DJ Alex C. has been spinning at Suba every Saturday for his Movida International party for the past seven years and it’s no surprise that he’s made Saturdays there an LES staple. Come the stroke of midnight and all the tables in the basement of Suba are removed, turning its swanky, dimly lit basement into a comfortably cramped dance space for the attractive, young well-to-do latinos and latinas of NYC. DJ Alex stands perched above everyone in what could be called his DJ “crow’s nest” looking surprisingly spiffy and clean considering his late hours as a DJ, and gives the crowd heavy doses of Maná, Juanes, Los Cadillacs and all the rock en español you know and love. He offers the hits re-mixed or straight up, either way there is something to like. Involved with rock en español since ’94, DJ Alex is an authority to say the least. He knows what the audience is expecting and delivers.
We sat down with DJ Alex at Suba before his set to ask him a few questions about how a Japanese guy becomes the DJ for one of the best Latin parties in Manhattan, what drew him to Latin music, when laptop DJ’s became legit, and his top secret source for the best music out there (hint: the answer is Sabado Gigante!!!).
Name: Alex C.
Roots: Japanese + Thai
Day job: Fashion designer/entrepeneur
When and why did you start DJing? First gig was at SOB’s for Jorge Garcia’s party in ’94, there was no budget and no other DJ’s would do it for free. I was sort of thrown into it. Rock en español at the time was a very underground movement in NYC and I really wanted to get the word out on it. One thing led to another and before I knew it, I was DJing before acts like Maná and Juanes. I’ve been DJing every weekend since.
How did you come up with your DJ name? It was misprinted on the first flyer so I’ve kept using that name ever since.
What constitutes a good or bad listening audience? After few cocktails everyone is a good audience.
Song that gets people dancing every time: “Caraluna” by Bacilos, “Limon Y Sal” by Julieta Venegas, and “Pa’ Bailar” by Bajofondo.
Who is the artist that you have used the most in your years of being a DJ, your “go to” artist if you will? Maná
Laptop DJs vs. vinyl? I used to carry crates of vinyl till by back hurt. Now, I have a program that manipulates sounds from my Macbook to sound like vinyl. So everybody wins.
When do you think laptop DJ’s became legit? About three years ago I think people collectively realized that vinyl is really sort of a hassle to transport and maintain. Laptops also really open up opportunities for new DJ’s since they no longer need to own hundreds of records on vinyl.
How would you define your overall sound (all genres excluded)? As stimulation for the brain and body in their search for mates.
How do you discover new music? Sabado Gigante
Where do you get your music (legally or otherwise)? Both, on the illegal side of things there are blogs that offer music sharing which are sometimes more advanced than retail stores or online. This is not very good news for music labels. If I find artists that I am really into on blogs, I give full support financially. Besides, I go to concerts every chance I get, and for that, you can’t really download [that kind of] experience online. You have to be there physically to absorb the live energy from the artists/musicians.
Why and how did you get so into rock en español? Café Tacuba was love at first heard, all the cool, inspiring CD covers and slam dancing were great.
2009 music predictions… Who’s gonna be big this year? Ximena Sarinana, she is like Edith Piaf from La Vie en rose reincarnate, she has an old soul with a modern twist and she is only 17.
Any current projects? Taking Movida International to a bigger space so that we can accommodate growing crowds and incorporate some live acts.
Have you spun in in other cities? Tokyo, Los Angeles, Barcelona, and Dubai.
Why did you choose New York? I believe an alien spaceship will land on Central Park one day, that is simply the type of thing I can’t miss.
Whats your favorite phrase/saying you use to kill time on the mic or hype up an audience? I don’t really speak during the set, but I like to wave my hands in the air so the audience knows I am not texting anyone.
Where do you hang out when not DJing? Cielo in the Meatpacking District. They have killer sound system.
Guilty pleasure: “Luz de luna” by Chavela Vargas
Biggest challenges? Staying healthy while DJing till 4am every weekend.
What makes someone a “cosmopolatino?” Someone who is interested in music, arts, traveling, food, politics, current world’s affair and the Oscar.
Any huge Latin influences in you life? Almodovar, Frida Carlos, Dali, and El Chacal de la trompeta.
Current obsessions/addictions: Guitar hero, my new kitten, meditation, reading bad economy news, tracking mortgage rates and all things Obama.
Where were you and what were you doing 5 years ago? Exactly 5 years ago today, I was snorkeling with sharks in Bali.
Best recent meal: Mom’s homemade chicken soup. The best remedy for cold.
Movie that best represents your life: Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Latin food or Japanese food? This is a tough one…no comment.
And before I forget, can you even speak Spanish? I don’t speak Spanish in the current life, but I strongly believe I did in a past one.
**Movida International has now officially moved to CL lounge on 9th ave on Saturdays at 11pm, No Cover. **