Laïkó music – or “song of the people” – emerged in 1930s Greece steeped in a folk tradition stretching back centuries. Characterized by coupling Mediterranean influences with Greek vocals, it quickly became the engine room of Greece’s musical culture drove it to some unexpected places.
By dint of a prolific output and impeccable selection of all things eccentric, sinister and opaque, Aleksa Alaska has shot up through the Romanian circuit and is starting to turn a sizable set of heads. We invited her to put together the 16th entry of our mix series and received a mind-bending RSVP.
Hi Alexa, what’s going on at the moment?
Hi Ryan! I’m currently in Mexico for a month. Practicing my Spanish, eating tacos, getting a lot of sun and way too much sleep. Life’s good, and it feels like time is running slooow.
This mix has a real air of spontaneity around it. Did you plan many of the songs beforehand, or mostly freewheel?
I’m glad to hear it! Well, it’s a little bit of both… When I have to do a mix, I make a rough selection – thirty to fifty tracks I’ve obsessively listened to lately – and when I start recording I’ll play them in an order that makes sense to me at that moment. Sometimes I have two or three tracks I want to play at specific times, but it wasn’t the case with this one. This mix contains 22 tracks sorted by BPM, starting from 80 and building their way up to 130.
You’ve mentioned before you’re quite weather-sensitive and prone to expressing current moods in your output. Did your inner or outer climate find its way into the mix?
Yes, that’s right. I’m also a bit hyperactive, and sometimes you can feel it in my mixes – especially when the sounds change abruptly. Some people say my mixes sound inconsistent and it might be true, but these mixes aren’t meant for the dancefloor. But I don’t want my sets to be background music either: they’re supposed to keep you there.
I think the mix has a lively, tropical and dubby vibe. Some of the drums and percussion were inspired by my surroundings, but I don’t like sets that have the same sound all the way through – hence the rhythmic noise and rough German/Belgian industrial sounds. A lot of the tracks are from the 80s. It’s a decade I’ve been exploring in most of my mixes and radio shows, regardless of genre and style.
Any personal highlights from events played in the last year?
In retrospect, everything has happened fast. It’s been a short period of time – going from playing small events to larger ones, and playing locally in Romania versus playing internationally and so on. Each of these events has meant something completely different to me, not least because they were all so different. I found every one extremely valuable. Lessons have been learned and mistakes have been made, but the best part has been the incredible people I’ve met since I started DJing.
I know you’ve been thinking about relocating for a while now, but do you have a favorite venue in Bucharest?
Despite Bucharest’s rich musical heritage and incredible potential, going out in my city feels a little like Groundhog Day at the moment. For reasons neither I nor my friend can comprehend, the city’s music scene lacks the effervescence it once had.
When I go out it’s either at Control Club, probably the only club where you’ll find a bit of diversity in their bookings, or Club Guesthouse, even though I’m not the biggest fan of the music they’re promoting, most of which is “rominimal”.
Besides that I love the vibe of Queer Night, a series that has become a staple of the local scene, and the 13-year-old Rokolectiv Festival, which I’ve been attending for almost 10 years now and where I’ll be playing for the first time this year.
What’s next from here?
That’s something I’d also like to know but I’m not in a hurry to find out. I’m enjoying everything that’s going on right now and I’m not making any big plans.
My main points of focus for this year are music, traveling and preparing a clothing line with my friends; apart from that, no idea! But I’m excited.