Alex Smoke: Soma Prodigy (PRINT VERSION)

I really like to have skittery random weird shit going on that comes together to make sense. - Alex Smoke

Feature by Robbie Thomson | 16 Apr 2006

With the release of his incredible second album 'Paradolia' last month and an ever expanding itinerary of international live shows, the climate has never been better for Alex Menzies to bring his unique sound to the ears of discerning techno fans the world over. In addition to his own releases, Alex has worked under the Smoke alias on remixes for the likes of Yapacc, Slam, Andre Kraml, Vector Lovers and even Mylo, bringing to each the deep tech house style and myriad of dub, electro and minimal influences that have placed him in such high demand as a producer and performer.

The sound of the new album is a lot more chilled than the first – did you deliberately take a step back from writing club tracks?

There's more to prove with the first album, I got to the point where I wanted as many textures in there as possible, so I wanted really chilled-out stuff but also wanted to make tracks like Brian's Lung which are ridiculously full on. That wouldn't necessarily be what I'd usually produce; it was a conscious effort to make something harder edged to cover the spectrum. Whereas the second album I just put pressure on myself to make the record I wanted to.

What made you go with the name 'Paradolia' in particular then?

The reason I wanted to use that when I heard it was because I really like to have skittery random weird shit going on that comes together to make sense. Kind of like Autechre in a way, I guess – it can be super random but still work musically.

It's only been a year since 'Incommunicado'; do you think having that timescale has made 'Paradolia' a more coherent piece?

That's the most noticeable thing that I can tell from it, It hangs together much better as an album just because of the timescale. You change your production techniques over time, subtle changes start to come in and if you do an album quickly in a year then those techniques are on a par. There may be a bit of progression within the album itself but generally it sounds more cohesive.

Whereabouts have you been able to get to in the last year? What've been the highlights?

The furthest away are still Istanbul and Greece. The highlights? Zurich was really cool, really nice people and a good couple of parties; one of them was on my birthday, we were in Berlin the night before and didn't sleep for literally three days! I was there with Luciano, Villalobos and Guido Schneider which was pretty nerve wracking 'cause it was the first time I'd played a live set in front of people I really look up to.

Where do you see yourself going for the next album?

I'd love to do a hip hop album, I'm working with weird electronica and hip hop at the moment, hopefully Shadow Huntaz might provide some vocals. There's definitely room for going really experimental; I've always loved hip hop so it'd be great to work with crazy electronics and an M.C.

Paradolia' is out now on Soma.

Download songs by Alex Smoke now for as little as 10p a track using Ten Tracks; the innovative music portal partnered with The Skinny.