Minnesota grad student spins tunes as club DJ

  • Article by: VANESSA NYARKO
  • Associated Press
  • May 10, 2014 - 1:00 AM

MINNEAPOLIS — Turntables and other DJ equipment fill Alex Amann's home studio, where records and concert posters hang on the wall. Among all the music memorabilia, his University of Minnesota Bachelor of Science diploma sticks out.

Amann's Como neighborhood bedroom exemplifies his two lives — one as a first-year food science master's student, the other as DJ CFANS, spinning electronic and hip-hop music at venues around the Twin Cities.

His performance alias came from a friend during their freshman year at the university. The pair lived in Frontier Hall, and Amann said residents often asked him about being one of the few College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences students living in the Superblock.

Amann told the Minnesota Daily ( ) his friends began remembering him as the CFANS student and the DJ at parties, so the moniker took hold.

His alias and music aren't affiliated with the college, but he said he has no intentions to change the name.

Graphic design senior Taylor Wichrowski, Amann's roommate and longtime friend, said he's become a significantly better DJ since freshman year.

"None of our friends knew he was actually serious about actually getting into this," she said. "Then all of the sudden senior year, he's playing downtown all the time, and we're just like, 'When did this happen?'"

Amann described his music as "bouncy" and "bassy."

"It's like the perfect blend of hip-hop and electronic," he said.

Amann got his start in music by producing beats for rappers in his hometown of Racine, Wisconsin. When he got to college, he wasn't happy with the music at parties, so he started to DJ.

He later started showing his work to friends and began playing at house parties, fraternities and university events — including Gophers After Dark shows and the university's Dance Marathon in 2012. Once he became more popular on campus, Red Bull took notice and sponsored some parties at which he performed.

He's since played shows at venues around Minneapolis, including Myth, First Avenue, Epic, Cabooze and Mill City Nights, and he has opened for artists like Timeflies, Machine Gun Kelly and The Chainsmokers.

Amann spends about 20 hours over the course of more than three weeks creating each DJ CFANS song. But when he's not producing music, he's an aspiring flavorist.

"I want to create flavors and make stuff taste good," he said.

Amann is in the flavor chemistry track in CFANS' food science master's program, working with flavor chemicals and aromas to develop ways to make food and drinks taste better.

He works in the university's Flavor Research and Education Center and worked on beer flavorings during an internship at Leinenkugel's Brewery last summer.

Jean-Paul Schirle-Keller, a research associate in the flavor center, described Amann as a quick learner, a good worker and an asset to the program.

"He's very pleasant to work with," he said.

Amann carries that motivation in both the lab and the studio. Anant Patel, aka Palladium, graduated from the university in 2012 and frequently collaborates with Amann.

The two met at a now-defunct university club for electronic musicians, and they have worked together for the past six months.

They've played shows together and worked on songs together, learning each other's music styles and personality along the way.

"He's dedicated and creative; he always wants to try something different," Patel said of Amann.

Still, Amann remains humble and isn't counting on DJ CFANS to become a career.

"Money is not what I'm seeking," he said. "I'm just having fun."

An AP Member Exchange Feature shared by Minnesota Daily

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