We caught up with Manchester-born, Berlin-based Rupert Taylor, otherwise known as xxxy. In the game for a number years, Taylor's unique take on garage music initially caught the public eye with releases on the American Label; Formant, and Mancunian label; Mindset. His subsequent releases on Fortified Audio, Infrasonics and Pollen confirmed him status as one-to-watch.
'You Always Start It' on Ten Thousand Yen then further cemented his status. attracting the public's attention to his unique style. The single was picked up on a number of blogs and major music websites with Pitchfork naming it their "best new track" in January 2011. 2012 led to further releases from xxxy on Well Rounded and Halo Cyan, further enhancing his reputation in the industry. 2013 saw a release on one of the UK's premier labels; Rinse. Now Living in Berlin, Taylor continues to produce with further releases planned imminently and for later this year.
So let's start with the name – why xxxy?
I wish I had an exciting story for this but actually it just came to me as I walking around town and I decided to go with it.
So you're from Manchester right? Obviously that's a city with a rich heritage in dance music – is that where you got into electronic music?
Yes and no. When I was growing up the club scene was pretty bad and there were only one or two clubs to go to. I left Manchester for University, though decided I didn't like it so I came home. When I came back I started University in Manchester and met lots of people into that kind of music. There were lots of London heads and who grew up with better clubs and they really got me into electronic music and from there it progressed.
Why did you decide to move to Berlin?
I lived in London for four years before and I decided the rent was getting too high. I had to make a decision and thought about where I could go. I've got lots of friends here out here, life is calmer and it seemed like the right place to be.
When did you realise you wanted to DJ/Produce?
I've been making music since I was a little kid, not necessarily electronic, I used to be in bands. Once I got to second or third year at University and got my own computer, I started messing around with software and writing tracks. People got interested in it and started passing it round to labels. Becoming a producer kind of happened by accident, I didn't think anyone would pick up my tunes. DJing came second to that. I used to mess around a bit with my mates but once I started to get music out there, that's when people wanted me to play shows. Originally I was using Ableton to play live but I didn't really enjoy that so I put in the time in to learn how to DJ properly.
What were you doing before you DJ'd/produced and when did you decide to go full time?
I was working in Manchester city council legal department helping lawyers out. I wasn't really earning much which was definitely a factor in pushing me to get more music out there so I could get out. It was a pretty much a dead end job.
So let's talk about your progression through genres, I read somewhere that when you started producing you were making Drum & Bass?
Those were my first experiments. I never actually finished a track and it always quite intimidating to write DnB when you're a brand new producers. It's technically brilliant so its embarrassing to send the music out if you aren't confident in your production, but you have to start somewhere. Then I started making dubstep and I had a record released under a different name in 2007 then I had another release shortly after and that was like the first two tracks that I finished properly.
I fell out of love with dubstep due to the evolution the sound and when I had more time I started making tunes with a housey flavour. They were still quite fast at over 130 BPM and then over time kind they gradually got slower and that's where I'm at now.
Do you think that sound is still changing today?
Yes definitely. I started with quite a big release with quite a lot of attention and it would have been easy to keep making the same tracks, but I'm not really happy sticking with one thing. I always want to change my productions and make songs that will fit into my sets.
So let's talk tech, tell me about your studio.
I have a home studio with Ableton, a midi controller, some effect pedals and synths. I've got a Mono/Poly, a Moog Minitaur, a TR8 and various other bits and bobs. Usually I start off with a jam and record that, from there I work on what's I've recorded in Ableton. Once I have that basic idea sorted I bring more hardware back into the mix
My Juno 60 is my favourite bit of kit. It was the first proper synth I bought and I got it super cheap on eBay. I've used it for a lot of tracks and even though I'm constantly selling and buying new bits of kits, I would never sell that.
So what's new for you this year?
We're just starting to promo my new record today, I'm not really sure on the release date and it should be out within the next month or so. It's actually a self titled EP. There's a white label that may or may not happen, should be out as a small release though we're still trying to finalise the details. There will be a three or four track release that might come out this year as well though that needs to be finalised..
I'm shopping around some tracks for another EP as well, I'm feeling confident in my production at th emoment.
I've simplified in the studio which means i'm making more music. I've got smaller parameters and rather than having all the synths in the world, I've stripped down my tools.
I've seen you play out, most recently in Edinburgh this year. I'd describe your sets as eclectic, would you say that's something you aim to achieve?
I'd be bored of playing the same music all the time. I like a bit of everything. The Edinburgh set was especially eclectic as I was playing for four hours. If I played tech house for four hours I'd fall asleep. You have to adapt your set to your surroundings, if i'm playing a big festival i'll play a different set to a small club.
So speaking of playing out and about – do you have a busy year ahead?
I've got a bunch of gigs though I could always be busier. It's busy enough to pay my rent. I've not had any records out for a year so maybe it'll pick back up again. I'm playing a Kelburn Garden Party in Scotland and I'm also playing Paradise City in Belgium.
Anything that you're particularly excited for?
Paradise City will be great, I'll get to see a lot of mates there. There's also a few label showcases, including Ten Thousand Yen, which are always nice to do .
Do you have any particular highlights in your career so far?
Loads of stuff but playing Sonar was a major highlight. I was on just before DJ Harvey and there was a huge crowd in the day time and it went down really well. I didn't get to speak to him unfortunately.
Is there anything you'd really like to do at some stage in your career? Like collaborate with a certain artist or play at a certain venue?
I'm happy with every opportunity I get, I would like to do some collaborations if they happen organically, although I'm not a great collaborator so maybe I should work on that first. I never worked well in bands as I was too much of a control freak. I wanted to direct the whole thing.
Is there anything you dislike about the current state of modern dance music?
Seems to be a pretty healthy scene at the moment really. The whole EDM thing is what it is, it's just a different kind of music and I've not real interest in getting involved with that. But for what I'm interested in, the scene ispretty healthy on the whole and I don't have any personal gripes about things.
It's great that people are buying more music and vinyl again. It would be nice if streaming paid a little more. But it's great that venues are more focused and the underground scene is flourishing. Maybe there needs to be a bit more equality and more opportunities for non white male DJs, but we're seeing some progress.
What are your favourite labels?
I listen to 100% Silk a lot, Running back is also one of my fave records. Clone Record is great as well.
Who are your favourite up and coming artists?
I'm quite into DJ Seinfeld's stuff but he's getting pretty big now and is clearly very talented.