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Soma's Alex Smoke On Choir Singing & Clean-living

Author: Jonty Skrufff
Sunday, March 6, 2005
"I used to smoke in the past but no longer, and I can't smoke the other stuff either because it makes me ill, really sick. Even two draws and I'm away, it's not my thing at all; I can't do it. It's probably just as well right now because otherwise I would sink into a stupor and never recover.""

Charting down the line from his Glaswegian headquarters, hotly tipped tech-house-electronic producer Alex Smoke, 25, admits he finds it difficult living up to his name.

"I used to be teetotal, until about a two years ago, I mean I drank at school and stuff, I wasn't hardcore teetotal or anything, but I just didn't drink for a good four years, I suppose, after I left school. I still don't drink heavily, I don't like downers, I don't like anything that makes me less alert. I'm a wee (little) bit hyper," he suggests.

He's also aware that his clean-living lifestyle makes something of a "weirdo' amongst regular Scotsmen, such as the soccer loving father of his girlfriend.

"I met my girlfriend's dad and he was just like that; he was like "get out of my house' because I don't like football either," Alex chuckles. "He was watching the football with a can of beer and he was like "you want a beer- You want to watch football-' When I said "no I don't really follow football and I don't want a beer, thanks', he was like "fuck it.'

What he occupies his time with instead is electronic music, and after releasing a stream of singles and remixes he's recently just completed his debut album for Soma Records Incommunicado. Described as "proper techno that's not boring' by Black Strobe and "dope' by James Holden, the album is an impressive collection of listenable electronica that will appeal to a far wider audience than the Soma faithful (who'll love it). For Alex, it's his first serious statement of intent.

"For me it was always going to be more about albums than singles, with the emphasis more on electronic music, as opposed to dance music. That was my preference, anyway. When you have a good album, each song leads onto the next, and when you hear one song on its own, you can't listen to ii without imagining the next one that comes after it on the album."

Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff): Are you someone who makes hundreds of tracks, or are you painstakingly making them one by one-

Alex Smoke: "I do make quite a lot of tracks, but it's more just because of the amount of time I spend doing it. For this album it was a question of just picking out the best from the last few years and putting them together in some kind of context."

Skrufff: Am I right in thinking you still work a day job-

Alex Smoke: "Yeah, I'm still holding that down at the moment, but not for too much longer.I'm working in my friends' interior design shop in Glasgow. I sit by the desk and watch films on the computer all day- it's hellishly difficult. It couldn't be much better for me as a job, I'm a really lazy guy, I hate working in the real sense of the word so it's ideal."

Skrufff: You previously studied zoology at university, did you make a decision to jack it all in and say, I'm going to make a living from music-

Alex Smoke: "That's pretty much the sum total of it, yeah. I was doing zoology at Glasgow, and reached the conclusion that I hate doing academic work, it's just such a struggle, a total pain. I took zoology because I love natural history and I love the natural world, but I realized that while I loved those things, there was no way I wanted a job doing them. I didn't even get as far as going to zoos because I quit the course after a year and a half, so it was all classroom stuff and labs. I was studying aquatic bio-science, environmental sciences and some microbiology, stuff like that. It was interesting on one level, but on another level I had to do essays on it, so I was like "fuck that'."

Skrufff: You used to sing at Durham church choir as a kid, what age were you then-

Alex Smoke: "I was nine when I first wen