Like many of us, Berlin’s Boys Noize (a.k.a. Alex Ridha) got a jump-start on music as a youth thanks to an older sibling with good taste. “When I was about six, I heard old-school rap and house coming from my brother’s room. It must’ve stuck,” Ridha says with a laugh. During his childhood, he took up piano but quickly switched to drums because, as he puts it, “Somehow I was always into beats.” At just 14, Ridha started DJing and producing, playing his first gig two years later (for 500 people) in his hometown of Hamburg.
While he’s been making music ever since, international acclaim didn’t come as quickly as that initial live show. Ridha released the first Boys Noize record, “The Bomb,” on DJ Hell’s Gigolo imprint in 2004, and another on Datapunk a year later, but in minimalist Berlin, folks were slow to pick up on his maximal sound. “After [those records] I didn’t get many bookings,” he says. His style–floor-shaking techno with a distinct club appeal–owes much more to French house than, say, Kompakt. But in 2004, Ridha, a skilled remixer, tweaked a track by a then-barely known Bloc Party. His buoyant reworking of the Brit post-post-punkers’ “Banquet” caught the ear of many notable DJs–including Erol Alkan and Turbo label boss Tiga– and dovetailed with the hype that the band was enjoying. After more production work and thunderous DJ sets, Ridha started his own label, Boysnoize Records, in 2005. Just a few more high-profile remixes (one in particular for Kaiser Chiefs’ “Everyday I Love You Less and Less”) later, Boys Noize had become a hot item on the European club circuit.
Cut to 2007, and things have come full circle from those early obstacles. While Justice and the Ed Banger crew–sonic relatives and close friends of Ridha–garner massive worldwide attention, Boys Noize’s once uncool sound has become all the rage (though Ridha’s the first to point out the differences between his and Justice’s work). And Boys Noize has an excellent new album–a collection of 12-inches, actually–Oi Oi Oi, to accompany his newfound attention. The songs that appear on the record, such as the booming “The Battery” and the anthemic “Let’s Buy Happiness,” are singles that Ridha initially produced for his DJ sets because, as he explains, “I couldn’t find many tracks that I liked enough in the record shop.” Here, they’re bundled into a roaring hour of techno that incorporates Bomb Squad-esque production, Modeselektor-ish glitchiness, and, occasionally, Justice-like distortion. But Boys Noize's sound is all his own–cleaner and harder than that of his French counterparts. And if you haven’t pumped your fists to it already, you will.