ALX—aka Alex Sanchez—had the benefit of growing up surrounded by DJ culture. The veteran Miami DJ and producer was raised in a city steeped in dance music. His high-octane techno sets are laced with the memories and experience of an established maestro on the decks, Sanchez doesn’t just understand how the dancefloor moves he plays the tunes that urge the club to move in his direction.
Born and raised in South Florida, he grew listening to Spanish music at home with his parents. And while you can still hear notes of his Cuban heritage in the way he plays with rhythms, his brother had the biggest influence on his musical DNA.
“My brother was four years older. He’s the one that got me into electronic music. He was part of that 90s rave scene,” Sanchez remembers. “I was hearing electronic music at a young age.”
Like most people who are first exposed to dance music, its hypnotic and repetitive nature was initially confusing but grew more compelling with time.
“At first, I was like, what is this? Why am I hearing the same song? And then little by little I started getting into it. I started enjoying it. I started catching myself going to all ages parties bouncing around clubs with electronic music and listening.”
He wasn’t completely sold on it yet though. Rock and hip hop still played heavily for him. Then when some friends left a CDJ setup at his house after his brother’s birthday party, he decided to try his hand at DJing.
“[My friends] left the DJ system for like a week with electronic records and stuff. I just started messing around for fun. And then I just kept going with it. Now here we are.”
After they picked the CDJs up, he got equipment of his own, and he was off. He soon found himself at his first gig playing dance music with a friend at a Halloween house party.
“We didn't know each other at the time. This girl just booked both of us. And we both liked electronic music. Half the party want to electronic the other half wanted different music and we just kept looking at each other. Like I'm not playing that. So, we just kept playing electronic music.”
He established his sonic footprint at smaller clubs like Treehouse and Electric Pickle. His skills as a mood shaper and talented selector made him a sought-after DJ in the highly competitive South Florida scene. And while he says his family connections to the Miami dance music scene played an important part in securing some key opportunities for him, they only got him so far.
“I was fortunate enough that my cousin was part of this industry for a long time. He was close friends of Victor Calderon and did work with Victor for a bit. I was working with the people who ran Space [and] Nikki Beach.”
However, Sanchez explains that because he was friends with these people, the pressure to perform was even more intense. “A lot of people say I was just given it. I [had] to grind.” Because getting the opportunity to play once is one thing. Being asked to be a resident at lauded institutions like Mansion, Nikki Beach, and Space proved his skills were undeniable.
“They definitely didn't short out on the putting pressure on me. They took me to play Electric Festival in Aruba. I had just started to play Space not too long before. They threw me on stage, [with] like four or five thousand people in front of me.”
It wouldn’t be the last time he had the opportunity to travel to spread his infectious beats. While he’s traveled to Amsterdam, Colombia, Germany, and more to play, his most impactful DJing experience was in Cuba.
When he went there to play, he was the first person in his family to step foot on the island in almost 40 years.
He says his parents arrived in Florida in the early 80s. And when he got the opportunity to DJ there, it was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream, “I was desperate to go to Cuba,” he explains.
“It was surreal experience on multiple levels. After the gig, I was very emotional. Knowing that's where my family's from. Those are my roots. I got to also explore the island see where my parents grew up. And I got home and I told mom and dad thank you.”
The trip highlighted the gravity of the sacrifices immigrants make when they come to the US
“I think we sometimes take [things] for granted in this country. We don't realize that 90 miles away from where I'm at right now there's people that have no food or water, have no rights. I appreciate it my parents taking the risks coming to a place [where they] knew nobody, had nobody and started from scratch. And give me the opportunity to do everything that I want to do with my life.”
And this sense of gratitude is a quality that Sanchez carries with him constantly. After over a year without dancefloors, Sanchez recognizes that fans are showing more appreciation for the music, and each other. And he is in an attitude of gratitude. He tells me that regardless of the size of the room, or the number of people in it, he’s blessed to have the opportunity to play the music he loves for people who love to hear it.
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