DJ Q&A: Otherworldly spaceman Alexander East
An integral part of the Minneapolis house music scene for well over a decade, Alexander East is quick to tell you that he's not from this planet, but from his own little corner of the universe. Still, for a spaceman, he's got a solid grip on what moves people here on Earth. A tireless DJ, producer, and label chief, he might as well have eight arms (tentacles?) to work on all of his varied projects at once. He's involved in an array of musical ventures that take him all over the city, and any of his live shows are as much a showcase of his talents as they are an opportunity for other artists to add to the ecclectic mix of funk, soul, and dance. We caught up with Alexander to talk with him a bit about tonight's show at the 7th St. Entry.
Gimme Noise: Your live shows seem like they could include just about anything. What kind of stuff can we expect from the show at the Entry tonight, and what else can we look forward to in 2009?
Alexander East: The night's going to start off with a DJ by the name of Elliott Payne--Elliott and I are going to be playing a DJ set with some live stuff, live drums. Then there's an MC, a girl MC, Alicia Leafgreen. I'm actually going to be behind her, playing bass. Then, Mayda goes on with Michael Bland being the drummer--he's one of my favorite drummers, so that's going to be really cool. I did a little production work for them, and I've had other projects with Michael. Then, right after that, I'm gonna go on and DJ. Around 1 o'clock, I'm going to be playing more of a minimal techno set. So there's gonna be lots of projects going on. The big thing for me, though, is for me to have as much fun as possible. (Laughs)
I'm also working on coming out with an album in the next couple months that's going to be on my label, Planet East. I'm just releasing new music all the time on Stompy.com and Traxsource.com. There are other websites that I have releases on, but I invest a little more time in those two than other mp3 sites.
GN: Speaking of mp3s, what's on your player? What are you listening to right now?
AE: (Laughs) You know what? It's really cool that you asked that, I had a dream last week that someone asked me that. What I listen to is not anything that you probably think I would listen to, y'know? Oh God, I got Iron Maiden, I have Bobby Womack, Stevie Wonder of course--but not the hits. The songs that people don't really know about. My favorite Stevie album is Fulfillingness' First Finale. I listen to a lot of older music, a lot of AM stuff, even stuff like Kenny Loggins or Todd Rundgren. Right now, David Bowie. On the other side, real hip hop. I love Eric B. and Rakim. I really listen to everything.
That's what is special about Minneapolis, too: there's everything here. All kinds of music, all kinds of people. There's some kind of element up here that I'm still trying to figure out. I'm not from here...but y'know, I travel a lot, I tour a lot, and I end up up coming back to Minneapolis.
GN: With everything you're involved in, you're a pretty busy guy. What are the five items that you just couldn't live without?
AE: You mean live, like in our carnal bodies? Like, here on Earth? Aww man, it sounds bad, but coffee. (Laughs) Other than that, at this point in my life, there have been times where I've had lots of things, lots of things, and then there's times where I've had nothing. If I have something, cool; if I don't, cool. You said five things? Man, that's a pretty good question. There's nothing material...nothing here on this Earth that I need. Just as long as I can breathe and survive...this sounds really weird, I know, but I don't really need anything. Man, I'm glad we're not on TV and you asked me that.
GN: Ha! Didn't mean to catch you too off guard! It seems like most DJs and musicians have a Myspace, but searches on your name didn't really pull anything up. Why no Myspace?
AE: Oh, up until a few weeks ago I did have a Myspace. I started from scratch again a few days ago, but, now I just feel like Myspace is dead. I'd add people that I thought were friends, and just get a ton of spam from them. That's it. I quit Facebook for a while, but now I'm back on. That's a different thing though, because with Myspace, I had too few real friends, and with Facebook, I have too many. I know a bunch of people, and I'd spend all day responding to them instead of doing real work.
GN: From the Entry to the Mainroom to the VIP, you've played all over First Ave. Do you have a favorite memory of the place?
AE: I do, actually. Funny, it was the very first time I went to First Ave. Me and my girlfriend had just moved here from Ohio in 1991, and we went. I expected that First Ave was gonna look like Purple Rain, you know? I never figured that they'd give the place a makeover. We're dressed up, because we're thinking that everyone there is dressed up. We showed up to a hard techno event and we didn't know the style. We were way overdressed. Like, almost tuxedo overdressed. But, now that I've been there a lot and most nights are--I don't want to say blurred together--it's just kinda like my home.
For more information on Alex, visit Planet East Music.
Alexander East with Mayda and guests - Thursday, June 11th, 2009 - 7th St. Entry - 18+ - 8pm - $6 adv. / $6 door.
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