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Fresh Kicks 128: AQXDM

Frenzied and futuristic, Aquarian and Deapmash push the frontiers of techno, electro and jungle in their Fresh Kicks mix

As AQXDM, Berlin-based New Yorker Aquarian and Caen’s Deapmash, make music that sounds like its been plucked from another dimension. Drinking deep from the wells of techno, jungle and rave, their tracks are expansive and febrile, with rumbling percussion underpinning comets of distortion and the occasional frosty melody. With two releases under their belt since they started collaborating in 2018, their most recent venture, the ‘Infrared’ EP on Houndstooth, has been picked up by some of the most revered DJs around. Aphex Twin, perhaps most notably, is a pretty big fan.

Not bad for a duo who only met in person this summer. AQXDM’s music has all be made remotely, with the pair exchanging ideas and projects over email. In fusing their individual strong suits – Aquarian’s penchant for intricate sound sculpture and Deapmash’s for thunderous rhythms – AQXDM’s pairing brings out the best in each of them. Not only that, it serves as a refreshing reminder of how social media has created an environment where artists can forge strong friendships and even stronger collaborative pursuits, even when the digital mire can so often feel exhausting and toxic. But how did AQXDM come to be in the first place?

“I heard a record that Julien [Deapmash] put out on Boyz Noize Records in 2016 and was like 'Damn this is fucking banging’ and immediately followed him on Twitter and Soundcloud,” Aquarian explains. “He immediately followed me back, and at some point messaged me asking if I wanted to collaborate. At this point I had never successfully collaborated with anyone else and we hit it off immediately. Three out of four of our initial attempts made it onto our first record on Bedouin.”

“I usually send Ableton project files I didn't finish to Chris [Aquarian], and if he likes something, he works on it then we turn it to a collab,” Deapmash adds. “It's pretty easy, thanks to the Internet, we can work fast by distance. And we do work fast!”

“One of the things I struggle with most working solo is getting a solid rhythmic base going,” Aquarian says of their subdivided process. “Julien is a wizard at making planet sized- kick drums and contagious grooves, so when he sends over some loops files it's easy to get to work writing melodies and chopping and fucking things up. I find that working with DM keeps me a lot more focused than I might be otherwise, and I like to think that we've come up with a pretty distinctive aesthetic for our project so deciding how to best evolve that sound is an interesting and challenging conversation.”

“As we both provide each other value in the production process based on our own skills, it allows us to make music we wouldn't really do on an individual level, at least for me,” Deapmash agrees.“ It opens new doors, and it’s very enjoyable.”

While they promise more AQXDM music is on the way, both Deapmash and Aquarian have exciting things on the horizon on an individual level. Aquarian will release his debut album, 'The Snake That Eats Itself' via Bedouin in February, though unfortunately it won’t feature the speed garage edit of ‘Old Town Road’ he’s been dropping all year. It will, however, come paired with a live A/V show with his friend. Sougwen Chung. Deapmash meanwhile, has tracks dropping on a number of compilations and some more collaborations inbound, one of which will land on London label, THEM. 

AQXDM’s Fresh Kicks mix is frenzied and futuristic, spanning techno, electro and jungle, with dizzying flouries of high-speed drums and melody making for a pretty thrilling hour. 

“I think it's a good, compressed cross-section of the kinds of stuff we're both into right now,” says Aquarian. “More on the more austere yet banging techno side for the first half and getting pretty loose and ravey on the second half. There’s some new and unreleased tunes from the likes Ben Damage, Om Unit, 3Phaz (aka Ismael) and Tim Reaper. We also have been experimenting with embedding subliminal messages in recordings so let us know if you hear anything.”

Check it out below. 

Last track that blew your mind?
AQ: “AYA  ‘Will Not Come At Your Beck And Call I Am At Home Preemptively Mashing Up The Dance…’ or Nathan Micay's trance/speed garage bootleg of Andrea Bocelli ‘Con Te Partiro’ 
DM: “Pete Cannon ‘Feel the Rhythm’”

Last DJ that blew your mind?
AQ: “JASSS or Dis Fig. Easily two of my favorites right now”
DM: “Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike”

Favourite album to relax to?
DM: “Telefon Tel Aviv ‘Dreams Are Not Enough’”
AQ: “+1 on the above, but also been listening to No Home of the Mind by Bing and Ruth a lot recently”

Favourite producer?
DM: “Aquarian”
AQ: “Aquarian......wait, I mean, Deapmash obviously!”

What record is top of your wishlist?
AQ: “This white label mashup of Whitney Houston and Danny Weed ‘Creeper’”
DM: “The Latest Current Value”

What's the best club you've played at?
DM: “Tresor”
AQ: “Tresor or Berghain is up there, might have to be De School though!”

Check out our recent Fresh Kicks mixes with Ian DPM and Olivia

Eoin Murray is DJ Mag's deputy digital editor. You can find him on Twitter @eoin_murraye