As an artist, Alexkid (Alexis Mauri to his mum and dad) has always been a leading light when it comes to sound innovation. However, as he sits contemplating his own personal musical journey, he turns plum purple as he regresses back in his mind to the sounds that first served as his inspiration. Initially reluctant to reveal what crossed his mind, he eventually mutters, "What drew me into music - I am ashamed - was Dire Straits' Money For Nothing. It made me feel like buying a guitar…and that video was pretty cool by then. I eventually got one."
Post his Dire Straits days, Mauri found himself falling in love with music of all descriptions. Just through the sheer depth of his musical intake, he has been able to broaden his own musical output. When probed about his current inspirations, he is unable to quite easily put his finger on the correct pulse. "I've got my phases. It is always like a wave mixing different things…a bit more of this at some point, little bit less of that…I'm really back into house, but with an edge, I like weird stuff, almost minimal sometimes, but it has to have an irresistible groove. Atmospheric vibes and dirt. That's what I like at the moment. I'm still very fond of dub, and things a la Basic Channel or Rhythm and Sound. My moods change all the time…And when I'm DJing, I always try to get feedback from the crowd, I test them a bit, and I see how far I can go."
While he may be slightly embarrassed to admit an age-old liking for the north English rockers, he is unable to really put a finger on the other points along his route to global adulation. He continues, "For the rest, it just somehow happened, I was/am really involved in music, and it is for me what I like to do…I can hardly imagine myself doing anything else. Anyways, if it happens, it will be for sure something related to music."
"I wonder if I ever had really any other ambitions than being good at what I'm doing?" Having landed on his feet at the outset of his music career (Laurent Garnier invited him to put out his debut single Playground in 1997), Mauri is aware that it all could have panned out so differently. "Of course being appreciated is always a plus. Even though I always felt I didn't really do much, I have to admit that I'm actually lucky and proud of my career so far."
I still feel like I'm beginning sometimes…it is very strange. Maybe it is because I never had the huge success that some can have really fast nowadays, and maybe I'm seeing that as one of the goals." Having been in the industry for almost a decade and a half, Alexkid is a name that many are aware of but Mauri has never seen his tracks take him to a household name status. Yet, the French DJ/producer is torn with regards just how important reaching that potential end goal is to him. While the acclaim and financial reward would only heighten his current position, he concedes, "At the same time, I'm definitely happy that I have been doing this for quite a few years, and making a living of it. I'm telling you, I'm a paradox regarding this subject."
While he would analogise his career as being "like a long run", he is equally willing to admit that there has been a lot of good fortune to complement his talent. "I was very lucky to sign to FCom in '97. By then things were easier." However, as he continues, his insight deepens and any aspiring musicians out there should take heed. He notes, "I think you definitely need some ambition to do this, but the love of music is way more important." Though he is far from denying that his ambitious drive has helped him along the way, it is actually his self-critical approach that keeps his output at such a consistently high level. The perfectionist within him pushes forward the admission, "I am never satisfied with what I'm doing, and that's what keeps me going on…I feel like I'm never doing enough, and this translates by me spending hours and hours in the studio. Let's say that the goals change, the ambition not really."
While he may have many strings to his bow - composer, multi instrumentalist, remix artist, DJ, sound engineer - he has managed to find a balance which allows him to pursue each of his avenues to an equal degree. While he states, "I do not have a preference," it soon becomes apparent that there may be a natural leaning to certain activities rather than others. "It is true that I am a bit of a nerd, and therefore the technical side to the things has a lot of appeal to me, and studio is the place I like to be, experimenting." And though he may never have to make a choice in real life, in the false security of an interview situation, he does eventually concede, "though I absolutely love the instant when DJing. I think I would choose studio over DJing if I had to, as this is how I started, but It'd be hard. I really love so much DJing!"
Luckily in real life all the avenues are keeping him very active. With Alexkid one of the many highlights of the upcoming Shine On dates, the live arena becomes the mainstay of our conversation as it draws to a close. Like many DJs, Mauri is able to have a crowd eating out of the palm of his hand, anticipating the next beat, yet his approach is one of response rather than pre-arrangement. He reveals, "I don't really plan, let's say I have a wish list, and I try to go take the people where I would like them to go to , but it is not always easy."
Though he may have learnt from experience what different crowds enjoy and what sounds work well where, he is far from willing to simply go with the status quo and place his pre-supposed ideas on a crowd, and he hopes a similar respect will be applied by a crowd to his output. He closes with the exclamation, "Why always expect something…?," as he reveals, "I will try to f* with people's brains! No, as a matter of fact, I stopped expecting things, I like the surprises, so I will try to surprise the crowd, and have a nice trip all together. I like to tell stories when DJing…things that words can't explain, and when I feel the crowd is listening, I manage to do so."
BY JEREMY WILLIAMS
Alexkid [FRA] plays Shine On at the Pyrenees Ranges from Friday November 18 - Sunday November 20. He also performs at KUBIK alongside Die Vogel [GER] on Friday November 25.