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DJ unleashes new electronic album

Calvin Alice-Demores plays a percussion instrument in his studio where he recorded his new electronic album. Photos by Berkley Mason/22nd Century Media
Calvin Alice-Demores featured his violin-playing 9-year-old brother, Julian Thompkins, on one of the tracks from the DJ’s new EP.
Berkley Mason, Freelance Reporter
6:20 am PDT July 20, 2016

Malibu local and California State University, Monterey Bay film graduate Calvin Alice-Demorest, after living in the bay area for some time, decided he had better move back to Los Angeles to pursue film. 

That is what he thought, anyway, before he ended up on a completely different path than he had anticipated — music production. 

Growing up between Venice Beach and the San Fernando Valley, Alice-Demorest, 27, has been “makin’ beats” since he was in high school, but it wasn’t until recently that his long-time hobby transitioned into something much more professional. After a year-and-a-half of tutorials and practice, the local DJ, who calls himself Photon A.D., finally felt “comfortable” with the more intricate music production programs, particularly Ableton Live. 

“It’s really tough to learn a new music program,” Alice-Demorest said. “Before [I started using Ableton Live], I was using GarageBand. It took me a year-and-a-half of Ableton Live tutorials before I really got comfortable with [the program]. Now, it feels like, ‘Where am I going to drive my spaceship today? What planet am i going to end up in?’” 

Alice-Demorest is a local DJ in Malibu and recently released his electronic dance music album, “Love Blast EP,” gaining more than 400 plays within the first two days of its release. 

“The scene that I really want to get into and start playing more shows in is the fusion of where yoga meets electronic music — I feel like that’s the best,” Alice-Demorest said. “A lot of it is a little bit slower than the ravey stuff, [but] there’s a message in that [scene]. It’s like, ‘Yeah, you’re actually a beautiful person’ [because] the music is making you feel like you can kick your life’s butt.”

“Love Blast EP” demonstrates a unique collaboration of various artists in Los Angeles, including his 9-year-old brother, Julian Tompkins, who is featured playing the violin on the track “Feelin’ Fresh.” 

Tompkins said his brother wanted a new element to his sound, so he suggested he play the violin on his new record. Alice-Demorest agreed, much to Tompkins’ excitement.

“I was kind of nervous [about] messing up,” Tompkins said, “but in the end, it turned out pretty well, because it was better than I thought it would be.”

Along with Alice-Demorest and Tompkins, another Malibu local is featured in the DJ’s music, but in an unexpected fashion. Elaine Wong, a vocalist featured on another track, works at a local yoga studio, one which Alice-Demorest frequents. 

Wong, who leads guided meditations, one day said a Buddhist prayer with which Alice-Demorest connected. Alice-Demorest said he felt the prayer represented the message he wishes to communicate to his listeners through his music.

“I heard her saying this Buddhist prayer/meditation thing for love, kindness and compassion, and [then] putting it into the universe,” Alice-Demorest said. “[Then I] asked her if I could record her. So we went back into the meditation room and I recorded her on my iPhone. I got home, cut it in, gave her some reverb, and it turned out well.”

In addition to Wong’s vocals, Alice-Demorest used another meditation instructor for a similar reason. Sampled in that same song is S.N. Goenka, a master of Vipassana yoga who started meditation centers all over India, later extending to various cultures all over the world, said Alice-Demorest, who has taken two of Goenka’s courses.  

“You go meditate for 10 days straight — you can’t talk, you can’t write, no electronics, and it’s free for all 10 days — room and board is paid for [as well],” Alice-Demorest said. “There’s assistant teachers there that help you through the meditation process; you can’t even give them money until you’ve done the course and further know its purpose.”

Despite Goenka being deceased, Alice-Demorest managed to electronically insert an old recording of his voice, which he finds to be very “focused, and clear” sounding. 

“I put in Goenka with Elaine, [but] in two different sections of the song,” Alice-Demorest said. “It’s a tool to help your consciousness expand.”

Alice-Demorest does not limit his work to just one electronic genre of music. Through the collaboration of various instrumentals — violin, guitar, a number of vocalists, tambourines, etc. — the local DJ hopes to take his listeners on a “musical journey” that makes people feel “inspired and peaceful,” but also “funky,” Alice-Demorest said.

“A lot of stuff in an [electronic music] genre sounds similar within that genre, so I’m kind of bringing that wobbly flow and applying it to psytrance,” Alice-Demorest said. “I try to have a lot of different vocal layers and tribal elements to make [my track] pop out, rather than just using the standard format of the song, which most [DJ’s] end up using. You just [want to] have your own flare, you know?”

Alice-Demorest illustrated what that journey might be like when describing of a new electronic genre and scene called Ecstatic Dance, which is somewhat similar to “short dance parties,” but they take place all over the world. The dancing is specific to a unique type of “flowy” movements. Typically these “dance parties” take place in “positive environments” that promote a healthy lifestyle, Alice-Demorest said. 

“Some of [the Ecstatic Dance parties] start with yoga to warm up your body, then moving into a dance party, and then at the end, there’s sound healing and maybe even meditation — so, it’s this guided dance journey,” Alice-Demorest said. “While you’re dancing, it’s encouraged not to talk to anyone, so you only talk to people through your dance.”

But Alice-Demorest’s future endeavors do not exclusively involve the music industry. He also has been incorporating his knowledge of film into his professional music career through the production of various music videos, which are still in the beginning stages of production. 

“I want to integrate film and all kinds of other media [into my work],” Alice-Demorest said. “I‘m really into stage shows — big productions where there’s lasers and smoke, or people popping out of the floor — but I would also like to have a full band that plays with the electronic music, [along with] original songs that I’ve written.” 

Along with his large spectrum of ideas and musical aspirations, Alice-Demorest seems like a unique DJ in that he uses his musical abilities to empower individuals and ultimately to make the world a more peaceful, beautiful place. 

“Often, I will use the smoke around my computer and music gear and ask that only positive vibes come through,” Alice-Demorest said. “And before I start I will set an intention — usually that I be guided by my highest self [in order] to channel the frequencies and sounds that will spread the most love and peace to the universe as possible.”