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Photo: Marie Staggat
In 2016 the American DJ/producer and house pioneer K Alexi and I met during ADE. Of course, we had a chat about his first gig. His wise words of advice: "Do everything you do with passion and respect."
“My first gig was at a basement party where I played for some friends of mine. The space was totally red, like a dark room and it was packed. I must have been fifteen or sixteen. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of then. In those days we didn’t think about that. The basement was smaller than the average club but in the eyes of us teenagers it was packed and the air was charged with the smell of weed and clove cigarettes… and horny teen hormones.”
“Was I nervous? Well, since that day I always experience a mixture of feelings where I get nervous and excited at the same time. The audience could be defined as soulful. They were the kind of people who really came to hear the music and like ‘the same old’ same old’.”
Deciding on the flow
“As far as preparing my set before, at home, I can say that I always set aside a few things that I know I want to play, but I never prepare the whole set in detail. I prefer to decide on the flow while playing.”
“Fortunately I got a lot of support while building my DJ career. My family supported me but also friends of Mr. Lee, known by the track Get Busy (1989). Mr. Lee made fantastic records and went to London to produce for R. Kelly and many others. Other mentors for me were Ron Hardy, Frankie Knuckles, Larry Heard, Mike Dunn, Marshall Jefferson and so on.”
“Only school friends were present at my first gig. And no, there was no special girl in that basement that I wanted to impress. It’s my job to always impress everybody, but it’s true, in those days I did it mostly for the girls, haha.”
“In retrospective that first gig went very well. I definitely didn’t make any huge mistakes and everybody appeared to be happy and the next day I was the talk of the school. Even then I was already operating as a professional, because until today, I’ve always taken this job very seriously. My professionalism is one of the reasons why I still represent my hometown Chicago and with that America. I did learn immediately at that first gig how important it is to be relaxed and to be yourself.”
DJ Hall of Fame
“Since then, I’ve played in football stadiums and at huge festivals. In the end it doesn’t matter how big the crowd in front of me is, they all get the same attention. Recently I was added to the chosen few in the Chicago DJ Hall of Fame. That’s was fantastic! First of all because Chicago is my home and secondly because my mother and my son were at my side.”
“My advice for upcoming DJ’s and producers is: do your homework! If you admire a certain artist, find out what it is that appeals to you and what this person has done in the past. Understand what process had taken place until that moment that you noticed that particular artist. Do everything you do with passion and RESPECT.”
“After my recent appearance at the Amsterdam Dance Event I’m playing in The Netherlands again on the 26th of December, together with DJ Pierre. This will be at the event House Classix in Doornroosje www.doornroosje.nl in Nijmegen. Before that, on December 17th, I will play at Sound Department Ascolti in Taranto, Italy.
This article was originally published on DJMag.nl on November 10th, 2016