Today we shine the spotlight on Alex Bouché, CEO and Founder of DX Seven Collective, a vinyl-only record label that also offers merchandise and management services. We at Mirror80 have been wanting to write about New-Retro Wave for as long as we can remember, as many of our readers are fans of this ’80s-inspired music that often channels the synthesizer-driven soundtracks of our favorite decade. We couldn’t think of anyone better to elaborate on New-Retro Wave than Alex Bouché, a true pioneer of this genre who has cultivated one of the first labels in the New-Retro scene that emphasizes physical releases (rather than digital ones).
This year promises to be a big one for DX Seven, thanks to a fresh roster and some amazing projects in the works. Eager to learn more about this label and experience New-Retro Wave for yourself? Check out all the details below, and be sure to visit DX Seven on Facebook and Twitter.
1. Let’s talk beginnings! Tell us about your inspiration for starting the DX Seven Collective label, as well as your commitment to vinyl…
It all started back in early 2011 when one of my best friends wanted to release some music. One night we were out having beer (yes, we are Vikings and we drink lots of beer) and we began talking about certain genres of music having to struggle to find a platform. Growing up with my dad’s vinyl collection, I’ve always been amazed by vinyls, the packaging, design and sonic qualities. So, after that night I kind of started playing with the idea for a vinyl-only indie label. That night triggered the idea at least.
My education is in art, design and marketing, and aside from running DX Seven, I’m the manager for a convenience store, so I know my way around the logistics of running a business as well as fancy SWOT and industry analysis.
So my friend helped me to get into the “music business 101″, introducing me to various people. After the first release in 2011 and getting to know the “backside” of the industry, I got the feeling of there being lots of talk, cheap deals for artists, and very little physical releases. And especially since the rise of streaming services. I remember when Spotify hit the Norwegian market, I felt cheated. You can say that it brought me closer to the vision I have today with DX Seven Collective: Offering limited-edition vinyls and high quality clothing, both with close attention to detail, just like some of the stuff that blew you away when you put your first record on, dove into it and explored every layer.
Oh, and I designed the DX Seven logo (shown above), which is sort of a cheeky rip-off from the iconic 80’s FM synthesizer with the same name (Yamaha DX7).
2. ’80s revival. ’80s throwback. New-Retro Wave. The music has many names. For those who are new to the genre, how would you describe the music featured by your label?
We are currently building our roster, so we are putting a lot of energy into Mitch Murder and Nite Sprite. We will stay “true” to the types of genres they represent, since they are our flagship artists. There’s always the genre debate going on, but basically it’s 80’s-inspired music made today. Sometimes with a modern/futuristic touch, sometimes it’s really authentic. Regardless, I think some artists/producers can get entangled within these genre terms. To me, being a total fanatic music lover, I appreciate new indie music that is seasoned by 80’s aspects of any kind. Whether it’s called outrun, new wave or futuristic-cinematic-throwback-wavetable-miami-horror-space-synthpop-voyager-funkadelic-boombox-cheese (the jury’s still out on the official genre name for this type of music).
3. When did New-Retro tracks first begin making waves? When did you know you wanted to be a part of this ’80s music revival?
Growing up listening to progressive rock, fusion, jazz and funk, my first personal experience with electronic music must have been back in the early 90’s, when I heard Chick Corea’s Spanish Heart for the first time after digging through my dad’s vinyls. After that it kind of evolved into everything from The Prodigy to Outkast. Then in 2003, Xploding Plastix’s album The Donca Matic Singalongs started to mess with my head. The solo on “Famous Biting Guy” brought me back to my childhood memories of SEGA/NES video games, and I kept searching for music that could bring parts of my lost childhood back. So I got into heavier electro. The French scene was coming along. Daft Punk was doing awesome, Justice followed. I was this dude spending too much time on MySpace. When I look back, I think it was 2007, when I first heard Minitel Rose, that the first 80’s associations awakened in me (besides Chick Corea Electric Band, who I’d heard long before that).
I first heard Mitch Murder on myspace in 2009, but I wasn’t too receptive to it unfortunately, so it wasn’t until 2011 that I got the chance to fall in love with his amazing “lost childhood infused with emotions translated into authentic fu&#^%* tunes”-style. I sort of knew then that this was something that was going to last for some time. Sort of got stuck in my heart.
4. Tell us about your work with Mitch Murder… What distinguishes this musician from other New-Retro Wave artists?
To me, Mitch Murder is the godfather and pioneer within the modern 80’s revival scene. He has a way of making you cry, laugh and jump while getting goose bumps at the same time. After he and Nite Sprite collaborated, I sort of felt that he wasn’t receiving the love he deserved. So I suggested a small run of a limited edition “80’s-styled” Mitch Murder t-shirts of his choice. We quickly agreed on a design, and in 2012 we screen-printed the first 50 shirts. I heavily enjoyed the process, though it was extremely hectic for me doing everything on my own. Since then we have been chatting about various ideas, and we printed a second batch of t-shirts. I try to work as close as possible with him, despite the fact that we are in different countries. All the shirts are sold out as we speak, but you can still find both the “making of” videos below, check them out!
5. Let’s talk more about DX Seven. What’s in store for 2014?
We have a special line-up this year! Currently our main focus is getting the website up, which will look awesome once it’s done. Its been a slow process, but hopefully it will be up and running a.s.a.p. We are expanding our field and are trying to get our international friends more involved, so big up to them! Movies, indie-games and touring are a few things we’re working on at the moment, and on the music front we’ll have singles, EP’s and albums. Digital and of course vinyl, which will be our first priority for the album releases. Also, new merchandise will hit the shop, with some awesome limited-edition sweaters and toys, among other things. I really want to elaborate on this subject, but surprises work best when you don’t know what’s coming!
6. Speaking of merchandise, your commitment to ’80s-style graphic design is impressive. Anything new in the works that you’d like to talk about (from an art and design perspective)?
Thank you! We spend quite some time on everything we want to put out. It’s important for me that everything we do feels hand-made and well thought through. (Moms home-cooking tastes better cause she has this touch of love, you know?) As I mentioned earlier, we are planning a lot of merchandise. Did I mention screen-printed posters and stickers (which we already have but there will be more) as well?
7. Why do you think New-Retro Wave has resonated with so many people? Do you find the majority of fans to be older and in search of nostalgia, or younger and experiencing the music for the first time?
I think both. The scene ranges from ≈16-35+ in age, so I think there are people coming for the nostalgia, but also younger generations that discover and fall in love with it for its musical qualities.
8. Tell us about your favorite…
’80s music: That’s a hard one. I really can’t say because there’s so much! I do find myself putting Scritti Politti on repeat though. This perfect MIDI-rack sophisti-pop was produced by Green Gartside (the vocalist), and there’s something unbelievably mesmerizing about their two albums from ’85 and ’88. Let me put it like this–It’s not often I’m all over eBay ordering the vinyls moments after hearing a couple of songs for the first time.
’80s movies: Again, this is difficult. I’m into sci-fi, action, drama, adventure, thrillers and horror. B-movies are great too. Everything from the Italian/American “bad” movies with great soundtracks like Cut & Run, Beast, etc. Blade Runner and Thief are obvious classics. As a child I couldn’t get enough of the Ninja Master movies starring Lee Van Cleef – they resulted in me having my own ninja-club and going out after 11pm to fight crime. It always ended up with us going back home and falling asleep in our suits. I’m a huge fan of Robocop as well. Had all the movies on VHS!
’80s television shows: I grew up with a television with very few channels. We always rented a VHS player when we wanted to watch movies. The Master (TV Series) with Lee Van Cleef was again awesome. I was also a sucker for bad soap operas like The Bold And The Beautiful and later Sunset Beach (hah!). Action/adventure has always been close to my heart, and cop stuff! Magnum PI was super cool. I’ve recently rediscovered series like Automan and Manimal. I’m probably forgetting stuff here. Twin Peaks for example…
’80s design motifs: I adore the Memphis-Milano movement. Can’t get enough of it! Also 80s video-game box art and 80s movie posters/VHS covers! There’s so much!
9. Any predictions for new directions that New-Retro Wave will take in the future?
Difficult to say. I think the scene will stay around for a long long time, if not forever. We’ve only explored maybe 2% of the 80’s era as inspiration. I think people will dig deeper (or I hope they will) and realize all these sub-genres and styles available that can help develop new and interesting directions. I feel like there are loads of unexplored combinations still. It’s endless! We’ve got a lot of outrun/synthwave sounding identical now, so I hope to see artists in the scene reaching for a stronger personality and a more unique approach.
10. Speaking of the future, what are your long-term goals for DX Seven?
Expanding! Right now we are looking into Japan. Our philosophy is love. We do it because we want to offer something unique to the market. We don’t expect to make tons of money, which has never been the goal anyway. Everyone involved in DX Seven Collective has full-time jobs, so we do it purely out of love for physical releases and merchandise. We also try to offer the best “deals” to the artists we host. No 50/50 split. 100% for the artist ideally!
We are looking to expand our roster, so if you know any awesome artists you think would fit, send us an email! We love to hear new music! Aside from that, we have a lot cooking at the moment. So keep an eye out, lots of exciting stuff will emerge this year and the next!
I would like to thank you for this interview, and give a shout out to some wonderful people: Mitch Murder, Nite Sprite, Toddy illustration, Jarred Hageman, Zack for the spiritual guidance, Mike & Rhattz, Ion Drimba (our head of tech), Marta from STAR and Ashley Stubbert for being an awesome wanker. Julian from our PR in London, Ruben in Brilliance Records and everyone I forgot, you know who you are and I love you!
Thank you for being willing to visit with Mirror80, Alex. It’s been an honor!
I adore that you did this interview.