Less than a month ago, Michael Dodman AKA Huxley released his first full-length album Blurred on Will Saul’s Aus Music. We were eagerly anticipating the release for almost half a year, and he ended up delivering an album that far exceeded our expectations. Huxley defies the creative boundaries imposed by manmade genres and forms Blurred, a cohesive 12 track album that fills your speakers with housey, deep n dubby, techno, nu jungle, breaks, R&Besque and soulful sounds. Blurred can now be purchased here.
“Last summer I wrote an album and I hated it…. well, I didn’t hate it but it sounded a bit too much of what I’ve previously released. I just took a step back and realized what I like listening to now which is songs with a few more experimental elements that sound more interesting. I tried to do my take on that, which is why it’s called Blurred… because it’s all a mish mash of my influences and what I’ve been into throughout the years.”
Last week Huxley played CODA in Toronto, the only Canadian stop on his mini North American tour. Not missing a beat, we were excited to talk to him during such a pivotal time of his career.
Some of the tracks on Blurred, like “Broken Dreams”, sound as if there’s focus on lyrical content. Was there any message you wanted to portray through your music as well?
I have to be completely honest; I’m not the deepest of people when it comes to that kind of thing. For me to say I’ve had broken dreams is kind of a weird situation because I’m doing exactly what I want. But if that’s how you’ve read into it in terms of seeing it in the wider scale, that’s great, I want people to read into my music. I think music especially in dance music, has lost the idea of it being an art form and I think that we need to get that back a little bit.
Everyone does listen to music differently, maybe you don’t find yourself to be that deep of a person but Blurred does come across as having social commentary.
I guess maybe I’m deeper than I think. I’ve never been comfortable speaking about those things but maybe when I am sitting on my own in a room making music it kind of comes across a bit more.
What kept you persevering to the place you are now? Obviously when people start out there is such harsh criticism, you can be ignored and maybe lose self-faith. How do you keep moving forward?
I think the way I got through it was I had a very set dream of what I wanted to do. I got used to criticism quite early actually because I used to use a lot of internet forums, you would put a track up on there and then everyone would just tear it down and you basically just had to learn to live with it. I was living at home until I was 25, 26, because I couldn’t afford to move out. I was just lucky that when I didn’t have a side job my parents were able to feed and clothe me and like water me, basically. I had a couple of shitty jobs here and there.
What shitty jobs did you have?
I worked in a customer call centre for electrical retail goods trying to help people who had problems with the products and if you know me, I’m not very good at that. They would call in and be like “Yeah Yeah what are you going to do about it?” and I’d be like… “Nothing”.
Sorry can’t help you there!
And actually just before it all started happening for me, I started sending CV’s out and thought, right okay now I’m going to actually have to go out into the real world and get a real job. But then Let It Go happened and I decided that I was alright again. I became a DJ that went from maybe playing once or twice a month for like $250-$300 to someone who was playing eight times a month.
Talking about Aus Music, the label has some of my favorite releases from artists like Glimpse, Bicep, Midland and of course yourself. Last year you already released both Machine and Inkwell EP’s on Aus, what made you chose to release your album on the same label again?
Will came to me originally to do a remix for Simple, which is his other record label. Like you, I was really fucking into the label I was playing everything they released. That was the label I wanted to get on and all my friends were on it like George and Dusky. Working with Will [on Inkwell and Machine EP’s] was really natural he was very honest which is what I love. I like someone who can tell me when something is shit but do it in a good constructive way. We sent the album to Will and he liked it, so it was just kind of a natural step to carry on the relationship. Now Aus is backed by !K7 who has the same reach as any other label and I still get to work with people that I get on with so it’s great.
A lot of DJs mention how they like the radio because you get to play a lot of experimental stuff, what’s your experience with it and your monthly slot at Rinse?
I’ve done radio before, I used to do pirate radio and also university radio where I would talk a lot but that was like depressingly nine, ten years ago. When Rinse came to me and asked me to do the show I wasn’t sure at first because I hadn’t done a radio show in so long. If you listen to those first shows, every time I talk I’m literally like shitting myself.
Rinse used to be a pirate radio station up until 2010, what exactly is the process of running a “Pirate” radio show?
Yeah, Rinse used to actually be one of the only pirates I would listen to back in the day, even though I would be on a couple of others… but you couldn’t really get it in my area so you would have to get someone to tape it. It’s people basically buying antennas and going up on council rooftops to put them up there and they’d have a studio in the shitty council flat. Then people come and seize the antennas, so the guy in charge would have to go to another council block and put another antenna up. It’s just an illegal radio station.
Talking about your label Saints & Sonnets, you’ve released tracks by Detroit Swindle and D’Julz.
Funny enough it’s me and a guy called James Huxley. We met at a party in Berlin and ended up getting pretty… ‘Berlined’ together. We just kept in touch and have a good working relationship together. In terms of our A&R it is pretty strong. We actually released Detroit Swindle’s first ever record and did Secondcity’s first ever release. Actually the majority of the releases we’ve done apart from a couple have been new artists, like Three Bar and Owen Westlake are our next guys, I’ve been playing both those artists everywhere.
I feel like because people love your productions and DJ sets we will gladly trust your A&R for a label as well….
I’m starting another label, which I think is going to be a big project. It’s me and J.Phlip, we already have a really big remixer on there who I can’t say… but it is going to be pretty cool.
Speaking of song selection, what are the top three tracks you are excited to play in your next set?
Owen Westlake- What you made me [Saints & Sonnets]
Squirt (Ron Costa remix)- David Amo & Julio Navas
Q-Tip- Eats Everything
Huxley has thrown down an Essential Mix, which will drop tomorrow morning on BBC RADIO 1. Stay Tuned!