The evolution of DJing has been one long and incredibly hilarious sequence of beautiful mistakes, wanton stupidity and embarrassing shows of misplaced entitlement. It almost perfectly encapsulates Henry Kissinger’s old maxim that the reason student politics is taken so seriously is precisely because of how little it matters. Who would have thought that we would have reached a point in musical history where grown men and women are paid more money than the presidents of medium-sized European nations to play two records together at the same time – or, occasionally, have someone else do it for them whilst they look ‘tired and emotional’? I certainly didn’t. And yet, here we are.
DJing has a weird knack of mattering to people. Sometimes that can be fun, such as when it pisses musicians off. Many of them don’t understand why folks would rather watch some goofball playing other peoples tunes and hamming it up behind a pair of CDJs when they could be watching a bald head barely moving behind a bank of MIDI ports. It’s not just the synth botherers who get angsty – DJing even winds DJs up nowadays, particularly since all these new fangled methods of playing two tunes together at a matching speed has brought our music to its own ‘Dylan goes electric’ moment. Older DJs’ – the sort whose hands smell of a crust of wax and dust formed by literally days of fingering grotty boxes up in the sort of second-hand shops your mum gave all your grandda’s Jimmy Shand LPs to after he past away – often seem flummoxed and upset that other DJs no longer want to haul 300lb sacks of easily damaged and very expensive vinyl around with them any more.
Conversely, digital DJs seem strangely annoyed by vinyl DJs love of black disks and old-fashioned mixing techniques – a state of affairs which has led to the phrase ‘remixing on the fly’ being deployed by those who feel secretly furious and emasculated by not being able to manually beat-match. They also get really fucked off when you point out ‘remixing on the fly’ mean pressing a button to play a shite hi-hat sample over the sort of minimal nonsense even Ritchie Hawtin would laugh at. For many of these DJs, no matter what side of the line they hail from, it is frequently the format that seems to matter. Many of them don’t seem to even acknowledge the importance of music in what they do. Forget about them, friends, for they are divs.
Of course, there are other sorts of DJs, the ones who play great tunes in a manner which makes you go utterly mental and dream of being a DJ when you grow up. It doesn’t matter what format they play on. Often it doesn’t matter how good their technical skills are. They have the golden touch, the knack of playing the best music at the best time, and neither fashion nor bell-ends have a hold over them. They are why DJing is loved, why it is sometimes considered an art form. Lean closer, dear reader, for some of these DJs, the cream of the crop, are to be found below….
I’m going on holiday for a week or two, so Friday Night Tune (and everything else) will be taking a brief break. I’ve had to cut back on the blog writing a wee bit over recent weeks due to real world demands but, when I get back, it’ll be regular service resumed. In the meantime, and exactly like last time I went on holiday and needed some of my trademarked cheap and easy content, I’ve chosen some knock out mixes that I’ll be taking with me. This isn’t all of them, obviously, but represent a few of my current favourites. Listen to these, follow the artists, and reject the fakes. Special shout outs also to mixes by Marco Bernardi (his La Cheetah mix), Dez Williams (his In Disarray mix), Mark Forshaw (his own ace series) and a bunch of others for keeping me sane recently.
DJ Overdose – Freaks On The Floor (Side A) For Berceuse Heroique
Berceuse Heroique’s mad as a box of badgers podcast series will be coming to an end in June after a run in which they seemed to have stuck a new mix out every few hours. If there was a theme, it was insanity, and if there was a house sound it was that same insanity made frequency. Of the many brilliant entries, the mixes by Gramcry and DJ Persuasion are proper stand outs, as is this one from Dutch electro mentalist DJ Overdose. Slamming through electro, Miami Bass, hip house and what seem to be every bit of Class-A electronic filth released over the last 30 years, this is a proper monster of a mix. Go and listen. And then wash your hands.
DJ Bone…Attacks! DJ Bone Live In Detroit 1998
It’s funny that DJ Bone is finally beginning to get the recognition he so thoroughly deserves when his reputation for many years has been so solid. One of the finest DJs to ever come from Detroit, this mix is just about the perfect example of exactly how to find soul, beauty, and emotion in a box of hard techno records you’re playing at light speed. Bone is one of the true greats, and if this mix doesn’t convince you of that you are probably dead inside.
Helena Hauff – Phormix Podcast #40
Hauff’s upwards trajectory has looked like a moonshot recently. The Golden Pudel resident started making her name as a producer with snarling and funky releases on Panzerkreuze and Werk Disks, and her debut album, Discrete Desires burned every mind it touched with its mix of jackbeat, EBM, acid and stuff that doesn’t even have a proper name. But it’s the DJing which made Hauff’s reputation as one of the most thrillingly original jockeys around, and this superb podcast brilliantly showcases her skills and taste with an hour of hard, fluid, and mutant electroid funk.
DJ Stingray – Dekmantel Podcast
What can I say about Stingray that I haven’t already said? Always a brilliant DJ, he seems to have taken his undoubted chops to a new level recently. He alights on Dekmantel’s great and increasingly vital podcast series with a mix which takes in some real classic electro along side some newer bangers. Herva, ERP’s sublime remix of Hardfloor, Dexter and all else flow from that incendiary opening shot of Drexciya’s Wavejumper. Hard, on point, and a lesson in brutal no-bullshit funk.
Derrick May Live In London 1993
OK, from my end it doesn’t seem like the embedded player works, but just click on it and listen to it on its own page. If you don’t – and this is something I don’t say lightly – it’s your loss. Nearly 25 years later this remains my favourite mix of all time. I can’t even imagine where my tastes, or my interests, would have gone if I hadn’t heard it. While it might be overegging the pudding to say it changed my life, it certainly had a profound effect. Simply put, this is Derrick May DJing in London, with a box of cracking records, at the top of his game and absolutely going for it in a mix that takes in Jam and Spoon, The Martian, Lil Louis, Robert Hood and Green Velvet. The way he turns all of the takes of Lil Louis Music Takes You Away into a demented megamix still turns my brains to mush. The best. The very, very, very best.