Boys Noize Interview: The Evolution of EDM, Skrillex Collab, NFTs + More

Boys Noize is a German electronic music producer and DJ. He is known for his work in the genres of house, techno, and electro, and has released several successful EPs and albums. He has also collaborated with other artists, including Snoop Dogg and Chilly Gonzales. Boys Noize is the alias of Alexander Ridha, who was born and raised in Hamburg, Germany. He began producing music at a young age and has been active in the electronic music scene since the early 2000s.

The iconic artist has played all around the world and has dipped his toes in almost every element and genre of music. Boys Noize is in the middle of touring Australia, having recently done the circuit with FestivalX. We caught up with him there and talked all things Boys Noize and music in general. Gain some wisdom from Boyz Noize by exploring our Q&A below.

Your sound is very diverse, how do you think this affects your fan base? 

It’s actually a good question. I think no one has ever asked me that. I don’t really think about it. What I do like is to mess with people a little bit in that regard. You know, when it comes to music, it’s a very personal thing. With music for me, it’s the one thing in the world that makes me as happy as almost nothing else. So I have to find sounds that excite me and usually when I find new sounds, they lead me to something and I never know where, so on the other side, I don’t like to repeat myself either. I can’t really use the same sounds that I’ve used on a different track. I like to play with the people you know, they want to put you in boxes and all of that forever.

I don’t want to sound weird, but it’s sort of really safe just doing techno or just doing house. To me, house music was my beginning. I started with it, I was a warm up DJ for many years before I was Boys Noize or even producing. In terms of technology and production, I haven’t really found anything that exciting. With techno, it’s a little bit more exciting for me, especially right now, there’s a lot of really cool, dope, new energy going and you can hear it in my sets and also my future releases.

Your new collab with Skream ‘Trip’ really encapsulates that new rave techno sound. Have you noticed there has been an increase in the demand for that sound? 

Oh, absolutely. In Europe it’s crazy right now everywhere I play I have a DJ playing 140 or 150 BPM before me and I love that new energy. I’m really glad that we have that new energy because for a while techno was boring.. You kind of go back to the origins, to the OG rave sounds – that raw techno side. Now you have a lot of new productions and I love it. I love the rave stuff obviously. I’m all up for it. I can see it everywhere in Europe but not so much everywhere else yet. So I’m really curious, I just came off the US tour and you have LA where I can do my warehouse and you know go full on techno same in New York. But that’s about it, more or less. 

Melbourne has been picking up the sound a lot, you may see that with the crowd today. 

Good! Yeah I think so. I’ve been buying a lot of stuff from here as well. Like especially in Melbourne. There’s this guy like CRUSH3d. I’ve been playing a bunch of things from him. There’s good labels here. Melbourne is definitely on the techno side that I know for sure. But for the rest of the country I don’t know.

Your record label has been running for almost 20 years now. It’s rare for labels to run to this length. Do you think there is a reason behind its success? 

When the hype was getting really crazy a few years back a lot of major labels and distributors contacted me and they wanted to sign my label and do these big deals and I basically said no to everything forever. I just knew that with with BNR (Boys Noize Records) you know, even though I had times where I signed different things in electronic, we’ve had spank rock and even  electronica. Like the stuff I was doing with Chilly Gonzales. I said alright, let’s diversify a little bit. But in the end I always come back to the simple DJ tools and that’s what BNR is really there for, which is to have really good club music in the end. I have kept it simple and small so far. That takes a lot of the pressure off. In past years, I’ve concentrated more on signing producers that have a strong image as well, to me that’s quite important and they are more polarizing in a way.

I guess you know, having a few bombs every now and then helps! What’s really cool now is that I feel like a lot of DJs from different types of styles that look at the label, and every other releases something there or something not. But at least I got the intention from all of the scenes and that’s really, you know, what it is like. I don’t buy every release on every label, either, but you know, I still signed the shit I love. 

Boys Noize @ FestivalX
Credit: RUKES

Do you have an all time favourite release from the label, outside of your own? 

Hard to say! I’d say the last three releases. I’m always excited about the new stuff. 

STRICTLY BVNKER was made via Twitch during COVID, how did the community/chat’s involvement impact the album?

Yeah, honestly it was one of my favorite parts of creating a record, being interactive and having people look over my shoulder the whole time. 

That was the exciting part of the lockdown in those first few months. In fact, I had finished +/- before and had it on hold – I’d worked on it for years. If you compare these Strictly Raw/ STRICTLY BVNKER albums to like Mayday or +/-, you know, those records are more me as a producer going all in and it’s all fully produced and every sound is where it has to be. Then with STRICTLY BVNKER, it’s the rawness and almost that “live” situation in the tracks – I really just edited it more or less. 

It didn’t really affect me what people were saying, because I was doing my stuff on the machines anyway. If you know me, I kind of like being watched in a way. Here’s an example; when I DJ, and there’s a bunch of other DJs around me – I get really good. Really get extra motivated. Like: let me show you where it’s at – I’m that kind of guy.

I guess with the Twitch situation it was similar, it was like: “oh, shit” even though it was sometimes only 50 people or 500 people – I don’t care. Even if it’s just one or two, people are watching and I gotta do some shit. I can’t just do bleeps and blobs and stuff. So I’m like; damn, I gotta make a track. So I do like that pressure, it’s almost a good energy for me. 

How involved are you in the design of the artworks for your singles and the label? The artworks are very impressive. 

To me, it goes hand in hand. In general it is my most important thing in creating. I’ve been lucky to work with these fine artists really closely: Eric Timothy Carlson, then also his partner. We teamed up and we’ve worked three years on the Polarity artwork and the concept, and all the images from the Logos, the GIFs, the digital, the design concept as well as the overall idea about Polarity and then also +/-. 

I’m a big fan of artwork on records, I love that feeling when you pull one out and you’re like “damn”. They’re on some next level shit. Even though no one cares about physical art in the digital release world, I still feel, even for the few people that have that piece of vinyl, that they highly appreciate it. 

To me, that type of vinyl should cost like $100k, $10k and not like 10 bucks.  You can still buy a vinyl for $20, to me that is a complete piece of art. And, I love it. I love to create it even with the albums before.  If you look at Mayday, if you look at all of the black even, you know, I went hard on that art and design.

Boys Noize @ FestivalX
Credit: RUKES

You’ve been in the scene for a while now, how has it been seeing the sounds evolve and what could be next?

I don’t know. If we look back 10 years ago, when suddenly there was the EDM explosion and things got really out of control with the cheesiness on main stages. Even then, I didn’t quite bother too much. Maybe it’s just me, but growing up in the time of the 90s as a teenager and going to the love parade and seeing how rave music in Europe and in Germany evolved. That was when there were number one hits on the radio and MTV. So I saw the Euro dance, I was a raver at that time, too. So to me, that was just a new version of it. 

I mean, there’s always commercial music. There’s always dance and commercial, and music has always been like this. Obviously, the sound changed a little bit. But in the end, it’s the same stuff. So I wasn’t really mad at what was going on, outside of maybe, throwing cakes at each other. It’s weird, I think it always comes back to house, techno, disco, some of these classic elements in electronic and dance music. It always does these references to rave nowadays, like all the 90s stuff. I don’t know what’s next. If we go back to minimal, that would be funny. But I don’t know, I’m just going with the flow. I’m not really bothered with what people are raving about. I look for music every day to improve my DJ sets and to get me excited as a DJ. So I’m always looking in every single corner of the release world. But yeah, I’m just going with the flow.

It’s clear you’re into NFTs, what is one thing you’re looking forward to in regards to their integration within music? 

Amen. There’s a lot I can talk about across the whole topic, I can go off for an hour, but overall, I’m really excited about the opportunities that are coming up with all of that technology. I think it’s all about adoption. In terms of wallets, they have to be easier and more integrated into our phones and also more secure. Overall, the stuff you can do with a non fungible token (NFT) is incredible. Obviously we have to sort out distribution networks, royalty networks, all the things that the music music industry is based on, distribution of royalties and distribution of mechanics and distribution of, publishing rights. That network has been built over 50/60 years, and we sort of have to rebuild it to make it work and web3. Which is going to be difficult. We can start with royalties, that is easier, more and more people start to realize they don’t necessarily need to sign with a music label. Having a company, with that type of payment, with labels, all of that needs to be rethought. And I think we have a great possibility with the usage of NFTs in web3 to kind of redefine a lot of that. It all take time. We had to go through that cycle of JPEGs and all of that, but I’ve seen so many great concepts, and I’ve seen great projects that go way beyond just a profile picture. There is that digital flexing, it’s becoming just more and prominent, I don’t see anyone, not wanting to flex their digital identity. That’s how they’re gonna grow, so I have no doubt about anything. With the future, it’s just an adoption question and a time question.

I have to ask, any new Dog Blood in the works? 

Sonny and I make a lot of music together. We have a new single actually coming out very soon. “Skrillex and Boys Noize” – I will be playing it tonight.

Dive into Boys Noize’s catalog and recent live set below.