Even by the standards of 21st century electronic music culture, Aleksa Alaska’s rise to international DJ status has been dizzyingly rapid. After deciding in early 2016 to devote more time to recording mixes, the Bucharest-based artist has quickly become one of the most talked-about radio hosts, selectors and club DJs in Europe.
Although a passionate fan of intriguing, alternative and experimental sounds for over a decade, Aleksa (real name Alexa Chirnoaga) had little inclination to take up DJing when she was younger. After growing up in a sleepy part of Northern Romania, she headed to Bucharest to study visual art (with a specialism in photography) and threw herself into the city’s party scene. As the years passed, Aleksa found that her interest in intense, eccentric and otherworldly music from the ‘90s was out of step with the “Rominimal” minimal techno scene, and a desire to do her own thing and share the music she loved grew by the year.
Before she’d even set foot in a DJ booth, Aleksa had already built up an online following. Initially, this was thanks to her YouTube channel, where she shared favourite tracks plucked from obscure 1980s electronic music releases on a weekly basis. Soon, online radio stations and websites started requesting mixes, from fast-rising Bristol outlet Noods (where she hosts the Subterranean Modern show, which is dedicated to showcasing abstract electronica and dark ‘80s industrial tracks plucked from dusty, cassette-only releases) and legendary Amsterdam institution Red Light Radio, to NTS, Rinse France, Intergalactic FM, LYL and Red Bull Radio.
Yet for all of her online fame and exploration of mind-altering home listening material, it is in the clubs that Aleksa is really making her mark. Here, she focuses on the more robust, energetic and forthright end of her music collection, performing sets that join the dots between EBM, acid, electro, techno and industrial stompers.
This she naturally does with flair and distinction, working dancefloors with sets marked out by inspired selections from the past and present. It’s an approach that has led to a bulging DJ diary and appearances at well-regarded clubs and festivals in Spain, Mexico, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Study Aleksa’s list of previous and forthcoming dates and you’ll spot appearances at some legendary venues and festivals. There’s a feeling, though, that this is only the beginning for Aleksa and, spurred on by an unquenchable thirst for discovering new and overlooked music, the best is yet to come.