An in-demand club performer at clubs worldwide, Dax On Sax has just released his debut album. So why now?
If you've visited the likes of Café Mambo, Ibiza Rocks or Nikki Beach in Ibiza, there's a very good chance you've already encountered Dax On Sax. Ditto if you've attended a Hed Kandi party pretty much anywhere in the world. He is to live sax in clubs what Shovell is to live percussion - a man at the top of his game, who's performed at some of the world's best-known venues.
But there's more to Dax On Sax than just blowing his horn over the top of other people's beats, as he's recently proved with the release of his debut album, My Vision, on Carl Hanaghan's Discopolis label. Sitting at the more commercial but still credible end of the soulful/vocal/funky house spectrum, with a few detours into more laidback, beach house-type territory, the album features collaborations with UKG veterans Sweet Female Attitude and the mighty Lisa Shaw, alongside many other vocal contributors.
The album also features quite a lot of saxophone, funnily enough. But perhaps not as much as you might think, with the bendy brass clarinet not taking centre-stage so much as being just one weapon in an arsenal that also includes - variously - sumptuous strings, euphoric hands-in-the-air pianos and lashings of fat bass.
It's a long player, in other words, that showcases Dax's skills not just on sax but also behind the board. With that in mind, we spoke to him to find out why he's embarking on this new strand to his career now…
All your biog says is that you're "from the north of England" and "a musician from an early age", so can you start by telling us a bit about your background?
"Sure! Well as you say I’m from the North, from a little Lancashire town called Lytham near the bright lights of Blackpool. I’ve played saxophone since I was at school and my continued passion for playing has fortunately led me to perform alongside some of the best DJs at the biggest venues across the globe."
How did you come to start doing the 'live sax in clubs' thing, then?
"As I progressed through school I did all the typical music exams, but I developed a true passion for house music. So when I saw the likes of Lovely Laura performing, it gave me huge inspiration to go and combine a love I had for two different things, and with some serious dedication I managed to turn it into a profession!
"My first gig was actually with BBC Radio 1’s Danny Howard, who called me to do a set with him at Syndicate in Blackpool. I remember being extremely nervous, because the club had a massive reputation, both in the local area and worldwide. Put it this way, I knew I needed to get some practice in before the gig!"
What have been some of your proudest achievements in the live arena?
"My proudest achievement would be performing at Cafe Mambo in Ibiza. It's such a legendary venue and I'd aspired to play there for years, so having the opportunity to play there this year alongside long-standing Café Mambo resident Jason Bye was a true privilege."
Moving on to the album… has production always gone side-by-side with live work for you, or is this a more recent development?
"Production is a recent addition to my development as an artist. I’ve always had a passion for writing, and I was encouraged to get into the studio to put these ideas down and work collaboratively with other musicians, vocalists and producers to bring them to life. As I work predominantly in the electronic music scene, I felt it was important for me to contribute to the scene through my own music, rather than just being known as a live performer."
The album's on Manchester label Discopolis. How did you come to be working with them in particular?
"I've been a fan of the label for quite some time, and it just so happened that I recently started to work with label boss and DJ, Carl Hanaghan, who then suggested I should put an album together. He also contributed towards the A&R side of things as well as the production aspect. His love and passion for the music I wanted to release was clearly evident, so I felt the label was the perfect home for the album."
The album features collabs with Lisa Shaw and Sweet Female Attitude - pretty impressive for a debut! How did you come to hook up with each of those?
"I totally agree - I was so, so happy with all of the artists who got onboard for this artist project! Attaining the features was a collaborative effort between Carl Hanaghan and myself. Carl’s background in A&R, especially during his time at Hed Kandi, had introduced him to many artists, so it was as simple as hitting up his little black book to invite the vocalists to jump into the studio with us."
If you had to review the album for iDJ readers who haven't heard it, how would you describe it?
"Don’t be fooled by my artist name! This is not some clichéd album full of sax riffs trying to be the next Calabria or Jubel. The album takes influence from disco to deep house with a little bit of Ibiza chucked in for good measure, from the poolside to the club."
With a gun to your head - performance or production?
"I do really want to do more production, but I feel that I was born to perform. I love being on the stage!"
Finally, what else is going on/coming up in Dax On Sax's world that iDJ readers need to know about?
"What’s next? Good question. Well, obviously the album is out now so we’re piecing together a Dax On Sax tour, with potential dates looking set to take place across the globe from London to Kuala Lumpur. There are also a couple of tracks left to wrap up in the studio that could feature on a re-release of the album in time to come, alongside some remixes that I know the label are commissioning and scheduling. So exciting times ahead!"
Words: Russell Deeks
My Vision by Dax On Sax is out now on Discopolis