ALIFIC: “It’s more rewarding to be unique than to jump on the bandwagon of what’s popular”
“Whenever you’re dealing with a lot of electronics, you’re always at the mercy of the computer and the possibility of it going haywire”
‘PACIFIC’ the new album by ALIFIC invites the listener to an upbeat journey of reflective, sentimental chill sounds. Very different from some of the mainstage EDM acts, he ignores the trends to offer something from deep within.
Whether discovering the album on a lazy Sunday beach afternoon, or experiencing the unique sounds during yoga sessions, Pacific eases the mind with flair.
Check out the interview we did with him below.
Have you ever felt scared while playing an event?
Truth be told, I am always scared when playing a live set/event where I am incorporating DJ elements like laptops and samplers because there is always the possibility that the laptop or electronic equipment will breakdown in the middle of the song. I never had this issue when playing with a live band. Worst thing to happen was I’d break a bass string, have to take a 3 min break and restring it all while the drummer and guitarist continue to jam a little keeping the audience occupied. But when you’re solo and your laptop shuts down for absolutely no reason, you are a deer in headlights and it’s the worst feeling. It happened to me on my first gig of the first National Tour I ever did. I was half way through the first song and I got the “spinning beach ball of death” on my laptop. I almost had a heart attack and had to literally play a track from iTunes on my other laptop and actually shutdown and restart my other one. It took only 1 min to reboot but it felt more like 10 years to me. I also once had a vocalist come on stage to sing over a track only to find out the my backing tracks with the version of the song without vocals on it would not play and I had to play the actual track with vocals on it. So the vocalist looked back at me surprised and just went with it and sang over the actual track with vocals already on it. I’ve had power supplies break mid-show and I’m just praying I have enough battery to finish the set. Whenever you’re dealing with a lot of electronics, you’re always at the mercy of the computer and the possibility of it going haywire and you really have no control over it. In life I’m generally a very positive and happy person, but when it comes to gigging as a live DJ/Producer solely depending on electronics and laptops, I plan for the worst and expect the gig to be a complete catastrophe.
Do you make music with the intention to make it a popular record, or do you make music solely to satisfy yourself and is the success a nice side effect?
I’d say the majority of the time I’m making music with no intentions at all but more to satisfy myself. I always hope that other people are going to like it and success would be a nice side effect, but that is never really my main intention when writing a song. It’s always better if other people really dig it and like the music, but at the end of the day, I need to personally be satisfied with a song first and foremost. The music I produce and write is always a direct reflection of me and the mood and vibe I’m in at that time. I never sit down and say to myself “Ok, time to write a hit”. Most of my songs start out as an idea and just messing around and then it all of a sudden forms into something on its own, and that’s how the songs are born. The songs that I create and let form naturally are always the ones that attract the most people. I find it’s more rewarding to be unique then to jump on the bandwagon of what’s popular.
What is your pet peeve when it comes to playing gig
My biggest pet peeve when playing a gig is when someone else fucks up my set and ruins it. I have no problem what so ever if I personally make a mistake or mess up my set. I may be annoyed at myself but if it’s my own fault, I can handle it. But it drives me nuts that my set gets sabotaged due to someone else’s fault. It really kills me. If something goes wrong while on stage I have to keep a smile on my face and not let the crowd know there was a mess-up and that I’m actually pissed off. You always want to project positivity and happiness on stage but when something gets messed up, I want to just pull the plug and walk off but I cant cause that would be very unprofessional. Instead, I have to fake it. Because I incorporate live instruments with DJ elements, this happens almost every show in some way or another. My live sets are pretty complex and I incorporate real instruments with live samples and backing tracks. Most of the time, the venue will put me in a corner where no one can see me and they think all I’m going to do is hit the “play” button. I always have to explain I’m an actual act, not just a background DJ and I play real instruments as well as sampling and backing tracks and MIDI keys. They never understand and the majority of the time I find out after the show from an audience member or friend that the sound guy never had one of those elements even turned on in the mix. So while I’m on stage hearing all my instruments in the stage monitors, they don’t have a certain musical part going to the crowd. Like I said, I’d rather be the one who messes up and deal with it but when it’s legit someone else fault, it drives me nuts. To this day, I’ve actually never had a show where someone else didn’t fuck something up. It’s very disconcerting but you got to just roll with the punches and keep that smile on your face.
Do you know any secrets from your DJ homies that they don’t want the world to know? Share the secret (it’s up to you if you want to associate the name with the secret)
One of my favorite secrets a lot of fellow producers do is the MIDI trick. MIDi is all data so its not actually music or notes so it can be copied and transferred very easily. So you can search the web for a certain song and download the MIDI file and then upload that into your DAW (Abelton, Reason etc) Once in your DAW, you can then just change the sound of the bass, gtr, keys etc and make the sounds you want but keeping the exact notes and chords from the song. Then you only use a few elements form the track and layer in your style. For example, look up any Bob Marley MIDI song on the web, download the file for free, import that MIDI file into your DAW, and then change all the sounds to the ones you like and use in your own stuff but keep all the MIDI data and notes the same. Then only use the bassline and layer in your own hip-hop beat and change the tempo. Now you have a sick sounding beat with a Bob Marley bassline in a hip hop way. It’s not copying, it’s recycling.
One DJ friend of mine who is globally huge and is always on top of his game and seems to ALWAYS have the hottest tracks before they get really huge! I always wondered how he found the tracks since the songs are all over the place in terms of genre and vibe and tempo. I assumed he just knew how to find good music until he told me his secret. He just goes to iTunes before a gig, and looks at the top 10 songs. Those are the tracks that are popular and going to be huge. If the songs pops up there, it’s going to be a hit. I remember when “Royals” by Lorde came out, he was the first to play it at a club/party. He told me he didn’t even like the track and thought it was too slow in tempo but he knew it was going to be a hit because it was in the top 10 on iTunes. It wasn’t until 3 months later that the song became an international hit but I always remember him paying it first. I used to DJ for The Washington Nationals (MLB) and the Washington Redskins (NFL) and I used his trick every game and always had the crowd pleased with the music. But I would legit go to Itunes before each game, download the top 10 tracks and play them all and was always complimented on my music selection .
Has your musical taste changed over time or do you think it will?
My musical taste has definitely changed over time. I think our musical taste is a lot like our taste for food in that it is proven to change. As a child, I was obsessed with movie soundtracks and only bought and listened to movie soundtrack cassettes, which were all full orchestral music without any singing. I was obsessed with John Williams who composed the great movie themes like Star Wars, Indian Jones, Jaws, etc. And I didn’t like music with words or bands. I liked the movie themes. But that all changed when I went to middle school and bought Green Day’s Dookie, Offspring Smash and Nirvana. My music tastes continued to change. In high school I went hippie and listen to The Grateful Dead and Phish. Then in college I got heavily into reggae and moved to the beach and started making reggae music. I used to not like Electronic and DJ stuff. I really felt like if you didn’t play a real live instrument then it wasn’t real music. But that has completely taken a 180. Now, 90% of my own music is all-electronic. I also used to be heavily into the American reggae scene. I went to all the festivals and listened to every band and wanted to hear the new ones. However, now I find myself more annoyed with the new and upcoming reggae bands. A lot of these bands sing about oppression and spreading love and positivity I keep thinking, “Dude you grew up in the OC by the beach and your parents are loaded. Come on.” So I definitely think your music taste can change and feel it’s a healthy thing to happen. I’m curious as to what the next “genre” of music will be and what I find out I like next.
If you had only three weeks left to live, what would you do with your time?
I would release every unreleased song and every piece of music I ever had and get it out to the world for free. Finished or unfinished, all my songs and ideas for songs would go out. I would spend (2) of the 3 weeks traveling all around the world to places I had never seen. I would go to the Pyramids in Egypt and find proof of ancient aliens, see some crazy wild safari life in Africa, surf the Amazon, see The Great Wall of China, and try to travel to each continent. For my last week, I would spend time with my family and friends and put together a massive party and have all of my musician and producer friends set up and have a huge jam session.
What makes you shy?
I’m very shy when it comes to listening to my own music in front of other people. I have no idea why, but I can listen to my own music for hours and countless times alone, but if someone else is in the room I get really shy and would rather leave the room and just turn it off. I hate the sound of my own voice. I know everyone says that, but I actually cringe at the sound of my own voice in front of other people. I also get really critical in front of people always point out the flaws in a track. It’s a weird defense mechanism or something I have.
Is there a final thing you would like to say to our readers?
Stay positive and try your best to stay on track. It is very easy to lose sight of your goals and lose momentum when making music. Things are hot and then they’re not. That’s the nature of the business. But if it’s genuinely fun to make music, then keep at it and it will all pay off in the end. Whatever the payoff may be, everything happens for a positive reason.
Available as a free download on Soundcloud (mp3 only) and worldwide on iTunes. All other digital outlets will follow July 29th for high quality purchase.