Simon Alaya conjures dark, enchanting techno in this week’s recommended mix

Simon Alaya

Simon Alaya Ryan Motta

Simon Alaya’s been everywhere.

Lots of local DJs travel a lot for their work. But Alaya, who lives in East St. Paul and has been spinning around the Midwest for almost a quarter-century, came by his globetrotting naturally.

“I was born in St Paul,” he says. “However I traveled most of my childhood worldwide. I lived in Milan, Italy; Bahrain, Persian Gulf; Paris; and Tokyo before returning to live in Minnesota in my teens. My dad is French; I have dual citizenship and residence in France and [I’ve spent] most every summer there until recently. I was back in the Minneapolis area starting in the early nineties for the start of the Midwest rave scene.”

Getting on the decks for the first time in late 1994, he played raves and held a late ’90s residency at Minneapolis’s Ground Zero. He’s a member of the SYSTEM crew, which puts on word-of-mouth events around town, as well as the former promoter of the parties Serendipity, Techne (with the Kenderline brothers), and House of Rock (with Ryan Motta). Alaya was also a regular at Asian Taste’s House Therapy between 2015 and 2017, as well as playing a pair of sets in the Headspace Collective Dome last year at Even Furthur.

Alaya started out playing breaks and trance; in the early 2000s he was mostly playing progressive house. These days, Alaya typically veers from house to techno, and the latter is where the heart of his set last month at Black Mass (March 25, 2018) lies. It’s coolly understated, the kind of mix that tugs at the corners of your attention whenever you’re not giving it your full ear. “The name of the series itself lends to a feeling of enchantment and dark vibes that I tried to capture in my own way,” he says. “That room has so much history with the old Rogue and Foundation nights. It’s always an honor to get to give that Funktion-1 system a workout.”

And Alaya promises a return to progressive house days for his appearance with Quivver this weekend. “I’m excited to get to dive back into my roots a bit,” he says.

Spektrum presents Quivver
With: Broadway Jones, Simon Alaya, Colin Udvig
Where: To be announced
When: 10 p.m. Fri. Apr. 20
Tickets: $20; more info here

Are you a Twin Cities dance-music DJ? Michaelangelo Matos wants to hear your latest set. He writes about recent mixes by local DJs every Thursday for City Pages. Tweet to his attention: @matoswk75.