2021 has seen the ever-vital producer Huxley arrive with some great new projects. Over the past years, the friendly character has excelled at many different musical styles, often ahead of the curve, but all intrinsically linked in Hux’s own inimitable style in a House to Tech House to Techno vein, all musically accomplished offerings that stir real emotion. From dropping countless DJ weapons on Knee Deep In Sound, Hot Haus, Moon Harbour and Repopulate Mars, Huxley now lands on Ultra Records for a multi-single deal that sees him spread his musical wings like never before. We caught up with the man himself to discuss his new creative journey, his recent debut at Printworks, and his personal tips for Artist of the year…
Hello Huxley. Welcome to DMC! Where are you in the world right now and what did you have for breakfast?
I’m in Lewes in the UK and I had a peanut butter wrap! Normally I don’t even have breakfast, so today’s a bit of a special one.
We know you’re embarking on a new creative journey with a string of releases signed to Ultra Music. Does this mark the beginning of a more commercially accessible sound from you, or will you continue to drop the odd techno weapon?
Let’s see how it goes. During the pandemic I really connected with working with writers and vocalists again and even just doing the odd bootleg like I use to, so it’s a good fit for me right now. Who knows what the future will entail, but for now you can expect some more vocal weapons. And hey, if I decide they need a techno mix, you can expect that too!
We can’t not mention the pandemic; it turned our industry upside down, no one could tour, and some clubs and festivals may close indefinitely because of it. Flipping all that negativity on its head, what positives have you personally taken from it? Do you view the scene differently now? Has it made you value it more?
Like I said before, I reignited my love of collaboration, probably from the lack of social interaction. Also, it just reset my thoughts on what I want from my life. Who knows what the ‘scene’ is these days. It’s so fractured right now it’s hard to know where I fit, so I’m happy just doing my thing.
You’re one of the industry experts working with Mixmaster helping budding producers learn the art of music production. Do you find it a rewarding experience, actually meeting the students and seeing how your own knowledge is helping to shape the next generation of producers?
Yes, for sure. I was actually bricking it when I went and did it, but found I really enjoyed seeing their progression, and also just vibing off these people with such fresh enthusiasm and drive. It’s quite nice compared to being around some of the negativity of people who have been doing it for ages.
Going back some years, you were born and bred in the small town of Tring in Hertfordshire (UK). There can’t have been many opportunities for aspiring DJs / producers there, although we did read you used to put on parties. Where did you get your dance music fix in the early days?
Rave tape packs, Dreamscape and Bonkers CDs, vinyl and we could also just about pick up some pirate stations. I think it was KISS where Hixxy used to be on it when it was still a pirate. We had a great record shop called Freedom Records in Watford where I bought all this stuff, or a market down the road which sold loads of tape packs. The parties afforded me to be able to buy these things. I’ve still got all my tape packs, although I got rid of a lot of my CDs. I’ve still got every bit of vinyl I ever bought though. I don’t think I’d ever sell them!
Speaking of getting fixes, you recently played to a packed crowd at Printworks in London in the newly opened Inkwells room. What was the space like to play in? Did you hang around to party or was it strictly business?
It was amazing. My first time in Printworks too and it was a great room to play! Such a good vibe. Proper business. It was more of a business one really as I had to go to Ibiza the next day to start teaching on the Mixmasters course, but it was still great to see some faces I hadn’t seen for ages, Eli, James (Solardo) and Doorly.
This summer you went all over the States on your Back In The USA Tour. Has anything changed from a musical point of view – are you playing more ‘party’ in celebration of being back or was it a case of throwing down a classic club set straight from the off?
I dunno, I don’t think I really thought about it that much. I just played how I always do, for the crowd I’m in front of.
What’s your studio setup like these days? Has it changed much over the years? What’s been your biggest splurge and was it worth the money?
It’s pretty similar to what I’ve always used, a mix of hardware and software. I tend to only use the hardware every so often these days though. Not my biggest splurge, but during lockdown I bought the Softube Console1 which is wicked, but I’ve only just set it up so I remember to use it. It’s decent though!
Most of what has been written about you over the years has been – and rightly so – about your music. Is this because you’re a private person and prefer not to be asked about Michael Dodman the person or that you just never get asked? Curiosity prevailing here, what do you enjoy doing when you’re not creating music?
If someone asks me a personal question I’ll answer it, but really I hate this whole show-your-whole-life-on-social-media vibe. Like, fucking hell, what happened to mystery or even just letting the music do the talking and not having to do a fucking ‘hey guys blah blah blah’ video. They’re a necessary evil, but they kill me to do it. But, in terms of your question I like to eat, drink wine, watch documentaries and hang out with my son.
But back in the music, what do you have on repeat at the moment? Any tracks / labels / artists we should check out?
Even though I’m making more accessible music, this week I’ve been listening to a lot of more banging stuff. Some guys on the retreat really got back into listening to labels like Token, Hessle Audio and Figure. In terms of new artists, I think it’s going to be Jamie Roy’s year, and rightly so, he’s put the work in and the music he’s doing is sick. Also, I really like Bawrut and Wave Point right now. And also, my new single Man Enough is obviously on loop.