Lady Lex | 25 May 2015

Where music has been played and people have danced to it, subsequently there has been the dancefloor. Dance is the art of movement of the body, and used before written language to pass down stories from generation to generation. And dance and music have continued to intertwine across the millennia until modern technology sees dance and music uniting in this day and age as one art and culture through the sounds, art, fashion, environment and technology. What continues to shine under that glittering disco ball is that it is the dancefloor that inspires dance music.

Chicago fabricated, Swedish based DJ-Producer Amir Alexander has always allowed the culture and movement of the dancefloor to inspire his sounds. It’s a perfect circle that first started in 1993 after he had recently dropped out of music school and found the wheels of steel. While mastering his craft, a move into the studio in 1996 saw his music skills expanding into realms beyond mixing purely for the dancefloor and into production; though the dancefloor – or more to the point, primarily dancing – remains the source of his inspiration. While it’s been an organic process, Amir’s journey and thirst to learn has never waned, and in 2006, he established Vanguard Sound to chart the natural growth of his musical prowess. A number of releases - most significantly through Plan B Recordings – established Amir as a proper underground highlight in the global arena of classic house, with Vanguard shoring up the principals of the artistic body movement inspired-ethos he emulates. 

This Prince, Ruler and Commander of house lands on Brisbane shores at Sway Cocktail Bar & Lounge when our underground scene returns to the Valley with fresh classic sounds for a vinyl set destined to rock the dancefloor. And in the lead up to his gig, we chat how as a perfectionist he presents the perspective of a poor black kid from various ghettos, suburbs and inner cities across the US who loved to listen to music and dance, and strives to create music that moves the feet, touches the soul, and stirs the mind. With the message of his productions inspiring dancers to "jack ya body, question authority, be thoughtful, be kind and wake up!", Amir Alexander’s sounds are smart, sexy, raw street music for intellectuals, party people, dancers and lovers of the adventurous.

You’ve been a DJ-Producer for almost two decades now, and you follow a very classic sound of blues and soul fused to Chicago house, Detroit techno and the underground of New York. What do you do to keep your sounds fresh and relevant? 
I live life, honestly and truthfully. I live this music everyday. I also read and research voraciously and keep my mind as finely tuned as I can. Learning is my entertainment so getting better at what I do is pleasurable to me - like some people might enjoy solving puzzles, or Sudoku. I am a fan of this culture and I really love to dance, so that is my prime motivation. 

How do you challenge yourself as an artist to develop your skills and your sound?
I'm a Virgo with a bit of a perfectionist complex. That helps immensely. All jokes aside, I really love this culture and I want to contribute to it in a way that inspires someone the way I was inspired to do this. 

While your music has always been about house music and has evolved across the ages, what is the enduring character that has lasted regardless of what you play and where you play?
The blues, I think. The actual notes. The use of the soulful "blue notes" regardless of genre or form. I'm a sucker for the right notes moving in a way that stirs primordial emotions. My Uncle James always said that all music came from the blues. In many ways he was correct - although I was too young and green to get what he meant back then.

You’ve just released your artist album Love & Fear on the Anunnakai Cartel label with a three-week tour on three continents to finish up in in Barcelona with Derrick May, Delano Smith, Jeremy ‘Underground Paris’, Ryan Elliot and Nick Hoppner. What inspired the name of the album and what does it means to you to be able to finally release it?
I felt driven to compose a very personal introspective Artist Album this time and do the Dance Album next time. Dichotomy And Dualismmanifested on this physical plane in the form of my son Indigo Nibiru Alexander born last September on my birthday. Love - like I could have never imagined before he was born, accompanied by the fear that comes with the birth of one's first child, as well as the love it took to just make an album the way they were made when I grew up. This is an album that no one expects me to make, but the only album I could make, because I am actually the only person on this planet who could have made it. Right now, I feel our culture needs that particular frequency vibration. I felt a need to take it back to basics, back to the essence. The Fearaspect comes from knowing that many will be expecting what amounts to a super dope double EP from me.

What do you think is the biggest challenge out there as an artist today compared to the days of yesteryear and how do you work with this?
Being able to make a living as an artist - hands down. Nothing else even comes close. I stay true to my self and my artistic vision. I also stay humble and try to be kind to everyone no matter how tired or stressed I might be from traveling all over the place. It's a learning process that involves on the job training. Being that I am a perfectionist and a strict professional, I sometimes must remind myself to let some things pass when dealing with different types of personalities and potential misunderstandings due to the myriad of things that can go off script. I always remind myself "lighten up. It's a party" then I smile. All I can do is put out quality work, do my best, and treat people as best as I possibly can.

Do you have a message for your Australian fans?
My first time here was a lifelong dream come true, but I could never have imagined the love and support I would receive from an entire continent. It's good to be back. I really appreciate being appreciated. Peace be unto you.

When you come to Brisbane to perform a vinyl set at Sway Cocktail Bar & Lounge for Proper, what can the audience expect to hear from you?
I try to encapsulate the best moments, vibrations, sounds, and emotions from my twenty-plus years experience as a dancer who collects and mixes records and also makes tracks from the perspective of a poor black kid from various ghettos, suburbs, and inner cities across the United States in the late 80's onward. You can expect to hear music that you want to listen to while you're dancing to it. I play for the dancers. That's what's up.

Proper presents Amir Alexander at Sway Cocktail Bar & Lounge from 9pm, Friday May 29 with tickets available here.
Love & Fear is available on the Anunnakai Cartel label on limited vinyl releases and digitally from here.

Photographer: Marie Staggat


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