On the weekend of June 15/16 – progressive psytrance producer, Phaxe, will get to perform in South Africa for the first time. Known for creating layers of uplifting melody over a progressive groove, Kevin Josefsen has built up quite a following since his early days of creating music on Nintendo over 10 years ago. He will be playing both Joburg and Cape Town on the same day. IDM chatted to Kevin over cyberspace ahead of his mini tour…
IDM: Today progressive trance is surpassing full on trance in popularity, worldwide. When did you first notice this change happening and what do you attribute this to?
Phaxe: To be honest I never really listened to full-on trance, for me it was always about progressive. I never really noticed when the change started but I have noticed that many full on acts have started to produce progressive trance and I see that as a good thing because they have so many years of experience and good quality.
IDM: The ‘Phaxe sound’ is typified by strong melodies with layers of lush soundscapes; who are some of the artists (trance or otherwise) that you feel have had an influence on the style you have developed?
Phaxe: In the old days when I was on the dance floor more than behind the decks I listened a lot to artist like: Atmos, Haldolium, Antix, Ticon, Bitmonx, Lemon8, Lexicon Avenue and stuff like that. So they have had a big influence on the style I tried to make over the years. There is also a lot of progressive house music, with nice melodies that have made my style to what it is, I think.
IDM: Your sound is also very expansive for outdoors. Have you ever been tempted to write more minimal stuff for indoors, since there is also a strong progressive club scene, especially in Germany? Or do you find Phaxe works just as well indoors?
Phaxe: I don’t really produce tracks for the clubs or for open air specifically. When I make a track I just go with the flow and work on what sounds best for that track. The way the track develops has a lot to do with what mood I’m in when I’m working on it.
IDM: There seems to be three definitive sounds/styles in prog trance right now; the ‘Hamburg, sound,’ which typically has the offbeat bassline, the ‘Israeli psy-tech sound,’ which typically has the very big kicks and bass – both of these can be quite minimal at times – and then the more ‘typical’ rolling bassline progressive trance style which also has more expansive sounds and melody, which is where I see Phaxe fit in. Do you agree or am I missing yet another style?
Phaxe: I agree with these 3 styles, but still some artists have kind of their own style. I don’t know where I would put myself, sometimes I like to make offbeat tracks and sometimes I like more groove or swing tracks.
IDM: With the upswing in the popularity of prog, do you ever worry that it may suffer the same problem as morning full-on music, i.e. producers start running out of ideas? [I ask this because it seems every second prog track now has a triplet in the middle or a broken bassline).
Phaxe: It’s true nowadays it’s popular to make a triplet part in the middle, but trends like this always change. In 6 month something else is the new thing and many start to do it because it works on the dance floor, and then next year it’ll be something else.
IDM: What is it that you prefer about making music between 130 and 138 IDM as opposed to 140-145?
Phaxe: I prefer IDMs from 132 – 138 instead of 140 and higher because allows more space for the bass frequencies when the track runs slower. In my opinion It also seems like the lower the IDM the groovier a track can become.
IDM: South Africa has become a real hotspot for progressive DJs and artists over the past 2 years with regular visits all year around from internationals. What have you heard about our country?
Phaxe: June will be the first time for me to visit and experience South Africa. I’m very excited about it since I’ve only heard great things from friends and artists about the scene in South Africa. I heard that the people are very open-minded to music and spread nice vibes at the parties. I’m really looking forward to coming and playing open air music.
IDM: Final question: When you’re at home (i.e. not away on gigs), what’s the one thing you will always find in your fridge?
Phaxe: Actually my fridge is always half empty…
Phaxe recently released a full solo album called Calm Under Pressure. You can read our review here