“I know the London crowd. They love all kinds of music, but they are very knowledgeable with their techno, so it’ll be fun pick it out and decide what I want to play. The London crowd are very open to all styles of music, because that’s what the UK sound is all about. Brash, uncompromising, varied, in-your-face electronic music.”

 

Before you allow yourself to be drawn into Dax J’s snarling, mutant techno world, take a look through the titles on the numerous records he has put out since he first started releasing wiry drum’n’bass in 2005. You’ll find a hint of what you’re in for with tracks like Imperial Propaganda, Kill False Prophets and 2018’s Offending Public Morality. He’s a man unafraid to take it on in his own way, to raise the tempo and the stakes, to be uncompromising. He’s also almost certainly one of the only Berghain regulars who can drop classic garage records in the middle of a savage techno set and have the crowd not miss a step. We caught up with the Monnom Black boss about origins, London and what people can expect from his Junction 2 debut.

 

Dax’s love of raw dance music began as a cold plunge into London’s urban dance scenes during his early years. “Garage and drum’n’bass were my first loves. Garage actually, then, about a year later, drum’n’bass. When I was at school there was no other option. I came into school one day and my friends were listening to tapes they’d made from 91.8, so I went home and found all these stations and I just loved it.”

 

 

It wasn’t long before this initial immersion became the obsession that would go on to structure his adult life too. Dax remembers, “I didn’t start buying records until probably 6 months after that. I managed to save up some money and got a really shoddy pair of belt-drive decks and a mixer that didn’t even have any EQs. I didn’t have any records so I borrowed 4 drum’n’bass 12”s from a mate. I still remember one of them was Origin Unknown’s Valley of the Shadows. Got home, put them on, and thought it would be easy, but then I tried to mix and was like, ‘The decks are broken!’ My mate had to come round and show me how to mix.”

 

When he wasn’t bedroom mixing, attending London’s biggest raves at SeOne, Bagley’s and the Stratford Rex, Dax was out making a name for himself as a DJ too. It wasn’t always without incident though and he laughs when he recalls his nerves at warming up for a giant. “I remember playing Movement at Bar Rumba, and I’d saved my 2 best records for the end. Then Bryan Gee came into the booth; the owner of Movement, legendary DJ, and he was on after me. I was thinking ‘He’s in the booth and he’s watching me, I better smash it out’, so I double dropped these records I’d saved, crowd went crazy and that was that. But I was thinking that Bryan might be annoyed because I had just dropped two really fresh records in front of him. But as soon as he came on he started smashing it, pulling out dubplate after dubplate, playing all these tracks I’d never even heard. I thought I had the freshest stuff because I’d bought my two promos from Black Market that week, but he showed me up in seconds!”

 

“I’ve heard it’s one of the highlights of the summer in London, and I know the LWE guys who run it are very professional because I played for LWE about 7 years ago. The party is huge. It’s a big spectacle of the summer and the line-up of where I’m playing, in the Warehouse, is looking really nice. I’ve seen videos and the big stage under the motorway looks pretty epic, so I’m looking forward to checking that out too.”

 

Although Dax hot-stepped from drum’n’bass to techno (and from London to Berlin) around 2007, those early experiences, along with London’s punkish, piratical diversity have all stayed at the forefront of his music. In his productions especially, Dax’s brand of techno eschews the functional rhythms of many of his peers in favour of a style that encapsulates the gritted-teeth world of ‘90s darkcore. Asked about his new Chaos Come to Conquer EP, Dax confirms, “There’s a lot of jungle influences in there. The bassline has this Reece jungle bass that rolls along. A lot of the vocal samples I got from my old record collection, like old Ray Keith records.”

 

 

The same muscle memory that pulls him towards that grittiness also surfaces in the way he puts his music together. “I got my first bit of hardware about 8-9 years ago; from there I gradually became more out of the box. I still use the computer but all my sounds now are from my machines, whereas when I started all my sounds were from the computer. Now I’m more in the analog realm. I think there is a big difference, especially when you’re using old machines like Moogs and Sequential Circuits. Those machines have a sound quality that I don’t think you can really replicate in the digital realm. It’s quite amazing to think that those machines, which are like 30 years old, still sound so amazing that’s it’s hard to imagine anything better.”

 

It’s clear from his energy levels that much of the passion he gained growing up now goes into the planning and execution of his DJ sets too. His style is high energy and clean mixes; a pulsating dynamism that keeps the crowd moving as the bouncing young man behind the decks grins and rips into another set of hi-hats or performs a multi-track mix that leaves Shazam-ing track IDers scratching their heads. He’s excited about returning to London for Junction 2. “Obviously I know London very well. Last time I played in London I played about 20 minutes of garage, and usually I would never do that, but I know that in London I can. I know the London crowd. They love all kinds of music, but they are very knowledgeable with their techno, so it’ll be fun pick it out and decide what I want to play. The London crowd are very open to all styles of music, because that’s what the UK sound is all about. Brash, uncompromising, varied, in-your-face electronic music.”

 

“Garage and drum’n’bass were my first loves. Garage actually, then, about a year later, drum’n’bass. When I was at school there was no other option. I came into school one day and my friends were listening to tapes they’d made from 91.8, so I went home and found all these stations and I just loved it.”

 

Despite being a globe-trotting artist, coming home to the city, and to Junction 2, is still a moment for genuine enthusiasm. “I’ve heard it’s one of the highlights of the summer in London, and I know the LWE guys who run it are very professional because I played for LWE about 7 years ago. The party is huge. It’s a big spectacle of the summer and the line-up of where I’m playing, in the Warehouse, is looking really nice. I’ve seen videos and the big stage under the motorway looks pretty epic, so I’m looking forward to checking that out too.”

 

And a final note for those who’ll come to listen to him at The Warehouse? “I’d just like them to go away with a feeling that they couldn’t have experienced that from anyone else, just a feeling of being blown away because that was the feeling I’d get when I saw my favourite DJs growing up. I’d just be like ‘wow, where did they get those tracks?’ That’s what I always try to recreate, the amazing moments that I used to have when I was young and going out partying.”

 

Dax J plays The Warehouse at Junction 2 on Saturday 8th June.

 

Words: Stephen Connolly