Still buzzing from warming-up for Aphex Twin at the Red Bull Music Festival in London, pq and Spooky J from Nihiloxica jumped straight into the studio to put together our first hybrid live/DJ Praise You set. It’s a fittingly creative approach to a singular artists like Aphex Twin, who’s been warping electronic music into unchartered shapes for the last three dizzying decades. Nihiloxica are a Uganda-meets UK six-piece, signed to Nyege Nyege Tapes, who bring a darker take on traditional Bugandan drumming. On this Praise You mix, they’ve weaved their own creative flairs and inspirations from Aphex’s recent London set production techniques, around the 28 year discography of Richard D. James.
Why does Aphex Twin’s music mean so much to you?
pq: I think Aphex Twin means so much to so many people as he has so many different avenues that he explores, while still retaining his own identity across the board. Personally, I respect his ability to do completely his own thing, and to still be relevant in the electronic music scene for so many years. It seems as though the guy really doesn’t give a fuck, and you can feel that earnest quality through his music; it’s electronic music without the pretensions and genre snobbery that often comes with it.
What makes a Aphex Twin track so unique?
Spooky: His use of harmony is probably the most distinctive characteristic for me. I do think him and Luke Vibert were the most original producers from Cornwall at that time though. I don’t know what shit they were smoking but they sure were sharing it.
When did you first hear Aphex Twin’s music and what impact did it have on you?
Spooky: My drum teacher gave me a load of music when I was around 14. He was introducing me to jazz at the time and I was like wtf this isn’t jazz it’s all electronic n weird n shit so didn’t take much notice. I think I properly listened to it when I was 16. I was coming out of my heavy metal haze and it was a nice welcoming to electronic stuff when all I had listened to before was Benny Benassi and Pendulum.
What’s your most sacred Aphex Twin record and why?
Spooky: Funnily enough the only Aphex record I actually BOUGHT was Syro. I was at Jumbo Records in Leeds with my mate Grant and the guy behind the counter got us so hyped about the release and limited edition shit, we pre-ordered it then and there! Got tee shirts and everything. The day we got it, we ran home and put it on the record player. After about 20 mins we were like hmm there’s like no bass in this…maybe he mixed it like that or something or its just really lo=fi to start out with..then realised we hadn’t plugged in the amp properly. Noobs.
Any standout memories from dropping an Aphex Twin track in a set?
Spooky: people not really dancing
How has Aphex Twin impacted you as a producer?
Spooky: I have taken quite a lot of influence from Aphex in the way I approach my productions. I don’t want to take my stuff too seriously and I always try and approach stuff in a slightly humorous way, which I really felt Aphex and Luke Vibert pulled off so well in their songs. Like all the chord progressions, beats and melodies just sound so cheeky for some reason.
How did you approach this mix/performance? What did you want it to say about Aphex Twin and his music?
pq: I took the lead on this mix, and I wanted to showcase our favourite aspects of Aphex’s sound. It was always gonna be hard to approach it from a purely beatmatched angle, so I went for something a little more free, splicing stuff together in Ableton as we don’t have a DJ set up on tour. The mood switches from his more melodious and pleasant side, through pure blissed out ambience (in my opinion most of the tracks from Selected Ambient Works 1+2 don’t necessarily count as ambient – they’re far too upbeat), through his more energetic and chaotic tunes. I’ve also selected some of my own (currently unreleased) Ambient Works, to show the influence he’s had on my style. Spooky’s ‘Pfer’, from his first release with Blip Discs, was actually influenced by ‘Bucephalus Bouncing Ball’, with its little sped-uppy percussion parts, so that worked a treat. We also overlaid some little bits, such as a synth-fucked sleepy phone call between me and our mate Jack (Ekhe), and even used an Aphex-authored patch on our Monologue for a transition.
What would you say is Aphex Twin’s biggest legacy on electronic music?
Spooky: I definitely laugh at the Aphex Twin subreddit, and how they praise him as the modern day Mozart and that Coachella frat boys are not worthy of listening to him. So I wouldn’t go THAT far, but I do feel he has acted as a big influence on many people. I don’t know any producer who hasn’t heard of him really. I must admit he has done a very good job of creating a mystique around himself therefore making people more curious (and obsessed) about him. Biggest legacy? Making beautifully weird fucked up music and being a bit of G while doing so.
Aphex Twin – Alberto Balsam
Aphex Twin – Flim
The Bad Plus – Flim (cover)
Aphex Twin – Stone in Focus
(Phone Pranks – Caustic Window)
Aphex Twin – Rhubarb
pq & Ekhe – Onion Bhajis (pq monofuq mix)
pq – Supermini
pq – Orbit
Aphex Twin – DISKPREPT 4
Aphex Twin – Bucephalus Bouncing Ball
Aphex Twin – Yellow Calx
Spooky-J – Pfer
Aphex Twin – diskhat 1
Aphex Twin – Minipop 67 (Source Field Mix)
knobjam – Spooky-J & pq
Caustic Window – Italic Eyeball
Polygon Window – Quoth
Bradley Strider – Bradley’s Beat Part 2
Watch the recording of Aphex Twin’s performance at Red Bull Music Festival London.