Behind The Beat: Staff Picks 2021

With Behind the Beat, we get to know Beatport’s expert curation team, who highlight their best post-lockdown memories this year and their favorite music of 2021.

25 min
Screenshot 132
Dec 16, 2021
·
By
Beatport Staff
Raph 2

Name: The Checkup (Raphael Pujol)
Role: Director, Curation & Label Relations
Genre Curated: House & Homepage

How has your post-lockdown year been? Were there any highlights?

After the lockdown, I was really excited to be able to go out again and experience music in a club. I’ve really been missing the club experience and how we experience music through a proper sound system, as well as the atmosphere on a dancefloor. I think that is such a vital part of our culture, especially when producing music for the dancefloor, so I was very happy to be able to go out again. Some highlights were ADE with its amazing parties and fantastic lineups, as well as being able to play at Sisyphos and Watergate in Berlin. I had missed feeling the energy of people so much and it was really special. Lastly, I visited many different places like Ibiza, Amsterdam, London, Prague and Paris, and it was really great to see all the different scenes.

What do you like most about being a curator?

I love the fact that listening to music and acting as a tastemaker is part of my job. It’s really a privilege to be in this situation and I am very grateful. I really enjoy digging and finding the hidden gems and being able to showcase them to the music fans. I also love discovering a new artist and being able to push them and give them opportunities to be more visible and grow in their careers. There have been some outstanding new artists and it’s so nice to see some fresh talent emerge. I also get very inspired to produce my own music. It’s nice to be close to the community and interact with it on a daily basis. I just hope people enjoy the curation I do and can find good music.

Please tell us about the LINK playlist you created.

This is probably the best playlist to make of the year even though it’s not so easy, as I listen to so much music each year as a curator, so the first 10 will be in a ranking order, and the rest will not.

My favourite track of the year, and one that I probably played in all my sets, is Louie Vega and Josh Milan’s remix of “Hot” from Willie Ninja. This song captures every element that I am looking for in a song. It has energy, sexyness, soul and funk. It’s so raw, and I can tell you it works on the dancefloor. It was part of the Nervous Records 30 years compilation, for me one of the best labels of all time. On a side note, Louie Vega is my all-time favourite (tied with Kerri Chandler) and such an inspiration and again, his track is at the top of my list.

Mark Broom is another producer that I am in admiration of. His productions are so raw yet capture the essence of house music. Everything he has done this year I’ve really liked, and his Remix of Tenzella on Snatch! Shows exactly what I mean. This track simply cannot go wrong and will get a dancefloor going mental. I wish I could watch him produce these tracks so I could learn some tricks on how he creates those low ends! I’m slightly (very) jealous!

Last but not least, Oden & Fatzo, whom I’ve been a fan of from the minute I heard their productions, have had a phenomenal year on all fronts. From their productions to their live sets, these guys are unstoppable. I’ve had the luxury of meeting them and witnessing their energy and live creativity, fun spirit and passion. I remember when I saw “Equinox” being teased on their Instagram and was desperately waiting for it to come out, and I was not surprised at all when I saw it was on Locus. This track is pure energy and generates so much emotion (at least for me) and is complemented by a garage instrumental, topped by a sumptuous acapella.

The rest of the playlist, you will find House, Deep House, Jackin House, Garage and some Minimal from the likes of Felipe gordon, Demuir, Cinthie, Marina Trench, Dam Swindle, Toman & Don Carlos to name a few. Hope you enjoy!

Check out The Checkup’s Top Picks of 2021 on Beatport.
Jordan Behind Beat 2020

Name: Jordan Mafi
Role: Curation Manager
Genre Curated: Dance / Electro Pop, Dubstep, DJ Tools, Funky House, Hard Dance / Hardcore, Mainstage, Trap / Wave

How has your post-lockdown year been? Were there any highlights?

It has been such a thrill to return to live shows and festivals. I’ve seen close friends launch new parties and event companies here in Los Angeles to great success, and the vibe has been unreal at all of these events! This year’s highlights include playing my first live-streamed DJ set for Beatport Selects: Bass; interviewing David Guetta and MORTEN on Beatport’s Instagram Live, hosting Beatport Backstage for DAY.MVS, and seeing some of my favorite artists live again, including Bring Me the Horizon, DJ Mad Dog, Lil Texas, Deadly Guns, and so many more!

What do you like most about being a curator?

Being a curator for Beatport means that I get to make a difference in the lives of producers, whether they’re just starting out or they’re selling out headlining shows: this is what fuels my passion for the job. On any given day, I might discover the next big artist or give a deserving producer the spotlight they deserve on the store, and it makes me proud to do what I do. Also, it’s pretty great to hear some of your favorite artists’ new music earlier than everyone else!

Please tell us about the LINK playlist you created.

I created a LINK playlist to reflect the energy and excitement of the return to the dance floor. Normally I’d go a little harder with my track selection, but these tunes radiate the incredible energy we’ve missed for so long. This playlist features the tracks that made my year, including new music from Topic, Gorgon City, Anabel Englund, Tiësto, and many more. I fell in love with these Dance / Electro Pop and Mainstage tracks throughout the year and when I look back on 2021, this is what I hear inside my head. Enjoy!

Check out Jordan Mafi’s Top Picks of 2021 on Beatport.
Beatport staff picks Ross

Name: Ross Jackson
Role: Senior Manager, Curation
Genre Curated: Electro, Electronica, Techno (P/D), Techno (R/D/H)

How has your post-lockdown year been? Were there any highlights?

As I write this, I’m not sure that we won’t go back into another lockdown! However, I managed to attend several great events and even managed to get to a festival. One particular highlight was seeing Scion Versions and Tikiman at Dimensions play Rhythm and Sound classics live, which was a bucket list moment for me.

What do you like most about being a curator?

Discovering new music, artists, and labels all the time is pretty great.

Please tell us about the LINK playlist you created.

This playlist represents my year in listening and highlights the tracks and artists I enjoyed most. I’d like to call out Nala Sinephro, Placid Angles, and downstairs J in particular. Nala had an absolutely stunning debut album on Warp Records this year that combined jazz with ambient sensibilities. I think I must have played the entire album over 10 times, easily.

Placid Angles is one of John Beltran’s pseudonyms that he mainly composed under in the ‘90s. His new album for Figure this year, Touch The Earth, was fantastic. A particular highlight was “Dakota,” which I’ve included in the playlist, but the entire album is worth listening to. Finally, downstairs J knocked it out of the park with his album on Anthony Naples’ Incienso label. A mix of downtempo, bass, and broken beats made it a really interesting and engaging listen.

Check out Ross Jackson’s Top Picks of 2021 on Beatport.
Staff Picks 2019 yann

Name: Yann B
Role: Manager, Curation
Genre Curated: Drum & Bass, 140 / Deep Dubstep / Grime, Bass / Club, Breaks / Breakbeat / UK Bass, Bass House, UK Garage / Bassline

How has your post-lockdown year been? Were there any highlights?

It was good listening to loud music, especially with the open air events during this summer. I almost forgot this sensation! I had a gig with my bro Zemon at Panke in Berlin in July and it was cool to be back on stage. I was supposed to go to the Korsakov festival, but it was unfortunately canceled. And I‘m afraid that the clubs will close again very soon. Still, I had the opportunity to see Noisia at Gretchen last week for their last tour, and it was epic!

What do you like most about being a curator?

I (obviously) love to listen to music all day and speak about it with my colleagues. All of the people around me are passionate, and it’s a daily pleasure to share the latest cool releases. It’s a challenge to always dig to find new artists and labels and push them on the store. I’ve loved my job for years, and I realize how lucky I am even to work in the music industry during the pandemic.

Please tell us about the LINK playlist you created.

This playlist is pretty representative of what and how I like to mix. I love to start around 128 BPM and accelerate until Drum & Bass and take the time I need to do that. I love combining different genres and beats to create contrasts and diversity between melodic and percussive elements. This year, we created a 140 / Deep Dubstep / Grime section and a Bass / Club section to highlight a different kind of experimental bass music. We can also clearly say that UK Garage conquered 2021, and that the D&B scene has been on fire for the last three years.

Some of the preferred labels and artists are there: the amazing album of Monty on 1985; Sammy Virji and Interplanetary Criminal are my UKG ambassadors; The Bug and his sick album; and so many D&B anthems from Sam Binga on Critical Music to Break on Symmetry Records — but I can’t talk about all of them! So I selected my favourites of the year. Just have a seat, plug in your speakers, and enjoy!

Check out Yann’s Top Picks of 2021 on Beatport.
Michael Behind Beat 2020

Name: Michael Dressel
Role: Manager, Curation
Genre Curated: Tech House, Minimal / Deep Tech

How has your post-lockdown year been? Were there any highlights?

It’s been very busy and passed by in the blink of an eye. I’ve been taking a break from attending parties and focused on Beatport and my production skills. It felt like the right time to do it and I personally feel like it’s been great for me.

Besides focusing on my job I tried to slow down a bit. I was reconnecting with nature and spending a lot of time in the countryside as I did not get the chance to do that the past few years.

What do you like most about being a curator?

I love everything about it. Listening to music, being in touch with labels and artists, having the chance to discover new talent and helping them to kick-start their career. In general, I feel like I have the ability to have a lot of positive impact for the artists and labels that are important to our scene through my job here at Beatport. So I do my best on a daily basis to use this opportunity purposefully, and hopefully, I bring positive vibes to everyone.

Please tell us about the LINK playlist you created.

The playlist I created showcases my favorite tracks of 2021 across all house genres. Everyone included — both original and remix artists, as well as the labels releasing these great productions — have impressed equally and exemplify the great music released in 2021. The playlist is not about ranking — bangers only from first to last. Enjoy!

Check out Michael’s Top Picks of 2021 on Beatport.
Tom 2

Name: Tom Peters
Role: Manager, Curation
Genre Curated: Melodic House & Techno, Indie Dance, Dark Disco, Organic House / Downtempo

How has your post-lockdown year been? Were there any highlights?

The first highlight was hosting Rodhad, Lady Starlight, Mala Ika and Bertolt Meyer live at ://about blank garden in June, which was my first event after the lockdown and it was total fire. We had limited capacity but everyone that came was ready to dance the whole day.

My absolute DJ highlight was closing Watergate (waterfloor) in October. I started at 6 am and the crowd was vibing till 10 am. The people and energy were absolutely beautiful, respectable and committed to having an intimate journey. I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I finished the set as it gave me so much energy to play and connect with the whole room. I was able to play a few tracks that I had been wanting to hear loud, and the crowd was so up for it. The sun came through the side windows, which turned red and violet, so the whole room lit up with warm colors.

What do you like most about being a curator?

Listening to music and curating the store all day long is like living the dream. Being able to discover, support and connect with up-and-coming artists, and to see how artists develop their sound over a period, and which labels sign them and give them a platform to grow.

Please tell us about the LINK playlist you created.

The playlist is about the tracks that touched me most this year in my genres. Three artists that had a significant impact are MRAK, an extension of Tale Of Us that will feed back into the duo’s ethos; Dutch artist Rancido, and Brazilian-born artist Joyce Muniz. The playlist comes with floaty, percussive rollers, arpeggiator patterns, subtle grooves, melodic flourishes, and wistful melancholia for late nights, early mornings and those many moments in between.

Check out Tom’s Top Picks of 2021 on Beatport.
Jamie Curation Beatport

Name: JAMIIE
Role: Curator
Genre Curated: Afro House

How has your post-lockdown year been? Were there any highlights?

My post-lockdown year has actually been pretty amazing! I absolutely enjoyed the bursts of revived joy around me as the pandemic rules softened and things slowly returned to the “new normal.” I had the privilege of traveling and experiencing an amazing festival summer where I played wonderful gigs. I am thankful for all the event organizers who took every extra mile to make these festivals happen under the circumstances. It was much needed to re-connect with people after the lockdown and to celebrate again. I have met amazing people and as the clubs in Berlin reopened, that was the cherry on top.

What do you like most about being a curator?

First of all, my love for electronic music. I am blessed to be able to combine my interest and passion for music with my profession. Already as a child, I loved to create mixtapes for my friends. As a curator, I get to hear the newest tunes from established and up-and-coming artists before they are released which is super exciting. I see early on when certain trends are changing, and this is very interesting. I enjoy connecting with artists and meeting new people through this job. It definitely gives me a lot of inspiration for my DJ sets.

Please tell us about the LINK playlist you created.

Some of the tracks I picked have a personal meaning to me, like the very emotionally charged track “Ubuhlungu” by the Johannesburg-based producer MoIsh featuring the beautiful voice of vocalist Angelic. Others are by Berlin-based DJs & producers such as Yulia Niko, Floyd Lavine and Elisa Elisa. “Zwakala” by Citizen Deep from South Africa is one of the tracks I loved playing during the summer. It is a deep and melodic Afro House track that is quite unagitated. No snare rolls, no crazy big drop.

Check out JAMIIE’s Top Picks of 2021 on Beatport.
Lis Curation Beatport

Name: Lis Sarroca
Role: Curator
Genre Curated: Deep House, Nu Disco / Disco

How has your post-lockdown year been? Were there any highlights?

Post-lockdown has been pretty amazing for me. I have had the chance to play in clubs and parties between Spain and Germany. Highlights were the energetic Sisyphos, a four-hour Sunday set in the evening full of magic — I ended up super happy. Around Barcelona city, I would say Moog; I had one of the best times playing more acid, breaks and techno.

What do you like most about being a curator?

Working with the curation team is fascinating. Exchanging topics, tracks and knowledge has been the most interesting part so far. It feels like we are discovering and learning every day.

Please tell us about the LINK playlist you created.

I added some of my favourite tracks of the year and also tracks I enjoy and love to play in recent gigs, including Felipe Gordon’s “Highly Corrosive Acid.” It’s a track that is very interesting to see from this producer. I love acid and all his recent projects — he’s able to transmit great music. Noir has also been one of my favourite producers lately and I always look to his productions of different kinds: breaks, house, rave, and very energetic.

Check out Lis Sarroca’s Top Picks of 2021 on Beatport.
Demuir 1

Name: Demuir
Role: Curator
Genre Curated: Jackin’ House

How has your post-lockdown year been? Were there any highlights?

I would describe 2021 as a blossoming year of slowly returning back to life. I’ve been able to play some festivals along with great parties both indoors and outdoors here in Toronto and mainly in the USA.

It’s been great to benefit from continuing to work through the pandemic. So, I’m immensely grateful.

What do you like most about being a curator?

I enjoy how influential the position is and using it as a great opportunity to educate, share, and discover new music. Especially from my perspective of being an artist as well has been gratifying to promote Jackin’ House appropriately on Beatport.

Please tell us about the LINK playlist you created.

This playlist exemplifies the roots of this music — where it’s been, where it is now, and where it’s going. Artists that exemplify this are Cajmere, Doc Link, and new artists like KA!7. Their tracks are significant because they not only show the evolution of Jackin’ House but they also paint a picture of the raw architecture of this music, and Jackin’ is much more than an overused disco loop with a basic kick and hi-hat overlaid. The artists depicted here actually push boundaries and don’t sit back comfortably on what is “today” only. They also have depth in their catalog or are in the process of building one that tells a story and contributes more broadly to this culture.

Check out Demuir’s Top Picks of 2021 on Beatport.

Looking for more fresh tracks? Check out our curators’ favorite picks in every genre with Staff Picks 2021 on Beatport.

You might also like

Home
Discover