With a headlining set at Los Angeles' Hard Summer fest that was a relentless techno assault – and a reminder of a time, only a few years ago, when big-room house wasn't in pop radio rotation – German DJ and producer Alex Ridha, better known under his nom de techno Boys Noize, showed that he's sticking to his guns even as electronic music has moved into the mainstream. Relaxing with a beer in his trailer a few hours beforehand, Ridha acknowledged that he wanted to challenge his audience, not just play the hits.
"I always love to play jacking stuff and harder stuff," he said. "Right now, like in the last two years, a lot of the electronic music, or what you call now EDM, it feels too generic for me sometimes and a bit soulless."
Ridha's answer is in his upcoming album, Out of the Black, which is due out in October and bypasses the slickness of mainstream EDM in favor of the raw, buzzsaw electro that put him on the map when his debut album Oi Oi Oi was released in 2007.
"At one point I was just trying to forget anything about that whole world and really trust my instincts, and I guess what came out was something closer to my first album," he said.
Ridha said that while he wanted to innovate his sound on singles and remixes this year, his decision to reach back to his roots on the new album was supported by a surprising ally – friend Xavier de Rosnay of French electro duo Justice, whose sophomore album Audio, Video, Disco was a notable sonic left turn from their debut.
"I was saying something like this to him: 'Hey, it feels like 2006, 2007 again a little bit," said Ridha. "[De Rosnay] said something like, 'Remember when AC/DC put out the album in '82 and it sounded like '79?' I guess what he wanted to say was, 'You got a sound, and it's good.'"
With almost a month before his next DJ date, Ridha said that he's looking forward to returning to Berlin to finish work on a new project: switching out DJ sets for a full live show, which he'll be debuting in Berlin on October 6th. Ridha was mum on details of the stage show, but promised that when he brings across the Atlantic for a North American tour in November and December, "It's going to be some crazy stuff."