As one of the tropical prodigies mentioned in my earlier article, Paxel is on the verge of a big breakthrough. Releasing his first official remix for everyone to hear tomorrow, I figured it was about the right time to have a chat with this talented producer.
24-year old Pierre-Axel has built quite a name for himself over the last year. Speaking of names, if you're a smart reader you should've guessed how he picked his by now. If not, you can at least learn everything else about him below!
First of all, could you take us through a typical day in the life of Paxel?
Well, I’m a dental student in Bordeaux, France. It’s my last year of study, so in less than one year, you can call me Dr Paxel, haha! You can be sure that I’ll take care of teeth in music! So basically, I have some courses at the university and I work at the hospital, and hang out with friends.
Only 14 months ago that I saw you post “Kingal” on SoundCloud. What happened before that, and why Tropical House?
Well, I play the piano since the age of 5. I used to play drums in some rock bands when I was in high school, that was a very fun time! Producing music with software is something very new for me, because I started trying to produce only two months before Kingal was released. Before that, I used to jam and compose a lot of music on my piano, but simply for myself. I just love sitting in front of my piano and simply playing around some chords.
Tropical House is the start of everything for me, because it made me want to produce. Thanks to some big stars now, like Kygo or Matoma, who were my very first inspiration. I loved their sounds (I still love it even more!), though they were less known when I discovered them. It was at this time I started to learn how to use Logic Pro X, I watched a ton of videos on Youtube! My first trials of making a beat were a bit difficult, haha!
Which artists have inspired you along the way, and which are your current favourite tracks?
At the beginning there were all the tropical house stars: guys like Matoma, Kygo, Thomas Jack, Klingande and Viceroy. Then I moved to something more Deep House-ish, with producers like Sam Feldt, Michael Calfan, Oliver Heldens etc. And now I really like the music from Flume (who I didn’t know very well at the beginning), Vanic, FKJ, Louis The Child, Gryffin, Darius, The Chainsmokers, etc. Here's a playlist of my current favourite tracks:
In your latest releases you’re showing more and more variety, infusing deep house and some trap/chillstep influences. How did this evolve?
Yes, exactly! That’s nice to notice! Indeed, my style evolves, I don’t want to be stuck in one particular genre. In fact I really love all kind of music, from classical music to hard rock and from tropical house to hard core future. Over time I wanted to give more emotions to my music, and this made me move to some trap/chillstep influences and sounds. I’m not ashamed of trop house at all! But I think that it’s time to move forward, explore new genres :)
The result of this is a very impressive official Ultra Music release on Steve James’ epic track “Renaissance”. How did everything fall into place?
Thank you! It means a lot! I received that amazing opportunity from Steve James’ team, I know one of his managers since I released Kingal on SoundCloud. He that if I wanted, I could remix his track! I said yes instantly. Steve’s track is very impressive and powerful. So I started making this remix, I just kept the voice and the marimba that you can hear at the beginning. For the rest of the track I started from scratch. I didn’t have any guidelines, so I wanted to make a kind of future bass track mixed with both tropical and pop elements in it. At this time I started to listen a lot of future bass tracks by Flume, Louis The Child, Mazde, Odesza, etc. So, obviously, they were an influence in my process of remixing the track. I’m so much thankful for the release on Ultra Music, it’s a dream coming true!
Speaking of remixes, until now your remixes have been more popular than your originals. How do you see this balance?
Interesting question! I think it’s actually a fact for most of the producers: remixes are more popular than originals. Because people know the original artist and/or track already, it’s easier for them to listen to it instantly. Indeed, it’s more difficult to create a hit with an original track. Partly because you start from scratch, but that’s not the main difficulty. When I remix a track, I always start from scratch, I just keep the vocal and obviously the chords when there is a melody in the vocals.
For all my Hip-Hop remixes (Biggie, Will Smith, and recently, 50 CENT and Ice Cube), I created an original melody and beat. I think that it’s very important to do both of them. Remixes help you to be recognized and known by a lot of people, while originals let you exprime everything you want to. And, true fact: good singers are not easy to find at all, haha! That’s the main difficulty for original tracks I think! Expect to hear both remixes and originals in the future. There will be Future House, Future Bass/Chillstep and Deep House club originals ;)
The life of a DJ is not just producing. Fortunately. How is the gig and festival life going?
I have had and have the chance to play at many gigs (besides Klingande for instance) in France and London as well. It’s just awesome to meet people who love and listen to your music! It’s just whaouuuu! I’m planning to play at some gigs this summer, we’ll see in a few months ;)
A life of only producing, or a life of only DJ’ing?
Producing! I’m a musician first!
Not such a tough question apparently. Maybe this one: pick any producer and/or a singer to create a track with. Who would it be?
Matoma! This guy is so humble, so talented! I have had the chance to meet him, both him and his family and friends are awesome!
What is the best response you’ve received to your music so far?
I’m so thankful for what happens to me right now, I’m just happy with all the response I get, even the little ones! Being supported and followed by stars like Robin Schulz, Sam Feldt, getting tracks played by Matoma, being signed on Ultra Music. etc. I’m in a dream right now! I could not be more grateful! :D