Groove and soul.
Alexander Rogers was a digger before it was cool. He's been a respected DJ in London since the dubstep days, and he has an encyclopedic knowledge of funk, soul and jazz, in addition to the dance music he came up with. This makes him one of the UK's most versatile DJs, whether he's playing in clubs, festivals or on the radio, where he's had longstanding residencies at key stations like Rinse FM and NTS. In Alexander Nut sets there really isn't any difference between house and techno, broken beat, soul, funk or West African records—in his hands, they're all part of the same continuum, and mixing them together is natural.
When we spoke to the English DJ about his favourite records a few years ago, he mentioned that for him spirituality was one of the most important parts of music. Rogers likes tracks with soul and warmth: emotional vocal performances, stirring drum grooves, jazzy chord progressions. It's a taste that's helped Eglo Records, which he started with Floating Points back in 2008, become such a well-loved label, with the likes of Fatima, FunkinEven, Steve Spacek and, of course, Floating Points among its most notable releases.
On his RA podcast, which he says focusses on new material, he still finds room for King Sunny Adé, DJ Assault and vintage West London broken beat, rubbing up against dubplates from Floating Points and Steve Spacek. It's a vibrant patchwork of sound that finds him breezing through rhythmic changes and unquantized beats where others might fumble. His style is never flashy—it's honest, easy and soulful.
What have you been up to recently?
It's been a busy month. I literally just got back from some DJ gigs in Holland at the weekend, then spent an extra day in Amsterdam to go digging and buy some Bonsai trees and eat waffles. But mostly digging—they got all the dope records over there. Whilst I'm travelling I'm constantly working on label stuff (Eglo Records for those who don't know), so just finishing the last touches to Fatima's new album, getting the artwork sorted and organising all the promotional stuff and videos, etc. It sounds amazing. I'm really proud of her and the record, we've been working on it for the last two years, so I can't wait for the world to hear it.
I've also been working on a forthcoming Steve Spacek album. It's actually an unreleased album that he made after Space Shift, so we'll be sharing it with the world via Eglo. I've also signed a few other new tracks so getting mastering dates sorted for those... and organising these three ninth-birthday parties we have coming up at the end of the month in Manchester, Birmingham and London. There's always something needs doing! All whilst listening to new music. Loads of podcasts and staying inspired.
How and where was the mix recorded?
It was recorded in the NTS studio using two Technics 1210 turntables, two Pioneer CDJs and a mixer. Just vinyl and USB. The only way I do it, and the only way I enjoy doing it. My home setup is pretty basic too, so I like to go into the NTS studio where I can get a good recording and turn it up without pissing off the neighbours, and really catch a vibe.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
I wanted to do something up to date, that kind of bookmarks a moment in time, and add some flavour of the day. I still threw in a few older oddities, but it's mostly new material and even those older bits are still relevant within the context of the bigger picture and telling a story through the music. I didn't just want to do a paint-by-numbers mix of bangers, classics or club favourites.
I like to inject a little more of my own personality and environment into it than that. I think it's got that UK twist to it, and that Plastic People, open-minded policy. A bit of house, a bit of bruk, a bit of Afrobeat and soul, etc. It's also a bit of a freestyle—planning too much can be stifling, it's much easier to go with the flow. You can get hung up on details when you plan it all out. I like to be a bit more reckless. There's a few cheeky dubplates and exclusives in there to spice it up, too.
You've been a record digger for years. Have your methods for changed over the years? How do you keep it fresh?
Nothing has really changed other than broadening of the spectrum of music that I listen to and dig for. It's also a bit easier to track stuff down with the internet now, but I still much prefer going to record stores, getting my fingers dirty and interacting with human beings—it's more exciting that way. I'd always been heavy into soul, jazz, hip-hop, funk, rock, reggae and jungle since I was 13 or 14. Then later on in my 20s I got more into dance music stuff, house, broken beat and techno. And now in the last five or six years I've developed more of a passion for salsa, highlife and juju Afrobeat.
I'm also a bit of a bargain shopper, trying to discover things that are a little less obvious and more often than not a little cheaper than the bigger, holy grail type records. It's not all about DJing either. I like to buy stuff to listen to at home or collect stuff because I'm obsessed with an artist—like Ebo Taylor, Gnonnas Pedros, Curtis Mayfield, Zapp, Parliament-Funkadelic, etc.
What's the best record shop you've stumbled upon recently?
I don't know about stumbled upon, but some of my favourites are Vintage Voodoo and Redlight Records in Amsterdam, Superfly in Paris, Sounds Of The Universe and Phonica in London—and all the music and vinyl exchanges around the UK. I grew up shopping at a place called Oldies in my hometown of Wolverhampton. That's a pretty interesting place!
What are you up to next?
As always, more gigs, more label activities and more life in general. Running the label occupies a lot of my time. But I'm off to Lisbon in the morning for a show, got Southport Weekender Festival in London next month, which I'm really looking forward to. And as I mentioned before the Eglo Records ninth birthday parties. That should keep me busy for the next month or two!