DYD: Why did you choose the name, liver? Did you think your name would deliver* another aspect to your performance?
*sometimes we just cannot help the puns.
Alex (liver): Oh God, the puns. It was a childhood joke that grew legs. It wasn’t very funny (actually it’s too corny to even tell), but people started calling me liver and then it kind of stuck. I’m quite happy with it now though – good job youth!
DYD: Tell us about gravy. How did the collaborative form? Was it mutual respect of work that brought you guys together or just being friends and in the right place?
Alex (liver): It started out through conversations between Sibot, a few other musos and me. The concept grew out of a definite mutual respect and a desire to put out our diverse sets of electronic sounds as a collective South African front. The idea was to allow our joint influence to grab people’s attention, and therefore show different audiences the multitude of great electronic sounds that we have here.
It’s a rad concept and we hope that it allows South African electronic artists to get an audience that helps them grow, as musicians, as well as their audience/fan base.
DYD: Maybe we’re just stalking you or something but we notice that you production music style is quite different to the music that you land up playing at gigs. Have we just been at parties that demanded the change or do you find it difficult to merge your style with mainstream music?
Alex (liver): That’s possibly the most on-point question I’ve ever been asked!
When I first started, I was scared to play my own music out, I never felt like it was good enough, and my goal was to get others to play it. On reflection that was a bad call, because at a few gigs I had people requesting my tracks and I just didn’t follow through – which makes it disappointing for them, which sucks. I suppose I really kind of view my music vs. myself as almost 2 different beings – Jekyll and Hyde if you will. But that has changed lately as the shyness has settled.
Regarding the merging with mainstream, well, the difficulty is exactly that. I don’t normally make ‘club bangers’, there are a few tracks of mine that I play out, but my production sound vs. the sound I play out is completely determined by the time that I play, or the party that I play at. At the heart of it, if you book me for a DJ gig, my job is to make you dance and have a great experience at the party, it’s not to try and force people to stomach the music I make at inappropriate times. I have previously tried to make club songs, but then get bored and move on to just making stuff that I love, however weird and whacky that might be; when I produce I never really think about a crowd reaction. My goal for 2014 is to make one truly beautiful track, if I can do that, then I’m happy.
Side note: I do firmly believe that if you book a DJ to play to a crowd, they must do exactly that – play to that crowd – which sometimes does not call for them to play their songs (unless you are booked to play your stuff – that’s different from DJing), and sometimes it does. It’s all about finding that space where the crowd and the music click, and then taking it from there.
DYD: You’ve been on the scene in Cape Town and also in Johannesburg. How would you compare the two music scenes and who do you think will bring it for the Mad Decent Block Party?
Alex (liver): It’s tough to compare the two since I don’t live in Cape Town anymore. What I can say from my recent Jozi experiences is that people here are amped on the scene! It’s like a living, breathing organism. There are pockets of development that can only bring a positive outcome.
Yes, there are the mainstream kids, who are only exposed to things they hear on the radio – much like the global music scene – but that just means more people hear the music, and therefore, it increases the propensity or chance that a bigger margin of kids will dig ‘deeper’ into, and find those small pockets, then, who knows, maybe they’ll like it and help it grow.
Joburg is an exciting place for electronic music at the moment.
DYD: What are you looking forward to most leading up to the Mad Decent Block Parties?
Alex (liver): sub_urban state on the 25th of Jan – back on the rooftop! Bruce Springsteen, 1st of Feb – yes, I’m going!
But the Block Party is going to be off the chain! It’s a crazy concept that I’m glad the guys at Seed Experiences and Olmeca have got fully behind. It’s such a show of positive development for this music! I’m not sure SA kids actually know what is coming…
DYD: Who is your favourite act from the Mad Decent Block Party line-up? We’re having a major thing for Dillon Francis and his side-kick DJ Hanzel right now.
Alex (liver): DJ Hanzel hands down. I am amped to see them all, as I have been following all their careers for a minute now.
Dillon Francis is one man I am incredibly amped to see. I love his music and he also inspired me to be comfortable producing at a lower tempo (112bpm).
DYD: Do you have a favourite performance? Where was it and why is it a favourite?
Alex (liver): I’ve had so many good ones (and bad ones) over the years of playing in SA. Some of the best ones I’ve had involved playing to tiny crowds, others to crowds of thousands.
My Rocking the Daisies set in 2009, I think it was, was stellar. My first Oppikoppi, after Sibot’s memorable performance, was incredible. Sowing the Seeds last year was amazing. I’ve had awesome ones at sub_urban state, at 3pm and at 10pm. 5Gum with A-Trak and HudMo was +++, Vic Falls train party, in the middle of the bush, to 600 people and a train. I love the shows where the crowd is in it, they’re not waiting for you to play a song they know, they’re just absorbing the music and having fun, going with it. Those are the best kind of shows, no matter the size of the audience.
DYD: Who are some of your favourite international artists and acts? We’ve heard the more obscure they are the better but personally we’re really having a thing for Massive Attack again.
Alex (liver): Massive Attack are playing at Sonar Barcelona 2014 – I think I’m going.
I’m loving internationally based artists like Bondax, Snakehips, Flume, Gorgon City, Jakwob and of course Bonobo. Those sounds are next level.
On a local tip, we’ve got guys coming in hot! The newer guys like The Watermark High, Hawkward and RVWR. I also think Richard the Third is probably one of the most underrated dudes here (guys, do a little digging, you won’t be disappointed), as well as Mr Sakitumi. On top of that you have guys who’ve been going strong for a while now – shout out to the gravy dudes, Dank, Narch, Das Kapital, Sibot, Markus Wormstorm and Haezer! (I’m sorry if I left anyone out, but you know I love you).
There are so many tracks from local producers of all sides nowadays that make you sit up and go, ‘WTF, where’d that come from!??!’.
DYD: Last question, what prompted you to get into music?
Alex (liver): The influence of Max Normal (the band), hanging with the Ringroses and the love of making loops!
Ps. Much love to the DYD team for doing this <3