This Missouri based DJ / producer and mother of two has been in the music biz for a long time, but only recently has started to wow the queer dance floors with her very specific, cultivated, sonic point of view… even encouraging a few dreamers to become DJs themselves. And now that Alexis Tucci has plenty of gigs in NYC and Fire Island this summer, let’s see how many more lives she’ll change! [Cover photo: Terry Walthall]
Thotyssey: Hi Alexis! Happy Spring, aka Early Summer! How are you liking this?
Alexis Tucci: I live in Saint Louis, Missouri and I’m traveling currently between Cali and Mexico so I’m [not sure what the New York weather is like.] I love spring for fresh perspectives, and my garden is blooming… but my allergies leave a bit to be desired!
I didn’t know that you lived in St. Louis! You do lots of traveling as a DJ, and you’re in NYC often. Do you have a favorite city to spin in?
That’s a tough question, because I’ve been having so many incredible experiences all over the country with some of the most loving and colorful people I’ve ever met. I’d be remiss not to say that my hometown of Saint Louis has been extraordinary during my career! But at the end of the day… New York City and Fire Island adjacent is my favorite right now. The vibe between the audiences and myself is electrifying and love-drenched!
So was music always a part of your life… and how and where did your DJ journey begin?
Yes, music has always been a part of my life: disco and Motown were two genres that both my mother and my father exposed me to at a young age. I really fell in love with music when I became a teenager, listening to ska and punk alternative. It wasn’t until I was 15 years old and found myself at the first warehouse party ever in St. Louis that I realized I was going to dedicate my whole life to house, music, and its culture.
I started promoting at that time with the first generation of local promoters, doing raves and warehouse parties. And when I was 17, I started throwing my own raves–which lasted for more than 10 years. Originally, I thought I was going to become a DJ that played acid jazz, reggae dub and trip hop, as well as other assorted downtempo styles. There were hardly any female DJs at all, and surely not any playing that urban sound. But trying to mix that downtempo stuff was tough, so by default I started playing house music.
It wasn’t until I started playing with my ex-husband Chris Hansen, who is an incredible Afro-Cuban percussionist who played improvisational over my disco and Latin tech house, that I started getting good. Eventually I was surrounded by some of the most talented jazz and blues musicians is Saint Louis, as we had formed a sessions band called the Hot House Sessions. We lasted about nine years, and played almost 250 shows a year in our heyday. I’ve been in several other bands with my DJing over the last few years, and still play with some incredible musicians. I think that’s where I get a lot of my tonality today.
In recent years, you’ve really made a name for yourself spinning for massive gay parties and at queer venues. How did you come to find yourself in that world?
Magic, lol! Well, it feels like it, anyway. I’m a firm believer that you gotta take every opportunity that presents itself, and you gotta take risks and push boundaries to be found and seen–truly seen–especially coming from a city like Saint Louis, where these opportunities usually pass on by.
Coming out of Covid was no different. When I saw an opportunity to align with the Elements festival in the Poconos which was experimenting with two-part Covid testing for their 400+ guests, I offered to bring my team in to help facilitate the production of one of their main stages. I think we did a pretty incredible job…. It was so beautiful!! Jake Resnicow was site-visiting the property during that time for a similar type event (“Dystopia“) he would be throwing a month or two later, saw my work, and hired me to be his event designer for that event.
It was exhausting and madness, but a really beautiful event just the same in October of 2020. I was just there to design and build; however on Saturday night, I had a tiny decorated room amidst all the large scale production that was absent of any activation… and it was the only time I found myself not entirely swamped. So I got dressed up in my sparkles and dragged my DJ gear through the snow and set it up. To my surprise, A beautiful boy named Brandon arrived to host the room (’til this day I can’t believe I almost didn’t do it, because he was so beautiful and dressed up so perfectly). I asked what he wanted to hear, and he said French disco… and the rest is history. I played a three hour set, and the boys lived! They asked me to close out the festival the next night in the same place, which I did. It was equally magical.
The following April in 2021 I was hired to produce Jake Resnicow’s event in Isla Mujeres, Mexico called “Utopia,” which I did with my small team–and at that event I was also invited to do a Sunday afternoon set. Matt Denton was scheduled to play after me, but he gifted me his set time because the boys from Dystopia AR had gotten there late and wanted me to keep playing. I play the six hours through the sunset on the coast of Mexico, with tears in my eyes and everyone else’s eyes. It was truly one of the most synergetic, emotional, exceptional moments of my life.
A couple that I’ve become close with during that time followed along with me to Tulum for a few more gigs. Matt and Blake invited me at that moment to join them on Fire Island in May for the season kick-off, so that they could introduce me to a few more people. At this time I had no idea what Fire Island was, nor did I understand circuit culture, and that I would be seeing the same people I saw in Mexico on Fire Island.
Saturday night of that weekend I had no idea that I’d be playing the one set that would change my life forever. After two attempts at trying to find a spot for me to play that day, I was welcomed into [FI home and party location] Froot Falls by Joey with the Mustache, where I played the sets from 11pm to 7am. And at that moment, everything changed. I played another set the following day and the following night, a total of some 17 hours in two days. My friend Matt Tully kept asking me if I had a manager or an agent; I had no idea what that meant. Following that weekend, I made sure I had a manager in place and I started touring every weekend, and have been for the last two years.
It was also that night that I talked with Joey with the Mustache until the wee hours of the morning–Sunday night into Monday morning–but he decided he wanted to leave comedy behind and pursue DJing as a career. Never in my life have I seen anybody dedicate so much of himself to the craft… not only as someone who is trying to contribute to its evolution, but also someone who honors its past. He’s really important to me. And oddly enough, we are getting ready to celebrate my two year anniversary on Fire Island May 20. Can’t believe it’s only been two years.
Your return to Froot Falls is much anticipated! Fire island’s such a magical place, isn’t it?
It is the most magical. I love the history. I don’t usually bend for most things, but I will bend for tradition, and honor institutions that have been the foundation for so much growth and change. Pines Party, teas, underwear parties and the legendary Pavilion are just a few of the institutions I think make the place so unique. And I love being a part of the new traditions… reintroducing house music and disco, and beach parties like Joeys “5-HTP!” I also love family dinners and dress up before the nightly festivities kick off. It’s just all so community based, wonderland-like… and at least since I’ve been going out there, completely love drenched!
Here’s a broad question, but what do you think about the state of music today? Social media and streaming have obviously changed everything forever, but there are a lot of pros and cons about that.
I’d have to say I come from a pretty seasoned–which also means old–perspective, lol. As an event producer and as a DJ, I don’t think we will ever lose the desire to see music live and to experience performance live. And although I do feel music is way more disposable than it’s ever been, I think there will always be a need for tangible tracks that people can collect and spin live for live audiences that need that community experience.
I come from an era of music where you bought your tracks on $12-15 vinyl records in maybe $3-400 chunks, and then you played those tracks over and over in a million different ways to keep it fresh until you could afford another batch to rotate in! As for whether or not people will buy tickets versus streaming… I don’t think the web will ever replace the show. It just helps promote them farther, faster.
You are the mother of two teen sons! Is it a challenge to balance the worlds of being a touring DJ and producer with parenthood?
It’s challenging, but not impossible! I was like most nightlife / career mamas who were worried about how much their lives would change. But it’s been my greatest accomplishment, and my boys are the two things I’ve been the most proud of out of any aspect of my life.
It’s almost impossible to remember how hard it was when they were little, or what had to be sacrificed in the early years, because every other minute of our time together has been worth it. Even on the hardest day. I love seeing my boys grow up with traits from both myself and their father, but also to see behaviors and interests they grew all on their own.
I’m proud to have transparency and open communication, which leads to basic trust–that is so important these days. I think touring later in life has equipped me with some disciplines, and the awareness to correct what doesn’t serve me. I work as much as motherhood allows. And when it doesn’t, I make sure to reset at home, find my bearings–and then start out again, balanced.
And what I love about being a mother in this industry is that because of my presence, in a very diverse and queer community, that community is becoming normalized amongst my sons and their peer group. A mother once told me on the sidelines at a baseball game that she appreciated that by their sons being friends with my sons, being queer in all its forms was becoming a normal and accepted conversation… where otherwise, the opportunity might have taken longer to happen. Nothing makes me happier to hear.
This weekend will present us with another party you’ll be spinning: “Jungle” at 3 Dollar Bill on Saturday, April 29th, care of Joe Roszak and NAA-RAK.
Well it’s a new market for me a bit, which always gets me pumped! Fresh faces and new energy to tap into! I know my regular crew will be in attendance too, and that’s an equally fun experience. I love seeing different parts of my world come together and grow. And ultimately, we are all a part of the outcome of each show and I think the audience feels that and collectively the community love grows.
I have not met [the people in] NAA-RAK yet, but I’m looking forward to it. This will be my first opportunity to work with Joe; he has been an absolute delight, and is definitely expanding a bit outside of his norm to host me at his Jungle party. He told me he was waiting for the perfect moment, and I’m elated! That kind of trust only fuels my desire to bring my A-game. And it’s fun to build a journey that not only reflects my sound and vibe, but also incorporates my interpretation of the brand Joe has built! It’s going to be a very special night!
And looking ahead, I see you’ll be at Red Eye for Pride Sunday (June 25th).
Pride is going to be a whirlwind! The Daniel Nardicio family is family to me. Adam Klesh and crew have been lifting me up since the beginning of this new part of my life…. truly an incredible humans and really legit promoters. I’m excited to kick off my Pride celebrations on Fire Island at Daniel’s reinvented Ice Palace and then bring the party over for Red Eye Sunday night! Their new venue is intentionally intimate, and properly laced with great sound and killer energy.
And getting to celebrate Pride alongside my dearest friend and recent mentor Susan Morabito, who is an absolutely deserving legend, is such a treat! Setting up a room for her to take over is not only an honor, but also something I don’t and won’t take lightly.
Brandon Vescovo is on with us too, and a real force! Being sandwiched between these two talented artists is going to be a highlight to my career!
And you have one more Pride gig, right?
I also have the distinct please of playing the official NYC Pride closing party for
Eric Michael and his Fever events! This is the first time they have welcomed house / disco to this event, and I’m absolutely honored and humbled to be tasked with opening that genre up for his Pride celebration following Horse Meat Disco; this set is Monday morning at 5am.
The respect I’ve received as an artist from all of the NYC promoters has been extraordinary. No doubt it’s the city that never sleeps, and love that I get to leave a mark on opposite sides of the bridge for NYC Pride!
I’m really looking forward to making my debut at the iconic FIP Pavilion for [FI Pines managing director] PJ McAteer on July 5th, expecting yet another epic and emotional moment with my boys!
This is all going to be amazing and exciting, congratulations! Okay in closing: what’s your best advice for a new DJ on the scene who wants to make it big?
Respect the craft, respect the history of the craft… and stay true to yourself, your sound and your health. It’s so easy to get caught up in the many snags of DJ culture. Partying can take over. Audience demands can sway your judgement, which could lead to compromising yourself or your sound. Longevity and success come from hard work, practice, dedication, humility, and a humble ego… and respect for those that came before us. I walked that walk, and if you pay close attention to those who have made it big, they are often quoted as mentioning those that paved the way.
The culture was birthed from a desperate need for community and belonging, and those that have added to its intricately-woven fabric are those that pioneered with love and proper intention, and the selfless commitment to making a dancefloor move. None of this started with paychecks and rider requirements. It started with a passion for a community of dancers and lovers. It grew from a desire to spread that vibration to as many people as possible under one groove. If the new DJs coming up can keep that knowledge and respect close to their hearts, they will go far… and make a difference along the way.
Thank you, Alexis!
Check Thotyssey’s calendar for Alexis Tucci’s upcoming appearances, and follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, SoundCloud and her website.