While most students barely find time to finish all their reading, Alejandro “Alexbustamove” Bustamante spends at least two hours every day surfing music blogs, looking for the newest releases and imagining what will make UCLA students dance.
Referred to by his friends as a human version of “Shazam,” a music recognition application, Bustamante got his first taste of DJing more than five years ago from his cousin, who played a party that he threw in high school.
“I wasn’t really into it at the time, but after seeing people’s reactions to him playing, I wanted to learn. So a week later I asked him to teach me the basics, and I taught the rest to myself,” the fourth-year Design | Media Arts student said.
As a member of Sigma Pi, Bustamante often DJs parties at the house. After meeting Bustamante at their fraternity in 2011, UCLA alumnus and fellow disc jockey Donnie Kendall developed a keen interest in house music. Now pursuing a career in music production, Kendall credits his career in music to Bustamante’s influence.
“Alex is a guru at electro-dance music. If there is any house song playing, he can recognize it within 10 seconds,” Kendall said.
While staying up to date in the music scene is important to him, Bustamante said his favorite part of spinning is hearing the crowd’s excitement when a favorite song begins.
“(That excitement) is what I DJ for. There are certain times that I’ve turned down getting paid just because this is what I love to do and I’m happy doing it for free,” Bustamante said.
Unlike many other artists, Bustamante said that his creative process is very fluid in the sense that he does not know where a song is going when he sits down to mix it.
“Let’s say I’m working on a remix for an original track. I’d lock myself up in my room ““ make sure there’s no distraction ““ then bust out the Ableton (a loop-based software music sequencer) and mess around,” Bustamante said. “I don’t have an idea coming in ““ I just work with what comes to me. Usually it builds on itself every week.”
Bustamante describes his music as energetic and upbeat, and he rarely pauses between songs so he can keep the crowd literally on their toes. Fellow DJ and fraternity alumnus Joshua Brooks, or DJPZB, said that he and Bustamante both try to emulate the style of British house music DJ and producer, Carl Cox. It was this similarity that caused Brooks to reach out to Bustamante for a concert at Central Social Aid & Pleasure Club in Santa Monica this September.
“When I was at UCLA, there was almost no electronic music scene. Now it’s so much more accessible. Since I’m working on becoming a music producer, Alex was one of those people I wanted to grab onto,” Brooks said.
Brooks, who performed at Coachella in 2011, said that he anticipates future collaborations with UCLA artists, including Bustamante.
Even as he’s gaining more recognition from his show with Brooks and Kendall, Bustamante still holds himself to a self-imposed high standard, in hopes of delivering that “wow” feeling to all of his listeners.
“I have a lot of stuff that I would like to go back to. Even though I finished a few tracks last year, … I’m still not satisfied,” Bustamante said.
Bustamante said that making an extended play is one of his goals. If all goes according to plan, he hopes to continue DJing and improve his already developing skills as a producer.
“I also have design as an option. And I love film. My main goal is to find a way to combine these three things that I love and do something with it,” Bustamante said. “Just not sure what that is yet.”