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Dax J Talks Early Influences, Online Videos & Techno Culture

The influential UK artist dropped his new album Utopian Surrealism at the end of 2021.

Dax J is a techno icon who is respected as both a DJ and producer.

Having headlined events such as Awakenings and played at iconic clubs such as Fabric and Berghain, he is known for his high energy style that blends brutal percussion with immersive synth lines.

After first gaining global notoriety as an underground producer who released regularly on vinyl label’s such as Weekend Circuit and Ear To Ground, he was soon invited to play DJ sets where he could show off his real talent.

His reputation for rocking the dance floor spread like wildfire, and as a result, he is now one of the most influential names in all of techno.

Dax J now runs a label called Monnom Black and at the end of 2021 he dropped a new album titled “Utopian Surrealism”. Excited to learn more about his new release, we caught up with him for this exclusive interview…

Hi Dax, it’s great to be talking with you today, what part of the world are you currently living in?

Been in between London and Brussels since lockdown, I also have my flat in Berlin, so I’m over there often too.

You have roots in the London club scene, how do you think it compares to other parts of the world?

I think musically and culturally it is the most diverse city in the world, there are so many styles of music that all thrive, partly because there are so many people living there, and many different nationalities. I can’t think of any other cities with as many different musical styles!

I’m sure you have lots of great DJing stories, but what’s your favourite memory of being on the dance floor? 

Probably the first rave I went to as a young teenager, as it was all so new, and I had seen no footage of raves before, so I didn’t know what to expect in those pre-iPhone days. I had imagined in my head what it might be like, as I used to listen to a lot of tape packs, and you could always hear the crowd cheers, MC’s, horns and whistles. When I finally went to one myself, I couldn’t quite believe what I was witnessing whilst on the dance floor for the first time, in those moments, I instantly knew I’d found my people, and my home!

How did you first discover techno? 

I went to Ibiza for an extended 6 month working holiday after I graduated from my sound engineering degree at university, and that is where I was introduced to the 4×4 kick! Shortly after that I went to Berlin and discovered Berghain… the rest is history!

What made you decide to become a DJ?

After discovering underground music through pirate radio and raves whilst I was still at school, as a young impressionable teenager, I decided there and then that I wanted to become a DJ! I loved the music I was hearing on the radio, and the whole culture resonated with me so much, I wanted to grab it with both hands somehow, as I loved everything about it. School had become extremely dull and tiresome, and I felt this was my only way out. They say knowing and discovering exactly what you want to do in life is the hard part, the rest is easy, so I think I was extremely lucky to have known exactly what I wanted to do at 14 years old.

Many of techno’s leading players seem to have been playing harder tracks the last few years. What do you think has driven this change in sound?

It’s a fascinating question because when you really analyse it on such a deep level, it is the result of so many different factors all at play. But ultimately, the new generation are into it, social media has helped to exponentially grow pop culture, and I think these are two of the main reasons.

Talking of harder tracks, it’s quite refreshing to hear the cinematic atmosphere on your new release ‘Utopian Surrealism’, and I wanted to ask what inspired the track?

Thank you! I was definitely inspired by the extended amount of time that I had free during the lockdown. It allowed me to experiment, and just play around on a deeper level with my synths at home. It was also a bit of a dark time, and that naturally inspired me to create more weird and moody noises, so it’s definitely a reflection of the headspace I was in at the time.

What’s in your current studio setup, are you producing more with hardware or software?

My studio is always an absolute mess with cables, wires, synths on the floor, and always like that. I actually just started my yearly studio clean up today, so let’s see how long I can keep it organised. All my sounds are recorded from my hardware synths, then everything is arranged in Logic Pro. Recently, I bought a Prophet 5, which is a very cool synth!

I’m told you are someone who goes down the rabbit hole watching random videos on YT. Could you share one with us that really got you thinking or made you laugh?

Yeah, I found this clip of augmented reality a couple of years back. It’s incredible, quite visionary, and always stuck with me. I can really see this as the future in the upcoming years, and maybe only 10 years away. Perhaps with a new product like Apple glasses, then eventually from something like Neural-link that will go straight to our brains… scary, fascinating and exciting all at the same time!

What’s coming up in your schedule?

Gigs are on and off in Europe, some are still being cancelled as we start the new year due to new restrictions, but generally seems like the world will be opening up again this year. From what I hear of it, the new strain is looking like a milder variant, and will hopefully be the last one to cause a scare. I think once we hit Spring, then things will return closer to normal, and hopefully for good this time! Outside of Europe, I have tours in America, South America and Asia scheduled for 2022. I’m also hoping to come back to Australia soon too!

Thanks for talking with me today, is there a message for fans or anything you would like to add before we finish?

Looking forward to seeing you all at a club/warehouse/rave again very soon, and wishing you all the very best, it’s going to be a great year! 🙂

You can pick up a copy of Dax J’s album ‘Utopian Surrealism’ from HERE

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