DJ Dossier

Alkemé: "If It Were Up to Me, Everyone Would Go Home and Make Babies After My Sets"

Dancing, as famed poet Robert Frost once wrote, is a vertical expression of a horizontal desire. In other words, when some couples take to the dance floor at your average club night, it's not only from a desire to show off some sweet steps and fancy moves. More carnal intentions might be afoot, which is something that Alkemé is more than happy to help facilitate.

The right song or groove can certainly heighten any sort of mood, especially those of an amorous nature, and act as audio aphrodisiac of sorts -- its pure chemistry, or, in her case, alchemy.

When the esteemed local DJ gets behind the mixers on Bar Smith's rooftop lounge during her weekly residency at Solstice Saturdays, one of her aims is create a seductive atmosphere and sexy groove with her mixes -- and she does so with such sensuous sounds as deep house, downtempo, and nu-disco.

Her flirtatious audio isn't just limited to the rooftop of Bar Smith, however, as Saturday nights are Alkemé's night to shine over the local airwaves as well, via her weekly dance music radio show Zulé: An Hour of Extraordinary Sound that airs from 10 p.m to 11 p.m. Plus, she's also got a new mix called Kunoichi that she's getting ready to release by the end of the year.

The program has been on the air since 2011 and features Alkemé doing what she does best: creating intoxicating mixes of chill and oftentimes ambient soundscapes that are perfect for getting one in the mood while heading out for the evening. In the near future, Alkemé will be featuring the efforts of other local DJs on Zulé, which should help to heighten the show's atmosphere even more.

But while Alkemé is a big believer in supporting her fellow DJs, there are many ways in which she stands out from most in the Phoenix scene. First, there's the fact that her moniker is inspired, in part, by Jungian philosophy. And then there's the particular goal she has in mind with her sets, which she told us about during a recent interview.

"If it were up to me, everyone would go home and make babies after my sets or mixes. I've been hard-pressed to find any other DJ with that same goal in mind and with good reason," Alkemé says. "We all want to find our own unique sound and that's one of mine, it's a point of reference when looking for the difference."

Name: Elizabeth Quintanilla

AKA: Alkemé

Current gigs: Solstice Saturdays at Bar Smith for Solstice; and Zulé: An Hour of Extraordinary Sound every Saturday, 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. on KWSS.

Preferred genres: Preferred genres: Anything that turns you on, all across the board, is my preference. Whether it's to turn you on to dance or to turn you on to move or entice your mind. I love being turned on and getting other people tuned on as well -- deep house, nu-disco, downtempo, hip-hop, dancehall, reggaeton, salsa, cumbias, bachata, jazz, blues.

Deep house music can be a very versatile genre, correct? It's been my experience that deep house is always an excellent option, you can go hard, or soft -- the people who partake in setting the vibe for the music and the space are an imperative ingredient.

Has deep house evolved over the years? And is considered to be more of a niche genre? Nowadays, deep house incorporates a bit of different genres and it really depends on the DJ to form an opinion about the selection. As we are now starting to experience, popular music is starting to bring the beats per minute back dbaown, it is now starting to incorporate organic instruments, lyrics that encompass the melody, starting and stopping on beat.

This is what deep house incorporates, and slowly but surely it will be mass-produced and yet and still underground will always be underground. There are those of us who love to dig and for those who love to listen, dance, and enjoy we are both grateful for the other.

What was your first ever exposure to those kinds of sounds? As a child -- I can't remember a day without music.

What sort of sounds were you listening to? Salsa, I grew up in Lima, Peru. It is considered the capital of salsa in South America.

How much preparation goes into the mix for one of your radio shows or sets? Preparation spans across years of experience and it is a thought that starts as soon as I'm done with the previous one. I'd call it, perpetual preparation. Preparation doesn't end.

What's your favorite track of the moment? "Onto you" by Marley Waters. It turns me on.

What's the inspiration behind your DJ name? Individuation, a Jungian philosophy

In your opinion, why aren't there more female DJs, either locally or in general? Passion. If a woman is passionate about her career or the love she has for being a DJ then that's where you will find her, behind the tables, despite any struggle she might face.

What sort of struggles have you faced? It is a constant struggle in one way or another, just like with any other field. My focus is on the reaction to the struggle or the situation at hand. My focus is the music, the love for the music, and the loyalty to myself for what I know I am passionate about. Struggles can be compared to math like most things, either choose to add them or subtract them. The decision in choosing either one is my outcome.

How did you get started in the DJ game? [In] 2007, "Sunday Lounge Sessions" [aired] on a dance FM station here in Phoenix. Pete Salaz, co-founder of Solstice Saturdays, continues to be a major influence as a mentor and a friend through my journey as a house DJ. Rani G, DK and Drea Strickler were the team who gave me my first shot at spinning my beloved downtempo, and the [bygone night] Fuse Fridays, with founders Sol Martinez and Mara Arrieta became my first residency where I spun both EDM and hip-hop. These are my beginnings.

You've had sort of a non-traditional career, right? Indeed.

How come? I am driven to follow my dreams, and aspirations, regardless of where they takes me. Regardless of how many times I fail, everything is of value, and it makes each victory that much sweeter, memorable and it is in pure appreciation of what the universe gives me that I continue on my path, and give back the energy gifted to me to others to realize their dreams and reach their final destinations. It is a way to perpetuate all of the positive lessons life teaches us.

How are you different from other DJs in the local scene? We all have our own unique sound. I have mine. If it were up to me, everyone would go home and make babies after my sets or mixes. I've been hard pressed to find any other DJ with that same goal in mind and with good reason, we all want to find our own unique sound and that's one of mine, it's a point of reference when looking for the difference. I look for sex in music, to make a long story short.

So, have any, um...bundles of joy resulted from one of your sets? I couldn't tell you if any of them went to full term, but to get literal, I'm sure many have tried to at least latch one on. I'd like to think so.

You're big into crossfit. Does that sort of training help with your DJ career and vice-versa? I'm big into fitness. I started training and have continued training at the studio One Body One Mind, ran by Michael Jones. I believe taking care of your health is an overall advantage. It is self TLC. Taking care of myself crosses over to everything I do in my life. Fitness is imperative for me as an individual, my goals benefit from its discipline.

What's the craziest thing you've seen at a gig? It is difficult for me to find anything worthy of shock value. During a gig it is a normal occurrence to see mindless action, raw and reckless sexuality, the excessive consumption of substances and the consequences from that. People make their decisions at the beginning of the night about where they want to take themselves, and we get to watch. Voyeurism, after you see it enough, it's no longer wild or crazy. It's the human condition.

What does the Phoenix DJ scene need more than anything? It's happening. Downtown Phoenix has experience a growth spurt in the last couple of years. We need to continue to nurture it's growth, together we can do that. Passion, resilience, humility, networks.

Do you think that local DJs need to take more chances? I think a DJ's career is up to the DJ. THere are times when you will have a legitimate support system, and there are times you won't. There will be people who help you up and others that won't. In the end, it's knowing those details that make the difference, and doing what you need to do. In accordance to that.

Alkemé performs every Saturday at Bar Smith during Solstice.

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.