretty good. Unfortunately it was kind of hated on a little bit but you can't please everybody every day of your life can you? I thought the tunes were good and I love Baron's music. I love what he makes drum and bass-wise, and whatever else he makes, whatever his vibe is. If people want to do it they should go for it. It's good for producers, they can get paid for a big project, but if I was making a full skate video I don't know if I'd do it. I certainly put some of my tunes in an old On Video part and I don't know if people really noticed. It was all down-tempo stuff that never got released, and some people know about it and some don't. But why not? Get the music out there anyway you can! 

 Were you the youngest ever UK pro?
I don't know! Probably? I didn't even want to turn pro. They sort of forced me into it. What was I? 15? I think they wanted me to turn pro even before then, but I was like "Hell no! I'm too scared!"

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