French artist Airod is coming off a year that was nearly as high-octane as the techno he makes. It saw him release five fantastically fierce EPs on a range of labels, as well as lay down plenty of hard-hitting sets around Europe. 2019 started in much the same way: he was invited by notorious brutalist Perc to play a no-frills night of proper techno at Rennes’ 1988 Live Club. He played for three hours, much to the delight of a fan who had come all the way from Canada to see him play.
Given the toughness of his music, you might expect the man behind it to be stern, energetic or in your face. In fact, the opposite is true. He’s enthusiastic to talk to, but also relaxed and open. “It’s very funny,” says the Parisian, whose parents are of Serbo-Croatian origins and moved to the French capital to escape regional wars in the ‘90s. “In everyday life I am very calm. The only moment when my music matches with my personality is when I am behind the turntables: I want to transmit the energy of the songs I play.“ It was growing up with bristling Daft Punk tracks and techno hero Laurent Garnier that led AIROD to his hard-edged sounds.
Interested in production from a young age, he only went out occasionally, but cites seeing Berghain regular Len Faki play at I Love Techno in Belgium as a “very precise and pointed set that really marked me“. The intensity of Faki’s highly pressurised sets permeates AIROD’s work to this day. His newest is a four-tracker on Amelie Lens’s Lenske imprint that came about “quite naturally” after the pair had chatted about music and realised they shared common values over email. He sent her ten tracks — most of which, like all his music, were written and finished in one session so as to capture the exact emotions and “dynamics” of a specific moment — and the Belgian picked out four to release. “Most of the rest won’t come out but she still plays them!” he laughs.
Mixing up a certain old school hardness with modern production values, his resulting ‘Voltage’ EP goes from from flat-footed, brilliantly linear and forceful techno via industrial acid workouts and hell-raising, synth-laden bangers. Frankly, it’s as visceral as techno comes. Because of this, AIROD often relies on playing his own unreleased tracks in his sets, not only for the element of surprise, but also so he makes the “real impact” he likes to. “When I play I want people to remember my set, and often the songs that work best are those that have this raw and hard side,” he tells DJ Mag.
As well as landing on Molekül and Perfusion, AIROD has his own label, Elixyr Records. It’s an important outlet that he says allows him to make music “with no limits”, and is “above all a place of experimentation and freedom“ — somewhere to put out tracks he wouldn’t usually dare send to other labels.
Despite “80%” of AIROD’s productions not being released, he says he is “full of ideas and finding new sounds everyday”, so is surely one of techno’s most vital new artists.