Behind The Beat: Staff Picks 2019

With Behind the Beat, we get to know the real people behind Beatport. For our first installment, we meet Beatport’s expert curation team and hear their top tracks of 2019.

Name: Raphael P. (aka The Checkup)

Role: Head of Curation

Where are you from?

I was born in Paris, France, and was brought up in Belgium, England, Germany and the United States attending International Schools. So I guess you could consider me somewhat of a hybrid. 

What’s the best part of your job?

What I like the most is that I have the ability to promote artists and labels that I like and give them more visibility with the Beatport audience, hoping that it will boost their profile and career. I really love discovering new talents as well, and having the ability to meet a lot of people that are driven by their passion for music.

Do you DJ or produce?

I started playing the saxophone and drums when I was eight years old, and played in many different bands ranging from jazz to rock. I started DJing in 2005 and have been producing since 2008. I mostly produce and play ‘90s influenced house. I also really love deep garage and 2-step.

What’s your guilty listening pleasure?

I do listen to the Weeknd once in a while. It’s the kind of pop music that I like, with the distorted and heavy instrumentals and singers like the amazing Abel Tesfaye.

What are your three favourite tracks of 2019? And why?

Art Department – Mind Made Up [Kwench Recordings]

There is something about this track that captivates the dance floor — it’s driving and hypnotic. I remember playing it at Watergate and having a great feeling from it. This is really the kind of deep house that I gravitate towards.

Janty – Le Quartier Rouge (Roland Nights Remix) [Hustler Trax]

Roland Nights is one of my favorite producers. He always has the ability to mix soul, groove and energy. I find this track super sexy and it really works in the club. I think I’ve played it in all my sets this year.

Kettama – Falling Down [Shall Not Fade]

Here is another track that I’ve been rinsing all year. It’s a proper house tune with a dark, mean groove and an acid line that really pops.

Name: Ross J

Role: Curator

Where are you from?

Gateshead, England

What’s the best part of your job?

Getting to listen to music I love all of the time. 

Do you DJ or produce?

Both, but I don’t DJ as much anymore.

What’s your guilty listening pleasure?

Justin Timberlake’s Justified is wall to wall bangers.

What are your three favourite tracks of 2019? And why?

Mahakala – The Realms [Mahakala]

This is the track of the year for me. Absolutely stunning sound design and nods to Photek’s ‘Rings Around Saturn’ make this tune unmissable. Om Unit uses his Mahakla alias to explore the Jungle aesthetic, and the result is fantastic. I get actual goosebumps, so I’d say he nailed it. It’s also the best iteration of the Alligator Boogalo break I’ve heard to date.

Skee Mask – 800AB [Ilian Tape]

Skee Mask just keeps on going from strength to strength. His ability to make consistently high-quality tracks is so impressive. “800AB” does it for me with its emotive, lush pads and hyperactive, yet floating, beats. Looking forward to hearing what he gets up to in 2020.

Andrew Pekler – Description of Rain (Over Frisland) [Faitiche]

I saw Andrew perform his album Sounds From Phantom Islands at Roter Salon earlier this year, and I’ve been waiting for it to come out since. It really moved me and this is my favorite cut. Huge, melancholy washes of ambience and lovely soundscapes.

Name: Steve Mill

Role: Curator

Where are you from?

Thessaloniki, Greece.

What’s the best part of your job?

I’m being paid to curate and listen to music. What’s better than that?! On top of this, I get the chance to promote the tracks that really make an impact on me to the dedicated Staff Picks section on the store and show them to all our loyal customers.

Do you DJ or produce?

I do, less often than in my 20s (I‘m 34), but I still play a few gigs every now and then. I’ve also been releasing music for nearly 15 years on labels like Plastic City, Anjunadeep, Urban Torque, Madhouse Records, Large Music and a lot more.

What’s your guilty listening pleasure?

“Carry Out” by Timbaland feat. Justin Timberlake. Sexy music writing and ingenious production! Ace!

What are your three favourite tracks of 2019? And why?

Manuel Sahagun – On Point [Freerange Records]

You don’t often hear very good deep house music at 126 BPM nowadays. The gated, filtered synth pads playing with a nice reverb on them gives the track some great space. The lack of the standard snare on every other kick slows it down and makes it more danceable.

Jacques Renault – I‘ll Treat You Right [Riverette]

I love the vocal and the melody, it fits perfectly with my mediocre, high pitched voice. I can sing it out loud while wearing my headphones and drive my colleagues mad! The music is so sweet. The syncopation of the drums gets me further hooked the more I hear it.

Hot Since 82 feat. Alex Mills – Therapy (Jimpster Remix) [Knee Deep In Sound]

Jimpster has been one of my biggest influences. I admire him greatly as both a producer and a person. He put his touch on a great original sung by Alex Mills, one of the UK’s greatest voices of the last few years. The result is nothing short of magical. Perfect music for the warm summer nights, and more.

Name: Tom Peters

Role: Junior Curator

Where are you from? 

Berlin, Germany.

What’s the best part of your job?

Getting to listen to music all day long and curate is like a dream come true. I love the fact that I can feature artists and labels that I believe in. I look forward to Mondays since that’s when we update the store and all the new releases and features go online. And of course, not everything I curate reflects my personal tastes.

Do you DJ or produce?

I started DJing when I was 14 with a friend from school and then started my own nights when I was 16. One year later, I started experimenting in the studio with my friend, who was already experienced with Ableton and had a drum machine and synthesizers.

What’s your guilty listening pleasure?

I don’t have a guilty pleasure when it comes to music.

What are your three favourite tracks of 2019? And why?

Glowal – Ram [TAU]

I really like the indie direction that Fabio and Alessandro from Glowal are going in with their sound. This tune is such a belter. Very infectious. I was hooked from the very first moment I heard it. Adana Twins’ label TAU has recently had an incredible output — definitely something to watch out for.

Maceo Plex – When The Lights Are Out (Late Night Mix) [Ellum]

What a tune. This went OFF when I played it at CSD Parade in Berlin on a float, where we had a million attendees. I love the strings and harmonic change. It gives it a personal feeling, plus sounds like Eric worked with an actual vocalist, but it’s a nu-funk sample. Whatever he does, he does it at its best. Let’s turn out the lights!

Dyzen – Talisman [Oddity Records]

“Talisman” is one of those tracks that picks you up and brings you to another dimension. Francesco and Nicola are another great Italian duo on Fur Coat’s label, Oddity. Be sure to check them out!

Name: Jordan Mafi

Role: Junior Curator

Where are you from? 

Los Angeles, California.

What’s the best part of your job? 

Watching trends in music happen in real-time. Since I curate the EDM genres, including dance, big room, electro house, and more, I get to see how the world’s biggest producers and DJs influence the state of EDM with each new release.

Do you DJ or produce? 

I played my first DJ gig when I was 16 years old back when I was spinning dubstep and drum & bass. While I don’t perform shows anymore, I just put out a hardcore mix showcasing the best tracks of the year from my monthly hardcore playlist series, Serious Damage. There’s a 2019 mix coming up!

What’s your guilty listening pleasure? 

“Too Good” by Breathe Carolina. Back in the MySpace days, Breathe Carolina were the ultimate “scene” group and slowly transitioned into making straight-up EDM. This tune is the first I’ve heard from them in years that reminded me of their original music.

What are your three favourite tracks of 2019? And why?

Angerfist & Miss K8 – Impact [Masters Of Hardcore]

Angerfist and Miss K8 are known as the king and queen of hardcore for a reason. “Impact” delivers a powerful kick and an epic climax that brings tears to my eyes.

Deadly Guns & Dither – Playing With Fire [The Third Movement]

Both Deadly Guns and Dither have had a massive 2019; each artist has graduated from newcomer to tastemaker in the scene. You can’t escape “Playing With Fire” at any hardcore party these days because it combines anthemic elements with an uptempo flair.

Tha Playah & Angerfist – The Heartless [State Of Anarchy]

Forgive me for putting two Angerfist tracks in this round-up, but his output this year has been nothing short of incredible. Tha Playah links up with the masked man for this impressive display of kicks, bringing something fresh to the table in hardcore.

Name: Yann Bonnet

Role: Curator

Where are you from?

France.

What’s the best part of your job?

I love discovering new labels, new trends, and new artists. I’m always keeping an eye on blogs to stay up to date on new musical directions.

Do you DJ or produce?

I’ve been a producer for 15 years now. I make different kinds of bass music, solo or with bands. I was playing live with machines for many years, and I loved working with MCs. Recently, I bought a pair of XDJ 1000 Mk2s.

What’s your guilty listening pleasure?

I listen to some French hip-hop from 1995, and there are some fantastic and unexpected tracks. I also like cheesy dancehall songs about love. I also have to say that if I come to a psytrance party by accident, I may like it!

What are your three favourite tracks of 2019? And why?

Chase & Status – Program [Virgin EMI]

If I had to select one track from Chase & Status’ RTRN II Jungle album, it would be “Program.” Sometimes, you know a record is going to be a classic from the very first listen, and I believe that’s the case for this one! The track is an absolute banger. It’s a surgical combination of old school jungle and drum & bass that’s further complemented by Irah’s technical flow. One of the top tracks of the year for sure!

DJ Mellow, Magugu – Run Dem (Famous Eno RMX) [Lowup Records]

Famous Eno’s remix of DJ Mellow and Magugu’s “Run Dem” sums up the sound of the Lowup Records. A mix between Afro club sounds with a UK twist, Swing Ting affiliate Famous Eno blends Nigerian MC Magugu’s vocal with a minimal, percussive instrumental for a unique result.

TNGHT – Dollaz [Warp Records]

“Dollaz” saw Hudson Mohawke and Lunice revive their TNGHT project as part of their first EP in seven years, which was released this November on Warp Records. Featuring classic trap elements, but with TNGHT’s signature style stamped all over it, “Dollaz” combines frenetic vocals, arpeggios, and 808s for an eccentric banger that epitomizes everything you’d expect from the duo. 

Name: Elef Tsiroudis

Role: Curator

Where are you from? 

Berlin, Germany (Greek, but born in Germany).

What’s the best part of your job? 

To have a job — joking! Every week, it’s a challenge to curate the best possible releases in my genres, but I really enjoy working with the amazing people of Beatport. They make it all worth while!

Do you DJ or produce? 

Not anymore, but I was quite famous back in the day! 

What’s your guilty listening pleasure? 

Last Christmas” by Wham.

What are your three favourite tracks of 2019?

Explore the full Staff Picks 2019 selection on Beatport here.

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