Having started the Cassegrain project with Hüseyin Evirgen around six years ago, it wasn’t until 2016 that Alex Tsiridis decided to launch his solo project, Rhyw. Stepping away from the experimental minimal techno sounds of Cassegrain, Rhyw’s style moves towards glitching breakbeat, heavy bass and IDM influenced beats. The Rhyw project launched on Tar Hallow and was shortly followed by a five-track EP ‘Cave Walls (Part One)’ on Shifted’s Avian label. Rhyw’s latest production ‘Biggest Bully’ lands on Fever AM – the label he started with Berlin-based producer Mor Elian in 2017. Since then, they have released five EPs with one only being from an outside producer, Gacha Bakradze. Alex also runs the label Arching Seas under the Cassegrain moniker. For both imprints, Alex designs the artwork and screen prints the designs onto the vinyl covers.
With ‘Biggest Bully’ out now, we catch up with Alex to discuss the decision to launch a solo project, Fever AM and how he manages to stay mentally healthy whilst working on multiple projects.
You launched your Rhyw project in 2016 with an EP on Tar Hallow, why did you decide to pursue a solo project?
I had ideas for different stuff I wanted to make that didn’t fit into the Cassegrain project. It felt like the right time to just start something else alone. It took a while to feel secure on my own again, hard to be sure if something is “good” as I’d been used to making music with Hüseyin (aka Magna Pia, my partner in Cassegrain) for at least 6 years by that point, so there was always someone to bounce off or get re-assurance from. I’m very excited about where things are heading now.
What inspires especially Rhyw specifically?
Humour and surprises, I really look forward to stuff that makes me raise an eyebrow, something that makes you take a step back you know? I’m interested if there’s some kind of idea. Whether it’s a tiny percussive hook that appears once in a while or a big obvious theme from the start, I like to feel some kind of identity. I’m definitely a big fan of quirkiness.
What are some of the most important lessons you learned working in a duo and also work as a solo artist?
Working in a duo is like a relationship – you compromise, agree/ disagree – find a solution that works for you both and feed off each other to create something you wouldn’t be able to do alone. Solo you’re a bachelor, doing whatever you want freely, no one to answer to and in a constant existential crisis!
You’re an alumni of RBMA, meeting your Cassegrain partner Hüseyin at the Barcelona edition, what do you think the impact will be on the scene and breaking through artists now that RBMA is defunct? What do you think we could take away from the Academy and use going forward in order to support and nurture new artists?
There has obviously been a lot of criticism of RBMA, especially the last couple of years it feels like. I totally get the negative comments, but the people who created the Academy are not the owners of Red Bull. I see it like taking big corporate money from above and doing something positive with it. They provided so many artists with a platform, gave hundreds of young producers/musicians the chance to travel and meet other like-minded people, use all sorts of equipment in studios they might have dreamed of. I couldn’t make music for 3 months after that, join back to my laptop (all I used at the time) was… difficult. Also, all the events they put on throughout the year gave a lot of work to performers so I’m sure that’ll leave quite a hole in some areas. Hopefully, the team finds a new sponsor and it all continues in some form.
One of your other ventures is Fever AM, a label you run with Mor Elian, what motivated the launch of this platform and what is the ethos behind it?
It started quite simply, we clicked and realised we had very similar tastes, especially growing up, specific bands, albums. We got excited and combined with the whole “we can put out what we want when we want” thing – it was basically “fuck it, let’s start a label!”. If I remember correctly, the first thing we wanted to present was COLOUR, before talking about any music specifically. We’re still finding our feet, but we’re getting there. Mor is great at A&Ring, she gets excited and is sure of good stuff that comes our way, whereas I tend to overthink a lot, so I’m trying to go with the flow more. I say this when we’ve only released one other artist beside ourselves (Gacha Bakradze – FAM04), but there are lots on the way! I definitely don’t want to it to be a label that does one thing – one style. My favourite labels are ones of which I don’t like every single release. I think it’s important to take some chances and basically have some fun. So the starting point of “colour” I think is starting to show gradually. Warmth, waves, beams were some initial brainstorming words when trying to come up with the name, which should make us an Ibiza chill out label – lets hope we don’t end up there 🙂
How do you both source artists to release on the label? Are you actively digging for new artists or is it friends or via word of mouth?
All of the above. We listen to all demos people send us, we’ve asked people for music – and are really trying not to steal artists from our fave labels! We look for a good personal connection, that’s something important.
You also do all the artwork for the label, what inspires each sleeve? Is there a set theme that you’re sticking too?
There’s no set theme, I just like to keep a cohesive style from one to the next, which will go in phases. I studied Graphic Design and Illustration so it’s an opportunity to go back to it. I write down relevant words based around the EP title, make a bunch of drawings and we end up using the one we like the most. I’ve screen printed all covers myself so far (same goes for Arcing Seas, the label I do with Cassegrain), so the only rule is it has to be one colour, otherwise, I’d be there for days printing.
‘Biggest Bully’ is your second release for the label, did you produce the EP with Fever AM in mind?
To begin with, it was just something new I was excited about. Once I had “Felt” done, I felt – no pun intended – it was strong enough as a two tracker and thought about sending it out and Mor convinced me to put it out on…our label.
What’s the story behind the EP title and is there a particular story or concept behind the release as a whole?
The vocal sample gave the track its title and then the theme/ feel of the whole thing came from that. The artwork and video are based around that. The artwork is a kind of elastic abstract face and the video is basically my face falling apart, including some bruises and blood – being bullied by my beats.
The release is an experimental take on a club focused record – what makes the dance floor a great scenario for you to produce for? Does it come from also being a raver first and foremost and understanding what you enjoy during those moments?
I’d say I’m the opposite in a way. I came from a more experimental, non 4/4 background mostly and literally by accident made my first (minimal, back then) techno EP. It took me a long time to feel confident about making things work in the club. But I’m always trying to find a balance between something that’s interesting to listen to as well as functional.
With the label, art and two music projects, how do you stop yourself from burning out? Have there ever been moments where you’ve felt like you’ve absolutely needed to take a break from it all?
I’m actually a pro-procrastinator so there’s definitely time to do more, in theory. Saying that – exercise is so important I’ve found. It resets you after the feeling of being overwhelmed.
Now we’re heading into summer, what are you looking forward to the most?
Procrastinating some more on an island in Greece 🙂
‘Biggest Bully’ by Rhyw is out now on Fever AM – buy here.