Ever since his first EP in 1995, OXIA has prevailed as one of France’s most influent actors in the electronic music scene. He has built an impressive catalogue on respected imprints including as Kompakt, Hot Creations, 8bit, and Knee Deep In Sound. The Frenchman released his debut album ‘24 Heures’ on Goodlife in 2004 and his second widely acclaimed album ‘Tides Of Mind’ was released in 2012. Several collaborations were established as well, with Miss Kittin, Agoria, and Nicolas Masseyeff. With the latter OXIA also launched ‘Diversions Music‘ in 2016, on which he has so far released three EPs.
In 2017, OXIA’s classic hit “Domino” (over 40 million views on YouTube) was re-released on Sapiens and came with a number of very successful remixes. In parallel, OXIA himself released a few remixes, notably for Moby (Suara), and others (Moan, Diversions Music).
2018 has been a strong year for OXIA with his “Reset To Zero” EP plus a remix on Diversions and a contribution to Knee Deep in Sound’s Ibiza 2018 Sampler. His touring schedule is taking him across the globe, from the intimate clubs to the festivals (Resistance by ULTRA, B My Lake, Untold, BPM, Dreambeach, Brunch In The Park…) and, for the fifth consecutive year, playing for Music On at Amnesia Ibiza.
Decoded Magazine grabbed a few moments of OXIA’s time whilst he was travelling from Lyon to Amsterdam… “I started replying to your questions while in the plane from Lyon to Amsterdam. So I guess I woke up, took my stuff and prepared my stuff because I have a gig in Rotterdam, then took my car and drove to the airport, and that’s it.”
As we are already racing through 2019 I asked OXIA what his goals were for this year and whether he had kept any of those New Years Resolutions we all promise ourselves… “Yes, the year’s just begun and, to be honest, it’s been a long time since I gave up making resolutions for the New Year… but it can happen anytime during the year that if I’ve set-up some objectives; and I usually attain them. Sometimes I don’t but most of the time I do. This said, at the time being there’s nothing new except for continuing to make the music I love, having a good time, travelling around the world to play and to keep on meeting new cool people.” I am sure many of us would agree with this mentality… I certainly do!
OXIA’s ‘Second Mood’ EP is his current release and I am sure many of you would agree it is a little tougher than his usual sound. It is certainly a sound I would like to hear more from, from OXIA. I asked him if we can expect more of this sound going forward… “Yes, the ‘Second Mood’ EP was out March 1st and I’m very happy to release once again on my label. Indeed, there’s one of the two tracks that’s a bit more techno than what I’ve been doing recently, but that was also the case on the EP I released in 2017. The track “Consequence” shared the same spirit a little bit, and also “Instinct”, released on Knee Deep in Sound’s July 2018 sampler.”
“The Thing is, when I start working on a track, I don’t decide beforehand to do this or that, I go with the guts and let my instinct guide me. So I may come up with groovier, or more melodic, or more techno sounds, just like with ‘Moodulations’, on my new EP. The other track, ‘Second Mood’, is a little more tech-House oriented; it has this hypnotic sound. So the next one will be a surprise for you but also for me.”
I asked OXIA what else was in the pipeline for Diversions Music this year… “For now, there’s only EP’s released on Diversions. The plan isn’t really to release every month, it’s more a question of feeling. When we’ve got some tracks aside that we’d like to release quickly, it’s quite practical. As for other artists, we receive quite a significant number of demos but my partner Nicolas Masseyeff and I need to both agree on something before accepting to release it. It takes a lot of time to listen to demos, and it’s even more complicated due to both our schedules, but we try the best we can. Perhaps our next release will have been found in what we’re supposed to check out these next few days.”
I wanted to know more about the label so asked OXIA if the label was purely for his and Nicolas Masseyeff’s music… “Initially, yes, we did launch the label and release an EP by Nicolas and I, then a solo EP by myself, followed by Nicolas’ solo EP. One of the reasons we originally founded Diversions was because we were a bit fed up with other labels taking so much time to reply or to release our tracks. So we thought, why not launch our own label, this way we’ll control everything and release whatever we want, whenever we want. However, as I said previously, other artists are also part of the equation; we’ve already released some, and intend to continue. So, to those of you who are reading this, please go ahead and send us your demos.”
All the Decoded Magazine family have been fans of the OXIA sound for some time now and often look out for new tracks and remixes. I asked OXIA what was it that started his journey into electronic music? “Thank you very much, that’s cool to hear this, I’m happy. So, this goes a long way back; I’ve been a music fan from a very young age. Since I was 12 years, I’ve wanted to be involved in music one way or another. So it started with little parties with my school friends, I was always the one taking care of the music. I then became interested in radio shows and started during the mid-Eighties to host a Funk show with two friends. We listened to lots of music – Funk, obviously, but also New Wave… and around that time, the first House tracks started appearing. For us, they were a continuity of Funk music, and there were lots of tracks in 85 or 86 that were in-between both genres. Gradually, it became more and more electronic-sounding until we realized later on a whole new genre was emerging. Along came techno, with darker influences, and I instantly loved it.”
“For me, the process was quite natural; without really being aware, I had become an electronic music fan. At the time, all of this was brand new; we witnessed the early years more than 30 years later this music is still around.”
OXIA is a man that is often travelling the globe and I think we can all agree that touring has an effect on the body and mind. I asked him how he deals with travelling so much and the constant stress of doing so… “My goodness yes, I’ve travelled to so many countries around the world, I’m very lucky. I’ve been to more than 50 different countries I think, something I would never have been able to do if I had a different job. Of course, this does take a toll on our bodies after a while, because our lifestyle isn’t the healthiest – even if we try to be as healthy as possible, which is something I do as much as I can. But most often than not, you find yourself caught up in the party and end up not sleeping so much after finishing at 6 am and having to catch a flight a few hours later, for another gig.”
“Traveling by plane is exhausting, and so bad for the back. But I’m not complaining, I’ve lived so many incredible moments thanks to my travels, and met so many different people around the world, it’s so enriching. So yes, it’s sometimes a bit stressful at times, but I honestly think there are worse jobs out there.”
Moving back to OXIA’s productions and his style I asked if he had a particular workflow in the studio… “It varies a lot, depending on my mood, the way I’m feeling. Sometimes I work for ten hours straight a day making music, and other times I work 3, or not at all even. The major difference is that nowadays I’ve been working on my laptop, which was not the case a year (and some) ago; I could only work in my studio. Things have changed in a much better way for me because I’m able now to come up with new ideas even when I’m travelling, which is a tremendous gain of time.” I went on to ask OXIA what some of his favourite tools are when piecing together a track… “I work on Logic and I also use a bunch of Logic plug-ins and a lot of others as well such as Waves for sound processing. In terms of sounds, I use many various plug-ins, notably from Arturia or Native Instrument… I also work on hardware, I’ve got a Virus, a Nova, and old machines such as SH101 or JUNO106, that I still use from time to time. I compose in my studio or on my laptop, then I go to Nico Masseyeff to mix the tracks with him because he’s very experimented, and also because it’s always better to have four sets of ears instead of two to do the mixdown.”
We all need some downtime, especially when you have a schedule like OXIA. I asked him what does he get up to when he is kicking back and chilling? “To be honest I enjoy doing nothing most of the time. I also like watching TV, movies, shows or the news… otherwise, I like of course listening to music – I mean something different to what I listen to for professional purposes or play during my gigs – so it’s often calmer stuff.”
“It’s been a while since I’ve done it but I have this series of podcasts titled “Home Selection” in which I only put very calm tracks, music that really relaxes me. In parallel, I like spending time with my family whenever I have enough time, or going out with my friends.”
With the barriers to production at an all-time low for many people and the availability of studio software so easy, I asked OXIA if he feels this has had a positive or negative impact on the electronic music scene? “It’s true, producing nowadays is much easier today than before. Back in the days, there were only machines and they were so expensive. Today, you only need a laptop and a few plug-ins to do decent tracks. I think it’s cool that everyone has become able to express their talent. I don’t think it’s a negative thing, as long as the productions are good, quality-wise, but that’s not always the case. You can sometimes feel the lack of experience and the technical weaknesses in some productions. Some people also take the easy path by using pre-made loops for their rhythms, so it’s bound to go quicker this way. Personally, I don’t work this way. I like to create my own beats even if it takes much more time. So nowadays we see an astounding number of releases every week, and in a way that’s cool because we have more material to pick from, but we also see a lot of uninteresting music which, for me, is more “negative”. I went on to ask OXIA what he thought some of the biggest positives are in the scene at present… “That there’s this notion of sharing, a common passion linking so many people together, has it to be those who make it or those who come to listen. For me it’s a very positive exchange, I think it makes a lot of people happy. It’s nice to see people from so many different countries attending festivals and sharing a moment, partying together. It’s also the case in the other musical genres, obviously, but I’m talking about the one I know best.”
I am hoping you are listing to the mix whilst reading this interview… so I asked OXIA about how he compiled the mix and what he aimed to showcase… “So, when I work on mixes like this one in the studio, I obviously put a bit more preparation than for the ones I use in my gigs, where instead it’s much more about the feeling and improvisation, depending on the atmosphere, the venue, the crowd’s reaction… this said, studio mixes are also made based on gut feeling, but since there’s no-one in front of you, it’s clearly a different process. So I try many tracks to determine which ones go together nicely, I’m more attentive to the mix construction.. while at the same time trying to create an atmosphere resembling what happens during my performances. The styles diverge slightly, but I try to maintain a certain coherence.
As for this mix, in particular, it represents what I like to play at the moment: groovy beats, slightly more melodic parts, then something more “techno” in the end… I hope you will like it.”
We certainly did like the mix, and we hope you enjoy it too. Thank you to OXIA for a great interview and a superb exclusive mix.
01. Ohmme – Little Helper 341-3 – Little Helpers
02. Giuseppe Martini, Greck B – Apollo – Techaway Records
03. Bassel Darwish – Code – Roush Label
04. Ohmme – Little Helper 341-1 – Little Helpers
05. Oxia – Second Change – Diversions Music
06. Lessone & Cuevas (ES) – Kraken – Psicodelica
07. Matthias Tanzmann – The Treat – Dirtybird
08. Darkrow – Wine – Be Loud
09. Caravaca – Q10 – Low Groove Records
10. Gera Akate – Little Helper 342-1 – Little Helpers
11. Joeski – Set You Free – Maya Records
12. Daniel Rateuke – Sambula – Stil Vor Talent
13. Rone White, Alessandro Diruggiero – Royal Beat – Shikki Mikki Records
14. Oxia – Moodulations – Diversions Music
15. Greg Gow – Hidden Pictures – Truesoul
16. Joseph Ashworth – Trooper – Life And Death
Photos by Pascale Cholette.