Trommel’s next Rising Star took 2018 by storm, releases on DeWalta’s Meander and a double EP on Lowris’ Æternum Music are impressive in their own right, but we feel that Swiss music producer Alci is just getting started on his journey.
Whilst currently based in Zurich, Switzerland, Alci has played all over the world, from Epizode to Rex Club to Club Der Visionaire.
Without further ado, we’re incredibly pleased to present our next Rising Star…
Hey Alci! Thanks for talking to Trommel. How are you doing?
I’m fine, hopefully you guys are doing well. Thanks for having me.
Your Resident Advisor biography interested me. It reads ‘Never give a sword to a man who can’t dance…’ What’s the significance of this quote?
This is a quote by Confucius, which points out that if you have no art in your soul, you are not able to be a warrior, but just a soldier.
We all need a balance to our warrior energy. In my eyes, this energy can be found in the capacity of being sensitive about music, as well being able to take inspiration within the sensorial stimuli of everyday life.
Seeing beauty in dance moves, sounds, landscapes, in conversations, being curious about our differences and foreign cultures. It allows us to feel joy and peace. Without this energy, the inner warrior can become too savage. Especially because we live in a wild society, in which taking what you want and lashing out at whatever hurts us is a very common practice.
So from the beginning, what were your first steps into music? And how did DJing come about?
I was surrounded by the Hip-hop culture since my early years. I was into graffiti, breakdancing and so on, but in the end I found my very own place behind the turntables. Music has held a high meaning to me since day one. As the years passed by, this feeling grew stronger and stronger. The need and urge to create sounds grew as I got older so I decided to start producing music.
It didn’t take long for me to dive into electronic music after my DJing debut. I felt I needed more freedom to express myself in my creations and electronic music was the platform which enabled that.
And of course, you’re Swiss. How is the scene currently in Switzerland?
Zurich has an impressively high concentration of clubs, considering the size of the city. Which is, on one hand, a good thing, as the programming varies a lot and it’s diverse every weekend. Every club and party series works with assiduous promoters and whole teams of people who are unquestionably dedicated to the local nightlife. They truly keep the scene alive.
Zurich has a lot of possibilities to offer clubbers, mostly electronic music lovers, in the whole range from underground to more “commercial” music if I can say so. The other side of the coin is that the more clubs pop up, the less public you will have in the single clubs which try to establish themselves in the Zurich scene. That would be the only problem I can mention.
Zurich offers the chance for clubs to stay about for a long time, take Supermarket Club as an example, which opened in 1998, it celebrated its 20 year anniversary in a couple of months ago.
In 2018 you played all over the world including five continents! How do you manage the constant travel that accompanies DJing?
I like to travel, I already loved to fly as a kid. So it is not so hard to travel for me, I managed to adopt it to my everyday life smoothly. I make sure to eat well, to manage to sleep in between flights or on the plane. Keeping these easy habits make it easier to travel without being too tired upon arrival. But yes, delays and unexpected waiting times can get really hard sometimes.
What are some of your favourite countries to play in?
I don’t really have a favourite place.
Every place has something special, their own mentality and is beautiful in its own way.
The people are so different in every country, but when a collective is dancing to the rhythm, and enjoying the night, the energy feels the same everywhere.
In August you played Sunwaves 24, arguably the pinnacle of festivals in our scene, how was that?
Sunwaves was something special for me. A dream come true.
It’s an incredible feeling knowing that almost all of your favourite artist also played on the same decks. I am honoured to be a part of this Sunwaves journey.
Who are some of your musical inspirations?
In the electronic scene, I can definitely say that Ricardo Villalobos is my biggest inspiration.
What do you find inspiring about Ricardo Villalobos?
His outside the box thinking. From the creative to the technical side of his music.
Are you able to pick one Villalobos track that you find particularly inspiring or a favourite one?
There are several tracks by Ricardo Villalobos that I simply adore. It’s impossible to pick only one track as my personal favourite. Every single one has something worth to listen to.
In this manner, I think I would pick ‘’Dependent and Happy’’ in its entirety on Perlon.
Your release on Apollonia’s label back in 2015 was when most people had their favourite encounter with your music. Do you still keep in touch with those guys?
Of course, we are still in touch. We became good friends in the summer of 2014 in Ibiza. The first time I went to DC10 that summer just when I walked in the club I heard my track ‘’Rump Shaker’’ and I went directly to the booth to tell them that this was my track.
The guys supported and played my tracks a lot so they decided I could release on Apollonia. The EP was created directly after I went to the Lola-Ed agency at the end of 2014.
Your Forgotten Time EP on Meander received some excellent praise from the community. What’s the story with this one?
Meander is one of my favourite labels out there, the quality of output since its inception has been amazing.
I think I met DeWalta the first time in Amsterdam at ADE back in 2015. Since then I’ve met him at some other locations but we’ve never really spoken about music.
I really felt as though my music would fit into his sets, so I started sending him my music. He told me when I saw that him that he loved my sound and since then he’s played my music a lot.
Then one day he asked me if I would be up for doing an EP on Meander! We chose the tracks and after 3-4 weeks, I had the test pressing in my hand.
And of course your recent release on Lowris’ Æternum label…
I met Lowris 2 years before the EP. Once we spoke via Facebook about music, we continued to talk through Skype and after that, by phone. It was a quick decision to make the EP but to finish the full double EP took a bit time.
What’s the piece of gear you couldn’t make music without?
I would say my ears!
I am visualizing the ideas or frequencies in my head and trying to reproduce them. My ears have to match my visualizing.
Of course, some gear is giving its own characteristic but I think without good ears you can’t move forward.
What’s your thought process when creating a track? Do you always start with a particular aspect or do you try to create a track to fit a particular mood or feeling?
I think it’s more oriented to my mood or feeling. At first, I try to visualize my ideas in my head. How it could be done and reproduced on the limited frequency spectrum we have.
At the start, I always tried to define what I was doing, if the track will be a dance track or more something special, more experimental. But I got stuck a lot with this process because it gave me a strange feeling, resulting in not being able to express myself properly.
Now I don’t care about choosing a category or a style and I respect every outcome as its own thing, which I may or may not develop further. If something bothers me, I will do a new take instead of changing the elements or the feeling/mood of it.
My relation to music changed a lot since I learned to respect my creative flows and outcomes.
So a track shouldn’t be specifically focused on making people dance or creating a deeper, emotional response?
I think a track should do what it does. Either making people dance or giving them a deeper feeling or making them angry, melancholic…Everyone will feel something different, and even when the producer was aiming for a different energy, people can interpret it differently.
Maybe somebody will dance his feet off to a track and some others will have a deeper connection to it and dive into their mind. I think the aim of a track is not relevant. What really counts is what people want to feel by listening.
You talk a lot about positive energy in the music scene. Do all have a responsibility to keep our scene positive, inclusive and safe? Are we failing to do this at all?
I think we all are creators.
If we all think or at least try to think positive, we are all able to create a really good vibe.
In my opinion, when someone comes with a cloud of negativity to a party, he will
automatically see the negative sides of the night and will also affect other people with it.
I think of it like an ink stain getting bigger and bigger on blotting paper. That’s why we should be positive when we enter the club and for sure we can contaminate the others with our vibe. Everyday life is already affected by negative energy. It starts from the first lecture in the morning on the way to work until the night time daily news when we go to bed.
Are you more of a fan of DJing or producing?
I started both at the same time back then. There is no more or less between the two. Both are really important to me and are connected to each other. So I have no preference for one of them.
What excites you in underground music right now?
It’s the freedom as a producer and DJ to push the boundaries. The phenomenon I currently observe is the interest of people who start digging even if they are not DJs.
You will see a whole bunch of friends being truly interested in the matter, sharing the same passion that leads DJ, digging into old and new sounds, being more aware of the music they listen to.
It’s a warm feeling to see people who have developed a good knowledge about this universe, dancing and appreciating music in its wider context and at its fair value.
What makes a great party for you personally?
Only a few ingredients are needed for a great party.
Connection amongst the present people, a receptive crowd, an open-minded DJ and topped off with positive vibes all-around.
What do fans of Alci have to look forward to in 2019?
There is a South America tour being planned at the moment and of course some other gigs as well as music projects. So keep in touch!
You can follow and keep up to date with Alci on Facebook, SoundCloud and Resident Advisor.