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Alex Tolstey, also known as Alex Boshke, is a producer and DJ whose career in electronic music spans over 25 years. As a founder of Boshke Beats Records, Alex executed more than 250 releases and is renowned in the global trance and techno community. Known for his vision of uniting trance and techno and his work with artists who create fresh fusions in sounds, Alex follows the same visionary direction as IbogaTech in pioneering cross-border electronic music.
Following the success of the first edition of his ‘The Outlaws’ compilation, Alex breaks the law once again with Volume 2, bringing us a selection of 11 stylistically uninhibited, genre-defying tunes. We spoke to him to delve into the release and see what the future holds for both artist and label…
MI4L: Hey Alex, thanks for joining us. You’ve been involved in the music scene for over 20 years – can you let us know your first entry and how you got started?
Cheers for the Lovers of The Music and Music for the Lovers!
My musical journey started at a very young age when I lived in the USSR where we had very limited access to western music, but some of it was still leaking and I loved anything coming from the west. In the ’80s it was mainly disco, pop and heavy metal. I started to play music for my friends at school from reel to reel tapes and later from cassette tapes. I was about 10 years old then.
As for raves, I discovered them much later after I moved to Israel where I grew up as a teenager in the early 90s. There was a huge Goa trance boom at this time, with lots of underground parties happening mainly at the natural open-air sites, forests, deserts etc. I became totally fascinated with this new musical movement and soon I started to play at those parties as well. I was very young at that time, but my music collection was already pretty big so not long after one of the big promoters approached me and asked if I would like to be his DJ for the events he was organizing with Simon Posfrod ( Hallucinogen/Shpongle)… and like that, I became Simon’s warm-up DJ when he came to tour in Israel. The year was 1996…. this is how I had the real entry into the world of DJing, travelling to other countries and performing for big crowds.
MI4L: As the founder of Boshke Beats, you’ve released music from a wealth of artists over the years. Who have been the most notable artists to work with over the years?
For sure it was Extrawelt. Before they were Extrawelt, their project name was Midimiliz. They were just at the start of their musical career releasing their first album. We met at gigs when playing at some parties here and there, swapped some music between us and this brought us together as friends. I really liked their music and was lucky to sign some of their bravest tracks that nobody else at that time understood or knew how to approach. But Boshke Beats Records was always ahead of time, leading the way to psychedelic techno by combining psychedelic trance with techno. The album was a huge success and the world surrendered to their music very fast. It was back in 2000. After some years, about 2004, they started to make different music that was mainly inspired by James Holden’s label Border Community. It didn’t come as a surprise when James signed Extrawelt to his label, and not long after they signed to Cocoon, Traum and success followed.
My main personal inspiration was X-DREAM who are undisputed masters and originators of the sound we really like and whose music I followed since the early 90s. They never branded themselves as a trance or techno act, and their music still remains unique and inspiring. Basically, they inspired ALL artists in the psytrance scene as they invented all the formulas that been followed, copied and overdone by almost every leading artists in trance today. We became friends quite quickly and in short, we started to collaborate (2003 approx), I became their directing manager and we are still working together with one another at this particular moment.
X-DREAM was a huge influence for Extrawelt as well. They were their ‘teachers’ back in the days, much before Extrawlet/Midmiliz started to make their own music. When Mixmag had its 25th anniversary, they released a mix by Laurent Garnier who included our X-Dream “The 1st” release in his special 25 years (2008) selection mix for the magazine, X-Dream’s track was among tracks by Underworld, Sasha, DJ Krust, Carl Craig, LCD Soundsystem etc.
MI4L: Your latest project comes as a curator of Ibogatech’s latest V/A compilation, ‘The Outlaws Vol. 2’. How did your initial contact with the label come about?
Boshke Beats Records was always kind of too brave with the material we picked to release. It was a mixture of trance and techno that in a way was pretty much unique back then. Journalists and media were mostly confused about how to define and label us, so it happened that techno media started to label us as psytrance and trance media said we are doing techno. This made us stay for a very long time out of the media genres and we were ignored by the press. Still, we continued to push our music as we loved what we were doing.
Playing all around the world is an experience that brings lots of people into the picture. I met Iboga guys about 20 years ago, maybe in Japan but I’m not really sure now, I think it was at the first Labyrinth festival in Nagoya in 2002. In 2019 at some festival backstage I was having a chat with Banel about Iboga’s new daughter label Ibogatech and they mentioned they do this techno with a psychedelic twist. I asked if they would like me to do a series of compilations for them, even if I personally find most of their releases much more “melodic house” than psychedelic techno, that was exactly what pushed me to take the challenge and to compile the first volume of The Outlaws. I wanted to show their listeners a different perspective and introduce some artists who fit their concept and I think it really worked well. Ibogatech are true professionals in what they do and it’s always a smooth process working with them, they don’t interrupt my projects and give me the green light to do whatever I find right. The Outlaws release fits perfectly to Ibogatech music.
MI4L: You also curated the first edition of the compilation. What is the aim of the series, and what should fans of house and techno expect?
The aim of the series is simple; to introduce psychedelic electronic dance music without rules, laws, styles etc. The styles today are very mixed up, when it all started at the end of the ’80s and beginning of the ’90s there were no styles and this is what excited us most. The style is destined to become a law, and law will always have its rules. The aim of The Outlaws is to introduce Ibogatech listeners to new, fresh, quality produced music that fits to what they usually release and at the same time stands out of it, not to repeat and always to advance with it.
All the volumes will be different as I like to point to the evolution of the music too in those series. Slowly but surely, not to jump too much ahead but to keep the right pace for the mass listeners in order for them to grow and evolve with their music tastes. It’s a kind of educational series. I’m also trying to work with artists on this project that in my opinion deserve recognition or exposure, new producers, old producers, people who are making music for the passion for music, underrated talents without much commercial ambitions, people with whom I was lucky to cross my paths in my 25+ years of producing and djing career.
MI4L: The release sees leading artists such as Extrawelt releasing alongside up-and-coming talents and names who have gone under the radar. How do you go about selecting the artists for each compilation?
Well, Extrawelt is the anchor act that in our tiny psychedelic techno scene got most and best recognition. They had a proper breakthrough on a world level, but they keep themselves true to the music they love. Making music you love doesn’t always bring you breakthroughs and recognition… well, let’s say in most of the cases not. So as I mentioned in a previous answer, in my 25+ production career I met many people who share the same music taste and ideology to make music out of the styles, laws and rules. I have two labels – Boshke Beats Records, Horns & Hoofs Entertainment, and I am managing Gravity Plus Records (X-Dream’s label). Also I cooperate and collaborate with some other labels, all in all I have executed close to 250 releases by now.
So yes, we travel around the world, we meet people, we share some experiences, work together, get to know each other better and the tunes pop up. Sometimes it’s an already existing tune that sits waiting for a label, or for an opportunity to be released. Sometimes it sits in your dj sets and stays unreleased for years as it is – simply made much ahead of its time. Sometimes I ask artists to make a special tune that will fit the vibe of the anchor tunes that I already have chosen for the project. So it all comes up pretty much smoothly together. The evolution of the artists has to be felt and I always like to look into the concept from an educational point of view with what material I have in my hands, what works in my DJ sets etc. Sometimes a psytrance artist will make some tune that does not fit what he usually does and it’s much more towards techno, so they call me as Boshke Beats Records is known for releasing techno made by psytrance producers
I pretty much know who is who and what they are capable of and that’s how the track selection happens.
MI4L: The melodic house and techno scene has often merged with various shades of trance, but now we’re seeing harder techno also head towards that sound. Why do you think this is, and how have your thoughts on this evolution changed across the years?
Everything is cyclic in dance music, so every time a certain ‘fashion’ or trend for a certain style or genre is in it comes to a point when everybody starts doing the same thing more or less. There is a moment when producers and DJs start to look into something fresh, but to invent something new in dance music is almost impossible, so the producers and DJs start to dig into their shelves. Nina Kraviz is a great example – she is brave enough to play psytrance in her techno sets these days (X-DREAM, Jurek Przezdziecki, Atmos etc). The reason why she does that lies in her past. She started to take her interest in music and DJing when she discovered psychedelic trance parties and those first discoveries will stay with you forever. You can forget about those tunes and records but then you just pull this old record from a shelf and it’s from ’95 and you play it and you say damn, this is 25 years old but it’s so good and no one knows it now! I will play this at a party and then it happens and other producers who are inspired by it start to implement those trance elements into their melodic house or hard techno tracks and sets, this is the current thing.
DJ Mag recently published an interview with Indira Paganotto labelling her as PSY TECHNO queen, cause she plays techno with psytrance and people love it! Anyhow it all happened already many times before. When I first heard Carl Cox in 94 he played hard techno, hard house and psy trance in one set and – it was beautiful, different and inspiring. We were coming back from those parties excited and jumping on our samplers synths and sequencers in order to memorize this excitement in a musical tune…
MI4L: As we head towards the end of the year, which artists should we look out for in 2022?
You should probably look for The Outlaws vol 3 on Ibogatech which I already started to compile as well as Boshke Beats Records latest releases. We have EPs coming by Amby Iguous with a Kri Samadhi Remix, Subotage with an Alien Rain Remix, the Chronika Chapter 6 compilation, the Mass Hypnosis 4 compilation, and a very special Boshke Beats XX years release. Boshke Beats had its 20th anniversary in 2020, but the pandemic froze us and some of our planned celebrations got postponed from 2020 to 2021 to 2022. So now, finally I’m preparing a couple of very special releases for Boshke Beats Records’ belated 20th anniversary.
MI4L: And lastly, what’s next for you and Boshke Beats?
The Outlaws Vol. 2 (compiled by Alex Tolstey) is out now via Ibogatech Records – buy HERE.