Richard David James (born 18 August 1971), best known under the pseudonym Aphex Twin, is a British electronic musician and composer. He founded the record label Rephlex Records ...
in 1991 with Grant Wilson-Claridge. He has been described by The Guardian as "the most inventive and influential figure in contemporary electronic music."
Aphex Twin has also recorded music under the aliases AFX, Blue Calx, Bradley Strider, Caustic Window, DJ Smojphace, GAK, Martin Tressider, Polygon Window, Power-Pill, Prichard D. Jams, Q-Chastic, Tahnaiya Russell, The Dice Man, Soit-P.P., and speculatively The Tuss.
Aphex Twin has released recordings on Rephlex, Warp, R&S, Sire, Mighty Force, Rabbit City, and Men Records.
James was born on 18 August 1971 in Limerick, the son of Welsh parents. He grew up in Lanner, Cornwall, with two older sisters, in a "very happy" childhood during which they "were pretty much left to do what
wanted". He enjoyed living there, feeling apart from nearby cities and the rest of the world. Some of his earliest musical experiments as a child involved James playing with the strings inside his family's piano, similar to composer John Cage's prepared piano experiments, and at age nine he began purchasing tapes and tape recorders. James attended Redruth School in Redruth, Cornwall, and claimed to have produced sound on a Sinclair ZX81 (a machine with no sound hardware) at age 11:
“ When I was 11, I won 50 pounds in a competition for writing this program that made sound on a ZX81. You couldn't make sound on a ZX81, but 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. ”
According to musician Benjamin Middleton, James began producing music the following year. At age twelve, he bought his first synthesiser, which he reassembled himself: "I started off modifying analogue synths and junk that I bought, and got addicted to making noises. That was the buzz for me. At that point, I'd never really listened to music." As a teenager he was a disc jockey at the Shire Horse Inn in St Ives, with Tom Middleton at the Bowgie Inn in Crantock and along the beaches around Cornwall. James studied at Cornwall College from 1988 to 1990 for a National Diploma in engineering. About his studies, he said "music and electronics went hand in hand". James graduated from college; according to an engineering lecturer he often wore headphones during practical lessons, "no doubt thinking through the mixes he'd be working on later".