If you’ve read the name Aleksandir and it sounded like Chinese to you, don’t panic. His career as an electronic music artist has only just begun. In June 2018, this young half-Turkish half-British guy decided to publish “Yamaha”, a track that, according to him, had already been playing in his living room for two years, much to the dislike of his roommates. Those who didn’t dislike it were huge selectors like Dixon, Tycho or Kiasmos. All of them turned this banger into a recurring gem in their sets. And, from then on, Aleksandir began to receive calls. One of the most important collaborations was with Frenchman Agoria to remix one of his tracks. Aleksandir (real name Alexander Lawrence) is humble and sensible. “Success is not about how big your track is or how famous the people you work with are,” he states. Before, he hardly ever went to electronic clubs. Now, he leads them from the DJ booth, getting closer and closer to a profession which he had never approached before.
Half-British, half-Turkish, and with your main influences coming from Bristol. It is an interesting mix, Alexander.
Haha! Yes, so I have both Turkish and English parents, but growing up I was pretty much always in Istanbul. Musically speaking, I always had a lot of inspiring people around me and music was always a huge part of my life, but I was barely touching the surface of electronic music before going to university in the UK. My mate Phil, who I went to university with, was a big influence and he showed me a lot and taught me a lot (I still thought dubstep was what Skrillex made before I met him). And then, more and more I started to go out in Bristol, saw some of my favourite acts at Motion or the Love Inn, and bought my first records at Idle Hands, all which were primary influences for what became Aleksandir.
You are very young, but your music, and especially your track “Yamaha”, has already been played by giants like Dixon. It should feel quite good, shouldn’t it?
It all kind of kicked off at the same moment. I remember waking up one day and two friends had sent me videos of Dixon playing it somewhere, and someone else had sent one of Tycho playing it at Burning Man. It was definitely a surreal feeling, and it still is. Just the amount of people “Yamaha” managed to make contact with is incredible to me. It’s crazy to imagine where and when it was made, and the life of its own that it’s had since it came out.
Indeed, the track got the likes from Dixon and other big names like Kiasmos. So, where and when was it made? Were you imagining such a big success while creating it?
Oh, I definitely didn’t. All my housemates hated it because I made the bulk of it over the course of a very hangover Sunday, and it was very loud and very repetitive… I think it must have been at least 2 years or so between the time I made it and the time it came out, so by then it was pretty old news to me. When it came out and kicked off, it was totally unexpected, but it all happened so quickly. It just seemed to spiral out of control by itself.
You told me before that your interest in electronic music and the clubbing scene was born in the UK. When and how did it happen?
In all honesty, I wasn’t really a big clubber until quite recently. I grew up listening to more acoustic genres and I wasn’t really part of any electronic scene. On the other hand, the clubs where people around me were going were just the usual generic shit. When I came to university, I started getting more involved with clubbing, but, even then, I usually went to the club to enjoy a set or two from artists I rated and then I’d be looking forward to getting back home and chill. But the more I deejay, the more I’ve started to actually enjoy the club environment, and I’m definitely much more of a partier now than I’ve ever been.
DJing vs. producing. What came first?
I was a producer from much earlier. I used to play classical music on the piano and rock with a band throughout my childhood and high school days, so that kind of transitioned into producing when I went to university and my tastes changed. I only started DJing after I started getting booked, and, in a way, I still feel like it’s only recently that I’m starting to get proper comfortable with it. I used to consider myself a producer who just deejays on the side, but I’ve really been enjoying deejaying these days, and I definitely try to look at it as more of an art form in itself. Though I may always be a producer at heart.
And in that producer side, you even use some vocals from The Strokes in one of your tracks. Are you a fan?
Yupp, so I didn’t use the actual vocals as a sample, but I used some of the lyrics, yeah. I sing all the vocals on “Hard To Explain”, but it’s an open ode to my favourite band. I’m a huge fan of The Strokes, they were one of my first favourite bands and never got old for me. And it feels like different songs and albums of theirs have chronicled different times and emotions in my life, so I have a strong bond with a lot of their music. I’m quite an obsessive listener, once I get really into an artist, I will play that stuff for months. 2020 is JPEGMAFIA’s year for me. If you haven’t heard him, please go give it a listen. Might take repeated attempts to get into (it did for me), but he’s definitely my favourite artist and producer at the moment.
You also remixed Agoria’s “You’re Not Alone”. Is it your biggest achievement to date?
I wouldn’t say “biggest” achievement, but another great and unexpected moment definitely! I think my biggest achievements in my own eyes aren’t necessarily based on how big a track gets, or how famous the people I work with are, but more of a personal feeling. Obviously, I can’t deny how great it feels to have so many people listen to “Yamaha” or the attention a remix for Agoria has got, but I think producing something that I love myself is rarer and absolutely the best feeling.
Let’s talk about your homeland. How’s the underground clubbing scene in Turkey? Any tips?
The underground scene in Turkey has suffered a lot over the past years. Many venues have shut down and a troublesome economy has made it much harder to book international DJs. But, if you know the places to go, Istanbul can still be super fun. My favourite venues would have to be Arkaoda and Gizli Bahçe, both places where we throw our bimonthly MİKS parties. The scene is small, but I love that sense of community. Everyone knows everybody and we’re all in it together. And for that reason, I’m sure we’ll see better days.
What are your current to-dos and biggest goals?
I’ve been working on a new album for a very long time, just finished it. Just working on the best place and time to get that out. I’m super happy with it, just feels like me. The goals are always the same: keep putting out music and hopefully making better tunes, reaching more and more people.
Will we see a live show by Aleksandir soon?
It’s not planned for now, but someday I’m sure I will. For the moment, I’m really enjoying DJing and there’s plenty for me to discover there. When I do a live set, I want it to be perfect.
(Cover Image: © Aleksandir’s Press Kit)