101 with Alix Alvarez

Alix Alvarez is DJ and producer who was born and bred in one of the most signature US cities, New York. While growing up in the Bronx, Alix had the opportunity to watch and learn from legends such as Timmy Regisford and “Little” Louie Vega and after he bought himself a pair of Technics 1200, he knew that world of dance music will be his home. 

His music has been regular on labels such as Ovum Recordings, Taverna Tracks, PIV Limited and Innervisions just mention few. His excellent deep but raw production gained him support from some of industries finest DJs as well as gigs across the globe in venues such as Watergate, Space and Fabric amongst others.

His latest four-track EP, which will be released on Phonogramme at the end of September, made us invite him as our next guest on 101 feature.


What was the funniest / most bizarre request you’ve ever had while playing?
 
It happened years ago but nothing beats having someone really drunk come up to you and ask if you can play house music while you are already playing house music. It really blew my mind. 
 
Can you describe your studio setup for us? 
 
My set up is pretty simple. I have a few pieces of outboard gear and hardware. I use Ableton exclusively to record and arrange. My favourite piece of gear is my MPC 2000 which I've had for years and have used on many tracks. Nothing feels quite like it for sampling. I have a solid pair of monitors that I know really well which is, in my opinion, one of the most important & fundamental things when creating and mixing. For me, it’s never about the gear but always more about the person creating the music. 
 
Could you tell us the story about your first gig? 
 
It was at an open turntable thing in the lower east side NYC. A bunch of DJs showed up with their records at a bar that had a tall ladder that led up to the DJ booth. The promoter picked the line up at random and I got picked last. I waited for like 5 hrs to get on. Every DJ got an hour to play. Finally, it was my turn. The promoter turns to me and says “Ok you got 15 min the bars gonna close”. I'm like damn! I'm gonna do my thing anyway. I was super nervous even though it was empty. But once I got the thumbs up from the bartender I knew this life was for me.
 
Name three artists that currently inspire you. 
 
There are so many good artists so naming three would be impossible. What really inspires me are artists that I've never heard of that I might come across for the first time. I might discover an obscure artists work from years back and it could inspire me to try something new. Or I’ll find an artist who’s discography I might not be familiar with leads me to other great work they’ve done that might’ve slipped under the radar. I find inspiration in knowing that I don’t know it all.
 
Recall the worst experience of ‘killing the vibe’ in the club. 
 
I don’t have a particular story to share other than the occasional record skipping or cdj cutting off but I’ve had experiences where the opening DJ started off playing to a packed house and as the night progresses they lose the vibe so by the time I get on the energy in the room just isn’t there making it harder for me to do my thing. That’s a major vibe killer. Dj’s should learn how to open a night properly and set the tone. It's really a lost art form for some. 
 
What do you do before and after your set? 
 
Before my set, I'm usually prepping and figuring out what I'm gonna start off with. I'm going through my selections making sure I've got what I need and figuring out what might work or not work. I'm thinking about the environment in the club, the crowd for the night and other DJs that might be playing before/after me. Some nights can be unpredictable but you can gauge where you need to be programming wise if you do some homework. Afterwards, I'm either eating or getting some rest. I used to go and hit the afters but these days I've learned partying in moderation works best. If I don’t get enough sleep or too partied out I’ll really be a mess for a few days so I've learned how to chill after I'm done. 
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
 
Working at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx as a teen. Dealing with drunk fans sucked and so did the pay. But the job did help me get my first pair of Technics 1200’s so I guess it wasn’t that bad in the end.
 
Imagine a cold winter, a fireplace and two glasses of wine what song would you play?
 
Probably something from the Blue Note catalogue. So much good music there.
 
Last but not least. What's the best advice you've ever received?
 
Years ago when I first started to make music a friend of mine told me to keep my publishing and own my masters on any future releases. Some of the best advice I’ve received to this day. Wise words indeed.
By Saša, edited on 04 September 2018