Making his name on Hot Waves back in 2010, Alexis Raphael has refused to be pinned down, dropping house, techno and everything in between onto labels such as Lower East, Hot Creations and Heidi's Jackathon Jams in recent years. Scoring a nomination for Breakthrough DJ at our Best Of British Awards last year, he's a dab hand on the decks too, as likely to be found spinning at the world's biggest rooms as he is the hidden basements of the globe's most cultured cities. With recent gigs in Mexico, Italy and Equador making up his schedule, as well as a set at the Gist tent at Brownstock Festival on Sunday 1st September, we asked him to tell it like it is...
LOST BEACH CLUB, MONTANITA, EQUADOR
“Arrived at a beautiful beach resort on the week that happened to be the World Surfing Championships. This was after a flight from London to Amsterdam, then 'Dam to Ecuador, totalling 16 hours of travelling. All done on no sleep, as I thought it would be a good idea to go out the night before I left in Hackney and go straight through to the airport. Bad idea. Once arriving in Mexico, it was another three-hour drive to Montanita. Greeted by my hosts, finally it was time to sleep. The gig was the next day in an open-air club on the beach where I did a seven-hour set and only stopped because the police turned up to shut the event down. Simply amazing. One of my favourite gigs ever.”
FIRST NIGHT, VERCELLI, ITALY
“This was actually my Italy debut. I didn’t think I had much support over there but the promoters that greeted me said I had a good fan-base, which was a pleasant surprise. The gig itself was a really cool, underground space with a really knowledgeable crowd. This was an intimate affair in a small city and it’s really nice to see the passion and effort promoters in these smaller places put into their party. One thing I will never forget is being taken for dinner in a traditional Italian pizzeria before the gig. When one of the promoters’ pizza arrives, it’s only a Margherita with chips on it. I was like, 'I don’t think they even serve that in deepest Essex'. Bring on Rome in December.”
CLUB RIOMA, MEXICO CITY, MEXICO
“My second time in Mexico City and my second time at Rioma club. The Mexicans are some of the friendliest and nicest people I’ve met anywhere in the world. Following on from a meal which included tacos and typical Mexican fajitas, we headed to Rioma. It’s a cool underground club in the heart of the city. The crowd there were really up for it, as always, and the night went off big-time. Afterwards we partied for about 24 hours in a flat of a friend of the promoters. When I realised I had a flight to get and needed some sleep, the guys in the flat very kindly ordered me a taxi back to my hotel. From there it was a long flight back to London. See you soon, Mexico!”
JACKATHON, BARCELONA, SPAIN
“I was really honoured to be asked by Heidi to come and play for her Jackathon party. My single 'Brickwall' came out with her label at the beginning of the year and I was really looking forward to this. Barcelona is my second favourite city in the world, after London of course. Playing alongside George Fitzgerald, Bicep, Mattias Kaden, Catz N' Dogz and, of course, Heidi was an honour, and I was doing the warm-up set. Some people might think that it’s a less important set, but in fact the warm-up is one of the most important sets of the night as it sets up the mood. You get it wrong and it can ruin the flow of the music. Hopefully it went well. That night was something special. I’d recommend a Jackathon night if you haven’t been before. Big up Heidi!”
SANKEYS IBIZA, SANKEYS
“I’ve been playing a few sets for the Sankeys crew this summer in Ibiza. Now, when I say that the sound in the main room is one of the best systems I’ve played on anywhere in the world, I mean exactly that with no exaggeration. My set was before DJ Sneak, the house don from Chicago. It’s a real honour playing before legends like that, people that I grew up listening to. The thing with Sankeys is that the crowd is super-underground. You don’t get your average Ibiza tourist on a package holiday popping by. It’s heads that know their shit. That’s why I like it. Well, that and the kick-ass blow-your-head-off soundsystem.”
“So after a gig in Kent on the Friday, then playing Ibiza on the Saturday, and doing all this with only three hours sleep, I arrived at Parklife. Manchester always has the best crowd with the warmest welcome, and this was no different. I was seriously impressed by the organisation and whole set-up of the festival. They cut no corners in any production or any aspect of the show, and I genuinely think Parklife is the best non-camping festival I’ve ever been too. I literally got to the decks with one minute to spare before my set started. Cutting it fine! Then I went back to my youth and checked out EZ on the outside stage with Russ Yallop and Francesca Lombarda. Amazing!”
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