Kyoto-born, Berlin-based DJ, producer and artist, Alex Kassian has become a firm favourite of ours over here at Phonica over the past couple of years. His sophisticated, lush and organic sounding productions have been picked up by labels such as Paramida’s Love On The Rocks and Alex Bradley’s Utopia Records in recent years. His most recent release, Leave Your Life, was released in 2021 via Pinchy & Friends, and we can safely say it was one of our most-played, and bestselling, records of the year.
Together with Hiroaki OBA, Alex is also one-half of Opal Sunn, who have been operating their own imprint Planet Sundae since 2017, through which they self-released a number of EPs, catching the attention of and support from dance music luminaries such as Andrew Weatherall and DJ Sprinkles.
We decided to reach out to Alex to see if he would be interested in joining our Mix Series. The result is a high-energy, club-focused recording that will be sure to get you moving. Check it out, alongside his in-depth interview below!
Hey Alex, thanks for joining us! Can you tell us about your recording and what the idea was behind it…
I had the privilege of playing the last party at panorama bar just before all the clubs closed in December. There were hundreds of people waiting outside, the police had apparently come in the morning to establish a 1 in 1 out rule, and my friends waited 7 hours in the guest list queue, all huddled up in the freezing cold to come in. This mix is a time capsule of that memorable day.
Could you tell us a little bit about your background, perhaps where you grew up and what first got you interested in music?
I was born in Kyoto, and moved between the UK and Japan throughout my childhood. It was when we were living as a family in Sheffield, where I started paying attention to what my step father was playing. Records from Talk Talk to TLC, Dire Straits to Bryan Ferry, Primal Scream to Sade and everything in between. None of it was rare or obscure music, but it definitely set the tone for what I would find later on. When I went to school, everyone listened to hip hop. All the good stuff from Jurassic 5 to People Under The Stairs to Slum Village, lyrical masters like Binary Star and Mr. Lif. Eventually the kids around me picked up some of the records that came out of Ninja Tune and Warp in the early 2000’s and I remember being blown away by the music. Blockhead’s ‘Music by Cavelight,’ DJ Shadow’s ‘Entroducing,’ RJD2’s ‘Deadringer’ and albums by Prefuse 73 were big records for me. That was my way into electronic music. Then I moved to London in 2007, and one of my best friends introduced me to various forms of dance music. Since then I haven’t looked back and it’s been about making sense of how it all integrates with my past. In more recent years, I’ve really embraced the music Paramida’s shown me. She has an incredible collection and is gifted for finding great records. I think she somehow trained her cats to find gems on discogs too. She’s shown me countless records that I love now and what she’s shared with me has really shaped how I navigate these days and I’m grateful for that.
Can you tell us a bit about your label, Planet Sundae?
I started the label with a bunch of my good friends to give ourselves and our friends a platform to release music on. We used to run parties in London and still do sometimes in Berlin. We don’t release many records, but it’s still great to have a platform for when we find something we really believe in.
What’s your preferred method for finding new music – do you still enjoy digging around in dusty crates or do you prefer to buy online?
I buy records on Discogs and from online shops but I love to go through stacks in crates, especially when I’m in Japan. I often dig on youtube by finding people who’ve uploaded something I’ve been looking for and going through their playlists. I do the same on Discogs.
Your ‘Leave Your Life’ EP was one of our favourite releases of the year last year, what do you have up your sleeve for 2022?
Quite a few things! A bunch of remixes, a collaborative release with Nick Höppner which started around the beginning of the Pandemic, an Opal Sunn release, and a solo record in the shape of a bonus record to follow up to my last release on Pinchy & Friends. Stay tuned!