06 Nov In:Focus / Alex Virgo
Alex Virgo is on the cusp of something big. Based in London and breaking out as a DJ and producer the hype surrounding him is only growing and evolving with each passing weekend. A flurry of hi-NRG disco-tinged dance cuts like ’Ze Dance’, ‘Sexy Boy’ and ‘Keep Lookin’’ have kept the fire burning for Alex over the past year or so, and now, the attention is on what’s coming next.
Before he takes over the controls at In:Motion with one of his first all-night long sets, appearing in The Tunnel as Skream hosts the main room on 29th December, we get all up in Alex Virgo’s business with an exclusive two hour mix and a lengthy chat. From his humble origins as an Ed Banger fanboy to his thoughts on being an ‘up-and-comer’, get to know all about Alex Virgo and book those tickets to see him in the flesh before they disappear.
How did you first start getting into clubbing, and what were the artists you looked up to in your early years?
I think my gateway into dance music was through artists like Soulwax, Erol Alkan and the Ed Banger crew, I was generally quite obsessed with a lot of that electro coming out of France when I was starting out. My first clubbing experiences in London were at places like The End & Fabric as a rave hungry, fresh faced eighteen-year-old.
Since then, how would you say you’ve developed and grown as a DJ?
In my case, DJing came first. I’ve been involved with various UK club nights and festivals for the best part of 9 years now and have been exposed to so much interesting music during this time. I’ve had the opportunity to play in front a lot of different crowds, big and small which I think this has been fundamental to how I approach DJing now, understanding the dynamics of a dancefloor with a trial and error attitude. Luckily, this is far more instinctive these days.
The transition into producing music came about four or five years ago where I wanted to attempt to recreate what I was being influenced by at the time, but its only later on when I’ve improved my production skills that I’ve actually started to make music that really fits into my DJing style. I guess this is where the focus of my particular sound originated from, even though there is still quite a wide spectrum of style in my own productions.
You’re at a point in your musical career where you’re playing bigger shows, taking over festival stages and your records are getting picked up by some of the biggest DJs in the game. How does this moment feel to you?
It’s all pretty overwhelming to be honest. When I take a step back to think about what’s happened so far, it’s pretty mad, but mostly because it’s all happened in such a short period of time. I am always focussing on what’s next though which means you are not always appreciating everything as a whole.
It’s a very exciting time looking forward as literally today I sent off the first release for my new label ‘Pomme Frite’. I think a high proportion of DJs and producers dream of starting their own label one day. This has been in the back of my mind for four years now so it’s nice to finally see it come to life and have creative freedom and full control over a project like this.
What can you do with an all-night long set that you can’t with a two hour club slot or a festival set?
I think the obvious thing is that it gives an artist the opportunity to express themselves very honestly and dig much deeper into their record bag to show what really makes them tick. I’m looking forward to fully dictating the dynamics of the night for once, building it from right at the beginning and picking the moments where I want to properly go for it throughout the set. This is a chance for me to play a lot of interesting music that I’ve never had the opportunity to play out before which is really exciting.
As a clubber, what’s your most memorable all nighter?
Tough call…one party that really sticks out in my mind was the James Murphy and Soulwax ‘Despacio’ show at The Roundhouse. I heard a lot of my favourite classic records all through the night and while it still flowed well and had a specific narrative, the real focus was mainly on the quality of records, as opposed to the technicality of how they were being presented which is what proper DJing is about.
More recently I’ve been enjoying the regular Phonox Sunday parties. It’s local for me and I’ve seen some incredible DJs playing extended sets all afternoon and evening including Gilles Peterson, Pender Street Steppers & Gerd Janson (I think that was a Friday though) etc etc.
Likewise, as a DJ, what’s the best open to close set you’ve played?
Whilst I’ve already played and enjoyed playing longer sets I don’t think I’ve ever actually played a full open to close set before, not for eight straight hours anyway which is why this one is super special to me. Be gentle.
Tell us about this mix…where was it recorded?
So, this mix was recorded from the comfort of my own home in South London on a bright autumnal afternoon with two 2000’s and a 900 NXS2 Mixer. It sounds incredibly sensible and grown up for me which is a rarity. That said, I had a lot of fun recording this one as it showcases the various sides of my tastes all crammed into two full hours, whilst trying to maintain a certain level of energy and flow throughout.
What are some of the records we can expect to hear at your all nighter at In:Motion?
Given the opportunity expect to hear a wide variety of Italo, disco, house, techno, Afro and some curveballs that should keep people on their toes. I have loads of forthcoming material and new edits that I want to play, but in all honesty, I want my approach on this one to be fairly fluid. I don’t want to over plan it so I guess we will have to see on the night…
Alex joins us this December: moti.onl/skream18