Barry Sternlicht and Alyx Ander.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has put an understandable damper on New Year's festivities this year, the real action will be on the airwaves.
SiriusXM has just announced two full days of programming for New Year's Eve and Day 1 presented by Day Life, the weekly radio show hosted by 1 Hotels entertainment director Alex Butler (aka Alyx Ander) on SiriusXM Chill. The broadcasts will run from 8 pm to 2 am EST on December 31st and 8 pm to 1 am EST on January 1st, boasting artist lineups pegged to various 1 Hotels properties.
New Year's Eve's schedule features the likes of CID, DJ Sliink and Coco & Breezy for Brooklyn and Kaskade, Sofi Tukker and Dash Berlin for Miami, while Day 1 includes Anabel Englund and LP Giobbi for Los Angeles and Mednas and Tep No for Toronto. 1 Hotels founder Barry Sternlicht, the original architect of the Day Life concept, is also billed as a special guest.
"We knew our first hotel for this brand would be here in Miami," Sternlicht recalls. "There had been a lot of dark executions, black satin and leather had been done before. Miami is a nightclub place, it’s a fun place, there’s a lot of spirit... but it’s sort of slinky and dark. And I wanted to celebrate the day. I didn’t want to celebrate the night. We’re a green brand, an environmentally sensitive brand. I wanted to celebrate nature and sunlight, so we came up with the concept of Day Life."
Ocean Drive caught up with Butler to discuss Day Life, the New Years broadcast and future plans for the collaborative brand.
Tell me the backstory of the Day Life concept and how it came together this year.
The term Day Life was originally created by Barry Sternlicht and used at 1 Hotels. It’s the concept that inspires the activities at our hotels and celebrates the day and all that it offers rather than the night. Day Life really resonated with me for a number of reasons, and I always wanted to expand upon it. For a few years, Geronimo and Dre at SiriusXM and I had been toying around with the idea of doing a 1 Hotels radio show that would showcase the music and vibe of the hotels. We have a great relationship with SiriusXM and have done multiple events together in the past. Despite the pandemic, we were able to launch the show in July with Kaskade, and we’ve been cooking with solar power ever since.
You've booked a diverse range of talent, including some figures outside of music like Jeremy Piven. What's your booking approach and process?
My goal was always for Day Life to be a lifestyle show that ties back to music through mindful conversations with a diverse range of individuals. Each week, I welcome a different guest to the show, and conduct a 25 to 30 minute interview on a variety of topics ranging from; “What does Day Life mean to them?”, “Tell me about something you’re passionate about that’s bigger than yourself,” “What’s going on career wise?”, and then fun light hearted questions like “Pumpkin spice latte’s… good to go or tragic?” “Or if you could have any superpower, what it would and what would you do?” For DJ’s and producers, I don’t limit the guests to artists within the Day Life genre (chill, downtempo, house, funk, melodic techno). If they are known for being a hip hop or progressive house producer, this is the opportunity to showcase another side… a softer side, because chill means something different to each and every single person. For non-musicians, I look for individuals that are environmentally conscious, interested in mindfulness and wellness, or are just flat-out interesting humans that I would have a fun time chatting with and tying back to the Day Life concept.
You're doing a two-day, twelve-hour, 19 artist broadcast for NYE and Day 1 representing 4 cities across North America. How did this come together? What challenges did you face launching this in the current climate?
Challenges? In this climate? No… why would you ever think there were challenges? (laughs) NYE and Day 1 have always been special to me, as NYE is the closing of one chapter and Day 1 is the opening of a new one. Knowing that nearly everyone was going to be home and unable to celebrate how they normally would, I wanted to put together something special. Initially, the idea was to have all the artists record their sets cinematically (with multiple camera angles, drones, the works!) at our four 1 Hotels properties across North America; Miami, Brooklyn, Los Angeles, and our upcoming property, debuting in March in Toronto. The artists chosen were from those places, have an affinity towards these locations, or have been living there during COVID. I was planning on flying to each location, interviewing all the artists, recording some great behind the scenes footage + interactions between artists similar to what you see during festivals. In theory, it was going to be perfect… but COVID… so had to switch gears, conduct all interviews virtually, and have the artists record their sets from home. I will say, it might be one of the most difficult and time-consuming things I’ve ever done… but it’s so worth it. Having artists like Kaskade, Sofi Tukker, Monolink, Junior Sanchez, Coco & Breezy, and more come together to do something special for everyone to end 2020 and ring in 2021 is really truly amazing. I can’t thank all the artists enough for joining me, our like-minded partners AU Sounds and Frassers. I especially have to mention Fred Reyes, aka Enterrupt_Studios who’s in charge of all media for Day Life and is an amazing talent and of course my musical Miami family; Darmon, Mednas, and Eran Hersh for all their support and love.
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You have a close relationship with Barry Sternlicht, founder of 1 Hotels. How did you two meet and begin working together?
Barry is family. His oldest son, James, and I have been best friends for nearly a decade and met on the rooftop of The Gansevoort Hotel in Miami, which eventually became our first 1 Hotel… how’s that for a coincidence!? Almost instantaneously, we become great friends, and came up with all of these amazing ideas, events, and concepts that we wanted to do. One day we’ll have to tell the full story of how we got the Swedish embassy to agree to knight Swedish House Mafia for a potential show before 'One Last Tour.' As my relationship with James became closer, so did my relationship with Barry. When he opened 1 Hotel South Beach, he hired me to produce one event per month, which had some success. I gradually started to take on more responsibility at the property with music curation and booking the DJs and bands, and that expanded to all 1 Hotels. Three years ago, I was named entertainment director for the brand, overseeing all music and entertainment programming and partnerships for all of our hotels. Barry has always been in my corner and has been one my biggest supporters. I’m so thankful and lucky to have someone like him who believes in me and pushes me to be the best version of myself. Working for him is truly like working with family, and I can’t thank him enough for everything he’s done.
At 1 Hotel South Beach, you recently launched your beach club. What are the plans for that? What else do you have in the works for 1 Hotels looking forward?
1 Beach Club is really is something special! The property team has done a fantastic job with the launch and bringing the concept to life. We have a number of mindful and wellness activations (sound bowl healing, smudging, animal card readings) that take place throughout the weekend and keep guests coming back. Wave, the restaurant at 1 Beach Club, features coastal cuisine with a sea to table dining concept featuring fresh, organic and local sustainably sourced fare, fusing the fresh flavors found in the Mediterranean with the bold Latin flavors that define Miami. The last piece is hopefully coming soon in 2021, ramping up our entertainment and music offerings for guests.
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What are the plans for Day Life for 2021? When can we expect a live event element?
Other than taking over the world? The plan is to the launch the live event side of Day Life at 1 Beach Club next year. After launch, it’ll be a monthly offering at the property featuring; world renowned talent, live conversations between myself and the performers, and kicking off each event with a mindfulness experience (beach cleanup, yoga, earthing, sound bowl healing). The plan is to have two types of Day Life experiences at 1 Hotels, Day Life live and what I’ve coined “Day Life lite”. Day Life live, will be the full ticketed performance event (taking place South Beach, Brooklyn, and West Hollywood as a brunch) while Day Life lite (taking place quarterly at Central Park, Toronto, and 1 Homes Cabo) will be more intimate in scope, offering a one-on-one conversation with a guest and potential acoustic performance in front of a select audience.
As Alex Butler, you’re the Entertainment Director for 1 Hotels overseeing all music and entertainment partnerships and programming for the brand, how is it balancing the business and artist sides?
Are there enough hours in the day? Probably not (laughs). It can be a challenge for sure. As Alex, I have to think about the overall guest experience, and always make sure I’m bringing in partners, artists, and events that are going to resonate with our guests and enhance their experience. As Alyx, I’m a fan of so many musicians, genres, and companies and want to work with and hangout with so many of them; That’s where Alex and Alyx clash. Just because I’m a fan of someone… or I’m friends with an individual, doesn’t mean they’re a good investment for the properties, or are going to connect with our guests. It’s definitely a balancing act, a lot of sleepless nights… and a ton of coffee.
Tell me a bit about your own backstory and how you got into music.
I come from an artistic family: My father plays seven instruments, my mother is a great sketcher, my brother, father and I all attended LaGuardia High School aka the FAME school… so you could say music was always a part of my DNA. My father was my first vocal teacher, and my first audition was for a production of Oliver! I landed the lead role... no pressure, right? From then on it was all about music for me. After attending LAG, I went on to study vocal performance and music business at Frost School of Music at The University of Miami, which is where I first learned to DJ… and then eventually got into production, which is where I fell in love with creating house and dance music.
I know you attended The University of Miami, want to talk about the relationship to your alma matter and to the city?
UM is such a special place to me. I had an amazing experience there, and love going back, seeing the campus, and chatting with the current student body. For the past two years, Frost has invited me to back speak to their students (this year virtually) about my experiences and career. It’s so important that young musicians know that that it is possible to be successful in the industry, but it takes an enormous amount of determination, drive, thick skin, and pivoting… but it is possible! One of my favorite sayings is “You already have the no, so what’s the worst that can happen.” I’m really glad that I’ve been able to be involved with UM… and remember, it’s all about the U!
As Alyx Ander, you released "Without You" ft. Mya this year. What are you working on and what do you have coming up for 2021?
It’s still kinda surreal that Mya and I released "Without You." She’s an icon, has won multiple Grammys, and we were in the studio for 12 hours recording two years ago… crazy! Next year, the plan is to release a ton of new originals and remixes, including an acoustic version of “Without You," that we created with students from The University of Miami. There’s a lot of material I’ve been working on this past year, and have wanted to release, but I’ve held off. Early in the pandemic, I read “Stop rushing to release something no one is waiting for” and that really struck a chord in me, so I’ve been holding off on releases until the right time. But trust me, there’s a lot more on the way… and maybe even a little something new with SiriusXM… but that’s all I can say for now.
Photography by: Brandon Morris