Why you care: This Friday, Alex is opening for Moe Pope and O.A.R. at UGBC’s Fall Concert. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased through the Robsham website; the concert is being held at Conte Forum and doors open at 6 pm.
Despite the rain, and the wet-dog-meets-coffee smell of Hillside, Alex Perez walks in with a glow. He has one of those personalities that radiate sun, so it’s no surprise when he tells me about his Miami roots. What is a surprise, though, is that Alex is more than what he has been made out to be. Like the music he makes, it became clear that there are many layers and elements to him that transcend the stereotypes associated with your "typical DJ".
Hey, Alex. Thank you for coming out in the rain to come talk to me. It’s great to meet you. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
I’m Alex Perez. I’m from Miami, and I’m senior, a bio-chem major. I’ve been DJ-ing since I was 16 back home in Miami. Wow, so it’s been 5 years. But yeah, I started in electronic music, and now I’ve kind of switched to open format, hip-hop. I do everything and anything, I mean electronic can be house, dub step, anything. I’ve DJ-ed in clubs in Miami; a cool one was Mokai right on Miami Beach.
That’s impressive. How did you get started with music in general, and now, with DJ-ing?
Well I played violin as child, I didn’t like it; my mother forced me to [laughs]. I was never interested in music, I mostly played sports, but when I transferred schools in high school, my best friend at my new school introduced me to electronic music. He was really into it and wanted to learn, so we bought all the equipment together.
You say it so casually, like you just woke up one morning and knew how to work all of that. How did you know how to DJ?
[laughs] I kind of just learned from YouTube. I’m self-taught, so I just figured it out. Because I never got any formal teaching, my techniques are different from most people. [grins] I just saw videos, didn’t take any formal lessons, and watched other people. I developed my own style.
How did you start doing shows and venues?
At house parties for the most part. I liked DJ-ing and the parties paid well, so it was a way to pay off the equipment. I DJ-ed for Space Entertainment here during my sophomore year; I did the Newton Prom, Sophomore Prom, and all the O’Connell events. Since I’ve done events for UGBC before, that’s why I’m doing the Fall Concert, which is exciting. I also have shows in Boston, at Rumor and through Space Entertainment. I started in Boston at District Lounge as a sophomore, so I’ve been doing that the past 2 years. I’ve done a few shows at a bigger nightclub, Prime, during my junior year.
Where can people go on the weekends to discover some local, new music? Any recommendations for venues?
Paradise Lounge- it’s mostly rock, that’s not really my style, though. Rumor, House of Blues, Royale, Prime: they’re all good but it depends on the night and who they bring in. DJ Arty is top 25 on the DJ list and he was at Rumors. A week before, I was DJ-ing there. It’s crazy. The house scene big names draw crowds in since people recognize them from the radio. House is diverse music; I like to play off that to mix with other genres.
Any comments on how students can prepare for the show? Listen to anything, sample your stuff, or do you prefer people walk into it unsuspecting?
Let them walk in, I like to please the people as they come. I don’t know that much about O.A.R.; they have a song about poker that I’ve heard. I have no idea about Moe Pope, so I guess we’ll see how my music opens for them. [laughs]
Are you nervous?
I’m not nervous. The largest crowd I’ve ever had was 1,200 people. I’ve been doing it for so long, that it is what it is. If I’m prepared, I’m prepared. Have I freaked out for events? Yes. I have a promotional company called AMP’D Promotions, so I know how shows work. I don’t really worry too much about them.
Tell me more about your company. How did you branch into that?
I started DJ-ing for a company, and a friend there asked me if I wanted to DJ for events. We did it at District and Prime and we got a following so we decided to make something out of it. It’s good for a resume; it shows commitment, leadership, entrepreneurship. I’m using it as a tool for things to come. I like doing it, so having a company kind of went hand in hand since I did the same thing in Miami.
AMP’D Promotions looks awesome. When you win over fans after the Fall Concert, where can people hear/download your music?
I guess contact me, I don’t play the same set twice, so it’s ridiculous to post 50 songs. I’d rather just let it be, I don’t post music online. If you ask me, I’ll give it to you, but people have to ask. A good way is through liking my company on Facebook.
What’s the weirdest or funniest thing that’s ever happened at one of your shows?
I’ve definitely had some funny things. When I was 17, I DJ-ed at an unfinished penthouse in Miami, and 1.5 hours in, security barges in, tells the girl in charge she can’t do it, and we all got kicked out. It was a ticketed event, so it was crazy because it was a real event. They wanted to take my equipment, so I had to prove it was mine. I got my equipment back and I didn’t ask any questions. [laughs] I was 17. I’ve had equipment malfunctions, and that’s always embarrassing, but it happens.
So for aspiring musicians here on campus, what can they do to follow in your footsteps?
Persistence. Honestly, if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. Things kind of fall in your lap. You just have to be ready. I’ve had people bring saxophones to play along with my music at day parties. They go along with the beat of the music; they don’t need sheet music, they just guess and go along with it. Drums are a little different cause it can be overpowering, but in a big venue it can be really cool. Disclosure, Avicii, they make music with instruments and it still sounds electronic, there’s a lot of possibilities in the DJ industry.
What’s next for you?
I don’t know yet. I’ll figure it out soon. [smiles] It’s a good thing it’s still early in the year. My passions are music and technology. This year, I worked for a technology exposition in Miami trying to make Miami a tech hub, through the Technology Foundation of the Americas (TFA). I’d love to combine music and technology. I like biotechnology; not necessarily research, but I’m interested in business. Consulting would be cool. But I don’t know yet, we’ll see.
It’s interesting that you’re so into both science and music. That’s really unique.
I was always into science. Most people like music. [laughs] The time you put into it is the difference between people and me. It’s kind of a hobby, but I can make a profit out of it, so it’s cool. DJ-ing is not something I’d pursue professionally, maybe the business side. If you don’t make a career out of it, you don’t usually succeed unless you’re a sensation, you know? I don’t mind opening, that’s fun, that’s really cool. There’s just two aspects of me, it’s a little different.
Awesome. So any closing words, or in some cases, introductory comments, for people before the big day?
Just come hear my music. See what you think. I’m very open to criticism and new ideas.