With the gorgeous hot weather we’ve experienced these last couple of weeks, we can officially put away our cold garments and enjoy the summer. That’s right, it is now time to surrender to the outdoors and the multitude of activities our beautiful city has to offer. First on the list for July, AIM Festival.
This weekend, Montreal will celebrate the fourth edition of AIM Electronic Music Festival. The festivities will kick off this Friday afternoon and will go on until Sunday night. If you haven’t already heard of it, make sure to check out the amazing lineup the organizers have put together for you.
Out of the multitude of talented acts, we were happy to see the many locals added to the roasters for this year’s edition.
For the first time since the beginning of the festival, Alex Pycke will have the privilege of joining the array of Montreal and international established musical legends. In fact, he will be opening the AIM stage on Saturday July 7, 2018, before Mike Laz, Atroxx, Carlo Lio and Danny Tenaglia. For the occasion, we decided to sit down with Alex for the second interview of our MTL Grown series.
HS: When did you get into the music scene? How old were you when you started?
AP: “My first electronic music show was Paul Kalkbrenner for my 20th birthday, back in September 2013. However, what really changed my life was my first (((Stereo))) on November 29th, 2013. Karl De Jaham, from the duo Or Room, introduced me to this world with no others than Alan Fitzpatrick and Joseph Capriati. Karl and I have known each other for a long time, as he was one of my sister’s best friend back when we were kids in Madrid. He’s the one who got me into the scene.”
HS: Did you come from a musical background?
AP: “Yes. I’ve been surrounded by music my whole life. I’ve had this dream to make a career with music since I was 8 years old. My mother was my first guitar teacher. I started playing guitar with her when I was 7 years old. Then, I started playing drums around 11 or 12 years old. I actually had a few bands when I was younger.”
HS: Where did you learn your skills?
AP: “For my 21st birthday, in September 2014, my best friends and my sister offered me an introduction course to DJing at “SAT (Société des Arts Technologiques)” with Pheek. It taught me the basics of mixing, basically showed me how to use Traktor. During the summer 2014, I was roommate with Emmanuel Cote (from the duo Or Room). He had a Pioneer DDJ-T1 controller at our place that I would use. When he moved out, he lent it to me until I bought my own. My first approach to DJing was on this controller. The apartment where I was living at the time was 150 meters away from Stereo and had a soundproofed basement. I remember coming back from (((home))) and throwing memorable and unforgettable after-after-parties down there. I had two big 450 Watts Mackie Speakers that we were blasting. The sound was so loud that the whole building would shake, it was insane haha. During an after-New Years Eve party on January 1, 2015, I played my very first 8 hours extended set in this basement, only 3 months after I started mixing. Those were my first experiences as a DJ, before I started playing in clubs.
Then, on January 7, 2015, I touched and played with CDJs for the first time ever. Emmanuel Cote and Karl De Jhm (Or Room) had a weekly residency at Bluedog, a little bar on St-Laurent. Thanks to both of them, I had the opportunity to learn how to use CDJs. Every Wednesday, I would go at the beginning of the night, when nobody was there yet, to practice. It was the most perfect set up to learn. The gear was completely destroyed haha knobs were missing on the mixer, the “Cue” button on one of the CDJs wasn’t working half of the time and on the other one the “Play” button was working on and off so it was simply the perfect way to learn. Learning on malfunction gear prepares you for the worst situations that can happen later on in your career, so I’m really grateful that I had the chance to learn and practice there. We had so much fun at Bluedog !! Thank you Karl and Manu, I love you brothers <3 “
HS: Did you have any useful connections when you started in the business?
AP: “Yes and, once again, it’s thanks to Karl. When he brought me to Stereo for the first time, back in November 2013, when I said my whole life changed, it really did. I knew a lot about music at that time, but I knew nothing about electronic music yet. When I climbed up those stairs and arrived under this (((giant disco ball))) for the first time, I knew deep down in my heart that I had found my purpose in life. I will always remember this moment. I know it can sound a bit crazy to say that about a club, but Stereo Montreal really changed my life. To me, It is way more than just a club. It’s where everything started, where my passion and what I want to dedicate the rest of my life to was born.
So, to get back on track with the question, after I climbed those stairs for the first time, I became obsessed with this music and this world. I wanted and I needed to learn more, to discover more and more. I knew nothing about this world yet and the only person I knew in the industry was Karl. Then, he introduced me to the one and only Amir Kuba.
At the time, Amir was the biggest promoter in Montreal. He was working on every single electronic music event that you could possibly imagine. He was the promo machine, the promo king of Montreal and Stereo’s main promoter. Amir and I became really close friends super fast, it just clicked as we have a very similar personality. He was always such in a rush and on his phone 24/7, working non-stop, it was crazy. Since I really wanted to learn more about this industry and get involved in it, I offered to help him out with his ticket sell. Amir took me under his wings and became my mentor in the promotion industry. He taught me everything he knew about promotion, he brought me to all the events, he introduced me to all his friends and to everyone in the scene. I owe him a lot, he taught me so so so much. I will forever be grateful to him for everything he has done for me. Thanks to him, I became one of Stereo’s main promoters during my promoter years and I worked on the biggest events in Montreal during that time. I was one of Montreal’s main electronic music event promoters from beginning of 2014 until the end of 2016, until I decided to stop promoting to really focus only my music and my DJ career.
So for sure, all the friends and contacts I made during my promoter years helped me a lot to build my DJ career. “
HS: Are you signed to any labels?
AP: “Not yet, but I’m working everyday really hard in the studio to have my first tracks ready to be released by the end of the summer !”
HS: Do you DJ, produce, or do both?
AP: “I do both.”
HS: What’s your ideal/preferred DJing set up?
AP: “3 CDJs and Allen & Heath Xone92 mixer.”
HS: Do you ever have any special set-up requests?
AP: “Not really. As long as there’s at least 2 CDJs and a mixer that works properly, I’m happy.”
HS: What’s your preferred BPM?
AP: “That’s a tough one… it really depends where and at what time I’m playing, but I would say between 124 and 126BPM.”
HS: What genre are you mostly playing at the moment?
AP: “That’s another tough one haha I love to play around between styles. I love music, not regarding its genre but regarding the emotions that it makes me feel. What you hear me play represents how I feel deep down in my heart at that moment. So it can be deep and emotional or super trippy, hard and heavy, but always groovy in its own unique way. If I would have to qualify the genre I mostly play, I would say Deep Progressive Psychedelic Techno… I know it’s not really a genre but those are the key words I could use to try to describe my music.”
HS: Have you always played this style?
AP: “My first love has always been Techno, as I love rhythm more than anything in the world. But, I also always loved emotional and melodic sounds, as well as super trippy, dark and psychedelic kind of sounds. So yes, I’ve always played around genres as long as it grooves… but of course my style evolved a lot since I started mixing.
When I started mixing, I used to play a more “Drumcode” kind of Techno. Since then, I evolved a lot and don’t really play that style anymore.”
HS: What piece of equipment could you not live without?
AP: “My whole studio haha so the Matrixbrute from Arturia, the Analog Rhythm from Elektron, my computer with all my plugins and of course my CDJs and Xone 92 !
I’ve worked really hard to buy all this gear, so I have a big sentimental attachment to it, they’re like my babies haha”
HS: What are your career aspirations?
AP: “Make people dance and make music for the rest of my life. There’s nothing the world that I love more than that. I want to discover the world through music and share this passion with everyone I have the chance to meet through this journeys.”
HS: Tell us about your career evolution?
AP: “As I’ve explained before, I was still a promoter when I started to be a DJ. At the time, I used to dance more than 30 hours per week. I’ve learned so much and met so many people on the dance floor. I really love to dance and I think it’s a very important part of my career, as it is the main reason why I became a DJ.
Someone who really helped me a lot to get where I am today is my brother from another mother, Anthony D’Urbano, FRONT RITE’s founder. He’s the one who gave me my first gig, in what I could call a “real club”. The party was called “Front Room Recess 01” on May 8, 2015. Then, a few months later, he gave me the opportunity to open for Sebastien Léger at New City Gas, on the terrace for a DSTRKT party. The list goes on and on and on. He really supported me and helped my career. The latest gigs he booked me were the opening of Oliver Huntemann @ Newspeak in November and APOLLO NYE 2017-2018. He’s also the one who referred me for the AIM festival, where I’ll be playing this weekend. As you can see, my dear Mr. D’Urbano has been playing a big part in the development of my career since the very beginning. He’s probably going to read this article so I just want to tell you THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for everything. I love you brother <3
It would take too long to name every single gig I had since I started playing, but here are the main events and venues I had the honour to play at in the past few years : StereoBar, Electro Parade 2017, Timeless Festival 2016, Illusion Festival 2017, LUCID 2016, Le Salon Daomé, Newspeak and many more. I also had the chance to play on a school bus that was transformed into a stage at the Dancefestopia Festival in Kansas City (USA) in 2016, and at Mercury Lounge in Ottawa last summer with Lost In Bass (T-23).
For all the wonderful experiences and gigs I had the chance to play, I’d like to thank MONITORS, Les Beaux Dimanches crew, VeroniKa & Oliver (Awsum Kulture), Ancient Future (La Bacchanale), Front Rite, Husa Sounds, Rob Yale, Jonny Marciano (La Famiglia Recordings), Nicola Torriero (Rhythm is Rhythm), Jay Newtone, Fun Factory and everyone who believed in me and helped me to get where I am today.”
HS: Who’s your biggest musical inspiration and favorite DJ/producer?
AP: “By far, the one and only Danny Tenaglia. He took me on the longest and most mind blowing journey I’ve had the chance to attend to in my life. He’s not only the most diverse and skilled DJ I know, he’s also such a wonderful, humble and amazing human being.”
HS: What’s the biggest crowd you’ve played for?
AP: “I don’t know exactly the amount of people that were there but I would say 800 people maybe? That was at the Montreal Electro Parade 2017 on the Ancient Future truck. There were also a lot of people at the Apollo NYE party at Fonderie Darling this year but I couldn’t tell you how many.”
HS: Which venues have you played and do you have a preferred one?
AP: “StereoBar, Le Salon Daomé, Newspeak, Velvet, Fonderie Darling, Mercury Lounge in Ottawa and the list goes on. Out of all the venues I had the chance to play, my favourite would have to be StereoBar. Like I’ve explained before, Stereo has a very special meaning to me as it is where it all started for me. Having the unbelievable honour and chance to play there, to celebrate my 24th birthday last year, was one of my biggest dreams coming true. I still have goosebumps when I think of the night : Sunday September 17, 2017 <3
Another venue that I also really loved to play at is Le Salon Daomé.”
HS: Where would you like to play next?
AP: “At Stereo Montreal (the after-hours) obviously. I also want to start traveling and play different parts of the globe, like Europe and the US. One day, hopefully, I would love to be part of Awakenings lineup, Sonar and all the big Festivals !!”
HS: What are the biggest challenges in order to achieve your goals?
AP: “Well, the multiple life challenges everyone has to face I suppose…”
HS: In the coming months, do you have any exciting gigs or new music coming out?
AP: “YESSSS !!! I have the AIM Festival, where I’ll be playing on the main stage on July 7th. I’ll also be playing a sunrise set at the Illusion Festival on August 11th.
I have no dates yet for any releases, but I’m working super hard in the studio every day so you should see my first releases coming out by the end of 2018 hopefully. I’m not sure if they will be released before the end of 2018 but you will be hearing them in my upcoming gigs in the next few months for sure… I’ll be playing my first track at AIM this weekend :)”
HS: In your opinion, what does it take to make it in this business?
AP: “Hard work, passion, respect, patience, dedication and humbleness I would say.”
HS: If you had 1 piece of advice to give newcomers, what would it be?
AP: “Follow your heart and trust your instincts. Do it because you love it, not for any other reasons. Keep always in mind why you love it so much and hold on to it. Be patient, never give up and always try to be better than you were yesterday. Train your ears. Stop giving yourself excuses. Learn and practice everyday as much as you can. Research and obsess about it. Read your manuals and learn your tools. There’s no magic rule, you just need to practice, practice and practice more. And like Danny Tenaglia told me one day, party but don’t party too hard because it is going to interfere for sure..”
Wow, what a great advice from Alex! Thank you for taking the time to meet with us. We wish you the best of luck and will be dancing to your beautiful music.
We are very excited for the coming months and cannot wait to see him play this weekend. We foresee a great career for this young dj. Make sure to follow him and keep track of his future endeavours. We hope you enjoyed getting to know Alex Pycke better!
If it’s not already done, make sure to grab your tickets for the AIM Music Festival, Alex will be opening the Saturday festivities at noon!
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Article by: Telsa EP