Aphex Twin

Aphex Twin
Aphex Twin 2.jpg
Richard James performing in Turin in 2007
Background information
Birth nameRichard David James
Also known as
  • AFX
  • Blue Calx
  • Bradley Strider
  • Caustic Window
  • The Dice Man
  • GAK
  • Q-Chastic
  • Polygon Window
  • Power-Pill
  • The Tuss
Born (1971-08-18) 18 August 1971 (age 48)
Limerick, County Limerick, Ireland
OriginLanner, Cornwall, England
  • Record producer
  • musician
  • composer
  • remixer
  • DJ
Years active1985–present
Associated acts

Richard David James (born 18 August 1971), best known by the stage name Aphex Twin, is an English electronic musician.[1] He is best known for his idiosyncratic work in styles such as techno, ambient, and intelligent dance music during the 1990s.[2][3] In 2001, Guardian journalist Paul Lester called James "the most inventive and influential figure in contemporary electronic music".[4]

Raised in Cornwall, James began releasing records in the early 1990s under aliases such as AFX, Polygon Window and Caustic Window, and co-founded the independent label Rephlex Records in 1991.[4] He attracted early acclaim for his 1992 debut album Selected Ambient Works 85–92. He signed to UK electronic label Warp the following year, and later rose to mainstream popularity with the charting singles "Come to Daddy" (1997) and "Windowlicker" (1999), backed by music videos directed by Chris Cunningham.

After releasing the album Drukqs in 2001, James proceeded to release music under other aliases, including the 2005 Analord EP series as AFX, a pair of 2007 releases as the Tuss, and archival material such as an unreleased 1994 LP in 2014 as Caustic Window. James returned as Aphex Twin in 2014 with the album Syro, which won a Grammy Award for Best Dance/Electronic Album.

Early life and education

James grew up in Cornwall (pictured: Chapel Porth, seen on the cover and referenced in the liner notes of James's 1993 album Surfing on Sine Waves.}[5]

James was born on 18 August 1971[6] in Limerick.[7] In 1996, he said he had a stillborn older brother also named Richard whose name he inherited, though this may have been fabricated.[8][9] He grew up in Lanner, Cornwall, and attended Redruth School in nearby Redruth.[10] James said he liked growing up there, "being cut off from the city and the rest of the world".[10]

James has stated that an interest in making sounds developed before he got into writing music, and that as a child he enjoyed playing with the strings inside his family piano and disassembling tapes and tape recording equipment.[11] He took an early interest in electronics, and enjoyed modifying analogue synthesisers to create sounds.[11] According to James, at age 11 he won a magazine competition by producing sound on a Sinclair ZX81, a home computer with no sound hardware: "I played around with machine code and found some codes that retuned the TV signal so that it made this really weird noise when you turned the volume up". This claim was subsequently debunked in a Fact article exploring a range of Aphex Twin myths and evidence indicates someone else won the competition, winning £6 not £50 as James claimed.[12]

He began making music aged 14,[10] partially as a refuge from the "bloody awful" Jesus and Mary Chain albums played by his sister.[13] Cornwall had few record shops, but a thriving nightlife in which acid house was popular.[10] James claimed to have been making music with similarities to acid and techno for years before hearing the genres, leading him to purchase every record he could find in the styles.[14] As a teenager, James worked as a DJ at clubs and raves, and included his own tracks in his sets.[10] He studied at Cornwall College from 1988 to 1990 and graduated with a National Diploma in engineering.[6] According to one lecturer, he often wore headphones during practical lessons and had a "kind of mystique about him ... I think some of the other students were a bit in awe of him".[6]

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