Meet Huxley, a British dance producer who works somewhere between the worlds of house, techno and garage in his DJ sets, EP releases and now on debut LP proper Blurred.

Jim Ottewill
  • By Jim Ottewill
  • 17 Nov 2014
  • min read
Huxley aka Michael Dodman is one of the hardest working producers and DJs out there.

Originally weaned on a classic British diet of house, garage and techno, he’s continually buffing his sound via increasingly high profile DJ sets and a steady string of well received singles and EPs. Huxley has plunged his beats deeper and wider to incorporate more of his influences through releases for some of electronic music’s best loved imprints including Tsuba, Morris Audio, Fear of Flying, Hypercolour and 20:20 Vision.

His recently released debut album - Blurred - is the most complete rendering of his aesthetic to date, showing off real songwriting acumen and the potential for crossover success. Vocal collaborations with Yasmin (who has hit the charts working with Gorgon City) and FEMME aka Laura Bettinson (a vocalist in Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich's band, Ultraísta) demonstrate a sense of ambition which sets him apart from his peers. Throw in a musical connection and collaboration with Roger Sanchez and it’s obvious just how respected and burgeoning Huxley's talent is. We get to know him and his beats in our interview below…

What were your first musical experiences?

My very first ones were listening to my dad’s old records; Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, Jackson Brown, that sort of thing. My first concert was a Phil Collins gig. A long time ago when I was about 11. My first dance music experiences were when I was about 12 and started listening to old school happy hardcore and drum'n'bass.

Drum'n'bass was the first electronic music I actually DJed and tried to make, badly when I was younger. I moved onto garage and house music from there.

How did you start making your own music?

Back in the day I learnt my trade by watching my brother mess around on Impulse Tracker, which was an old DOS programme. I cut my teeth on that a little bit. I probably started messing around on it when I was 14, 15. Then moved from there to Reason, then to Logic and I’ve been using that ever since. It’s always been in the box, but now I’ve started using a bit more hardware.

Did you always want to make your own music?

I learnt the guitar when I was really young and didn’t really get on with it to be honest. Then got some decks and it stemmed from there. My brother used to make music and that inspired me to want to get into it. For a few years, production was my main focus, I didn’t really DJ at that point. Even at Uni I probably only played out a handful of times. I was much more of a producer than a DJ. It’s levelled back out now.

What was your first big break?

I was kind of half doing it as a job from when I was 18 and I released my first record. This was when you could still sell vinyl. It was around 2011, 2012 when it became a full time venture. I released Let It Go – at that time people started getting into the music I was making and my DJing. That track made it so I was suddenly getting booked ten times a month. It was a real turning point.

What was the thinking behind making a whole artist album?

I wanted to do an album for years but never quite felt ready. I always felt I would put too much pressure on myself to write in one way or another. For this, I went back to writing songs, music I wanted to listen to and not worry too much about genre and just get on it. To be fair I did write an album before but I scrapped the majority of it, as it just felt a little bit forced. I wanted to make sure that my progression into making artist albums is something I can look back on and be proud of rather than just make a record people wanted to.

For a long time, I just put four records together which kind of fit. One would be a deeper one and the rest all club tracks. That was how I worked for a long time but it was nice to step back and think about it as an artist rather than just a dance music producer.

How did you approach the collaborations?

To be honest, most of the collabs are with singers so I’d write the music and seek out people who I wanted to work with whether that’s someone whose stuff I’d been into and or who I’d met and liked what they’re about.

Roger Sanchez came to us as he was starting his S Man guise again and he wanted to work with me – which was a bit of a pinch yourself moment as you might imagine. He’s in New York so we started sending music back and forth. Calling came out of that and worked really well. No one was too precious about anything. It all just sat together quite nicely and has led on to us working together on more music as well. Hopefully that’ll be something which continues moving. I never thought I’d get to work with someone who I’ve respected for such a long time.

Was it scary working with him?

Well because it was over the internet, it wasn’t. If I’d sat in a studio with him, then maybe. We’ve since met and played a few B-2-B sets together over the summer in Ibizia. He’s very chilled, very relaxed. Now I reckon I’d be all right but at the time I would have probably shit myself.

Which producers/songwriters did you look to to inform the record?

Probably people like Bonobo, Caribou, even really Flying Lotus. I was listening to these kind of artists a lot although they probably inspired me to write an album rather than inspire me musically. They do the long player thing so well they kind of made me want to do it as well. Alongside that, a lot of soul music too.

What’s next for you?

Production wise I’m doing a couple of remixes, one for Groove Armada. Then looking at writing a few more dancefloor EPs for release next year. There are a couple more projects gearing up but they are under wraps for the moment. I’m trying to keep them secret. 

Do you have any tips for new producers?

I don’t know how wise I am but my thing would be don’t rush into anything and make sure that you’re making what you want to make rather than what someone else wants you to. Don’t just jump at the chance of someone releasing your music. Make sure that it’s the right thing to do. There are so many tin pot labels out there who only care about numbers rather than the music itself. Be ready to wait your turn almost.

How can new artists stand out?

Sometimes the quality of the music doesn’t matter. You have to be very lucky and just be in the right place at the right time. You need to make great music obviously but everyone has their own route of getting into it. There’s no definitive method.

Visit Huxley’s Facebook page to find out more.