Alexander Aurel might not be a name you immediately recognise outside of his native Germany, but this DJ and producer has an incredible pedigree. Resident DJ at U60311 and Home in Frankfurt plus residencies for events brands, ‘Großstadtliebe’ and ‘As You Like It’ (with Karotte) and guest slots across country keep him busy. In the studio, his open-minded groovy sound has found favour with Terminal M, 8bit and Heinz Music to name a few. Alex is the kind of DJ who will join the dance floor mid-set just to hear what the crowd hears; he enjoys the interaction and it feeds his performances. Alexander is ready to take his career to the next level.
UK Editor Simon Huxtable wanted to know more…
Hi Alex, thanks for joining us at Decoded. How has your day been so far?
Hey, thanks for having me. I had a great day. No rain, no clouds in the sky – finally summer arrived!
Can you recall a little about your history? How did you get into dance music and who were your DJ heroes?
Everything started 1992 when I was in school, I discovered Techno because of a classmate. He got this album called “Techno Trax” and LA Style’s “James Brown Is Dead” somehow buried itself into my mind. A few years later I was in Cambridge during holidays. That’s where I met Manuel from Munich. He looked exactly like Keith Flint from The Prodigy, and he was also into Techno music. After having a great time in England, I visited him in Munich and he took me to a club for the first time. It was Heizkraftwerk where (I know it sounds like a cliche) Sven Väth was playing.
I remember this exactly because the TV shows that have been there, showing Auf Jetzt and Sven Väth. At that moment, I had an epiphany. I did not know who Sven was, and I didn’t know that he was famous at all. Today he is probably the one who inspired me the most. At that time, he also lived in Frankfurt so I had many chances to follow his music. And I’m still impressed by his charisma and his eclectic music selection.
Tell us about the Frankfurt scene. Every major city seems to be a bit different, what makes Frankfurt unique to you?
We have a huge scene here in Frankfurt and we have a lot of lovely, crazy people here. We are like a big, wild crew that teams up everywhere in the world. Whenever a good rave is somewhere somehow, you can expect that there will be someone out of this group.
I’m based in Amsterdam now, and one of the first things I noticed when I moved was the number of festivals the Dutch have. It seems the whole of Europe love to be dancing under the stars. Can you tell us about the Großstadtliebe festival (City Love Festival)? It’s open air, right?
The music scene changed a lot after many good clubs here closed the last few years. Because there were clubs missing, people started to do off-location parties. The Großsstadtliebe, for example, is one of those. They do three events every year, sometimes in Frankfurt, sometimes in Offenbach, during Day and at night time. But always open-air. Right. We have a great crowd, cool locations and Max is doing a perfect job. His events are now well known here in the Rain-Main-Area. I’m happy to have a residency there for many years!
You were also involved with one of Europe’s most well-respected club’s U60311- a club housed in an abandoned U-Bahn station. As of 2012, the club shut it doors for good. How has the scene rebuilt over the last 4 years?
Yeah, the closure of the club really left a gap in Frankfurt. However, we have so many creative promoters here, for example like Bob from the BadBoysClub Events, which fill out that space with unique events. But it does not mean that we don’t have good clubs here anymore. The TanzHaus West is still a hot spot here in town. I’m playing there on the Electric Grooves Events, which are definitely a highlight in my schedule. They have 5 floors there, and depending on the events they open one or all. The Dora Floor is definitely the best in the whole of Frankfurt!
You may have seen on social media how London is facing a similar situation with the closure of Fabric nightclub. Do you feel dance music is fairly represented to the mainstream population?
I don’t think it’s important to get everyone to love our electronic music. It’s good, that there is mainstream, and this fits a sort of people. Our music fits another sort of people. So if you are at a techno event you can be sure that you can go to a party and meet the same kind of craziness and attitude like you have. The thing I would change would be the acceptance and the understanding for our subculture in the other people’s minds. Because of those wrong minds, Fabric Nightclub is now closed – really sad!
Residencies have always been the ultimate goal for many DJs, but these days, up and coming artists look at touring as that career high. Do you think the new generation of DJs have the necessary skills required of a touring DJ to really give the crowds a great show? Has the art of DJing been lost in the mindset change?
I think it’s very important to have residencies as a playground. To learn what it means to start a night with a warm up, or to play the end is an enormous experience for the development as a DJ. It’s also important to prepare a set for a headliner. Thinking about what he could play after or before yourself teaches you a lot. Every evening has to have a flow – it’s not all about playing one hit after another. That’s why residencies should always be an essential part for upcoming DJs.
We love the fact you like to get “at eye level” with the crowds. Have there ever been times when you’ve not managed to get back to the DJ booth to play the next track?
Haha, yeah. The dance floor… I’m definitely one of those artists that comes from the dancefloor. If I’m booked, I love coming early and leaving late. I like dancing, chatting with people and in between, I do some music. If I have time to I enjoy taking part in the party. But it is not that I’m dancing on the floor the whole time during my set. If I’m playing B2B it happens more that I change sides, but when I’m playing alone I concentrate on my mix. But hey, it’s a perfect spot to have fun with the crowd! What I’m doing, when I’ve had a great time and I play my last record is move to the floor to enjoy my last track on eye level with the audience!
Label-wise you’ve been signed to some fantastic imprints. Tell us about your first big break into the business. Who did you what to sign with first and how did you do it?
When I was DJ at the U60311, DJ Pierre came to me and asked me if I want to join in his new home club. Because of Pierre I met Peter (DJ Karotte), and at the point when Peter started his “As You Like It” Events in my hometown, he asked me to be his resident. The third event he invited his longtime friend Monika Kruse. At one point, I stood B2B with Monika behind the decks. Unbelievable!
And we did a fantastic job together! I took this chance to show her two unsigned tracks while playing with her. A few weeks later, I had my first Terminal M contract for the “Enjoy Your Night EP” on my table. This was not my first release, but that moment was definitely the break in my career!
Can you talk about your new material for 2016/17? What’s coming out soon?
I just released my Room 101 EP on the Berlin-based label Heinz Music including an amazing remix by Stefano Noferini. One remix on Smiley Fingers for my Thaibreak buddy Gunnar Stiller is ready, another remix on My Favourite Freaks is to be done, and I’m really looking forward to my first collab for an EP with Danny Serrano.
Some artists I know have to be in a certain headspace to be creative, others can only make their art at night or have to be alone. How do you like to make music? And how do you prefer to sketch out a new track?
Luckily, I don’t need a special time to be creative. It just has to be the right mood. Nevertheless, the best tracks come out when I do not have much time for producing. Being hungry to produce fresh sounds is definitely the biggest source of inspiration.
Alex, it’s been really great getting to know you, we wish you every success for the future. One final question, if you could be a resident in any club in the world and book whoever you wanted to DJ with you, where would the club be and who would play alongside you?
There are so many great clubs in the world to discover, even many I didn’t hear anything about. The best is having fun together with lovely DJ friends. It does not need to be the biggest stage with the most people, it can be a fantastic night in a small club in my hood, but the night would be even better if there would be all of my crazy friends around me.
01// Pablo – Say B!
02// Emanuel Satie – Now You Know
03// Marc Vedo – Right There
04// Stefano Noferini & Larsen Factory – Your Hands Up (Oscar L Remix)
05// Max Chapman – Freaks Come Out
06// David Keno – Moonshine
07// Denney – Bambuco (The Mekanism Remix)
08// Simone Liberali – Abstract
09// Paul C & Paolo Martini – Rotation (Riva Starr Edit)
10// Simone Liberali – Moody Island
11// Sebastiano Sedda & Phil D’bit – Don’t Want To (Simone Liberali Remix)