It’s always a special kind of privilege for us to be able to celebrate the music of one of our own. That someone today, is producer, DJ, label-head, and Bolting Bits writer: Aleksandir. Recent years have heralded a steady ascent for the Turkish-born, British-based artist, with 2018 alone seeing him release an impeccable full length LP on Seb Wildblood’s Church and an equally well-received EP on London imprint Tessellate. Aleksandir’s ability to conjure connections through music naturally extends from the studio to the DJ booth. With a steadily increasing stream of bookings across Europe, it is safe to wager that 2019 might just be Aleksandir’s year.
We are humbled to welcome Aleksandir to our MIXED BY// series, with an impeccably curated mix of unreleased material. Traversing a range of soundscapes and moods, we feel his mix is truly representative of an artist beginning to come into his own. Dive into the mix and read below to get to know the man of the hour.
Hey Alex! It’s a pleasure to have you put together this mix for us and we’re really keen to get to know you. Starting with the mix itself, could you tell us a little about what it’s communicating? Also, I hear it’s 100% unreleased material?
Hey Lily! So the idea behind this mix was to share a whole hour of unreleased music from myself and some of the people around me. Some are forthcoming tunes, whereas others are bits and pieces with no plans for release. I think the first and second half are quite different, but in a way match up with the two sides to my own production. The first half is all about that feel-good, summery vibe that you can find on almost all my tracks to date; the second half on the other hand is about a darker, moodier vibe that my music has recently been shifting towards.
Going back to where it all began, what was your introduction to electronic music like? Who were some of your biggest musical inspirations?
I’ve been asked this a couple times and the answer’s quite an easy one. Nicolas Jaar’s “Space is Only Noise” is the first electronic music that really really pulled me into the whole genre. I was never a big clubber growing up and I think that sort of part acoustic, part electronic vibe was what I needed to move away from “guitar music”. My mates and I listened to it every day for about a year back when it came out, and it was definitely quite a formative experience. Obviously since then and now there have been hundreds of even greater influences on my music, but however cliché it may be, it all started with that album for me.
At the beginning, did you find yourself drawn more towards DJing or producing?
Definitely producing. I grew up playing instruments or being in bands, and for a long time producing music didn’t really have much to do with djing or the club environment for me. It’s only over the last couple years that djing has become a big part of my musical life, and while I think it’s definitely affected the way I look at producing nowadays as well, the emotional and musical qualities of a song have always been things that intrigue me much more than its functionality.
Did it take you long to find your own identity as an artist? How would you describe the evolution of your sound over time?
It definitely took some time, but I don’t think much of it was based on conscious decisions, kind of happened by itself. I also think it’s still going on, even recently my sound has been developing quite a bit. I feel like my next EP has definitely lost some of the positivity and naivety of my previous works. I think age and growing as a person has something to do with that, but I’ve also found that I find the jolly tunes a little less musically satisfying. A little more emotion and perhaps a tad bit of pain is definitely part of the ideal recipe for music.
Could you tell us a little about your current setup and workflow?
Comes as a surprise to many that I work almost completely in the box. Most my synths are Logic built-in plugins. I’m a big mouse warrior, and honestly I think that’s the only way I’d feel at ease, clicking in meticulous automation and and all the little things. But I definitely understand why so many people prefer hardware, turning knobs and pushing sliders definitely seems like a more enjoyable way to make music, but it’s just not ideal for my workflow. I’ve had a synth every now and then, but usually end up selling them on for a new one quite quickly. A Juno or a Rhodes are the only things I’d really love to own, but both are definitely out of my current budget!
When making a particular track how do you deal with situations where you lose sight of your original idea?
Oh for me that’s often what ends up happening. I usually have quite a specific idea when starting a tune, but often it’s the case that it quickly turns into something completely different, a lot of times I’ll even end up deleting that one part which started it all. I think the original idea is a source of inspiration but doesn’t at all have to be a permanent goal while producing the track, as long as you’re happy with the final product. On the contrary, trying too hard for a specific sound can be a bit frustrating and counter-productive.
What is inspiring you at the moment?
I think more than anything, djing a lot more frequently has pushed me to make tunes that are a little more club friendly than my usual stuff. I’ve really been enjoying nightlife since moving back to Istanbul. There’s for sure a whole lot of issues with the scene here, but I think for the first time in my life there’s a bunch of venues which truly feel like home to me. I think bonding with nightlife has definitely inspired me to change the way I look at my music a little, at least for the tunes I’ve finished recently.
Your label Artesian Sounds is 2 years old now, could you talk a little about the process of curating a label?
The label’s been a really rewarding experience, can’t thank Emre Can enough for coming up with the idea way back then. I think we’ve learnt a lot so far and recently made quite a few changes to our workflow, moving on we’ve decided to up the pace and should have a lot more in store throughout 2019. I think the trickiest part is definitely A&R, there’s so much good music about but pressing a record is neither easy nor cheap, so the choice to actually release something is often quite difficult.
Wrapping things up, what does the future hold for Aleksandir?
Got some cool gigs coming up, my first ever festival appearances and hopefully a visit to your end of the pond as well. Also working on throwing some parties here in Istanbul and starting a regular night with some friends. On the production end, I’ve got three remixes coming out soon, and my new EP will be coming out on Artesian Sounds in two months time. Plenty of these are on the mix, so listen closely!
Interview by Lily