East Coast v. West Coast: Which is the Best Coast?
Updated: Jun 3, 2019
Alex Karu was born and raised in Monmouth County. He started DJing around the Jersey Shore when he was in college. Now, he is continuing his DJ (and personal training) career in California. How did he get his start? Which coast is the best coast? (...cough cough East Coast of course!) We asked Alex all of these questions and more!
Tell us about your background. How did you get into DJing?
I grew up in Wall, NJ and participated in all sorts of athletics, from wrestling, to football, to hockey, to ultimate frisbee and everything in between. Being in front of big crowds during those sports was always motivating, and it made the transition to performing as a DJ relatively easy. Growing up, my parents always had music playing. I always thought it was so cool that certain songs could give you a feeling in the moment that will eventually become a memory, and, in a way, it would keep that memory alive when you listen to that song again. Being able to mix it together in a way where you are telling a story has always been my mission. My first big gig at the Jersey Shore was Connolly Station in 2008, we started with a Wednesday night that got pretty big, eventually leading to taking over in the back bar area where most people would likely remember my time DJing in Belmar.
How long have you been DJing for?
I started in 2007, during my years at The College of New Jersey. I would work formals for the sports teams, sororities and fraternities. The best parties I had were ones I DJ’ed for free at my residence during my junior year at the Zoo (aka a house with 16 unassociated men). I learned a lot about dance floor psychology and how throwing on a banger at the right time could make or break the night!
What’s your favorite part about being a DJ?
I really enjoy the artistic aspect of mixing music, connecting with a crowd, and having everyone have a good time! When I achieve that crowd connection, no one is having more fun in the room than me.
What is your favorite atmosphere to perform (bar, club, wedding, etc.)? Why?
It’s hard to choose which event is best, as I really enjoy connecting with my audiences. Bars and clubs allow me to connect with the public at large, and the energy is intoxicating. Weddings are really special, because you spend all this time planning what is set to be the couples perfect day. Luckily, I tend to meet or exceed expectations. Nothing can compete with their happiness and the fact that their love brought all these people together.
What’s your best DJing story/moment?
Man, there are so many. It’s very difficult to choose. What’s cool about DJing is even if you are at the same place week in week out, no night is ever the same, no wedding is ever identical, no combination of people that come out are ever like the week before. It’s a really cool feeling knowing that you will have something fresh every week! A pivotal moment was when I decided to leave New Jersey after 27 years, and I had a going away party at Connolly Station where I DJ’ed alongside Tyler Valentine. It was pretty surreal seeing so many people that had followed me throughout the years-- clients I had worked with and all my friends-- all under one roof. It was humbling, special, and made definitely made it difficult to say goodbye. I’ll never ever forget that experience.
If you could work with any DJ or artist, who would it be?
I love Reggae/Dancehall music, and one artist that sticks out is Vybz Kartel who has been locked up since 2011. He really is a musical genius, and it’s interesting to see the way he has connected with audiences through shock value with both his lyrics and his life. He is still the most popular artist out of Jamaica, even after being imprisoned for nearly 8 years. Dj-wise, it would have to be Marshmello. I love his sound, mixing trap music with happy beats in the genre that is now known as future bass. The way his team came up with big risk (expensive) marketing has been absolutely genius.
You started out at the Jersey Shore, but since then, you’ve moved to L.A. What sparked the move to LA?
The Jersey Shore will always be home, and making the decision to move was not taken lightly. When I graduated college in 2009, I was the primary caretaker for my mother who had a terminal illness. I remember at the time, I was looking to travel the world and explore new places, but sometimes life has a different plan for you and your family. After she passed away in 2014, I had to figure out what was next, now that my primary purpose at the time was no longer there. Luckily, DJing really helped me get through a lot of those tough times and allowed some income. However, for the first time, I was able to focus on a career path. Having always had a love for fitness, I started personal training in 2011, and fell in love with helping people achieve some amazing goals in life. In 2015, I packed my Jeep Wrangler with all my stuff, and set on for the drive across the country with my dad. I had a close friend to crash with temporarily in Venice Beach (my eventual residence). Still having to find a place, job, and overall path, required me to live with a lot of uncertainty. After 4 years of living here in Los Angeles, I am truly grateful for all that I have been blessed with -- amazing relationship, clients, weather, and a private business that is beginning to flourish.
What do you miss the most about Jersey?
My family and friends without a doubt. I also miss the start of summer aka Memorial Day Weekend. That feeling in May when the weather begins to turn, everyone comes into town, and you know every night out will be packed from then until Labor Day. That feeling of knowing you have the whole summer ahead in that “MD-Dub” weekend is really special. One of my favorite things about coming home is being able to host parties and events. Lately, I’ve been doing a return night at the Spring Lake Tap House, and they have been nothing but amazing to work with. Hope to see you there soon!
You mentioned personal training before. How did you get into that?
I love helping people, and being able to help people achieve physical goals is invaluable. Fitness is a passion, and being able to learn and become a professional has been a really fulfilling path.
What are the top songs on your workout playlist?
Because I have mixes that I put out every month or so, it depends what I’m working on. For example, the latest mix I made is “2019 Dreams” on SoundCloud. It had me listening to a lot of good house music. The next mix I’m working on is the soundtrack for the “Best Day of Your Life” series, which tends to be happy house/chill music, so I’m listening to a lot of that right now.
How many hot dogs do you think you can eat in 10 minutes?
I actually eat a vegan diet, so I prefer Soy Dogs...yes, they’re a thing.
If you could make your own signature hot dog, what would it have on it and what would you name it?
It would have to be a plant-based dog, having a pretzel bun, ketchup, mustard, relish, and a good cashew cheese.
If you could only use one condiment for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Hot sauce. The best one I have ever had is (and may always be) Mazi, based out of Asbury Park, NJ! In fact, my sister mails them to me for my birthday/holidays.
And finally, our most important question. Which coast is the best coast - East or West?
West Cost has my heart now, but there will never be anything like an East Coast Jersey Shore summer!