ABOUT A BAND: DJ ALIANovember 9, 2016
Image Credits: Vicky Grout
This Friday, November 11 is the launch of our exclusive 2Pac Forever merch collection, and to celebrate we’re throwing a party at UO Spitalfields. Ahead of the event, we catch up with DJ Alia to talk about breaking away from the constrains of a strict upbringing, taking opportunities with both hands and what we can expect from her set.
UO: Tell us about your background in music. Was it always the plan to make music a career?
Getting into music wasn’t always the career I had in mind. I grew up in a strict religious background with very traditional parents who wanted the more academic kind of career – they really wanted me to be a lawyer or a teacher. When I decided to leave home at the age of 18 and part from my biological parents, I didn’t even know what path I wanted to take then either. I always kept telling myself to go for something academic because “that’s what my parents would have wanted”. Then I got into a university in London and realized that it wasn’t for me, even though I kept telling myself that it could be. I started going to raves, taking in different genres and that’s when my love for music began. From then I felt like I kind of found myself again, listening to music I can relate to about pain, struggle and seeing artists accomplish amazing things who started from nothing and became something.
UO: What was the first record that got you interested in music?
I couldn’t even tell you the record that I first listened to that got me interested in music, I’ve listened to and loved (and still love) so many different genres – grime, techno, garage, funky etc. I look more at the DJs and sets I listened to that got me into it. I’d listen to sets and be like “what the fuck is this?!” – which made me want to find out more about the DJ and the tracks they played.
UO: You started out on Reprezent Radio before moving to Radar. What would your advice be to anyone wanting to break into the music industry, whether it’s A&R, radio, or digital marketing?
Take risks and take opportunities that come your way – only if they benefit you. I was sceptical at first to go to Radar because I had only been on air at Reprezent for around two months, so moving to another station was such a big jump for me. Taking that step forward though was the best decision I ever made and I have to thank Gavin every time for that.
Also, explore your options and try new things. I have two friends Rebecca Judd on Westside Radio and Dobby who is now on Reprezent radio who are my close friends and my inspirations. They inspired me to start doing radio. I saw an ad from Reprezent to apply for radio training with the station, applied for it and got it. I have to thank Reprezent as well for giving me the opportunity and teaching me the ropes from the very beginning. If you have a love and passion for something, or even an interest, whatever it may be – just go for it and work hard.
UO: What would you pin as a defining moment in your career to date?
It would have to be mixing at SBTV Summer Cookout this summer. I wasn’t even on the main stage, I was outside and it wasn’t really packed out before I went and jumped on the decks. A bit into my set, I just saw it pack out and people screaming for wheel ups on the tracks I was playing. I got people tweeting and telling me after “yooooo you brought mandem from the main stage to your stage” – that was a big holy shit moment for me, I didn’t expect that. Someone even tweeted me saying “I don’t think Alia Loren realized how sick her set was”. That was a super fun day and one of my favorite sets to date, it was just sick to see that reaction. Same with the set I did when I was headlining after Amy Becker at Sumcellar in Birmingham.
As for radio, it would have to be my set with Prez T. That set got a lot of love and Prez just sounded mental on every single tune. Plus President T is a legend in this so that was a big moment for me as well.
UO: What is the best piece of advice another musician has given you?
Grandmixxer – one of the best DJ’s to ever exist and one of the most realist as well. I’ve never seen someone so passionate about doing what they do. He spoke with me in an interview on my show and was talking about how we shouldn’t be supporting other people but we should just actually listen – which is so true. People nowadays just retweet and repost music because of the hype without taking it in or listening to it – just appearing that they’re supporting it. It makes you realise that retweets, followers, everything like that doesn’t matter, that doesn’t prove you’re supporting. He’s also said as long as you’re passionate about something, it will show in what you do and that’s all that matters – and trust me, he’s a prime example of this.
UO: What’s your tip for discovering great new artists? Are you constantly listening to new tracks?
Don’t just concentrate on the hype. Branch out and look for new or upcoming artists. Talk to people. Socialise. Go to events. There’s so many ways you can discover new artists. You just have to take that step forward into doing it. I found a sick grime producer from Spain and all it takes is hitting them up and talking to them, people appreciate it when you like their stuff (as we all do) and tell them that! There’s so much amazing talent out there that people don’t know about, and I’m discovering new people every day, it’s the best feeling. It’s really needed that we listen to young artists and push them to make more music because it’s what they’re passionate about.
I’m always looking out for new tracks on Soundcloud, YouTube, releases on publications, emails – anything. I always listen to everything that gets sent into me and people sometimes ask for constructive criticism – I always take the time to make sure they get that.
UO: What do you want to achieve next in 2017 and beyond?
I want to just learn new skills. Once I’ve learned one, I always want to move to the next one. I want to start working in major labels and seeing what it’s like doing PR, marketing, promotions etc. I want to focus on my DJ’ing, my radio show, hopefully start doing some events – and I’ve got some ideas on the way that I don’t really want to talk about just yet, so you’ll have to wait and see. Oh and learning how to produce, that’s one thing I’ve been wanting to do for a while now.
UO: Using three words, describe what we can expect from your set this Friday at Urban Outfitters.
Expect energy, especially with Mic Ty on the set, I’m excited for that one. Can I say the unexpected? Might chuck in a funky track with a trap tune, you’ll see. Anddddd just fun. The Tupac product is sick so it should be a fun launch.
The most memorable show I’ve ever played… SBTV Summer Cook Out – hands down remember every second of that – such a sick day.
I’m currently listening to… Massappeals X Snowy – Do’s and Don’t’s (they just released a Hater Behaviour EP which is sick so be sure to check it out!)
Shop the collection first in Ku’damm, Berlin and Spitalfields, London or pre-order online this Friday 11/11.
For the chance to win the entire collection, click here to enter!