The Brazilian-born DJ/producer Alex Stein has been making music for over a decade and, in recent times, has become one of underground techno’s most exciting names. The German-based talent has risen to his well-deserved prominence through a string of impressive releases on revered labels such as Suara, Senso Sounds, Great Stuff, Sincopat, Hydrozoa and Filth on Acid and his stellar DJ performances at some of the world’s leading clubs/events in countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Indonesia, Netherlands and Australia to name just a few. DMCWORLD checks in with the main man as he starts the new year as he means to go on – with a barrage of huge dancefloor essentials…
Hello Alex, Happy New Year and welcome to DMC World, where are you in the world today?
Hi guys, thanks for having me, a Happy New Year to all our readers and the crew! I am currently in (what is left of) my studio in São Paulo, Brazil. I’m just about finishing up taking everything apart and preparing to move everything to my new home in Berlin.
How was your 2018 and what were your main highlights?
My 2018 was absolutely amazing. It was one of the, if not the most challenging years in my career and also personal life. Every aspect of my life has changed in the last 6 months and it has been such a wonderful experience. Highlights of the year for me was signing with Miracle MGMT from Spain to do my management and bookings and Kontrast Artists from Germany to represent me there and Austria and Switzerland. Such a great group of people, it is such an empowering experience to work with people who are actively excited and happy to be working with you, and the support from everyone in both teams has been amazing. My move back to Germany, this time to live and base myself in Berlin which is very important to me personally. I couldn’t leave out the releases I’ve had this year that made me so happy, my debut EP on Tronic, remixing Oliver Huntemann’s ’Taktik’ for his Senso Sounds label and also my debut EP on Filth On Acid with my brother Kalil. So many highs in 2018, I can’t even begin to think what 2019 will hold.
How did you spend New Year’s Eve and have you made any New Year’s resolutions?
I spent NYE working, as I have been the last 10 years or so. At least the location was great, at Praia da Pipa, in Rio Grande do Norte, northern Brazil. It’s a paradise-like place and having a good friend join me for the trip was all I needed to start the year off the best way possible. New Year’s resolutions include trying to make more music than I think is humanly possible, being closer to my health and try to show as many people as possible that if you love what you do and you have a never-quit mindset, anything is possible.
You’ve recently released your ‘Emerge’ EP with K.A.L.I.L. on Filth on Acid and will also soon be releasing your ‘Radium’ EP with Blackroof on Sian’s Octopus Black. It would be great if you can please tell us a bit about the creative process behind both releases?
Yes, I’ve just received news that ‘Emerge’ entered Beatport’s Techno Top10 at #8! Super happy about the release on FOA and also on Sian’s label Octopus Black, of which I have been a long-time fan of. Well both EP’s were made with good friends and great producers so I can say it was a quite natural process. Working with other artists for me is often great and super easy, as it was the case in these EPs. All tracks were made in my studio in São Paulo, but since Carlos, from Blackroof lives in Curitiba, we did both tracks over the internet, and with Kalil, we were both in the studio together. The synth line from ‘Emerge’ came from an idea we had heard and we then took a few hours to draw in every single note as neither of us can play the piano. But we knew we had something special when we did it because we listened to that loop and the breakdown for a while exploring where that track could go and everything we tried sounded great. It’s one of those moments in the studio. The EP with Blackroof as I said was made through the web, Carlos sent me 2 projects he had started and I finished them in a matter of a few days, always sending him audio demos so he could chime in on what I was doing. Super relaxed, and I’m very glad we’re releasing it on Octopus as we both spoke about the label when we were making the tracks.
You’re also a talented remixer having reworked tracks by Oliver Huntemann, Rocksted & Fractall, Julio Navas, Aardy and Phonic Scoupe amongst others. How do you set about remixing a track and who would you most like to remix one of your own tracks?
Usually it is pretty straight forward for me when it comes to remixing a track. I ask to have a listen in on the original and the individual parts, and if I listen in and can imagine doing things differently than the original or if I start getting ideas then we’re good. I always know instantly if this is a remix I want to do or not. In this case with Oliver, he asked me if I’d like to remix a track of his album and I said yes before even listening to anything (of course!). But there was a catch: I only had 10 days to deliver it. The first 4 days I was basically freaking out and didn’t get anything done. Then in the next 3 days I did 4 different versions of the track and used the remaining days to decide which one I should send him. Thank God he liked the one I also had chosen the best and the rest of the story you guys already know haha.
Please tell us about your key pieces of studio equipment and how long it took for you to hone your very detailed and distinctive sound?
Over the years I have grown a bit more minimalistic when it comes to gear, but that also has to do with the insanely abusive prices of gear here in Brazil, if they’re even available. Things I cannot go without is a good computer with a good amount of CPU, my RME soundcard, UAD Plug-ins and Dynaudio speakers. That has been my setup for the last decade almost. My favourite synths are all Moog’s and I used a Sub37 for the last couple of years which I loved. But I have made absolute banger tracks on my MacBook Pro, just with the UAD Plugins and a Senheiser HD25 headphone, so it’s more how you use it than what you have.
You’re from Brazil but, we understand, will permanently move to Berlin in February? Why the change and why Berlin?
Yeah. I was born in Brazil but was brought up in Germany until I was 6 and the family moved back to Brazil again. I later returned to do university in Amsterdam and then Frankfurt so it’s been a long love affair with Germany and I. It truly is my second home. I felt it was time to move back to Germany as I think that I have so much more space to grow in Berlin, specially in the Techno scene, because, well you know, Berlin. And I was travelling so much these last 2 years, sometimes having gigs abroad on 3 weekends out of 4 and it just didn’t make sense to be flying back and forth to Brazil that often anymore. Berlin is much more central and gives me a chance to travel more and do more gigs without the expense of losing half a week because of jet lag and layovers. I’m very excited to be back!
Over the past year you’ve performed to audiences in Australia, Germany, Switzerland, Holland, Brazil, Argentina, Turkey and France to name just a few places. However, where would you say has the best reaction to your music and where would you most like to play that you haven’t yet?
Well, I think that Australia has one of the warmest and most responsive crowd I have ever played for. The support I have been getting there over the years is honestly overwhelming for me. They are always keen for a good party and they sure do let you know you are doing a good job when you’re playing for them. I just love them! Germany has a similar vibe but in a totally different way. It is a lot more subtle but equally strong. People don’t care as much for genre, label or where you are from. Music is the headliner, but when you get it right, the vibe is amazing! I’d really like to visit and play in Japan and also hopefully one day I’ll play a gig at the Gashouder in Amsterdam.
What is your current top 5 you are smashing out?
SUDO – Booster
Victor Ruiz & Thomas Schumacher – Wonder
Alex Stein & KALIL – Emerge
SAMA – The Beholder
Pig & Dan – Lost Another Angel
What are your plans for 2019?
Well, like I said above, I want to try and make as much music as I can this year, I want to come back to some of the tables I have released and have a few new ones on my ‘list’ where I want to release on. Establishing myself in Berlin and starting from the ground up won’t be easy but I hope I can build myself another studio as soon as possible. Also, have my dog Moog living with me in Berlin (already working on it) and meet as many new cool people as possible!