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Interview: Alexis Raphael

Alexis Raphael tells Hannah Davies all about his rise to success...

As an accomplished DJ, producer and promoter there is no denying that Alexis Raphael is a firm staple in the London underground scene. 2011 saw the Lower East and Hot Creations signing spread his wings and make his debut in Ibiza with popular London party Crèche; which he co-founded with Cozzy D. So, with his Hot creations EP due for release at the end of the month 2012 looks set to be another successful year for the UK artist.

How did you first get into DJ'ing and producing?

As a teenager I was always into electronic music, it was my life really so I bought myself some decks and started collecting records. The natural next step for me was to start making the music myself so I enrolled on a diploma course in sound engineering when I left school

As a classically trained pianist and with a sound engineering qualification under your belt was there ever any doubt that you would follow a musical career path?

My love for music was so strong that all my time and energy always focussed on it, but when I was about 21 I wasn't really making any decent money from DJ'ing so I decided to do a course in Business as a backup, that was followed by an economics degree. As it happens I never ended up needing it directly, but I suppose during the course it looked like that was going to be my career path, so for a few years it looked as if music would stay as just a hobby.

You quickly caught the attention of Lee Foss and Jamie Jones' imprint with your track 'Spaceship' which shot into the Beatport top 10, how huge was that for you?

‘Spaceship' being my first release and hitting the deep house top 10 was really something special for me. A strong first release is a great help and really gave me the start I needed. It's actually still one of my favourite tracks I've made.

How did your relationship with the Hot Creations guys develop and lead to your upcoming EP release on the label?

As an artist you always want to have a dedicated release on a label. My aim was to get my own EP on Hot Creations, although I have to say my release is actually a single as it has two original tracks, not 3 or 4 which is needed for an EP. Anyway, when I made ‘Into The Light' I emailed it over to Jamie and he signed it. It was then about getting a strong B side done. Somehow my first attempt in the studio, ‘I Know' came out and was accepted...job done!

Tell us about where the inspiration came from for the tracks on the EP; 'Into the light' and 'I know'

‘Into The Light' was made literally as an attempt to make a track that could be played on a main dancefloor of a warehouse in East London at 4am peak time. After ‘Spaceship's chilled out vibe and ‘Kitchens and Bedrooms' which didn't really fit that well into darker sets, I just wanted a big banger and ‘Into The Light' was that. ‘I know' literally just happened, I didn't sit down with any ideas or preconceptions of what I was going to make; sometimes that's the best way.

You touch on many different sub-genres of house, but for those who haven't heard any of your music how would you describe your sound?

I think my sound is warm and sexy house music filled with tasty vocals and lots of tantalising sounds. My music takes influence from a wide range of genres from disco to techno and vintage house music.

You've not long been back from performing in Miami, how was this experience for you?

I loved Miami. The food is terrible but the parties were great! It was really nice to perform with other artists I admire like Maya Jane Coles, who actually grew up down the road from me in the same part of London, and hanging out with artists like Soul Clap and Pillowtalk was cool. I look forward to going back next year for more.

As well as being behind the decks you are also a promoter and started the London party Crèche back in 2010 alongside fellow DJ Cozzy D, how did this idea come about?

Crèche started literally as an outlet for me and Cozzy to play the music we felt was not getting its deserved airtime in London. We discussed the idea for a while and then gave it a shot.

What are your plans for Crèche in Ibiza this year?

We've got some very exciting parties lined up. I can't reveal too much but all I can say is think unique venues and spaces dotted all over the island. We are really putting a lot of time and effort into doing something away from the norm and special over there.

How does the Ibizan crowd compare to that of the London scene?

I don't think you can compare generically, it depends what party you go to and the same here in London.

Have you got any upcoming productions that you can tell us about or collaborations in the pipeline?

I've got my Lower East EP coming out in June, a remix of Nitelife on Nervous Records too. Collaboration wise I've got a few exciting projects we are about to start on but I can't reveal anything at present – I'm afraid you'll just have to wait and see!

Vinyl or digital?

Vinyl all day long in an ideal world.

What was the first Vinyl that you bought?

I think it was Kariya - 'Let me love you for tonight'

What artists are currently doing it for you at the moment?

Cajmere, Pillowtalk, the Visionquest guys, all my guys obviously so Cozzy D, Lee Brinx, Jonny Mikes and Michael Jansons. There are loads to be honest.

What can we expect from you in 2012?

The main thing I'll say is that I'm now really trying to push my sound in a new exciting direction.

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