My dad used to be a DJ himself. It’s a family affair

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At 17, Alyah Rivière could call herself a signed artist. After creating a buzz with eclectic DJ sets, she caught the eye of Joris Vaes from Het Depot, who signed her to Tangram Records. Staying true to her sound, the Leuven native kept growing and started to organise ‘AliA invites’, where she offers the stage to promising DJ talent. We sat down with all-time cutie AliA to drink some tea and to get to know her better. With a very clear view of what she wants, she’s invincible and definitely a keeper in the scene. Did we mention she is still only 21?

How’s life? 

Pretty busy at the moment. A lot of my time is consumed by school and assignments. It’s quite hard to combine studying with performing every weekend and often during the week. But hey, I’ll make it work!


How did you get into music and DJing? 

I grew up listening to music. My dad used to be a DJ himself. I’ve never been to one of his gigs though, I wasn’t born yet. But as you can imagine there was always music playing at our house. Mostly jazz, funk, hip hop and soul. That’s why I have such a broad knowledge of those genres. It’s a family affair.

My dad used to be a DJ himself. It’s a family affair

Did he teach you how to play? 

Actually, no. I was 14 when I started to really get into DJing. I didn’t listen to commercial music like every 14-year-old. My neighbour sold me a little mixer at the time and that’s how it all started. I learned everything myself because my dad played vinyl and didn’t get using digital files. I continued practising in Het Depot, they have some CDJs open for the public to practice on. I’ve spent a lot of hours there.  


What was your first gig ever? 

When I was 15 I started playing at Scouts parties, but my first real gig was Studio Cactus. A friend of mine organised it and I asked her if I could play. I was so stressed out, shaking and everything. My mixing must have sounded horrible back then (laughs)


I feel like you blew up really fast. How did people start noticing you? 

I started playing more gigs and participated in some contests. That’s how people started noticing me. Joris from Het Depot was the first one to believe in me. He offered me to join the label Tangram Records. Then Lefto noticed me as well and booked me a couple of times. The ball started rolling from there. I’ve always tried to keep a clear identity. There are so many DJs nowadays so it’s important to find your own unique style.   


What about ‘AliA invites’? 

It’s a party concept that I just introduced. The first edition was during car-free Sunday in Beursschouwburg and it was a big success. It was the first time I organised everything myself and I will definitely do it again. I was so happy with the result. It’s important to show all of these different facets of your personality to your audience. You can definitely expect more ‘AliA invites’ soon.

It’s important to show all of these different facets of your personality to your audience 

You hail from Leuven. How do you feel about the scene there?

It is finally starting to take off a bit. With concepts like Nacht and Stelplaats, Leuven tries to draw more attention and people to the underground scene. The city really needed that. Most of the inhabitants are students who just want to get wasted at the Oude Markt and don’t really care about what kind of music is playing. Hopefully,  that’ll change one day (laughs). There’s a lot of hidden talent in Leuven.

There’s a lot of hidden talent in Leuven

Where do you want to see yourself in a couple of years? 

I don’t think about the future a lot, I’m a day-to-day person (laughs). Of course, making this my full-time job would be the ideal. I want to play in other countries, keep growing musically and produce a bit more. Maybe I’ll start a label or open a little record store in Brussels when I’m older. 


What would be your dream gig? 

Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Festival for sure. The festival stands 100% for everything that I love. I played the Winter edition once, guess I already kind of made my dream come true. Playing the Summer edition would be cool as well.

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