May 14, 2018 | By Jennifer Zhang
For Alice Longyu Gao, life is one never ending performance art piece: at 22 years old, the Chinese-born New York-based DJ has already performed for brands like Milk Makeup and curated experimental event series at both the Ludlow House and Hotel Americano. Last year, she also had her own video talk show series for Paper Magazine called “Tea With Alice” in which she interviewed cultural influencers such as model Ashley Smith and Lyme Disease advocate Ally Hilfiger. Every day is another opportunity for Alice Longyu to dress the part she wants to play: pulling inspiration from her upbringing, travels and inspirations, she best describes her experimental style as “if Marie Antoinette went shopping in Harajuku and lived in East Village New York.” With a growing following (she has 4K Instagram followers) we believe she could very well be the fashion industry’s newest DJ darling. Here, we talk with Alice about her most memorable DJ gigs, go-to clothing stores and her dream brand collaborations.
Tell us more about you. What brought you to New York?
The summer before I graduated from Boston University, I got rejected by a research programme in the University of Tokyo. My plan B was to come to New York and find an internship…I interned at a tiny PR agency close to Rei Kawakubo’s Dover Street Market—where I would go shopping during my lunch breaks. Later I finessed this into an internship at their office. Then I started assisting Chelsea Leyland—I met her at a gig she did as DJ for Milk Studios. She thought I looked cute and we followed each other on Instagram. I texted her to hang out, and she said: “I am looking for an assistant if you know anyone.”
Working with Chelsea was so exciting, New York changed for me because of her. We went to fashion shows, worked with top tier artists and brands, and of course, danced together during her DJ gigs. I signed my New York apartment lease before I even graduated from BU—because I knew New York was waiting for me and that was the only place I wanted to go.
You’ve been DJ’ing for some big name events and brands recently. Any favourite experiences worth sharing? What made it special?
I once DJ’d a Warner Music Group immersive music theater after-party. The party was meant to reward the crew after the play’s opening night. I worked on the music for that gig for 4 days. I was anxious because the party was full of professional dancers and performers. My music can be random and whacky, and I wanted to make them happy and dance. It turned out to be one of my best gigs so far. Other than my check, I also received a thank you email from Warner Music Office. Hard work paid off.
You have your hand in a lot of different projects right now. What are you focusing on currently and what can we expect from you in the future?
Currently I am working on producing my music. The vibe will be colourful Harajuku pop tunes plus life-coaching-inspired lyrics. I love to talk, sometimes I talk too much while being with friends and hanging out becomes me doing my monologue. Therefore I am also working on producing my second talk show. Early this year I was offered a show on a major media platform but it didn’t work out. Until “The Alice Show” comes true, I will never give up my dream of being the wacky foreign Chinese girl who has her own show on a major American TV network.
How would you describe your personal style? Where do you find inspiration when you get dressed for the everyday, or for DJ gigs?
My style is if “Marie Antoinette went shopping in Harajuku and lived in East Village New York.” Inspiration is everywhere and it is not something you “find” or “comes to you.” Inspiration is there and when you see it, you see it. Therefore, I dress myself based on what do I have in my closet. I own a lot of stunning pieces. I also dress based on who do I fancy at the moment. I once had a crush on this British boy so I listened to a lot of grime music and wore baggy street wear.
What are your favourite places to shop?
Laforet, Alice in Tinyroom, Verybrain and lilLilly in Harajuku, Tokyo. Le Bon Marche in Paris and Screaming Mimis in New York.
Where can we see you play during fashion month?
During New York Fashion week I will be djing for Galore Magazine x Juicy Couture, V Magazine Lady Gaga September issue launch party and during Paris fashion week I will be djing at @HotelRadioParis. Still manifesting DJ’ing at some cool Parisian spots, a set at Silencio, L’Arc or Rex Club would be great.
Any brands in particular that you’d like to work with in the future?
Gucci probably. I work with a lot of artists doing experiential multi-media art shows. If I am not full-time doing music and creating things, my dream job would be to be an art buyer for fashion brands that work with cool artists.
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