K Alexi & DJ Pierre

Inner Soul Sampling, Cultural Accreditation & House Music Dedication

A conversation with pioneering Acid and Chicago House DJs, producers and remixers, K Alexi & DJ Pierre.

“RipX DAW has been a game-changer for me when it comes to approaching old and new music. If your creativity is limitless like mine is, then I can say that RipX DAW will satisfy even the most curious, the totally boundless, and the most divergently creative minds that this musical industry has to offer. It’s a DAW but to me as a producer and remixer, it’s what the MPC was to sampling.”

To call DJ Pierre and K Alexi “legendary” DJs and producers is no over-estimation…….the long-term friends have seen shifts and trends in the dance music industry come and go like the changing of the seasons; yet both remain at the top of their game, firmly focused on producing, playing and respecting their love for underground house music in all its forms.

K Alexi: I grew up in a middle-class family. As a young man and teenager before music found me, I was heavily into sports, or ‘extreme sports’ as they were more commonly called at the time. But music led to the end of me playing sports and almost everything else.

DJ Pierre: I got into music because of my father and my uncle who’s also my name sake. His name was Nathaniel. My uncle played with Duke Ellington as a part of his orchestra whenever he toured in Chicago and the Chicagoland area. He played clarinet and that’s why the first instrument I played was clarinet, my first introduction into music. But what got me into making music started with a school dance. It was the first time I saw a live DJ playing so when I heard this song come on and the intro was going on way longer than it should have, I went up front to watch this guy and to see if he had some extended version of the song. I had no idea that I would be so totally fascinated with what I saw him doing that from that point onwards, for the rest of my life a day wouldn’t go by where my world wasn’t all about the music, making, and playing it out as a DJ! That day, that guy changed my life forever!

Then rather unknowingly, they found themselves at the start of the house music revolution, and the rest is history.

K Alexi: It was pretty easy to dive head first into this, and subsequently turn it into a career. I didn’t really choose and as far as my house music calling, it was just music back then. The ‘house’ part wasn’t added on until later when the scene and culture grew into what is now known as ‘acid house’. I have to thank producers such as Spanky and DJ Pierre for pioneering that part of the culture. I really didn’t know DJ Pierre personally back then, I just knew about him in our local friend group. One day, he came over to my house to see some friends of mine not knowing it was actually my house. I remember thinking how amazing this was!

DJ Pierre: The popularity and success from my first release “Acid Track” with Phuture paved the way to have a go at having a satisfying career at being a DJ. My influences are Marshall Jefferson, Lil Louis Fingers Inc. and Ron Hardy. My DJ influence and creative open approach mixing is very much influenced by Ron Hardy. My creative tracky-type production style and creative openness is influenced by Lil Louis, and my song writing and melody style for my more vocal projects are both influenced by Marshall Jefferson and Fingers Inc.

People love to dance and feel free to have fun and enjoy themselves in a culturally open environment. The underground has always been that place for the socially divergent to hang out and express themselves. Being black in America, we have always been seen as socially unacceptable and have always found it hard to be accepted. House music is something that we created and at least in that music we found our acceptance. But that was then, nowadays I’m sorry to say it seems that definitely in the mainstream we’ve found ourselves even within this music that we created, not overly welcomed or in some cases, not even accepted or appreciated.

As far as collaborating together goes, that didn’t happen until much later due to scheduling conflicts and life in general.

K Alexi: “My Medusa“ was the essence of a dream. When we both first collaborated on that tune, we knew that what we were creating was ahead of its time. It was as if Medusa produced it and made it rage on! I like to use it as a blueprint to this day.

DJ Pierre: I came by his house one day with Hula & Crazy Fingers Craig. He literally had his own place while I was still living at home with my parents! Since then, we’ve collaborated on many things to be honest. He and I do remixes on a lot of each other’s music. Kaay is definitely one of the best beat pattern programmers I’ve ever worked with. (Definitely the fastest by far!)

Any favourite productions and remixes? 

DJ Pierre: “Generate Power“, “The Horn Song“ and “Acid Tracks“! Those are the three most organic and free flowing tracks I’ve ever made. Everything fit together so effortlessly and perfectly at the time. No thought, all feeling! Remix-wise, Pet Shop Boys “I wouldn’t Normally Do This Kinda Thing” and Yo Yo Honey “Let The Music Take You High”.

K Alexi: I’d have to say one remix I did for Tyree Cooper which actually still isn’t out yet, but fingers crossed people will finally get to hear that, as I did it a long time ago! I tried to keep the integrity of the original and Pierre’s but still went in a different direction from the other remixes, most of whom took the easy way out in my opinion.

Aside from vinyl, do the duo digital DJ, stem mix and sample much when producing, and what are their secrets to being successful DJs, producers and remixers?

K Alexi:  I’ve done digital streams involving stem mixing before, I think everyone has, especially in the pandemic, and I have some of these mixes on SoundCloud and Mixcloud, even YouTube. It is as it’s always been – staying true to yourself, your sound, the culture and respecting it all. It’s always important to always try and add your DNA throughout any project.

DJ Pierre: I did a little bit of stem mixing a few years back but right now, I’m just all focused on playing my original productions and special remixes that I make of all the music I play. I’m all about sampling in the most creative way possible. From changing the key or notes within samples, stretching the notes and the timing of them to also manipulating the physical audio structure of the individual tonal components of a sample in order to evolve it into the exact sound, timing or vibe that I’m looking for.

Back in the day, your talent really was something that you could rely on as being an indicator for success or failure. All you had to do was be really good as a DJ/producer and most likely you would get the proper attention. But today, none of that really matters anymore. The value isn’t in the skill, it’s all in your visual presentation. You can smoke and mirror your way into fame and fortune, and no-one even cares.

Any favourite studio gear, software and production techniques?

K Alexi: My favorite piece of hardware has got to be the Akai MPC 60. Game-changer from day one. I’d also have to say my love for gaming because I find that when I step away from the project, I’m able to bring more back to it. I’ve always been a gamer and more so because of the Xbox platform.

And what do the duo like most about RipX DAW?

K Alexi: RipX DAW has been a game-changer for me when it comes to approaching old and new music. I am extremely grateful to be able to access such powerful technology, and the ability to snatch my vocals from old material that I’ve recorded decades ago. Yeah I no longer have the parts and I no longer like that as far as my vocal goes. I have never been one to fight technology, but at the same time, I have never been one to let it do all of the work for me. You have to learn the balance of working hand-in-hand with technology, because I believe balance is the answer too.

DJ Pierre: RipX DAW is the most diverse and creative tool I’ve ever come across. If your creativity is limitless like mine is, then I can say that RipX DAW will satisfy even the most curious, the totally boundless, and the most divergently creative minds that this musical industry has to offer. It’s a DAW but to me as a producer and remixer, it’s what the MPC was to sampling.

Finally, any thoughts/predictions on the future of DJing and music technology? And any advice to those just starting out?

DJ Pierre: To be honest, when it comes to DJing, I don’t think I’m the right person to answer this question if you guys want to hear something positive. However, audio technology is the most amazing it’s ever been! My only issue is AI music and what boundaries will be enforced on the use of it in the music industry. 

If at all possible, learn to create and produce from the deepest part of your inner being, not too much intellectual thinking from your brain and mind. Music comes from a very soulful place, a place of feeling and inspiration. Once you learn how to create from your inner soul “even” when you are using any of the new digital tools or software from this era and beyond, you will always be able to keep that deepness and organic analogue vibe among anything that you create.

K Alexi: I hope people come back to really being DJ’s opposed to just fist pumping or looking like one. We must never forget to respect the art and the culture of it all. Keep in mind that while embracing technology, we must never take the human element and soul out of it because that is the most important part. AI music has recently stepped up and I believe for longer than they’ve told us, but without that human element, it is just noise noise noise nonetheless. Respect is key for the culture and for the sound. Respect those that came before you because those are the shoulders on which you stand, so never forget that and remember how you got there. Stay true to yourself, but respect those who have paved the way and created the road that you enjoy now.

Find out more about and listen to K Alexi HERE and DJ Pierre HERE.

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