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When the Coronavirus shut us down, clubs and festivals ceased, and everyone was essentially forced inside with no definitive end in sight, DJ Times wondered: How is our tribe coping? How are DJs getting by?

So, we sent out our “Coronavirus Questionnaire” to DJ/producers from all musical genres to find out. During this period, DJ Times will continue presenting the questionnaire responses from talented music-makers from all over the world. Here’s our latest entry, this time from the New York City-based electronic talent Alex Cecil.

Alex Cecil, New York, N.Y., Deep Playa

What’s it been like where you’re living? How did you spend most of your time during the majority of the time? It’s been a crazy ride in New York City. For months, it was a ghost town – completely locked down and super-eerie. We are finally starting to open up, though, and the weather is getting warmer. Can’t wait for things to get going! 

What was the pandemic like for you? I remember going out on a Wednesday… little did I know that would be the last time. The weekend before, I had just celebrated my wife’s birthday with a surprise bowling party at Bowlmor Lanes in Brooklyn with all our homies. It’s crazy because I remember so vividly the insanely wild crowd on the dancefloor behind the bowling lanes going absolutely bonkers for the entire time we were there. By no means a coincidence, it was “ABBA Night” – a personal favorite. Have you ever played a great remix of “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)” at a rave? I have, and it’s brilliant! Anyway, the following Wednesday I went to my buddy’s party at the Public Hotel just a few blocks from where I live in Chinatown. I don’t think anyone knew it would be the last time they went out for over a year. 

Did you lose important gigs, or income-producing work? I had residencies at a few spots, which pretty much all disintegrated overnight. It had taken me a long time to get there, so I was pretty bummed when everything shut down. One, in particular, really encouraged me to experiment with the music and push the boundaries – can’t wait to get back.

Are you doing anything now that can or will produce music-related income? Have you learned anything in the downtime? From the start of the pandemic, there was a big shift regarding how I spent my time. I would go out and support friends playing events and go see artists perform I looked up to. All of a sudden that wasn’t an option. I made a decision from the start to use this time wisely and really immersed myself primarily in music, but some other things as well. I would play my cello at sunset. I actually became very handy around the house, fixing everything from plumbing to doors. Like many others, I honed in on my cooking skills, becoming a “pro” at making sushi. Then, I also spent a great deal of time doing music tutorials spanning everything from Ableton Live to playing the keyboard to sampling sounds in nature.

What are you doing now that’s ultimately constructive to your music life/career? For example, any releases during this period? My latest is the “Purreal” EP, an acid track with five mixes. I worked day and night writing new music and built a catalogue of 12 tracks I am really proud of. The first EP came out in April on Dude Skywalker’s label, Deep Playa, with a slew of remixes from some really great Miami artists. I also honed in on my sound. I’ve always loved playing multiple genres, but I really fell in love with indie house/techno. Doing a weekly live-stream forced me to continuously be digging for new music, which kept me busy.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve realized during this period of social distancing? I had the opportunity to connect with a bunch of artists that I would always see while out and about. Whether it was playing B2B with, having a good laugh or getting fed pizza while playing an afterparty at 10 a.m., communicating through music and no words… Each week for my livestream, I would invite an artist to come over and play a set. Maybe we had hung out once or maybe we had just played the same party. Others I really didn’t know at all. The guest DJ would play 90 minutes, then I would play, then we would play B2B – with no one physically there, but us. The most incredible thing was the bond/relationships I made with these guys. I had absolutely no idea that my live-stream would lead to so many great friendships.  

What have you done online recently? I started that weekly live-stream “Digital Golden Hour” in March 2020. I did about 40 live-streams, but took a pause recently when I started playing in Miami a lot. I’m really focusing on getting the records I made over quarantine out into the world right now. I have several releases lined up over the few months that I’m super-psyched about!

Any themed tunes recommended for the moment? Lonely” by Akon and “You and I” by Fur Coat feat. Cari Golden.  

Any advice on staying sane & relatively positive through this situation? I found that having a routine really helped me to stay positive and focused. As I mentioned, I am a creature of habit, so I started waking up really early. That was not the norm previously and going right into my routine really helped keep me sane. For me, it was coffee and breakfast with some world news, followed by a workout – could be anything from biking to boxing, anything to get me moving. Exercise my brain with an online tutorial. Take a break for lunch while listening to some new releases on my Spotify Release Radar. Go for a walk. Play my cello. Dinner, then work on my new tracks. Oh, and an amazing wife doesn’t hurt either!

To check out more Life in Lockdown interviews, click here.

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