How to Ace a Sexy Sax Solo

Photo courtesy of Ian Young

Hive Five: Our daily listicle of musical musings

High school band geeks, rejoice: the saxophone that made you a social pariah during your formative years is now an instrument of maximum sexiness once more. Not since the 1992 Clinton campaign has the saxophone as an instrument for soloing received as much attention as it does now, with one recent jam — M83’s “Midnight City” — setting the 2012 standard for what constitues a sexy sax solo.

On M83′s tour, the power of all that sexy is in the hands of one man: Ian Young, the self-proclaimed “sax symbol” who performs the solo as part of M83’s touring band. Hive caught up with Young to find out the tricks of delivering the ultimate sexy sax solo.

1. Focus

“You just gotta focus on one person in the crowd and go crazy,” Young explains. “I either go with the hottest girl, or the hottest gay guy. This gig is crazy. I’ve played saxophone for twenty years, and people going so crazy for a saxophone solo is just nuts. I think that the build-up to it in the song is kind of a release, right where it comes in. Everyone waits for it.”

2. Don’t Be Afraid of Sanborn

“My mother was in love with David Sanborn, who’s on all of these records. He’s on David Bowie and James Taylor records. She wanted me to be like him. When I got this gig, I was asked, ‘Can you play a David Sanborn-esque solo?’ So it came full circle.”

3. Maximize a Minute

Young has been at this long enough to know that most of the time, the sax player is in the back. “I played with Prince, and it was awesome, but you can’t beat this gig,” he says. “I play a one-minute solo and people go bananas. It’s been like that all year, and it’s just getting bigger. When we played Bumbershoot in Seattle, there were like 13,000 people there in the arena. And a solo, with everyone going crazy, is really something.”

4. Dress the Part

“I’ve thought about going out shirtless, but no. I don’t know if Anthony [Gonzalez] would like that,” Young says. “I dress the part, though. I lift my legs while I’m playing, especially when I hit the high notes. I have this white pair of shoes that I polish every day to keep them white, so when my knees go up for the high notes, they shine.

5. Know the Sexiness in a Surprise

“I wait until the last second, and I run out onstage. People are kind of expecting it now – before, last year, when I was doing it, no one really thought there was going to be a live sax, because they were doing it without a sax for a while,” Young explains. “Now they’re expecting it. But before, it was a complete surprise when I came out. So I run out at the last second. Hopefully I don’t trip on anything – that hasn’t happened yet – and then I hit it. I usually give Morgan, the keyboard player, a kiss on the cheek afterwards.”

Watch M83 and Ian Young perform “Midnight City” at the Meltdown Festival 2012.

RELATED POSTS