Local DJ/Producer Oxymoron, aka Alex Henkens, has become known for his unique nu-disco and funk house sound. Many of you may be well aware of Alex as being half of the popular trance duo, Frequent Flyer Miles. Recently however, Alex has departed from the realm of trance to focus on his newest passion and latest project, Oxymoron.
Whether Alex is playing an old-school rave or a beach party, he always brings that passion with him. His recent success includes his track, Disco Nap, which just released September 20 on Build It records, alongside another local favorite, Allen Oh. He also has an upcoming show with his Frequent Flyer Miles partner Derrick Gennrich at Studio 7 on October 7th. DMNW had the opportunity to talk with Alex about his latest endeavor, his production style, music, and what it means to him to be Oxymoron, making music that inspires him everyday.
Time With Frequent Flyer Miles and the Inception of Oxymoron
Most people are familiar with you as one half of the trance duo Frequent Flyer Miles alongside your good friend Derrick Gennrich, but your latest venture Oxymoron is a departure from the realm of trance into nu-disco and funk, what brought about this change in direction?
Alex Henkens: FFM (Frequent Flyer Miles) actually started as a solo project for about 3 years until I asked Derrick if he wanted to join. What we created in the year that we did it together was something very special, touring multiple states, playing multiple times a month, new years eve gigs etc, it was really special. But something was missing for me, As much as I love the trance community, the spark had honestly disappeared, I didn’t really get that warm feeling from trance anymore, I felt it was honestly unfair, to not only me but to Derrick at that time to continue trying to produce music, I just didn’t have enjoyment for it anymore.
Where did your interest in nu-disco and funk first originate?
AH: About 3 years ago, I found this remix competition, and this guys artist name was Me and My Toothbrush, and I was like “who does this guy think he is”. So I played his submission, and it was the best house, funk disco remix I ever heard. I didn’t even know people made that kind of music, or that it even existed. Now hes on the label with Nora En Pure, Croatia Squad and EDX, who are some of my inspirations as well.
Aside from Nora En Pure, and Me and My Toothbrush who else inspired the Oxymoron sound? Why Nu-disco and funk?
AH: I have been listening to Nu Disco and funk for about 3 years actually, I found myself at most music festivals not even going to the trance stage, I found myself emerged in it, and it is something that truly has made me fall in love with music all over again. Anything off of Enormous Tunes right now is REALLY hitting the spot for me. But at the same time Sam Feldt is pretty big for me too, I was loking for this to be a fusion between some good deep piano house, and the live sax that Sam uses in basically all of his sets and or tracks.
Where did the inspiration for your moniker “Oxymoron” come from, and how does that influence the music you produce?
AH: FFM and Oxymoron have a lot more in common than people may think as far as the marketing strategy went. All of my tracks under FFM were flight related, The Journey, Coming Home, etc. I wanted the same for Oxymoron, something easy to relate to, along with simple marketing, so all the track names are Oxymorons, including the monthly podcast Big Fish Radio.
Production, Success, Inspiration, and the Future of Oxymoron
Your latest track, Disco Nap was just signed to major label Build-It Records, want to give us some details about your latest track, your major influence for it, and your production process?
AH: The production process was a long one for me, I didn’t think it would be as hard as it was to go from trance to house, it’s actually a very different process, the sounds are much more “natural” you aren’t relying on super synth basslines or plucks. I basically found out that deep house, needs to be super crisp and punchy, the drum line, and the hi-hat make ALL the difference. You can hear the sample on Beatport, and purchase the full version here.
What’s next for Oxymoron now that you’ve successfully signed your track to Build-It?
AH: I have another track in the works, going to try and push out one a month, maybe 2, I try and keep it simple, and not spam tracks out, I want them to be professional and thought out!
What’s one song you’ve written or produced that just came out of nowhere? Any inspiration come to you while you were staring into the toaster or washing your car?
AH: I’ll admit that the reason it normally takes me so long to make a track is that finding inspiration, or even time, is a huge factor. I normally have to be in the right mindset, mood, maybe have a beer in hand. I wish I got inspiration from staring in a microwave but, I’ve heard that could be bad for you!
What do you think about while your onstage and performing?
AH: There’s a lot to think about actually, I really try and craft a set in front of people, so I always have my CD folders on me (yes I play CDs). I think being able to kind of play to a crowd, taking your surroundings in, and making sure you’re not over playing it really helps create a more enjoyable experience for everyone. You got to feed off the crowd and let them feed off your energy.
Advice from Alex
Any advice for current or future musicians about how to be authentic to themselves AND make great music?
AH: I would say if you”re just starting out, and you finish a track, go play it on your at home setup with similar tracks. Does it mix in? Does it work? Or does the volume dip, does it not sound “wide” enough, or kick hard enough, or is the break to long? I would say don’t get discouraged, but also don’t make excuses, don’t tell yourself “eh its not what I want, but its good enough.” If you can hear the imperfections, the labels can hear it too. Lastly find yourself some really good friends, people who have some movement out there, and ask for their input. And DON’T get offended at the criticism, they are trying to help. I’m always trying to help.
Anything else you’d like to say to our audience?
AH: I just would like to thank you guys at DMNW for this amazing opportunity. I hope I was sufficient enough to answer questions so that we can all learn from this article, and that people may feel inspired on their own journeys with music.
Whether you’re a fan of Alex’s trance or are digging his nu-disco vibes, it’s apparent how much talent this local artist has. Paired with his humble nature and desire to help those around him fulfill their own musical aspirations, you have a DJ and producer that truly shines.
His new track, Disco Nap, is out now on Beatport; give it a listen and if you like maybe buy your own copy to support a rising star in our local community. For all other information or to keep abreast of Alex’s upcoming releases and shows, be sure and like/follow him on Facebook and Soundcloud, or simply send him a friend request. Odds are, he’ll be happy to chat about music production or answer any burning questions you may have!