We caught up with ALPHA 9 at Beyond Wonderland SoCal to chat about his latest remix, what’s to come from him later on this year, and more.
While Arty dominated the decks for years with plenty of remarkable releases, his trance-centered alter-ego ALPHA 9 has picked up some serious momentum after laying dormant in the early half of the past decade. He reignited the moniker back in 2017, and since then he’s fostered homes at two of the top labels in the dance music scene today, Armada Music and Anjunabeats, to deliver sensational originals and remixes.
From tunes like “The Night Is Ours” and “Skin” to remixes of Above & Beyond’s “My Own Hymn” and Armin van Buuren’s seminal hit with Susana, “Shivers,” there’s seemingly nothing that’s gotten in the way of ALPHA 9’s success in the studio. More recently, he’s further expanded his offerings on Anjunabeats by dropping the Stellar EP and Ariel / Afterlife, and closing our 2021 with “The Purpose Is You.”
This year has seen ALPHA 9 roar back into the hearts and minds of fans by dropping a fresh remix of Karen Overton’s hit track “Your Loving Arms,” while also returning to the stage at festivals like Beyond Wonderland SoCal this past month. It was just before his set on Friday of the festival that we were able to catch up with him for the first time since 2018 and we’re stoked he could join us. Not only did he dive into his recent releases, but gave us the inside scoop on his forthcoming album that’s due out on Anjunabeats as well – read on for the full conversation!
Stream Karen Overton – Your Loving Arms (ALPHA 9 Remix) on Spotify:
Hey ALPHA 9, welcome back to Southern California. How does it feel to be back at the NOS Events Center after having just played at Dreamstate SoCal last year?
It’s pretty good to be back. There was a lot of traffic on the way here, but it’s a great space. I’ve played here since 2012. But I love it here. It’s always a good crowd, there’s always a lot of California fans, and it’s beautiful.
That’s awesome. This is the fifth year of the ALPHA 9 project. How do you feel it’s been going, and has it given you a broader sense of self-expression?
It’s been going well. We had a little bit of a break in terms of the releases. The last thing we released was “The Purpose Is You” back in the fall of last year. And we just had the remix for “Your Loving Arms,” which I was sitting on forever. It took me over a year to get it done, but it’s all done now. It’s out there. The reason there was not that much music is that I’m working on an album right now, and it’s going to be done very, very soon.
We’ll get to what you just said about that album, but digging into your remix of “Your Loving Arms,” what drew you to this track, and what went into its production?
I love the original mix so much. It’s such a classic song. When I was growing up, I remember listening to this song, not as a kid but as a teenager. It’s the definition of this amazing progressive house sound, almost a darker progressive house rather than trance. And I always loved this song, so I was pretty surprised when Armada reached out to me to do the remix for it.
These songs are classics, so I can’t really mess it up. I can’t do the same thing the original does because it just doesn’t make sense. I could do that just for my live set, just to refresh something, but it’s not a remix. I need to put a lot of work into it. I tried a couple of things for “Your Loving Arms,” but I wanted to keep it on a darker side and bring a completely different vibe. Not this very subtle, groovy vibe from the original, but more like something ominous and more dramatic.
Awesome. So going back a little bit to your latest track, “The Purpose Is You,” it’s a powerful reminder of the greater picture and the importance of valuing ourselves. What advice would you give to someone going through a struggling moment in their life?
It’s such a hard question. The most important thing you need to realize is that you’re not alone. I was watching Matthew McConaughey’s speech at the Oscars in 2014, and he said, “I want to thank God because that’s who I look up to… When you got God, you got a friend, and that friend is you.”
So you’ve got to believe that you’re not alone. There are many people around you, and it’s always worth fighting for. You cannot just give up because nothing is left afterward. So you just need to keep going because life is not easy. You just need to keep fighting. That’s the bottom line.
Definitely. So back to that upcoming album, what can fans expect from that? Can you elaborate on it a bit more?
It’s coming out on Anjunabeats. That’s, I think, as much as I can elaborate for now. I don’t want to give out too much.
MGMT: Also, it’s going to be good.
If Anjuna is signing off on it. It has to be good.
I mean, I cannot say that myself, so I need other people to say that. [Everyone Laughs]
MGMT: It’s good.
So the consensus is “really” good, so we’ll look forward to that. As a producer who has a well-recognized moniker like Arty and now growing ALPHA 9, do you try to split time evenly between the projects? Or is it more based on a feeling or direction of a track?
Not really. It just depends on the agenda, honestly. If I need to work on an ALPHA 9 album right now, I know we have the release window that we discussed, and I need to fit in this release window. In order to do that, I need to finish the entire thing and not keep most of the tracks 99% done, it needs to be 100% done, so I need to work on ALPHA 9.
It just floats; it goes in different directions. The priority shifts depending on what work needs to be done and what inspiration I have. We had a moment when I worked on ARTY stuff for three to five months, and I barely did anything for ALPHA 9. Then there were moments when it was working on ALPHA 9 for three months and didn’t do anything for ARTY. Or there was a month when I was doing [both] simultaneously, and it was fun. So it just really depends.
For the upcoming album, was that one creative push? Or was it more during those periods of time?
I mean, I have over 100 demos in three folders called “Alpha 9 Album 2022.” [Everyone Laughs] I think it was 150 or something, and this was just the demos that I specifically put in a folder that I didn’t forget about.
But if I go through my Dropbox, it will never be ready, since it’s been since 2018 that I was aiming for the album. Sometimes those files are just 30-second to two-minute clips of pure cinematic instrumentals – there’s no drop, and I didn’t do the rest of the production. I was thinking about putting them in the album, but at the same time, I worked on new stuff specifically for it – because now we know exactly how it’s going to sound, the direction of the visuals, and all that stuff.
That’s awesome. It’s been a long time coming. In terms of work/life balance, what are some of your favorite activities or hobbies to unwind with?
A lot of video games, and my new obsession has been Formula 1 over the past two years.
Okay, and then, the last question. Was there anything else you’d like to share with the Alpha 9 fans?
Awesome. Thank you.
Thank you, guys.
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