Alex Banks has established himself in light speed and shows no signs of slowing down. For us, the eclectic producer, remixer and DJ has put together a very personal mix containing lots of favourites that have accompanied him throughout 2015.
You have released your debut album Illuminate last year, it was followed by two EPs. It seems like in 2015, you have focused on smaller projects like your recent collaboration with Max Cooper. Was is necessary to slow down a bit after a hectic year?
Last year was indeed quite hectic with the release of Illuminate but it certainly doesn’t feel like I’ve slowed down this year at all! I recently updated the discography on my website and so was listing all the tracks and remixes I’ve done over the past year and realised when I put it all together I’ve made a lot of music, as well as touring performing live shows and DJ sets. It took around 18 months start to finish to make the last album and was a really immersive process, especially as most of the time I was working by myself, so before getting back into that mode and starting work on another full length LP I wanted to work on smaller, more immediate projects, like collaborating with other artists on one-off tracks and doing remixes. Going from working on ten tracks at a time over a long period, to doing individual, separate tracks that can each be completed within a couple of weeks can be really refreshing and make me approach my production in a different way. I had less time to be as perfectionist and precious about them and also got to try out ideas and experiment without having to consider how the sound will fit with other tracks on an album as a cohesive collection. I also find collaborating with other artists a great way to advance my production as you swap techniques and learn from each other’s approaches, and of course it’s a lot of fun to just hang out with mates and make some tunes!
You have also made a name for yourself as a remixer. How do you approach the tracks you remix, what is important for you in a remix?
I like to think of remixing as if I’m making a new track of my own and just sampling parts of another, rather than worrying too much about what a remix should be, in order to remain free of any constraints or parameters that I might otherwise put upon myself. I get the stems up from the original track, pick out a few of my favourite elements and then have fun experimenting with ideas and see where the creative flow takes me, the outcome of which can totally depends on the mood I’m in at the time. If the track has a vocal then I usually try to build the remix around it and put it in a context that will give it a different feel to the original to take it somewhere new, but whilst trying to preserve the delivery and message the singer is putting across. I think it’s easy to over process vocal parts just for the sake of making it sound like a ‘remix’, so I try to avoid totally ripping it to pieces and instead look to find ways to use it that sound fresh and interesting but still capture the essence of the song.
Where and how did you record the mix?
I started making this mix whilst travelling around Europe this summer doing shows. Sitting on a train or plane or waiting in the airport are great times to get the laptop out to listen through some of the music I’ve collected and start trying out different mixes in Traktor. Once I’ve got a rough idea of the flow then I’ll export the tunes into Ableton Live and piece the sequence together. Doing online mixes is a very different process for me to DJing in a club. I love mixing live using Traktor, and am happy mixing on turntables too, and I’m sure I could make mixes a lot quicker if I were to just hit record and go for it. But with studio mixes I really like to get into the details to find interesting and subtle ways to manipulate and combine the tracks, re-editing and playing around with the structures and getting the balances right. It becomes more like a sonic collage than a DJ mix and includes a lot of detail that would get lost in a club but can be interesting to listen to in a podcast at home or on headphones. There’s also no pressure to keep people on the dance floor moving so I get to be a bit more experimental and play tracks that would probably never work in a club but can sound good as part of a mix like this.
Did you have a specific concept for this mix in mind?
I didn’t have a specific concept in mind when I started working on it, but now it’s done and I reflect on it this feels like soundtrack to my summer. There’s quite a few tunes in here that I had really special moments to whilst travelling around doing shows, like seeing Recondite at Utopia Island Festival, Christian Löffler in Barcelona or hearing &Me’s “The Woods” played out at Shambala Festival. And there’s some of my latest remixes here too as well the recent Max Cooper collaboration, all of which I strongly associate with whatever was going for me at the time I was making them, so it feels very much like a personal soundtrack to the last few months.
What’s next for you, on which project’s are you working on right now?
Right now I’m finishing off a couple of collaboration tracks that I’ve been working on with my friend Maxxi Soundsystem, who I shared a studio with a while ago. I have a couple more remixes coming out soon for Vessels and The Howling, as well as another free download through my website of a one-off track I did recently with a producer called ‘The DAWs’. I’ve got a really busy few weeks ahead doing live and DJ shows, including Modeselektion 50 Weapons Finale at Warehouse Project, Manchester which I’m really excited about. After that, I’ll be taking a couple of weeks out to go to Thailand and have a bit of downtime with my laptop and headphones, feeding my inspiration listening to new music, sketching out a few ideas and soaking up some sun before returning to the UK winter to get immersed in writing a new album. Having consciously taken a break from writing much solo material recently in order to concentrate on doing remixes and collaborations, I now feel I’m ready to write another full length LP and am really looking forward to it. Over the past couple of months I’ve been giving my studio a complete overhaul, buying loads of new outboard gear and getting the acoustics in my room professionally treated, which has made it feel like a totally different space and a very inspiring environment to work in. So as much as I know it’ll do me good to take a rare holiday, I actually can’t wait to get back to my new studio setup with a clear focus and write some new tunes!
Download (MP3, 320 kBit/s, 60:01 Min., 137 MB)
1. Clark – Everlane
2. worriedaboutsatan – Baychimo
3. Robot Koch – Night Drive
4. King of Casio – Scherbe
5. Old Apparatus- Derren
6. AV AV AV – Baileys
7. The Acid – Ra (Alex Banks Remix)
8. Moduleset – Sor
9. Christian Löffler – York
10. Percussions – KHLHI
11. Egokind & Ozean – Red 1
12. Recondite – Levo
13. The Howling – Quartz
14. Jody Barr – Room
15. Vessels – Elliptic
16. Coricyte – Signal to Noise
17. Kirill Tipo – High Time
18. Gaspard De Le Montagne – Steam
19. Alex Banks – Untitled
20. &Me – Woods
21. Recondite – Fiery
22. Alex Banks & Max Cooper – Eve
23. The Howling – Short Line (Alex Banks Remix)