Waifs & Strays
From running warehouse raves to his tracks being played on Radio 1, Alexis Raphael is the epitome of a modern DJ. “I’ve lived and breathed this music all my life,” says Alexis. “Nothing else matters.”
Alexis’s love of electronic music ignited in the early 90s as he immersed himself in the heyday of London rave culture. Countless hours on the dancefloor were his apprenticeship as a DJ, giving him a clubber’s view of how music can move a crowd, what works, and what stirs the soul. Inspired by the way music brings people together on equal ground, Alexis began his own musical career on London’s (in)famous pirate radio network. “That’s where I learned to build a set,” he says. It was also where he built a vinyl collection that ranges from Chicago house and Detroit techno to early drum ‘n’ bass, and UK house & garage.
His days of ducking the law are over, but Alexis has never lost his passion, or his intuitive connection with the audience. Creating ultra-modern sets with a “definite retro feel”, he mixes everything from classic Chicago house to contemporary deep house, fused and injected with splashes of techno, funk, 80s or even a bit of disco. There are no rules in his world, just a simple guideline: play the music he likes and hopefully people will dig it. This principle has made Alexis one of London’s most renowned DJs stamping his mark on the capital’s 21st century electronic soundscape. But It’s not only London where Alexis has made an impact. His productions, including ‘Spaceship’ (Hot Waves), ‘Kitchens & Bedrooms’ (Lower East), and Into The Light (Hot Creations), ooze confidence, individuality and brilliantly articulate the joy and effervescent energy of the dance floor. And it’s this music that has brought him international acclaim and seen him DJing to the far corners of the world, from Europe to North Africa, to tours of North and South America and beyond.
Alexis, along with musical partner Cozzy D, is also a promoter and founder of the hugely successful Crèche, a party that swept London and is set to take over Ibiza in 2012. Crèche is just one of many outlets for Alexis’s restless creative talent. Always eager to reach new ears,
Alexis is ultimately a fervent evangelist for the music and culture that shaped his life. “I don’t do elitist, or pretentious,” he says, “If you have a smile on your face, you belong in the rave. That’s how this thing started out.” And how it will continue – as long as Alexis is behind the decks.
Waifs & Strays are a duo born out of diverse musical backgrounds but brought together by a love of house music, pure and simple.
A decade in house music has seen one of the two promote and DJ at some of Bristol’s most influential parties, including the infamous superclub, Scream. In addition he has played across the UK and Europe, with virtually every big name DJ you care to mention, holding residencies at some of dance music’s most influential parties including The Rock in Bristol and the legendary Escape in Swansea.
The other took a different path, first cutting his teeth in the world of jungle and drum ‘n’ bass, before finding himself at the heart of the fledgling dubstep scene, Producing under his ‘Soundbox Productions’ moniker and releasing on various labels including dubstep giant Boka Records, a chance meeting on Bristol’s after-party circuit saw this duo’s diverse musical backgrounds brought together to create the effortlessly eclectic and undeniably unique sound of Waifs & Strays.
Their debut track – 2010’s late night ‘3am’ – was rapidly snapped up for Matt Tolfrey’s Leftroom imprint, and set the benchmark high for future success; featuring in DJ Mag’s essential releases, and picking up props from major players including Luciano, DJ T, Anja Schneider, dOP, Danny Tenaglia and Laurent Garnier.
The follow-up record ‘Yeah Yeah’, gathered significant international support following its debut at the last year’s Detroit Music Conference, smashing dancefloors from Fabric to Watergate. With Heidi calling it ‘the dirtiest house track I have heard in a very long time’ and featuring it on her Radio1 show, and set to be one of the must-have releases of 2011.
2011 sees tracks and remixes forthcoming on the likes of Get Physical, Hot Creations, Leftroom and Futureboogie, including exclusive cuts for the ‘Five Years Of Leftroom’ and Heidi’s hotly-anticipated ‘Jackathon’ compilations, and with a residency at Bristol’s super-hot after-ours The Breakfast Club, it’s time to take in some Waifs & Strays.