RPM 17: Sonya Alvarez
Behind the decks, Detroit native Sonya Alvarez ignites the dancefloor with her electric vibes. She’s a pro at blending beats and and matching complimentary rhythms. For someone who hasn’t been in the DJ game for very long, she comes off as an industry vet with years of experience. Her sets are an extension of her persona, as she exudes positivity and all-around excitement. It’s impossible not to shake and shuffle when she plays because she makes you feel the music. We’re thrilled to share the next installment in the Robotic Peacock Mix Series, RPM 17, mixed by Sonya Alvarez. We also caught up with this up-and-comer to chat about her music style, being a promoter, upcoming gigs and more.
RP: What made you decide to start DJing?
SA: Two months after finding the nightclub, The Grasshopper Underground, which specializes on booking house music and techno acts only, I was hooked to dance music. Made friends with a local DJ (whom later became my partner for Surreal Sleepwalking) and he offered to teach me. I had no expectations and after getting the chance to play live for a crowd, I’ve been hooked to the amazing experience that can be curated.
You DJ under the guise, “Sonya Alvarez” – what made you decide not to use your first name “Ashley” but use your last name?
An altered version of one of my other alias’, the character Sonya Blade (a strong independent female in a primarily male dominated field); merge the two together and you have one.
Describe your music style – what kind of music do you like to play?
I play the kind of music that speaks to me in hopes it will speak to you, too. I like to play music at a fun upbeat pace that makes you want to dance! I like to dance when I DJ, so I am always in hopes that the crowd will dance with me.
Tell us about Surreal Sleepwalking. What compelled you to start promoting?
I was helping in the curation of quite a few local parties and wanted to give it a face. We have a group of Detroit DJs whom have a part-time residency with our bookings. We’ve now been bringing in some out of state DJs on labels like Dirty Bird and Nite Records. The event conception is sort of space themed meets worldly items which has been a natural trend in surrealism style art. We also like to often include actual artist vendors to set up shop at our parties to sell and paint. This is in addition to various full venue art installations.
What’s been your experience promoting in Detroit?
Detroit is very serious about music. Every weekend there is an overwhelming amount of shows to attend if you’re into dance music. Promoting in Detroit has allowed me to give myself and my friends a platform to showcase their talent in the city and become a part of the magic that happens here. Detroit is a family all about music. There is great peace at these events, it’s really like our sanctuary.
Put your promoter hat on for a second. In your opinion, what are the essentials to an unforgettable party?
Pre party: Consistent and quality art work, promotion, programming, event hype, general involvement.
Day of: Energy & vibe. The lighting is essential to any gathering. Sound quality, artist quality, friendly & clean environment where people feel safe and welcome. The details are what really matter day of and should be routine.
Any highlights from recent gigs that you care to share with our readers?
I just played with Pete Tong & Golf Clap at The Works back in March. That was awesome. A few other gigs that stand out to me as of late would be the show I did with Sacha Robotti where at the end I got to tag with Ghettoblaster, opening for Ciszak at Grasshopper was a lot of fun. The Country Club Disco party I played with Golf Clap last month was cool, too!
You’re a mom, a promoter AND a DJ among other things…how do you balance all of your responsibilities?
I have pretty constant focus and self reminders. I ask myself constantly what am I really doing to achieve all of my goals whatever it may be. My son’s grandmothers have been a great help to me as I also work full time most weekends I pull about 5 “shifts”in 3 days. This means I usually take Mondays off! Even when I’m “off,” I’m never really off the clock and that’s ok.
Do you have any advice to young parents who want to pursue their art/music?
Take advice from people who know what they are talking about. Grow, adapt, change, pace yourself, enjoy every part and just have fun. Always be yourself and take gigs that you feel represents you in a positive light. Don’t be shy to make friends and connections with other humans- that’s how this whole thing works. By following your dreams you set the best example for your child to understand the power of the law of attraction and how you can use it to achieve your most incredible dreams, but you have to commit yourself first and never do anything with half your heart in it.
5/4 Grensta (Psycho Disco) w/ Sonya Alvarez at Grasshopper
5/5 Surreal Sleepwalking: solar slap + Amtrac, The Juan MacLean at The Works
5/6 Kill Frenzy (Dirtybird) w/ Sonya Alvarez at Grasshopper
5/12 Roger Sanchez (Stealth) at Grasshopper w/ Sonya Alvarez
5/19 Detroit, the House of Techno IV: Terrence Dixon / Norm Talley
5/22 BassBin: Sonya Alvarez, Pressed & Proper, Chetty Machete
5/27 SheJay TakeOver Movement Edition
6/9 Sacha Robotti (Dirtybird) at Grasshopper w/ Sonya Alvarez
6/25 Mamby On The Beach 2017 – Official
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