Alex Silverfish- Remembered
Alex Silverfish died last year, tragically hanging herself at the age of 43. As well as being a lovely generous supersmart person, Alex was one of London’s greatest underground techno DJs and promoters and also gave me my very first DJ lessons as i struggled to get to grips with turntable technology. This picture above was from my second ever gig at Mark Moore’s Electrogogo (alex is in the foreground)
Alex Silverfish- RIP
London underground techno pioneer Alex Silverfish was found dead at her East London flat last weekend. Friends close to Alex told Skrufff she’s believed to have committed suicide. Alex was 43.
Starting her DJing career in 1989 (under the inauspicious moniker of DJ Lowenbandiger) Alex set up London’s first euro techno night ‘the Hiddenside’ at the now defunct Bar Industria, with Marco Lenzi, Nils Hess and Keith Fielder, going on to open the Silverfish record shop in 1991.
The Charing Cross Road shop, art-space and regular all night party venue served as a key hub and meeting point between London’s then thriving squat party warehouse scene and the overground worldwide techno scene and Alex rapidly became a star DJ, spinning alongside the likes of Aphex Twin, Juan Atkins, Sven Vath and Joey Beltram, in the UK and abroad. She went on to promote 287 Silverfish parties at warehouses and venues across London becoming one of the capital’s most respected and popular party hosts of the 90s. She also remained passionately committed to techno, labelling it a form of shamanism and a ‘magic ritual’ in an interview with Skrufff in 2002.
“Dancing to the rhythmic sound of the drums all night is something that men have been doing for millions of years and in those rituals there are lots of processes happening such as energy sharing between the DJ and the crowd. Magic things and real healing can happen through techno,” she said.
“When I play techno to people I feel an energy coming out of my spine and passing into the crowd, then coming back through the head. If you play good music to people you receive a vibe in exchange and it’s a formidable sensation. This sensation is really what I still play for, rather than the money for glory. That’s why I still play for free in lots of underground techno parties,” she added.
Embracing electroclash alongside techno at the start of the decade Alex also announced that she was taking steps towards changing sex from male to female and lived the remainder of her life as a woman.
Chatting to Skrufff in 2003, she spoke enthusiastically about the support she’d received from transgenderists in London’s club scene and from friends, who’d known her from her techno days, though was candid about her ongoing struggles.
“After a life of agony, four years of therapy and two suicide attempts, I’ve finally started a sex reassignment program to correct a natural error that occurred at birth,” said Alex, “Basically I’ve finally become one after a lifetime of living a double life.”
However, two years later, she spoke sadly about the hatred she routinely encountered following her decision to live as a woman, particularly from viciously homophobic gangs roaming the estates around her Hackney home.
“Experiencing aggression and receiving hate has been a constant for quite a few years, so much so that maybe I’m almost becoming used to the daily abuse,” she suggested.
“I’ve always been spiritual and ascetic and, believe that hate can be more contagious than love and everyday I try to forgive people’s ignorance and not to get contaminated,” she wrote, “At times it’s hard but there’s not other way out, We live in a society of resentment, rejection of freedom and homophobic hate.”
“Walking a lifetime with the gaze pointing down is, at the moment, the best safe-choice of many gays, lesbians and transsexuals in a country that apparently guarantees freedom around the world,” she added.
“Giving too much freedom to fascists of every faith always results in weaker groups and sections of society losing theirs and suffering,” she warned.
Jonty Skrufff (Skrufff.com)