New York City-based Alice Longyu Gao is a lot of things: DJ, performance artist, philosopher and Harajuku It girl. The former small-town girl from China is everywhere right now; and whether she’s topping Nylon’s best-dressed-at-Coachella list, DJ-ing around NYC or just dropping some serious wisdom on Instagram, Alice embodies the kind of rebellious lifestyle we love at Dr. Martens. Known for a sparkly and unique Harajuku look that’s almost as fun as her personality, Alice has some thoughts on individuality we know you’ll want to read. Alice was kind enough to make a playlist of her Top Tracks for summer for us. We suggest giving it a listen on Spotify while you read on.
I was born in Bengbu, a slow, conservative city in China. Now, I live on the coolest street in the East village, in New York. I am a DJ and a video host/ producer. I came to New York because it was my plan B. Plan A was to move to Japan but unfortunately I wasn’t accepted at the University of Tokyo.
Tell us about your first pair of Dr. Martens…
I got a pair of pink 8-eye boots at the age of 12. I was still in China and I had mad love for the Sex Pistols. I asked a friend that lived in America to buy them and ship the pair to me. There wasn’t (and there still isn’t) a Dr. Martens retail store in the small city where I was born.
How do you style your Doc’s?
I’m obsessed with silky shoe laces. I love the Dr. Martens pink ribbon laces; I want to change all my Doc’s laces to those.
You’ve said your whole life is performance art. Can you explain what you mean by that?
Bodhisattvas live to benefit and nurture other people — that’s the highest virtue we should aspire for our lives. I practice that through bringing good music and inspiration to my community.
How would you describe your style? Can you tell us about what it means to dress in Harajuku style?
My style is a result of my cosmos picking up and communicating with substances outside me. For example, this morning my makeup was inspired by the colors of vegetable aspic.
Harajuku is an area packed with fashion boutiques, beauty salons and amazing cafes in Tokyo. There is no routine/ model to follow. Instead, the younger generations who hang out in Harajuku praise individuality. That is the real “Harajuku swag.” Harajuku is a home-base for endless inspiration. You can be a member of Harajuku no matter where you live: be curious, explore your inner self and express that through your physical self. Don’t follow rules or become deluded by social media.
You’ve DJ’d for some big events and clients. How do you prepare for a show?
I am really rebellious — and prepared. I always have three game-plans for one gig: the safe plan, the fun plan and the adventurous plan. I tell myself to be confident so I can always do a good job. But I do freak out for 30 minutes before the gig. In these instances, I call my good friend and chat with her about random things (usually boys).
Before each show, I eat a special herb blend that contains ejiao which is meant to be good for my skin, as well as loads of raw cashews. On my way to the gig I might rub some Tata Harper’s de-stress oil on my neck — a trick I learned from Chelsea Leyland.
What artists are you listening to right now:
Rich Chigga, Isabell Getty and Kohh. Rich Chigga’s Instagram is also my Instagram of choice when I feel sad. Isabel Getty writes her own music and is the vocalist of Jean Marlow. Also if I ever wanted a rapper boyfriend who has swag and a zillion tattoos, it’s Kohh.
What’s that last song you listened to?
Takarazuka (my favorite Japanese musical stage troupe). Album: Congratulations!! TAKARAZUKA 100th Anniversary Disc—Song: タヒチの歌 (The Song of Tahiti).
You’ve said that you want to have a talk show like Ellen. Who would be your dream guest list for that show? You have a show now, right? How can people watch it?
Tea with Alice is my experimental food-themed talkshow, you can find five episodes on PAPER Magazine if you search my name on their website. My ultimate goal is to have “The Alice Show” be like “The Ellen Show”. Because I think her show is to help others, and that’s what I believe in.
The dream guest list would be:
– Jamie Oliver, the sexiest man on Youtube. I think it’s important to teach our generation to cook.
– Ruby McCollister. She’s a talented American actress and does the most hilarious British accent. Her Instagram story is my favorite morning pick-me-up.
– Jefferson Hack — he founded the incredible Dazed media because he was “just bored.”
– Ellen DeGeneres! I’m always here for you Ellen. You don’t know me yet, but that’s fine. I love you.
– A$AP Rocky [a rapper, record producer, director, model and actor from Harlem, NYC]. He is real, kind and intelligent.
You have so many projects. What are you working on now and what’s next?
“Eat Me Alice” is my weekly experiential music and food series. Each party features various hors d’oeuvres inspired by artists I work with. It is curated and DJ’d by me, every Wednesday on the refurbished rooftop at Hotel Americano in Chelsea.
“Alice’s Wonderland” is a monthly multimedia event series at Soho House Ludlow. This focuses more on up-and-coming artists. Each month I pick a fairy-tale based theme, and select the relevant artists and format to present the idea. The core for this is my DJ set.
I am also working on DJing in Tokyo and London. If you’d like to swing by my gigs in New York, LA, London and more, you can reach me at my website.
Can you tell us a little about the playlist you created for us?
Sex & Drugs & Rock’ n Roll was my first impression of English youth. I think I watched too many movies. This playlist has an underground dance party vibe. Basically, I made it thinking it’s for a group of young kids that want to have fun but don’t have money to pay for a club’s cover fee, so they decided to turn down the lights and have the party at home. It is a hip-pop, trap and electronic based playlist. Expect to be surprised — there are amazing tracks you probably haven’t heard before.
In case you missed it: Alice’s Top Tracks on Spotify.