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16 Jan 2016

The Ups and Downs of Being a DJ: Alex Harrington Has Big Plans for 2016

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Local DJ Alex Harrington had a big year in 2015.

He played at the Dome at the Coachella campground. He returned to ever-growing summer pool-dance party Splash House. He played some out-of-town shows—including an appearance with Vanilla Ace.

The longtime Independent contributor is starting off 2016 with a bang, too: He’s releasing a new EP, Tru Groove; is starting a record label; and is beginning a residency at the soon-to-open WTF and Buzz Bar, in the old Dink’s location in Palm Springs.

During a recent interview, Harrington talked about his new EP.

“The new EP is three tracks, and the inspiration behind it is UK garage music,” Harrington said. “A lot of the old-school UK garage music, I got into it, but I wanted to give it a current touch. Everybody knows I like disco music, so what I did was make an album where the beat is garage music; the bass and the piano is disco music; and it’s all arranged like house music.”

Harrington explained the appeal of UK garage music.

“Since the ’90s, probably before that, it’s been popular in the UK,” he said. “We’d probably call it ‘main room’ or ‘progressive.’ A lot of popular artists would get on these garage tracks. Really, they are normal beats and normal music, and they speed it up. A normal house song is 120 beats per minute. A garage track is 133—so what you have is this beat that’s very frantic, but you have people singing R&B, rap and pop vocals. There are a lot of garage hits that we’ve probably heard—we heard a lot of it in the early 2000s, but … by the time we find a label for it, it’s over. But it’s very popular in the UK.”

Harrington has made what’s been referred to as “nu-disco” and “tropical house” music in the past. However, Harrington’s interests have evolved.

“It’s actually more personal now. I’m very selfish when it comes to my music and inspired by my environment. That’s why the valley is so important to me: I get inspiration from my surroundings and culture around me,” he said. “I don’t sit there and say, ‘I want to make a house track,’ or, ‘I want to make a rap track.’ It’s more of what I’m into and what I’m feeling. That’s why it’s changed so much—I’ve gotten into different things. This record signifies a change because it has all those elements together. I’m not trying to speak outside of myself here, but it has my signature sound, which I’ve never had before.”

Harrington began his DJ career performing under the name All Night Shoes. However, he went back to his real name last year.

“I feel it was a really good choice,” he said. “Having a moniker is cool for certain people, especially when you have an inspiration of something image-related. For me, the inspiration has always been more internal. It’s my job to create something, and I felt with All Night Shoes, I catered more to the name. Now I get to do what I want, and I think that’s what helped me own it.”

The upcoming residency at the new WTF and Buzz Bar is exciting for Harrington, he said. The venue was slated to open around the first of the year, but has faced delays due to power issues.

“I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with venues, because a good venue needs to be in place in order to be successful, and the venues in the desert have a hard time in trying to get people in the venues,” he said. “A lot of venues don’t care about their talent. I think for me, this new place called WTF represents a change, because the owners are very interested in the guests and doing something different. It’s not just opening the doors, selling liquor and selling food. … It’s like Los Angeles and London meet Palm Springs.”

One of the venues with which Harrington has had an association is the now-closed Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club. The venue has been shrouded in controversy since before it opened, and rumors have been going around the music community regarding unpaid bills and unmet commitments.

“They haven’t paid a lot of us out, and I’m not going to get into specifics, but it was a sudden and out-of-nowhere thing, and even to this day, we don’t have a true explanation,” Harrington said about the closure. “It got confusing, and it’s sad. The space is most likely going to go to waste.”

What’s next for Harrington?

“I just started a label called Daiquiri Hawk. We’re primarily a YouTube channel that uploads songs and shares music,” he said. “We also do releases, and this EP will be the first thing. I poured a lot of effort into the EP, and I worked with Reid Horton, who is a friend of mine out of Orange County. I’m really recognizing that the scene out here for DJs is here today, gone tomorrow, so I need to have a backup plan. I just see myself continuing the trend of this EP and getting a greater reach as far as an audience goes. The people in the valley deserve something different, and I hope I can bring that to them through my music.”

For more information, visit www.alexharrington.co.

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