Los Angeles-based DJ and producer Etari delivers the 375th edition of the IA MIX Series, providing a high energy synthesis of trance, breaks, and contemporary underground club sonics, Lexi Andre weaves her own productions alongside Duo Paradiso, Blu:sh, and Tapestry of Sound.
Originally from Orange County, California, Andre currently resides to the north in Los Angeles. There, she has put her stamp on the local underground electronic scene, with releases on 100% Silk, Delusional, and Yellow Island. Her debut album, ‘Rainbow Eucalyptus‘, plays like a mellow dance party interspersed with chill room vibes, while ‘Ascending‘ takes listeners on a hypnotic jungle-inspired journey.
With an EP coming in March via a new imprint from Spray, Etari incorporates new productions with like-minded artists for a podcast brimming with positive energy that brings you to an amazing party where the good vibes keep flowing. In our interview, Andre shines a light on her beginnings in DJing and producing, favourite pieces of gear, and formative records in her lifelong love of listening to and making music.
Interview by Jason Cabaniss
"I went through so many phases as an artist, thinking I was going to play a specific sound forever and what not. I think experimenting with so many different sounds has really shaped me into the artist that I am today"
Hi Lexi, thank you for taking the time record this mix. Where and how was it recorded, can you tell us more about the musical flow behind it and subsequent track selection? What kind of atmosphere have you set out and what would be your preferred or recommended setting, physical as well as psychological, for it to be listened to?
Hey y’all, thanks so much for having me! Had tons of fun recording this mix hehe. I had the pleasure of making this on the setup that I have in my living room, which is x2 XDJ 900’s, a XONE 43c mixer & x2 Technics 1200s, along with my Tascam recorder, which I used to record.
When it comes to the musical flow of the mix itself, keeping it in the proggy house/trancey/clubby realm was most definitely the goal. I love to play a variety of sounds in my sets, but for this specifically, I wanted to showcase the sound that I’m really loving right now.
I’d say the ultimate atmosphere I set out for this would be a sexy, steamy, clubby night out in your favourite place, with the homies, your lover, whoever it may be. Staying out all night until the sun comes up, non-stop dancing, beer in hand, meeting new friends, that kind of night haha. At least, that’s how it makes me feel!
Tell us about your musical upbringing: When did you start diving into the musical realm, and did you have any role models to look up to and learn from as a kid?
So I didn’t play any instruments or anything growing up, but I’ve been such a music fanatic since I was a little girl honestly. I grew up listening to tons of alternative rock and ’90s/early 2000’s hip-hop and R&B. Pretty sure my very first CDs were ‘American Idiot’ by Green Day and ‘Hybrid Theory’ by Linkin Park.
I also grew up listening to a lot of Sade, which I can thank my mom for that. She would always blast the Sade bangers back in the day on our car drives to school & what not, I loved it haha. But yeah, around the age of 11 is when I first fell in love with electronic music.
I remember one of my mom’s ex-boyfriends left his laptop at our place when they broke up and I decided to go through his music collection one day randomly, and he happened to be all about electronic music. He had tons of old-school trance and what not and I just absolutely fell in love with it and became obsessed. I was so young at the time and was just like, damn, what is this stuff?! Lol. There was truly no looking back after that.
Whilst in your teenage years what scenes, labels, artists and parties were you in awe of – which made you want to carve your own path in the music industry?
Oh man, it’s funny because in my teenage years, I was fully in love with raving and Kandi Kid culture. Also loved gloving and shuffling lol, I was fully in it tbh. I would watch all of the Insomniac music festival trailers on YouTube every single day and would dream of the time I could finally go to these festivals and experience it all.
I was super into the progressive house/big room wave that was happening back in those days, as well as Dutch house and trance. I was already learning how to DJ during these years as well, so from a very young age I knew that music was indeed my life path.
Looking back at that time, was there a particular album or producer that inspired you?
Kaskade was probably my biggest inspiration back in my teenage years. That OG Kaskade Redux sound, absolutely loved it. I remember the first track I ever heard from Kaskade was ‘Steppin’ Out’ and it still gives me that same feeling from when I first heard it. Also really loved Benny Benassi, Adam K & Soha, the ‘Sirens of the Sea’ album by Above & Beyond and OceanLab, a lot of trance honestly.
How did you get into DJing and experimenting to produce your own music?
My parents actually bought me my very first DJ controller when I was 16 and I pretty much taught myself how to mix, and would practice in my room every single day when I would get home from school.
It’s funny thinking back to these times because I had no idea what I was doing and didn’t know that I could use DJ software on my laptop to use with the controller, so I would just burn CDs with some of my favourite tracks and would spin that way while I was learning.
A few years later I ended up downloading a janky, pirated version of Ableton Live on my laptop since I couldn’t afford it at the time and started teaching myself how to produce. Now 12 years later, I can definitely say that it’s been quite the journey.
What were your initial expectations when you first started to play out? How has that altered since you now have much more experience?
Hmm, I’m not sure if I really had any expectations when I first started playing out. I was just so hyped to finally have the opportunity to get out there and do my thing. I’ve definitely learned a lot though since I first started playing out, which was when I was around 19 years old.
I went through so many phases as an artist, thinking I was going to play a specific sound forever and what not. I think experimenting with so many different sounds has really shaped me into the artist that I am today. Now I absolutely love blending tons of different sounds together in my sets, ranging from breaks, techno, proggy house/trance, electro, jungle, etc.
The music you release is varied. I love how you go from ambient/chill-out house to high energy club tracks across your albums. What’s your process of building up a release? Do you set out with a determined focus, or just let it develop naturally?
Ahhh, thank you so much! At the end of the day, I just want to produce whatever feels right to me in that moment and also be able to release it out into the world. I will say though, some of my earlier releases are a bit more on the mellow, chill-out house side, which I still love. As I dive deeper into my artistry as a producer, I’m really starting to discover what it is that I love producing, and right now it’s high-energy, clubby/trancey sounding tracks. So definitely expect a lot of that from myself in the near future.
When it comes to building up a release, it really just comes naturally. I will maybe have a slight idea of what kind of vibe I want to go for when I start a new project, but sometimes it doesn’t work out that way and I’ll make something completely different than what I thought haha. But once I finish up a track idea, I often times will ask myself if this is the beginning of a new EP, and most of the time it is, and I’ll continue making new tracks with that mindset.
"As I dive deeper into my artistry as a producer, I’m really starting to discover what it is that I love producing, and right now it’s high-energy, clubby/trance sounding tracks. So definitely expect a lot of that from myself in the near future"
Let’s discuss studio gear, are you hardware or software – or a mix of both? Tell us about any new tools that you’re particularly enjoying at the moment to create music.
When it comes to studio gear, I’m mainly software at the moment. Ableton Live, some of my fav plugins, a couple MIDI Arturia keyboards, and my Push 2. Pretty simple setup, but it gets the job done. I would eventually love to dive into the hardware world, but that lifestyle is definitely a lot of money lol. So for now software will do.
Some of my favourite plugins that I use in almost all of my productions are Diva and Jup-8 V3. There are so many awesome sounds in both to tweak around with and make my own. I also really take advantage of what’s inside Live. So many incredible tools right inside the box and always learning something new.
You’ve released music on an array of record labels, both international and in the L.A. area. How did you connect with these record labels and what’s it been like to work with imprints like 100% Silk, Delusional and Native Boundaries?
It’s been pretty amazing working with these LA based labels, especially when some badass, inspiring friends of mine are the ones running these labels. Some of my favourite humans Maude and Tiff run the label Delusional Records, a badass, hypnotic queer imprint which I’m all about as a fellow queer artist.
I had the pleasure of releasing my ‘Ascending’ EP on their label which I was beyond hyped on. These two work super hard and always release absolute heat on their label, so if any of you reading this haven’t checked them out, please do! You won’t regret it hehe.
The label 100% Silk, I’ll always be grateful for. They became the home for the very first album that I’ve ever made, ‘Rainbow Eucalyptus’, which will always hold a very special place in my heart. That was one of the first bodies of music I worked on that really made me realise, damn, I can do this. Amanda and Britt, who run the label, were some of the nicest people I’ve ever worked with. Incredibly supportive and they make sure that the release is everything you hoped for it to be. Absolute legends.
Native Boundaries is a kick ass label as well that is run by my friend Scott aka Lucid Distraction. I released my ‘Midnight Mood’ EP on the label, which was a fun one. Landing some fire remixes from some of my fav producers, Stones Taro, Iron Curtis, and LA based User Delusion, was for sure a highlight for that project. Major props to Scott for putting in the work to make that release a special one!
You currently reside in Los Angeles. What are your favourite places to hang out? For our audience who have either never been or live elsewhere in the world, what’s life like in the city?
Yes, I have been kicking it as an LA resident for almost 4 years now! Before I moved here in 2020 (bold move, I know haha), I was living in Orange County area which is about an hour away from LA, but I was driving down to LA every weekend to hit the warehouse parties and what not since there isn’t necessarily a scene like that in the OC area.
Los Angeles really is one of the best spots to be for underground parties. We get some insane lineups here pretty much every weekend, sometimes it gets hard to choose which parties to go to lol. We’re pretty blessed here honestly. But yeah, some of my fav parties to hit up on the weekends are Lights Down Low, Fast at Work, Evar Records, Midnight Lovers, Into The Woods, and many more. The best way to sum up LA in my opinion, is fast-paced, eclectic, and ever inspiring.
In terms of territories that you have performed at. What are the differences between performing in the US and Europe? How do you think the scenes compare to one another? The good/bad and other things that you have noticed.
Hmm, well when it comes to performing, I’ve only played at HÖR Berlin in Europe so far and then all the rest of my gigs have been mostly US based. So I guess I don’t have too much to say on that note, but I will say that the scenes from both areas most definitely have their differences.
The top differences being the type of music that’s mainly played, the type of artists being booked, the crowds, and just the overall aesthetic and vibe. I’m very much inspired by the scene in Europe, especially because a lot of the music that I love and artists that I look up to are all based in Europe.
A lot of the festivals that I can’t wait to play one day are mostly there as well. Like Dekmantel, which I finally went to for the first time in August and it absolutely blew my mind. Dimensions is another one, Draaimolen, Love International, Melt, and the list truly goes on haha.
And then you have the scene here in the States. We have some pretty cool stuff here, especially when it comes to the underground parties that we have here in LA, New York, etc. The scene in the USA has really shaped me as an artist, and I’m forever grateful for that. I would say, in my opinion, that the festival scene here needs a bit of evolution and diversity though.
Don’t get me wrong, we have some killer festivals here like CRSSD in San Diego, Lightning In A Bottle, Coachella, Making Time in Philly, which I actually haven’t experienced myself yet, but their lineups go absolutely crazy. And of course there’s more, but those are some of my fav festivals here in the States.
At the end of the day though, the festival scene in the USA doesn’t compare to how it is in Europe. I think it could be very different if we had more diversity here when it comes to booking artists and what not, but most festival lineups that I’ve seen are incredibly recycled which is a bummer, you know? There’s so much amazing talent out there, and I truly think it’s time to mix it up.
"The festival scene in the USA doesn’t compare to how it is in Europe. I think it could be very different if we had more diversity here when it comes to booking artists and what not, but most festival lineups that I’ve seen are incredibly recycled which is a bummer, you know? There’s so much amazing talent out there, and I truly think it’s time to mix it up"
As an artist and performer, what’s your relationship with social media? Of course it allows us an unprecedented level of connection but we seem to be at a tipping point of how fans interact with their favorite artists at shows. What’s your approach to it?
I feel like the topic of social media when it comes to being an artist and performer has many ups and downs. But for myself, I’ve fully embraced the fact that at this point in time, using social media is extremely important.
I honestly think of my Instagram as my artistic resume haha. That’s where I post basically all of my artistic content and have gained a lot of exposure through that, which I’m super thankful for. I know there’s a downside of social media as well, it definitely is an addiction and can get a little overwhelming at times.
Whenever I see a fellow artist homie, or really anybody take a lil social media hiatus, I’m all about it! We need that sometimes. It’s pretty wild to think that there was a time when artists didn’t have social media to share their art and show the world what they were working on.
They really had to get out there and do things in a completely vintage way, which is so badass. We’re honestly very fortunate to have social media these days to showcase our work and creativity. It’s beyond helpful and I think every artist should be taking advantage of that, if they want to of course.
Since we’re approaching the end of the year, what have been your highlights in 2023 and what have you got lined up for 2024?
Ahh wow, 2023 was a good one! Some of my main highlights have been the gigs that I was able to play this year. I got to open up for Mall Grab at Lights Down Low here in LA which was probably one of the most fun gigs I’ve ever played. It was a huge, packed out warehouse even for my opening set which was truly special.
I also got to open at Exchange LA for Charlotte De Witte which was absolutely insane, that was probably one of the biggest crowds I’ve played yet. I also got to play one of my favorite parties for the third time, Yoon Fest, which is held in the middle of the desert in Lancaster. I have quite a few homies who throw this festival and it’s such a badass experience every single time and truly one of the sickest parties to play. I highly recommend this party to everyone, it’s only growing and getting better every single year.
Had a few headlining shows this year as well, one of them being out of state in Portland which was really dope. Shoutout to the Global Based crew! And of course, going to Europe this summer was probably the biggest highlight of my year. Getting to experience Dekmantel for the first time was an otherworldly experience and I can’t wait to go back. Gives me the chills thinking about it lol.
For 2024, I’m definitely going to focus on getting more EP releases out into the world. I actually have an EP release coming up in March for Spray’s new label Punctuality Records. Really hyped on this one and can’t wait for everyone to hear it very, very soon hehe.
Hoping to land some dope festival gigs in 2024 as well, that’s a huge goal for sure. And of course to keep playing fun gigs and just further my artistry and continue building great memories with my loved ones and making strong connections.
What other record labels and producers are you into at the moment?
Oh man, the list can go on forever haha. But to name a few, some of my fav artists at the moment are of course Roza Terenzi, D Tiffany, Maara, Mabel, Shanti Celeste, Peach, Isabella, Ayesha, Yazzus, HAAi, Dj Fuckoff, Jensen Interceptor, Spray, Byron Yeates, Baraka, Angel D’Lite, Faster Horses, Anz, Amor Satyr and Siu Mata, Doctor Jeep, and so many more.
Like truly, I can name so many more names but I’ll cap it at that for now haha. Also, major shoutout to my local LA talent familia! Marie Nyx, Carré, Danny Goliger, Joey G, Mad Gavs, Maude Vos, PILO, Michael Fam, Annika Wolfe, Anna Morgan, Monsieur Frazier, and so many more. We have so much greatness coming out of LA and I’m so happy that I can call these amazing artists my homies.
Finally, is there anything else that you’d like to share with us?
I know I already mentioned this in the interview, but definitely stay tuned for my next EP coming out in March on Spray’s new label, Punctuality Records! Fun fact, I played a couple of the tracks from the EP in the mix hehe. Much love xx
Photography by Haley Busch
1. Duo Paradiso – BT (Do I Smell A Bassline)
2. Spray – Ceathair
3. Aiden Francis – Zephyr
4. Blu:sh – Temptations
5. Etari – Kweenie (Angel D’lite Remix) [Forthcoming on Punctuality Records]
6. eoin dj – Play Nasty
7. 1OO1O – DAYS GO BY (1OO1O hardgroove mix)
8. Doctor Jeep – Push The Body
9. Leese – Roep
10. Breaka – Like Water To A Fish
11. Duo Paradiso – Chocy’s Paradise
12. Blu:sh – Main Stage
13. eoin dj – Pulsing Crystal
14. Tapestry Of Sound – Whip It Up
15. Pillow Queen – Burns Me Up
16. Etari – Lulu Limon [Forthcoming on Punctuality Records]
17. Sleep D – Bass’d In Berlin
18. Harley Ferris – So Blue
19. Roza Terenzi – Beat Pig
20. Séverine – EEPPIICC001 A