Spontaneous Affinity

052. aka-Sol

| aka-Sol is an Ecuadorian DJ, producer, and multidisciplinary artist based in Brooklyn. Through their Acacia Baila label, they're also a connector: they've released their own tracks and collaborations alongside releases from their friends and community, as well as thrown events at spaces like Mansions and their involvement in the Dripping event series and festival. As a DJ, their sets are genre-defying and psychedelic, bridging the gap between heady, trippy sounds and groove and percussion that go straight to the body. Their mix for us is deftly controlled chaos — a fresh, freaky take on 'fast' that's as floating and expansive as it is frenetic.

About the mix:

I wanted to create a mix exploring the 150-160 bpm pocket. I feel like I have only landed in playing around these tempos a few times while DJing live, and had definitely not recorded a mix up there before. I was itching to submerge into it after a crucial year in my DJ career, where I have widely expanded the limitations of the things I feel comfortable playing.

It’s been refreshing to understand more and more that I am not an artist/DJ that could be defined by a music genre, but rather by the sensibility in which I lace the different styles and sounds I use to create narratives when constructing my sets. Another important challenge I presented to myself for recording this mix was the curiosity of understanding what kind of tunes I would select and blend for this as a non DnB nor hard techno DJ. I feel like by going through this challenge, I have opened a world of possibilities that I can’t wait to incorporate when playing out there.

In terms of feelings explored, I would say that expansiveness of the body and the mind are a recurrent element in my practice and it was very present in this mix too. I wanted to build something that could feel both complex yet fluid. Entering into deeper introspections while feeling your body being pulled in all possible directions at once until the point of surrendering into a floating state of slow movements is the only possible solution to cope with the amount of information being received.

In terms of gear, I used 2 Pioneer XDJ-700s and a Pioneer DJM 450 mixer. For the recording I use a Zoom H6 recorder.

Where did you grow up? How did that shape your sound or the way you relate with music?

I grew up in Quito, Ecuador. Quito is a city that sits on the skirt of a volcano named Pichincha and is surrounded by other mountains and volcanoes. There, I discovered my love for music and dancing very early in my life. I have been listening to cassettes, CDs, and the radio since I remember. Even though my family is not precisely an artistic one, nor was anyone in it an avid music collector, listening to music and dancing was always present within us.

Growing up surrounded by mountains in a country so small made it accessible to explore the richness of its natural diversity. Going from the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean, going up to the colossal mountain range of the Andean region, to finally descending into the deep density of the Amazonian jungle; I developed an appreciation for the expansive yet complex sensations of being in these landscapes, that has translated in the way I experience and perceive music, both as a listener and as creator. A journey in which every sound I hear connects me directly with a specific feeling, a memory from a place, or interactions with others and my surroundings.

As a Latin American person, rhythm and movement through it, is deeply embedded in my system. My mom, aunties, and grandma were probably holding my hands and making me dance before I was even able to walk. I also grew up in a very matriarchal family so we were all just always dancing and connecting with the sensual nature of music and movement. Even as a teen, when I was deeply into metal, rock, and punk, I would go to parties with my tight jeans, leather jacket, and chains, and dance cumbia, salsa, and reggaeton all night. Reggaeton was a big thing on its first boom back in the early 2000s. It has been interesting to reconnect with it as modern club music producers combine the rhythms and aesthetics of it with digital hyper-precise sound design and big bassy rumbles. All of these experiences have shaped the way I relate with music and the diverse scale of styles I feel connected and inspired by.

What was the first dance music experience that really stuck with you?

Love this question!!! It was somewhere around 2008 in Buenos Aires. I was 19 years old at the time and started to go almost weekly to a club called Bahrein on Tuesdays for their drum and bass night “+160”. That was also the year I tried LSD for the first time, luckily not in a party setting but in my house with my roommates. I immediately fell in love with the experience and the substance.

One Wednesday night a DJ friend that was deeper into “the scene” and with whom later I started throwing my first parties and DJing events, convinced me to go see this French DJ that his partner was obsessed with, playing at my already beloved Bahrein. I brought some really good acid that a friend from college had just given to me and I was excited to try and check out the Wednesday vibes at the club. It was the first time for me, taking a substance that was not weed or alcohol at a club setting. I remember putting the whole tab in my mouth right before entering the club to see Popof, a favorite DJ from the minimal big room techno scene in Buenos Aires at the time.

It gives me goose bumps every time I remember this. The energy was so over the top that night. You can tell that these people had been waiting to see this DJ play for a while. He was giving the crowd everything they wanted. I just remember being against a wall, very close to one of the speakers, feeling the music entering every pore of my body while I was almost suspended looking at the faces and movements of a crowd that was having the time of their lives. I was literally stuck to that wall for hours, moving my body very slowly while experiencing the euphoria of a crowd that couldn’t stop jumping, smiling, screaming and moving their bodies as if that was the only reason they came to this world for.

That night I really understood the power that a DJ could have, and it was clear to me that I wanted to experience that myself. Being able to connect with so many bodies and souls in motion through the energy being pushed out of the sound system with every decision taken and gesture made. That was a big turning point for me both as an artist but also as a raver.

How do mind-altering substances (of any sort) play into your personal experiences with dance music?

I felt it was important for me to respond to this question, especially after telling my first dance music experience. It is undeniable that mind-altering substances have played a big role in dance music, and it has in my life too. I have lots of respect for what these substances are able to unlock in us and I have so much appreciation for the things I have learned from them. I also love the way in which these substances can connect people in a very special way, from the bond of taking care of each other while being in these hypersensitive spaces, to the beautiful and unique experience of being in a bathroom with more people than the stall could fit sharing the magic that would lead everyone (almost always) to an expansive and communal experience on the dancefloor.

That being said, I do think we should all question the relationship we have with these substances, both in general but also tied to our partying dynamics. Do we always need to use them to have a good time? Even if the clear answer to that is NO, do we make an effort to have enough nights out without using them to understand how we function and interact in these environments without it?

I just had and 8 month break in which I cut everything out (including alcohol). I also don’t consume caffeine or tobacco, so I literally had only water and an occasional ginger beer on my nights out. It was one of the most empowering things to experience. Being in all these parties both as a dancer and as a DJ, raving for hours, even closing out parties and dancing as euphoric as I ever dance. Being completely sober and surrounded by beautiful people using beautiful substances, was truly amazing. I clearly remember the first night that I full on went for it while sober. It felt so powerful, so affirming, I was extremely happy. It was this big moment of confirming that I am one with the music. That the experience of transcending through sounds while moving my body was completely in me and is not dependent on any mind-altering substances. The confirmation that music and love are the most powerful drugs, as cliché as that could sound.

As I try to not be an absolutist in any thing I do, after 8 months I decided to take some stuff during the holiday celebrations and it felt great. It was a nice reconnection whit why I like taking substances and a recognition that it doesn’t have to be an extreme of I use or I don’t, but rather when I use and when I don’t. When do I say yes just because it was offered to me, and when do I say no? That's something I have been learning a lot in the last 2 years, the power of NO, but that is for another conversation.

To what extent is your music tied to community, and to what extent is it about individual expression? Can those things intersect?

In short I would say yes, those things could intersect. I don’t thing is an easy task, at least not for me, and I think it’s a constant learning experience that keeps been reshaped and transformed rather than something that is fixed and still.

I am in a moment of my life that I am trying to deeply understand my relationship with pleasing others. I have always been a very giving person that cares a lot about my impact on others and that feels comfort in knowing I can make people feel happy or satisfied. I think that there is something beautiful about that, but I also see that sometimes it could be a coping mechanism to compensate with my own insecurities, and some childhood unresolved traumas.

So bringing this to the question about the relationship in between the ties of my music with the community vs. my individual expression. I think—as I mentioned in the last question—a music performance could have the immense power to deeply tap into people's emotions, so I feel that one of the responsibilities we have as DJs is to understand that impact and be mindful of that energy. As a people pleaser and the hyper-sensitive Pisces I am, I have taken the “read the room” portion of DJing very seriously. I think that is a great thing to do, but also I have find myself going to a gig with a very strong intention of curating a certain vibe that I have personally wanted to explore and suddenly realizing while playing that maybe the audience was not ready for that energy I wanted to bring, so I have switched gears and played what felt right at the moment in order to please that specific crowd. And of course it works, and at the end I end up playing great sets that made people very happy, but I also have ended up with a bittersweet feeling as I was very excited to play some music I decided not playing, with the fear of not impacting the audience in the way I wanted.

Luckily this has only happened a few times, but nonetheless it has made me question how in those circumstances I could maybe find a middle point in which I prepare the audience, giving them what they need, and slowly moving them to the place I can take them in my personal journey. Or simply just “impose” what I wanted to express and let the audience figure out how to navigate it. That being said, I have also learned that I need to accept that every night, space, audience is different and that I could not expect to have a transcendental life changing experience every time I perform, because that is just unrealistic and it puts too much pressure on me.

As I said in the beginning, it is not a linear thing and this connection with the community through my individual expression. It will keep moving, transforming and reshaping, and all I can do is keep doing the work and believing in my sensibility as and artist and as human that loves connecting with others, but from a healthy place of self-love and self respect.

Can you share any tracks or mixes created by someone else that really bring you back to specific time or place?

I used to watch this and listen to this recording so much back in 2009 when I was living with my partner at the time in the middle of the rainforest attempting to escape from capitalism by growing my own food and living as far from a city as possible. I will have a bunch of videos like this downloaded on my computer as we didn't have internet there. Apart from the farming activities, we would find time to just eat some shrooms, smoke some weed, and listen to this being in the middle of the forest. Every time I listen to this I get immediately transported to that time, place, and the emotions that come with all of it.

Share a track you've always wanted to include in a mix or set, what you love about it, and why you've never managed to include it.

Funny enough, this track that was produced in 2020 by one of my past collaborative projects, León & Sayed, and is one of those I haven't been able to play on a set or mix and I really want to find the moment for it. This track is so groovy but also so trippy, weird, and long that I think I have been saving it for the right moment with the right crowd in the right place and I don't know when that would be.

Our beloved Akanbi sent me a video of him playing this track for a Nocturnal Medicine event and people were definitely getting wiggly and freaky with it so I hope I find the moment to experience that myself.


  1. Awo Ojiji - What a Mess
  2. Diamond Eye - Temple Dub
  3. Fracture - First Aid Kit
  4. Priori - RED 1
  5. Atrice - Tetrapoda
  6. Greazus - WTF
  7. Fixate - Off The Hook
  8. Sun People - All Creation
  9. Atrice - Chamber of Mazarbul
  10. Rhyw - Caramel Core
  11. Nick León - Rompediscoteka (Henzo remix)
  12. Atrice - Backrooms
  13. Sun People - Into The New
  14. Pessimist - The Crawlers
  15. Willis Anne - Movement
  16. Dj Swisha, Diyr & Kanyon - Bushwick Birkin
  17. Clipping - 96 Nerve Campbell (Rian Treanor Remix)

Follow aka-Sol:

Published March 2023.

Email Newsletter

1-2 monthly email updates, usually artist interviews ♥