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21 Mar 2017

New House: DJ Alex Harrington Produces His Own Music in Between Gigs at the Saguaro, Avalon

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Alex Harrington. Alex Harrington.

Local DJ Alex Harrington has made a name for himself as one of the Coachella Valley’s most in-demand DJs—but he’s also been spending a lot of time on the production side, creating his own house music.

It appears that hard work is starting to pay off. He recently released a new EP, and has yet more new tracks in the works.

During a recent interview in Palm Springs, Harrington—a former Independent contributor—discussed his recent goings-on.

“I’ve been trying to focus on my production work, doing remixes, putting out EPs of originals, and also keeping up a presence with live gigs,” Harrington said. “As before, there was exploration involved. Now, I know the ropes and what I can do with them.”

After doing some work with nu-disco and tropical styles, Harrington said he’s currently focusing on house music. Harrington added that stepping up his production game has helped him grow as a DJ.

“When I changed from All Night Shoes to Alex Harrington, that was a big decision to dedicate myself more to house versus what I called myself before, ‘indie dance music,’” he said. “It was a mix. I think that when I changed over to Alex Harrington, which is my real name, I decided to focus more on my production. Instead of (my songs) being 3 to 4 minutes long, structured like a radio song, now they’re more made for clubs. That became my focus, and I think that my production work evolved, because the target changed. Before, I’d put it on the Internet. … Now, a lot of this is mostly for clubs and for people into this sound.”

Harrington has DJ’d beach houses in Malibu and clubs in Los Angeles, and is regularly performing locally at venues including the Saguaro and the Avalon.

“What I do is a little different, and it’s very similar to what an indie rock band does,” Harrington explained. “You play those small gigs; you build up; and last year, I had the chance to go out to Los Angeles a lot. Even if it’s an unpaid gig, I’ll head out there sometimes to play. We’re in a bubble out here, and we’re still evolving. I’m grateful for places like the Saguaro and the Avalon. I’d describe it like ‘Franken-gigging,’ because you patch together the good ones moneywise, and try to make it all look good as best you can, if you can.”

Harrington explained what he does to win over a crowd.

“I try to bring a stage presence,” he said. “Some DJs rely on a song selection and play what the crowd wants to hear. There are people who are really good at that and know what to play. For me, that wasn’t natural, and I wanted to do something different and engage the crowd. I find it more challenging, because it’s like a DJ trying to be a band. People walk in and already have a stigma of, ‘Oh, he’s pressing buttons.’ I passionately try to think of what songs to mix, and a lot of it is similar to what bands do. I use a four-count on a lot of songs and bring in another track; it’s about matching beats, and it’s not about pressing buttons. When the crowd engages, it’s magical, but there’s a stigma (about being a DJ), and you have to overcome it by not being obnoxious.

“I’m also not going to put on a helmet or anything like that,” he continued with a laugh. “To each their own, but I’d get too hot in a helmet.”

Has the term “EDM” died with the rise of house music?

“You and I probably remember house music in its infancy in the ’80s and ’90s when it was still raw and very powerful,” Harrington said. “Now that it’s popular, you hear the term ‘house’ a lot, and it’s so broad. I have tried to avoid … labeling, but you kind of have to at the end to give people an idea of what it is you’re doing. It’s a positive thing, and I think that’s why it’s exploding and why it’s here to stay—it’s so broad.

“The term ‘EDM’ was created because they tried to make dance music corporate, and EDM was a tagline. I think that house music is different. People who say ‘house music’ either love it or hate it. But people should do themselves a service and step outside the box. … When you walk into the café, and there’s a guy playing guitar or a girl singing, you don’t know who they are, but you think, ‘This is good,’ and you’re engaged by it. That’s what I’m trying to do with my music.”

While Harrington loves hip-hop and has remixed 50 Cent and Azealia Banks in the past, he is currently listening to a wide variety of music.

“A lot of the stuff I’m listening to right now is, of course, house, like Sonny Fodera,” he said. “A friend of mine, Husky, who is from Australia, makes a lot of great music in that scene there. I’m also listening to Fatboy Slim, who’s making kind of a comeback. He’s a perfect example of someone doing what I love. He’s put out some great tracks recently. I’m also listening to GoldLink, who is a rapper.”

Harrington has more new music to come.

“I have another EP coming out on April 5,” he said. “In May, I have a single coming out on Nylo Music, which is based out of New York and Europe. It’s kind of nice this year, because instead of me releasing my own music, I’m having labels come to me. There will also be a lot of remixes in between.”

For more information, visit www.alexharrington.co.

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