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Interview: Alexx Rubio

Alongside compatriot Louie Fresco, Alexx Rubio is the brains behind one of Mexico’s most in-demand and consistent electronic music labels, MEXA. A vehicle for everything; from clued-up house to upfront techno, the excellently diverse label has already earned plaudits aplenty since their conception back in early 2012—and it’s a story that’s gained extra significance with each passing release. On the eve of the BPM Festival, we pulled up a stool with Mr.Rubio as he talked us through the label’s ever-changing sound, his production mannerisms, and his latest foray down the production path, the inspiring Shadows in the Night EP

Planet Notion: You’re from Mexicali, Baja California. What’s it like as a place to grow up in? Good childhood memories?
Alexx Rubio: Mexicali is only 100 and something years old; it’s basically new and very calm. It’s at the border with Calexico, US. I personally love Mexicali. I was born here and have wonderful childhood memories.

PN: You’re a proud Mexican I gather then! Is there a massive difference between what’s going on in the US right now compared to what’s happening in Mexico?
AR: It is different, especially in the way we party. But at the same time there are many similarities in music tastes. I’m lucky to be able to live both scenes and have an option to choose whether to party at the US or party in Mexico—which is always more fun!

PN: You just released the Shadows in the Night EP alongside your good friend, Louie Fresco. How did it come about? Is this the first time you’ve produced music together?
AR: The music was actually produced by me one night at the studio and that next morning Louie walked in and liked what I was doing, and got inspired to write and record the vocals. It’s the first of many tracks that we’ll be working on. We have some other tracks which hopefully will be out on 2014.

PN: What did you learn from working alongside Louie? Did the track end up as you anticipated it would?
AR: It’s hard to actually get the track to where you really want to go, especially for someone like me who always thinks it could be better, but I’m happy with the outcome. I’ve learned so many things while working with him—especially from producing.

PN: You usually work with another person in the studio, right? Do you prefer working in partnership with others then?
AR: Not that I always work with someone in the studio, but my recent releases have been collabs, because it’s much more fun when you share ideas and learn from others. I can’t really sing so having Louie come in with vocals really helped the track.

PN: And when did you first decide you wanted to produce electronic music? Was there one moment or inspiration that convinced you that you just had to do it?
AR: I’ve always wanted to make electronic music, but unfortunately I’ve been very lazy when it comes to producing so my learning process has been slower. Hopefully this year it’ll be different and you’ll see more of Alex Rubio.

PN: What did you start producing music on? Has that constantly changed in the intervening years?
AR: I started editing music 13 years ago on a free limited software called Internet Audio Mix. After that I moved to ACID Sony and then to FL Studio which I currently use for my productions. I also use Ableton Live. The changes have been enormous now that I have so many options of manipulating and crewing music in my own manner.

PN: So is there one piece of kit that you’ll always use on a track?
AR: Not really. Unconsciously my tracks always have something that people can tell from that it’s me. I try using different elements all the time.

PN: From my experience of listening to MEXA’s music, it’s very diverse but it can only be almost ‘gothic’ type house. Do you think that’s a fair description?
AR: I guess so, haha! Gothic is dark, mexa is dark, so mexa could be gothic! Dark is definitely something we are leaning towards too. We didn’t show it much with our first releases, but that was because we wanted to get people’s attention first and then really start putting that dark touch we love so much.

PN: Obviously you guys are doing an excellent job at it, but how difficult is it to stay different and still release excellent music?
AR: Being different is key I would say. We don’t want to follow trends. It is hard being different because of the risks a label could face, but at the same time thats what makes us grow in our own way and create our style.

PN: Do you like to keep fans of the label guessing all the time then?
It’s not something we are looking to provoke, but if it happens then that’s fine.

AR: Have you many big plans for yourself and the label in 2014? What should we expect?
Yes, we have many good things line up. Can’t really say much but this year is going to be very challenging.

- Dan Mac

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