From deep parts of Europe to Mexico last year – that’s how Aleksa Alaska‘s touring has expanded just recently. Perhaps growing in a small village near the mountains had shaped her online music library we all have caught ourselves digging in at some point. And that’s why we’re very happy to be having her soon in Vilnius, coming along with Cologne’s dance music series Neues Fleisch that we already wrote about here. Yet, until that happens, together at Calypso we’re talking about her dedication to music and other forms of art while living in between of all that.
You’ve started your DJ career not that long ago – just around 3 years by doing mixes for yourself, right? How much has changed over the time?
Exactly! Well, about three years ago I was quitting my advertising job to start a business with my boyfriend in a completely unrelated field. That’s when I started doing those mixes, as well. Now I’m few months away from moving to a different country to dedicate more time to music. It’s really crazy actually, to look back and see how everything has changed in a relatively short time. Travelling and spending time alone is very anxiety inducing but you have a lot of time alone with your thoughts. Meeting new people all the time, interacting with all sorts of individuals, even though it’s sometimes consuming, it all helps you know yourself better. Constantly sharing pieces of yourself with the world it definitely changes you, and with internal changes you’ll also start to notice how other things are organically changing, too, and how they impact your life and overall external environment.
“Travelling and spending time alone is very anxiety inducing but you have a lot of time alone with your thoughts. Meeting new people all the time, interacting with all sorts of individuals, even though it’s sometimes consuming, it all helps you know yourself better.”
You’re also working in a fashion industry back in Bucharest. Is it hard to combine this together with DJing, especially elsewhere? Checking your future gigs it looks like there’s a lot going on.
Yeah, and so far it’s perfect. I am very lucky to be working with two of my closest friends who are very understanding and supporting of me being a DJ. Sometimes they even travel with me to my gigs, we’re always in touch exchanging ideas. During the week I am in the studio with them, and weekends are for travelling or resting. It’s a healthy balance that keeps me happy and disciplined. Even though I enjoy DJing more than anything else, playing all the time and touring like crazy isn’t something I’d like to do full-time, and having a side thing going on has always been important to me.
I read your story about opening for Veronica Vasicka back in Bucharest and being nervous for playing on laptop. Now, since more time has passed, what was the most intimidating DJ set you’ve recently had and why?
Haha, yes, that gig was quite exciting. I don’t know, really, they all felt intimidating in their own way. A few days before every gig I get a bit nervous, not because of the gig itself, but because of the anticipation of everything that comes with it: travelling, going alone to the club, meeting new people. You never know what is going to happen and how the night will turn out. Now I developed a few coping mechanisms and don’t feel intimidated by people or DJing anymore, as much as by certain contexts that are beyond my control, like not being able to get enough sleep.
Have you noticed a change in the crowd you’ve been playing for before and now? Maybe a different response from people or something else?
It’s hard to say. I still haven’t played twice in the same places, yet. What I did notice is that people who know me from social media started showing up at my gigs, which can be quite overwhelming but also flattering for me. When I play, I am so focused on what I’m doing that, at times, I kind of forget there are a lot of people in front of me. I’m definitely not the type of DJ that interacts too much with the crowd. From the beginning I tried to play only what I wanted and not what I thought people might want to hear and that’s something that hasn’t always worked in my favour; but DJing is a very personal and sort of like a meditative experience, I get completely immersed in it.
You’re having your own “Subterranean Modern” series on Noods Radio. Can you tell how this all began and describe the concept behind?
Subterranean Modern started as an extension of my YouTube channel where I predominantly upload cassette-only releases. In the past few years I stumbled across a vast amount of good music and just wanted to put it out there. I also enjoy doing mixes and the two things combined perfectly into this show that’s turning one year next month.
Each of the covers have also distinctive visuals with hidden faces, yet are very related to each other. Is it your goal to match the images/photographies to follow the same pattern, as well? What does the whole idea of imagery stand for?
They are all related, indeed. Every cover is its own metaphor for uncovering something, possibly a well kept secret, like the tracks I am using in those mixes.
Your YouTube channel is a public gold mine for music diggers. How do you sort your music library and not get lost in it?
Thank you! (smiles) Aaand, the secret is: I don’t sort it! Haha, I just like to get lost in it. I put everything in the same place, and now it’s my favourite place to dig for fresh sounds. Sometimes I think about sorting it, because I’m a neat freak, but having it all sorted would make me feel too comfortable. It’s a nice feeling when you look for something in particular and by browsing through you discover, by accident, something you haven’t noticed or listened to until then, even though it might have been there for a long time.
“My podcasts are more experimental, yet thought-out, and have a melancholic and “intellectual” sound, whereas my club sets are always improvised, dancy, fast and ravy, to entertain the clubber in me and make people move – hopefully not towards the exit.”
Perhaps this question should’ve been the first one, but following up your music collection, how best would you describe your sound?
I guess it’s just like my music collection. Always changing, and to be honest, I haven’t completely figured it out myself. There’s definitely a clear difference between how my podcasts sound like and what I choose to play in the club. My podcasts are more experimental, yet thought-out, and have a melancholic and “intellectual” sound, whereas my club sets are always improvised, dancy, fast and ravy, to entertain the clubber in me and make people move – hopefully not towards the exit.
And the last one for now, how do you think you’ll introduce the night to the crowd by playing in Opium along with Lukas from Neues Fleisch?
Ahhh, I have no idea. Would be good to know, but I haven’t started to sort the music for this one yet. I heard the Vilnius crowd is into weird music, so let’s see. Lukas and Jondo are really talented DJ’s and it’ll definitely be worth joining us at Opium, we’ll have a blast!
You bet we’re joining you and the rest of the guys, Aleksa. The weekend will perhaps await with some weirder sounds that might have been well hidden from some of the music diggers up till this moment, we believe.
All the secrets unveiled already this Saturday: Neues Fleisch: Aleksa Alaska, Phillip Jondo, Hoff 10.20