Alex Lowen is a young DJ from Monaco, who began producing music at the age of 17, and had the opportunity to study at the top notch Berklee College of Music in Boston.
Who are currently your main influences in music?
Right now in production, it is Folamour, Laurent Garnier, Disclosure, Jamie Jones and the Edbanger crew for house. For techno I like Stephan Bodzin, Nina Kraviz, Maceo Plex… There are so many, but these are the main ones I’d say.
How do you usually prepare for a night out DJing?
It isn’t a process on the day of, but more of a long term preparation. I am constantly on the lookout for new playlists and I am always organising and searching for new songs, so that whenever I have a gig I’m always ready for it. Even for my own curiosity’s sake, I’m always searching for new sounds and inspiration so in the end, it goes hand in hand.
What do you most enjoy in DJing and producing? Do you have a preference for one or the other?
In terms of gratification they are both very different because production takes place over a much longer period of time, say a couple of months. It takes a lot of time, a lot of sitting down, scratching your head and banging it against the wall sometimes (laughs), because you can’t get the sound right but ultimately you end up with something that is really your own, so that is a great gratification.
In contrast, DJing is more of an instant gratification but also instant punishment when you are judged by the audience. You can see when people start having certain reactions such as “this is a bit too weird” (laughs).
You have to constantly bounce off the feedback and interact with the audience as opposed to when you are producing music and you’re really in your own head. Obviously, you have to play what you like and what is your style but you can always bend the genre’s line a bit to whatever’s going to work best in the moment.
On a night out DJing, do you take any requests?
It depends, sometimes, some requests can be troublesome especially when they represent the ultimate cliché and mainstream songs. Another issue is when I prepare a house set and people come to me with requests for hip hop. That’s kind of weird because it’s gonna kill the vibe that I’ve been setting up for the last hour. So I’m always happy to take requests if it suits the vibe that I am creating. I hate to say ‘no’ because I like to make everyone happy but sometimes I can't do a drastic change in the mood.
Do you have any anecdotes from your DJing experience?
Recently I have witnessed a fight, where a guy called another guy something racist and everyone was shocked. Obviously, that man got kicked out but he also decided to take off his shirt off despite the -2°C temperature outside - it made no sense. Most of the time however, people are very friendly when drunk and want to take a picture with you.
How do you deal with this type of tense situation, how do you make the transition?
That night of the fight was very difficult because it did kill the vibe for a solid 15-20 minutes, as it was a huge distraction but I just kept going until it picked back up.
Is there a specific moment of your career that you are the most proud of?
Being signed to a label because it really represents a stamp of approval for an artist. It’s an independent label and we are planning to collaborate more. A second single is planned to come out in March but in this industry you never know it could also end up being July (laughs).
What are the current challenges you are facing?
There is a lot of competition but most of it seems rather healthy. It’s people raising the bar, which pushes your standards higher and higher each time. Another challenge probably worth mentioning is the constant need for self-discipline. This was definitely a challenge after I graduated and became freelance.
Do you have any favourite clubs you can recommend to STRAND readers?
That really depends on the dj’s because most clubs here have different styles almost every single night. I really enjoy Corsica studios, XOYO, Egg and Fabric. One specific place that really stands out for me is the Green Room at Maddox - they play cool house, deep house and tech house, which constitutes a rare breed for an underground scene in Mayfair.
You can catch Alex Lowen DJing at MNKY HSE in Mayfair or working on a new song in his home studio. To get a sense of his tunes, check out the energetic ‘Copycat’ or the summery “La plage”.