Dropping the beats: Campus DJ showcases mixing skills at 9:30 Club
April 28, 2011
As a DJ on campus, Alex Khumrets ’13, known to his fans as Walex, has played at all the typical venues, including formals, philanthropies and date parties. However, unlike most musicians, his short musical career has also landed him concerts at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. and features in international magazines.
“People assume he’s been doing it for longer, but it has only been about a year,” Ishan Bardhan ’13, Walex’s manager, said.
Most of the events Walex is hired for involve playing and mixing some popular Top 40 songs. Although it is not his main interest, he still finds playing the top hits to be entertaining.
“Popular music is becoming a lot more combined with techno influences,” Walex said. “Good club hits are almost like techno songs that I would be playing, which makes it nice for me because I have more fun at DJ gigs.”
Outside of performances, Walex’s main interest is in techno music, and he spends much of his free time experimenting with new tracks and stretching his creativity.
“I DJ in order to pay for my hobby of making techno music,” Walex said. “There are two kinds of gigs — the ones people want to dance to and play certain songs, and then gigs like the 9:30 Club, where they want to see us perform as an artist, not as an iPod shuffle.”
Although Walex does many events on his own, he is also part of a music duo called Vedet. The other half of Vedet, Michael LeGore, is a sophomore at the University of Virginia. Despite their distance, the two are still able to produce tracks together by sharing music online.
“I’ve had a lot of interest in making music and I’ve always been involved,” Walex said. “My friend was really into techno music like Daft Punk and JUSTICE … he introduced me to it and we started producing around the fall of last year.”
Vedet has already been featured internationally despite being around for such a short time. Last year, they produced a mixtape that caught the attention of a German magazine, which included a feature about Walex and LeGore.
“In order to gain recognition, you make mixtapes,” Walex said. “So you DJ a lot of songs that you feel influenced you into a forty [minute] or hour-long track. We combined a lot of American and European music.”
A more local accomplishment was their performance at the 9:30 Club for a design firm’s networking event. Vedet was invited to perform based on employees’ submissions regarding what artists they wanted to play at the event.
“Our friend sent us in as a joke, but then we started promoting it and releasing more songs so that people would know more about us,” Walex said. “We placed number three, and we had just gotten started at this point.”
The concert was a defining moment for Vedet, since it helped to establish their band as well as to get their name into the public sphere — although that did not go quite as planned.
“For each band they displayed your name, which [for us] they misspelled. So everyone was chanting ‘Veget’,” Walex said. “The worst part was going home and seeing so many hits on Twitter for ‘Veget’ and not nearly as much for ‘Vedet.’”
Despite this small hitch, their fan base has been steadily growing as they continue to produce more tracks. Since Williamsburg does not have a big techno scene, Walex said he was looking to expand his music in the D.C. area.
“He DJ-ed a few parties in D.C., like at hotels and on New Years’ Eve,” Bardhan said. “Our friends [have] a bunch of parties, so we bring equipment in and start playing music. It works better when [Walex and LeGore] are both at home.”
Although he does not foresee DJing and making mixtapes as a lifelong career, Walex is still excited to explore the different places that his music will take him. Right now, he and LeGore are concentrating their efforts on producing more tracks and gaining recognition throughout the techno scene.
“The concert [at the 9:30 Club] is online and it is a fantastic performance,” Bardhan said. “I’ve never seen him [Walex] so happy as when he DJs.”