Alexandru Dediu is a multimedia designer and DJ. He’s part of Block3, a Copenhagen-based group of DJs that organizes music events and podcasts, where they play their own tracks and share their take on the electronic music scene.
THE BEGINNING OF THE JOURNEY
Who are you? How do you identify yourself – as a DJ or a multimedia designer?
My name is Alexandru Dediu, but for the longest time, I’ve just been known as Dru. I was born and raised in the beautiful city of Iasi, the biggest city from the northeast part of Romania. In the last three years and a half, I’ve been studying multimedia design in Copenhagen. DJing has always been part of my life, and in the last years, I’ve jumped on music production as well.
Right now, DJing and music production are second in my life, but they still hold major importance for me to express my creativity, which I consider fundamental. Not so long ago, I was in an internal conflict because I couldn’t decide if I should focus on my career in multimedia design or music. With time and experience, I started to enjoy my studies more and more, so I decided to shift my attention from music to my career. My DJ and producer life are now managed in a more laid-back manner, without expectations or big plans – I’m just enjoying it and going with the flow.
Did you have an “OK, what’s the next step?” moment – like for example, when you decided to move to Denmark?
I’ve had loads of “OK, what’s the next step?” moments in my life. Definitely, the biggest one was when I moved to Denmark when I was 19 years old for my studies. In the first months, I wasn’t fully aware of what it actually meant to move to another country and to be by myself in an unknown place. After some months, I felt depressed and lost – I really had to ask my inner-self “what’s the next step?” and get some answers. Luckily, I overcame that, but only after realizing that the whole situation was real and that I had to get the most out of this experience of being out of my comfort zone.
Tell me about the beginning of your journey as a DJ. What led you to it?
I think my passion for electronic music – and just music in general – comes from my parents. They aren’t musicians, but I remember that when I was a kid, they were constantly listening to music during family time, on our trips, and so on. My mother was responsible for showing me the soft side of music – like Sade, for example – while my dad was the one who kind of introduced me to electronic music. I still remember that he had a CD of a band called Scooter in his car, and he used to play it pretty often.
My journey as a DJ started when I was 14 or 15 years old. I was already into electronic music, mostly dubstep and drum and bass. My good friend Tudor Gaita organized a local party and he invited me to play in the warm-up slot of the party. I was really nervous, but everything went better than I expected.
After that, the Chase the Sun parties were another important moment in my DJ career. Serban Marin, another good friend of mine, was the main responsible behind the concept and the parties. During 2014 and 2015, these Chase the Sun parties were one of the biggest ones in our city, with more than 500 people attending them. We were only some kids who were trying to have fun and to revive the electronic music scene in our city. We made it pretty big! I did that for two years, but slowly the drum and bass movement kind of died in our city and the parties slowly lost their track and in the meantime, I moved to Denmark.
Your high school years were better than mine. Much more interesting, I’m telling you!
I guess these parties were a highlight in my life, but hopefully, I’ll make some interesting memories besides these!
ABOUT BLOCK 3
And then, in Copenhagen, Block 3 came into existence. How did you guys start that out?
Everything started in a dormitory room, in Block 3 of the Gronjordskollegiet. Block3 is a concept of parties and podcasts that started during my second year of studies in Copenhagen, alongside my Romanian friends. We all share the same interest and passion for the same genres of music – mostly house, tech-house and ‘rominimal’, a local sub-genre that emerged in the past decade in Romania. We were always looking for tracks in our free time and learning about particular cultures and sound in general. Most of the guys were not into DJing but slowly everyone started to understand how to do it.
We then decided to make something out of this. Although Copenhagen has an electronic music scene, clubs weren’t necessarily playing the kind of music we were into. We first started experimenting with podcasts, by inviting DJs that we liked to play their own music. And then we started throwing some intimate parties at bars – we invited close friends who we knew were into the specific type of music we liked. But I have to give all the credits to the main guy behind the concept of Block3, Alexandru Lenta, who not only organized these intimate parties but also got us a gig at Culture Box [big music venue in Copenhagen].
HOW TO BECOME A DJ
When it comes to music, how do you approach your creative work? Where do your ideas come from?
The ideas and inspiration come from listening to other genres. I don’t have a particular workflow. When it comes to music production, I’m just going with the flow and I try to express a certain mood or feeling. Usually, I always start by making the drums for a certain track I want to create.
I find making music intriguing. For example, when it comes to writing, it’s basically just putting on paper the conversations that you have in our own head. But how do you translate that into a track?
Well, for me it’s about going with the flow, open that specific software and try different things until you get your body moving, until you find something interesting. And I think that what you find interesting at a given moment is a by-product of what you’re feeling or thinking about, but it’s not like “today I’m angry, so I’ll make an angry song”. It’s not really about emotions, but more about the groove.
What’s the hardest part of being a DJ?
If you love something, nothing is hard. But I guess sometimes it’s overwhelming to keep up with the latest music that is being released and also to search for hidden gems. DJing isn’t hard, but music production is. I mean, people go to university just for that, there are loads of things to learn.
Isn’t that overwhelming to you?
No, I think that’s the difference between something being hard or merely frustrating. I’ve had many episodes in which I said “I’m not doing this anymore! It’s time-consuming, I’m not getting any money out of it, it’s not worth it” – but the real purpose behind this is to express my creativity.
So, there’s no pressure to become some kind of Mozart, I’m just doing this for myself and sharing it with some people. It’s my thing – so yeah, it’s really this notion of having a purpose, I guess.
If someone asked you “How can I become a DJ”, what would you answer?
First things first: listen to a lot of music. Anything. Find what you actually love and “let it kill you”.
After you decide on what genre you genuinely like and makes your body move, try to find out more about it. Document it, learn the culture behind it and learn from other DJs who are into the same genre. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or for recommendations.
In my humble opinion, maybe the most important step to becoming a DJ is to learn how to beat-match [synchronize the tempos of two recordings to enable a smooth transition between them in a set of uninterrupted music]. After you learn this crucial skill, the next step is to learn how to create a unique atmosphere and mood while mixing different tracks. Everyone is different, so try to express yourself rather than copying your idols – I’ve been there and maybe I’m still there sometimes.
*This interview was written mid-lockdown when I could only get cappuccinos from paper cups. If you’d like to support my writing, please buy me a coffee and I’ll thank you in the next post*