Sep 16, 2012
Alvin Risk

Alvin Risk has run the gamut of genres in his short but illustrious career. After his performance at Electric Zoo in NYC, Alvin spoke with us about how he constructs everything in his sets to bring the most energy possible, from the visuals to the versatile track selection.

Alvin Risk - Psychotic (Original Mix) [Dim Mak]
LessThan3: You’ve defined your sound as one that spans many genres. What would you say is your favorite tempo to play?
Alvin: What gets the best reaction is changing from one tempo to another. It’s that surprise, when someone is comfortable where they’re at and then something unexpected happens, that elicits that “Oh sh*t!” moment. If you can get a drop and have an “Oh sh*t” on top of the drop, it makes it twice as powerful. That’s why when you do double drops, like two tunes at the same time, that kills it.
LessThan3: Speaking of different genres and the double drop, you’ve done some drum’n’bass work in the past. Anything from that side of the spectrum coming in the future?
Alvin: Yeah, I have three that are sitting around that are all Alvin Risk originals. One is out called One–it’s on Black Sun Empire’s label. That was with this guy Bulletproof from New Zealand. I also did another one that’s really weird that I play sometimes, mostly afterhours when people seem like they’re ready for something bizarre. I’m also working on a drumstep remix right now with drum’n’bass parts in it.
LessThan3: Your argyle sweater and glasses give you a very distinct look. Did you feel it was important to start a visual brand) that people can recognize in tandem with your sound?
Alvin: I did this kid’s show, Yo Gabba Gabba, right when I started getting into the pattern motif. Like when you look at a city overhead and you see the grid and the patterns, I was really into that, so I wanted something like that. Black and white are my two favorite colors, so I wore that type of pattern during this Yo Gabba Gabba group photo with all these characters in huge neon-colored suits. In that picture, the first thing you see is this black and white pattern, and I was like “that’s it.”
LessThan3: Do you have any input on the visuals during your sets?
Alvin: Yes–I’m really into design, things like gaming and the behind-the-scenes work that is truly art but at the same time is very technical. For the Kaskade tour we did full production and made a big video wall, and then I designed and programmed all of the content. When you go see a show and it has that extra touch, that “wow” factor, usually the artist is involved in ways beyond the music. Guys like Feed Me and Nero are really next-level with this stuff. All these little details that make a show really amazing ultimately come down to the artist, so when you pay attention to the small things you get a really incredible show.
LessThan3: You mentioned before that you got your argyle inspiration from a cityscape, so we wanted to ask you about your track Cities from the OWSLA compilation, which we think is one of your defining songs because it’s so different. What inspired this downtempo feel?
Alvin: I actually have a lot of songs that are like Cities, so it’s all about having an avenue to put those things out on. OWSLA put out this great free compilation where things could be a bit deeper and I felt that Cities was perfect for that. If you played the track here at Electric Zoo, maybe you could open with it or play it as the last track, but it’s more like something that you’re going to listen to at home. Guys like Tipper, Culprate, Girl Unit, and a lot of others are making sick, cutting-edge productions and sound design that are not anything like our definitions of EDM, but still are excellent listening music. You need that variety.
LessThan3: If the world were ending in LessThan3 minutes, and you had an iPod with every song ever made on it, what would you listen to?
Alvin: Videotape by Radiohead.
LessThan3: Describe your sound in LessThan3 words.
Alvin: I don’t know.
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