Alexa Borzyk began her musical journey at the age of 8 as a violinist and a self-taught guitarist at the age of 15. After many years of involvement in Montreal’s Psytrance scene, her journey towards techno began as a collector of Dance music during her time in nursing school. Her trademark of high energy and spikes of 90s techno is born deep in the crate where she digs up her Belgian/Polish roots. From enigmatic breakbeat and trance samples offering elements of nostalgia, Alexa invites the audience’s participation whose musical appreciation eclipses that of just one genre.
Since 2016, having played Illusion Festival, the SATosphere, Salon Daomé, Stereo, and Piknic Elektronic, Montreal’s techno scene is familiar with Alexa’s sound. From opening duties for Richie Hawtin and Reinner Zonneveld to playing along with acts such as VTSS and Stephanie Sykes in self-produced events at Le Livart and Entrepôts Dominion. Her first release of 2022 was a 4-track EP debuting on the Belgian techno label Coincidence Records. In her young career, her track has earned its play at the world-renowned Tomorrowland by Nur Jaber, which was live-streamed from the festival. With her knowledge of production and passion for music, she doesn’t plan to stop releasing anytime soon. Keep your eyes peeled as there is more to come from this fresh talent.
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This interview was conducted by Lina Xing and written by the outside writer, Luwan — a DJ and writer based in Brooklyn, New York. Sharing with Luwan and 6AM, Alexa dives into her experience of navigating through her passion for electronic music and techno, going to psytrance parties, attending nursing school, traveling to Europe, researching house and techno genres/artists, seeking more female acts within the industry, gaining support from her father, what’s to come with her move to Berlin this summer, and her performance at Tomorrowland. Alexa’s EP Under The Temple is now available to buy on Coincidence Records’ Bandcamp.
We met at Fitzroy last weekend. You were telling me about how you started out in a different scene. What were you listening to before techno?
Before techno, I was listening to electronic music more broadly and going to psytrance parties. I had a friend also named Alexa in High School who was DJing and throwing Psy-events and brought me in.
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When was the first time you discovered techno?
It was at this bar in Montreal called Le Salon Doamé — this is where I stumbled upon minimal techno. When I first heard it, I just thought: “This is it”.
“When I first heard minimal techno at this bar in Montreal, I just thought: “This is it”.”
When artists find something that resonates with them, their passion(s) become even more clear.
When you were going to these psytrance parties, did you feel connected to them in any way? Or, why were you drawn toward it?
I was drawn toward the rave culture and DJ community — it seemed like a place where anyone could belong.
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I know that before you started producing, you were throwing parties in Montreal. Tell me a little about how that started.
Yes. So, what happened was, after I established I would focus on techno, I felt I wanted to do more than just be a DJ. I wanted to create a movement of some kind. I was waiting tables at a crummy restaurant, and right out of nursing school, I took that as an opportunity to go to Europe for two months. I had always wanted to go, and I know I had a reason.
“I wanted to create a movement of some kind and I felt I wanted to do more than just be a DJ.”
Alexa was on a mental journey of figuring out where she wanted to be and what she wanted her dreams to become.
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So, you just graduated nursing school, you leave your job, and plan a solo trip to Europe. What was that trip like?
I started in Barcelona. So, the first thing that happens when I get there is that I’m walking down the street with this girl I met at my hostel. I just happened to look at a poster, and on the poster was Dax J and P.E.A.R.L at the Razzmatazz Club. I looked at the date and thought: “That’s tomorrow! I’m going 100%”. Whoever I met randomly, I was like: “Hey, you should come to this event with me, it’ll be a good time!” It was mind-blowing to me at that time to be in Europe, on my own, just hitting people up to join me in all of these events. I was escaping my comfort zone, and from there, I went to France.
“I started in Barcelona and was escaping my comfort zone. It was mind-blowing to me at that time to be in Europe, on my own, just hitting people up to join me in all of these events.”
Doing something different than what you’re used to can be scary, but also a worthwhile and learning experience.
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After Toulouse, I went to Brussels, Belgium for two reasons — one, was that I found an event, Charlotte de Witte and SHDW & Obscure Shape, which was just a mental lineup for me. Belgium is also where my Dad was born, and my grandmother’s from Belgium. I was kind of interested in discovering the scene because of that, and because of this party from KNTXT, which is obviously way bigger now than it was back then — and, this was the party that changed my life. I went to this party, and I realized: “I want to throw parties. I want to do this.” It gave me a sense of what I thought was missing and what I wanted to build. When I started DJing, I thought: “What do I want to build out of this?” I felt there were all these barriers that took years and years to get over.
I went to Brussels, Belgium after Toulouse. I was kind of interested in discovering the scene in Belgium since it’s also where my Dad was born, where my grandmother’s from, and because of this party from KNTXT. I went to this party, and I realized: “I want to throw parties. I want to do this.”
Alexa’s artistry came from her familial roots in Belgium and exploring different party events in Europe.
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In my eyes, I wasn’t really cool. I wasn’t putting myself out there. I didn’t know who I wanted to be nor did I feel confident. I wanted to explore what moved me and show the world: Alexa Borzyk. And, I’m just researching Richie Hawtin, Adam Beyer, and Jeff Mills online, and finding all these different techno tracks on youtube. I was digging online about Techno, Industrial Techno, Acid Techno, and Chicago House. I just wanted to know all about the genre because I felt connected to that type of music. It was a whole process — this didn’t just happen overnight.
“I was digging online about Techno, Industrial Techno, Acid Techno, Chicago House, Richie Hawtin, Adam Beyer, and Jeff Mills online — I wanted to explore what moved me and show the world.”
Alexa wanted to be a true DJ and understand all there is to the industry — down to the artists, genres, and overall musicality.
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I know you’ve thrown parties with VTSS and Stephanie Sykes. How did you go about booking them?
At the time, I thought I should create a brand to throw these parties — a concept of some sort. So, I was really trying to think of something that creates or inspires a movement — and, so would come my first project, Reflection.
Did you notice something missing in Montreal that you wanted more of?
At the time, I felt what was missing was more women that were playing harder techno, or Berlin-style or warehouse-ready techno. Maybe I was not experienced enough, or it was just my perception — but, I feel like I was right about it at the time. If you look at Montreal now, honestly, I feel it’s way more diverse than it was. People now make it a point to book female acts when it was not like this before. I don’t believe that I alone did anything, but I feel maybe it did contribute to a ripple effect. What happened with Reflection is that I recruited just about every single promoter to help me promote this party.
“I felt what was missing was more women that were playing harder techno, or Berlin-style or warehouse-ready techno If you look at Montreal now, honestly, I feel it’s way more diverse than it was. People now make it a point to book female acts when it was not like this before.”
Alexa saw an important need for more female DJs within the industry.
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When I met you in Montreal in September last year, you had just been booked to open for Reiner Zonneveld and Richie Hawtin at Piknik! I was bummed I couldn’t stay. How was that experience?
It was a turning point for me. This was the first time I was opening for two big headliners. It was also the biggest crowd I’ve ever played for, and the first time my father ever came to see a show as well.
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Wow. What did your father think?
After this, he started to really take what I was doing seriously — whereas before when I talked about gigs and stuff, he wouldn’t fully understand. He saw a very, very big crowd as well, at Piknik. But, it’s funny now that every time I tell him I have a gig, he expects it to be just like Piknic, in front of thousands. I will have to live up to his expectations (laughs).
And so after Piknik, my parents started to take what I was doing seriously and started to understand that this wasn’t a joke. For a long time, I felt people didn’t take me seriously but I proved them wrong. Now, I’m not so concerned with how I am perceived. I just do me.
“I felt people didn’t take me seriously for a longtime, but I proved them wrong. Now, I’m not so concerned with how I am perceived. I just do me.”
Doing what you love can come at a cost of losing support, but this didn’t stop Alexa from going after her dreams.
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I also saw that you played at Stereo recently. What an iconic club. And, I know that your first EP was dedicated to Stereo as well. What was it like to play there?
Robert hood couldn’t make it so I was honored to be amongst the DJs to fill in. I was nervous initially since I didn’t have much time to prepare — but, I told myself that I know what I’m doing and I didn’t let the room intimidate me. It was a blast — Stereo is the Mecca for dance music in North America — and, playing that sound system was a major highlight for me.
What gigs do you have coming up?
I have Igloofest coming up, and I’m playing with Misstress Barbara on March 2 in Québec City.
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By the way, big congrats on Tomorrowland! How do you feel about playing there this summer?
Honestly, it’s surreal for me. Last year, I was watching my track being played at Tomorrowland by Nur Jaber on Youtube, and now this year, thinking about how I’m actually going to be playing at the Rave Cave, it’s like — Wow, I cannot believe this is happening. I’m actually planning to move to Berlin this summer, and so I thought that made it more of a possibility for me to experience the festival. But, I never expected the opportunity to play there would come so soon.
Incredible. Any new music on the way?
Yes. Stay tuned. These days, reaching milestones is giving me even greater inspiration to get to the next one.
Written by Luwan (author): link tree
Interviewed by: Lina Xing
Connect with Alexa Borzyk: SoundCloud丨Facebook丨Instagram丨Youtube