Armani XXXchange interview by Huwston
Armani XXXchange is Alex Epton, the Baltimore based producer that presented the best LP of the genre whose name derives from his home town in Yo Yo Yo Yo Yo Yo, as part of Spank Rock. He’s finally making it to Australia on the lineup of the upcoming Park Life shows after two Spank Rock tours sans the integral element of Epton (one which was even minus the front man), but with remixes for Beck and Thom Yorke plus production for The Kills and Kid Sister on the way, he’s had more than enough to keep himself busy.
Speaking from his home, the softly spoken and sometimes giggly producer first lays out why he hasn’t appeared on our shores earlier.
‘Well I guess just personal reasons, I had some family shit the last couple of years and was planning on going both trips so I ended up not having to go.’
With both parties keen not to push that subject we discuss what we can expect from the show, with Alex cementing that he is really keen to be out here.
‘It depends on the time of day, if it’s during the night I have some video show but if it’s during the day it’s just Djing,’ he says, putting to rest any notion of guest MCs or singers although, after all, it is his first tour, so an entourage could be due in the visits to come.
The Spank Rock live show currently consists of MCs Spank Rock, Amanda Blank and Pase Rock plus Djs Ronnie Darko and Chris Devlin and although XXXchange enjoys being a part of the spectacle, he’s got a pretty hectic schedule.
‘I am happy to stay at home – although I have been djing with them a lot lately,’ he says, admitting ‘I am kind of the studio rat.’
‘I do enjoy going to the shows, I just don’t want to tour extensively… it can be really exhausting.’
With his bio insisting he has a heavy art upbringing from groovy parents, just how much of this guy’s life is devoted to art and music?
‘The inspiration for a concept,’ (for a song) he says, ‘I take more from modern art… it’s more like doing a collage kind of thing, you can do that with music and make it be a horrible mess, so you have to make sure stuff works.’
Referencing, of course the Baltimore and mash up mentality, he succinctly describes the thin line between genius and disaster on a dance floor. Big Dada (the label that released Spank Rock’s first album) label boss Will Ashon suggested that Yo Yo Yo Yo Yo is the only good long player to come out the genre and time has proved that he is right.
‘It seems like that (the ‘Baltimore’ sound) sort of came together for a bit and now the scene is drifting apart, at least over here. That was a big inspiration for making the record (all of the genres and crew mixing) but things are a bit more disparate now.’
He references ‘all of this French music’ confusing people a bit as to what the next thing is which, in a way, is a beautiful irony for a genre that draws from such a wild palette. Continuing the art metaphor, XXXchange sums things up nicely.
‘Once you start making music that doesn’t have anything to do with your physical ability to play an instrument, it has to do with sound and sound design, and what your ideas are.’
He says a lot of the more interesting art theory hasn’t really been done with modern music, it’s all been done with video art, but he doesn’t dabble in the visual side of things, just his concepts that he fleshes out on a computer rather than a canvas.