Our expert curation team brings you the best tracks on Beatport you may have missed. This time featuring Acid Pauli, Mark Slee, Kate Zubok, Plunge, and more.

Mark Slee – Westvine [Manjumasi]

San Francisco’s Majumasi co-founder Mark Slee returned with a fantastic new EP this summer. “Westvine” is a deep groovy track with mysteries, organic elements, and gently modulated bell elements in the lead while dialing up both the shuffle and groove on a much more syncopated low-end.

This is a track you could hear at one of Lee Burridge’s All Day I Dream Parties, at Burning Man, or under the Mexican sun in Tulum. The whole EP is worth checking out, with additional remixes from Acid Pauli, Lusine, and Tom Flynn.

Kate Zubok – Inner World [Sapiens]

After sending demos to Agoria for five Years, the Ukrainian artist Kate Zubok is on the rise with her first EP. She takes you on a journey into her inner world, deep percussive with pads, melodies, and a piano line from paradise.

JPATTERSON – Circo Del Sol (Popshop Remix) [3000 Grad Records]

3000 Grad is a festival, booking agency, energy collective, and record label hailing from the North. Dub and downtempo live act JPATTERSON taps Popshop takes the 110bpm downtempo tune “Circo Del Sol” and transforms it into a 116bpm summer anthem. The remix would have filled the festival dancefloors this year — from Fusion Festival to the playa and straight into the dessert.

Jason Douglas – Pan [Harmonic Theory]

Brooklyn-based artist Jason Douglas‘ new track “Pan” — recently released via his new imprint Harmonic Theory — opens with an acoustic intro before the guitar bass finds us and fills the space with warmth and tension. Vibes all around with this one!

Plunge – In-to-the-intro [Opium Muzik]

Plunge’s latest track on Opium Traxx Deluxe Compilation, “In-to-the-intro,” is a string lead adventure that leaving you swooning and swimming high above the sea and arid deserts. Adventurous to its core, crank this one up and let the sounds lead you to new lands.

Ed Ed – The Ellcyrs (Acid Pauli Remix) [Studio Kreuzberg]

Acid Pauli’s latest deep and groovy remix for Ed Ed on Studio Kreuzberg is masterful. He turns the original track into a lush, floating summary attraction. It’s like a smooth stroll through the afternoon forest with butterflies over your head. Float your way through this one!

Nairobi – Motion [Lukins]

It’s time to take a deep breath with Italian producer Nairobi D’s deep and contemplative tune, “Motion.” Taken from his Fields EP, the gentle vocal waves and percussive snaps are guided by purposeful guitar and gottan riffs to get us to our final, blissed-out destination.

For more organic house / downtempo tracks you may have missed, check out our Beatport Link Playlist.

Addison Groove, DJ Spinna, Melissa Nikita, and more step up to the decks to show off Beatport LINK’s seamless streaming capabilities with Serato DJ Pro on Friday, November 27th.

This month, Beatport and Serato officially launched the much-anticipated integration between Beatport LINK and Serato DJ Pro.

By bringing our revolutionary DJ streaming service to Serato’s industry-standard performance software, more people than ever can now seamlessly and spontaneously choose from the millions of tracks available on Beatport’s catalog directly through their DJ gear. A DJ of any skill level, whether a beginner, hobbyist, or a seasoned club veteran, can cue up the music they want to play via LINK and immediately start mixing tracks in Serato without purchasing individual MP3s.

To celebrate this next big step in DJ performance technology, Beatport and Serato are putting on a livestream event with some exceptional talent that will fully demonstrate how intuitive and seamless Beatport LINK’s integration with Serato is. Check out the full lineup below.

Addison Groove (Bristol, UK) – Beatport LINK Playlist
DJ Marky (Sao Paulo, Brazil)
DJ MissNINJA (LA, USA) – Beatport LINK Playlist
DJ Spinna (NYC, USA)
LODATO (NYC, USA)
Melissa Nikita (NYC, USA) – Beatport LINK Playlist

To also help commemorate this occasion, we’re offering a huge Cyber Week deal that will get you two free months of Serato DJ Suite if you sign up for a 30-day trial of Beatport LINK. The Serato DJ Suite comes with tons of DJing tools, including Serato Play, Serato DVS, Serato Pitch’ n Time DJ, Serato Video, Serato FX, and Serato Flip — giving you everything you’ll need to start mixing and more. 

Take advantage of this fantastic offer by going here.
(ends November 30, 11:59 PM PST)

Join the Beatport x Serato livestream on Friday, November 27 at 6:00 AM PST / 3:00 PM CET via Twitch, Facebook, and Youtube.

Ben Jolley gets to know the multi-talented London-based producer and DJ whose emotional club bangers are exactly what the world needs right now.   

UK-based TSHA was in the middle of a huge US tour when the Covid-19 pandemic hit. “I’d just played CRSSD Festival and everyone was talking about it,” the electronic multi-instrumentalist recalls. Initially, she didn’t think the pandemic was going to have such a big impact. “When we got home everything was normal,” she adds. And while the reality of her situation hit quickly, being a producer and DJ helped her to retain a sense of perspective.

“Although it’s depressing for me, with tours being cancelled, there are people just on the cusp of their career and everything’s just gone,” she says. “A lot of my friends who are just DJs or don’t make a lot of money from their own music have had to sign onto Universal Credit. They’ve had to move back to their parents.” 

TSHA says she is getting by thanks to remix commissions for everyone from Lianne La Havas and Declan McKenna to Lane 8, Prospa and Griff, playing socially-distanced parties (“it’s just not the same with people sat down, drinking and chatting – it feels more like a pub with background music”) and her upcoming Flowers EP, but admits it’s been an “up and down” time.  And the lack of government support for the club scene is “laughable,” she says. 

“Some clubs were already struggling and on the edge even before the pandemic. I don’t know how anyone’s gonna survive the next few months. For the government, which I think is scapegoating young people, the economy is worth more than people – but only some economies.” 

She thinks the UK government’s idea that people in the arts can simply retrain is “ridiculous. I did not spend years and invest my own money into my career to then be told I need to retrain for something else!” Understandably angry, having slogged her way to become one of the UK’s most exciting artists, TSHA is certainly not giving up now. 

Listening to her older brother DJ house, garage and jungle in the family home growing up sparked a “fascination” with dance music for young Teisha Matthews. “When I was six or seven it would be fun because I’d come downstairs and start dancing, but other times I’d just wanna watch ‘Kenan & Kel’,” she says. Hearing her Skrillex-loving mum’s stories of going to raves, including seeing Carl Cox DJ in a field in the ’80s, had a huge impact, too. “I just couldn’t wait to turn 18 so I could dance all night,” she remembers enthusiastically. 

After asking her single-parent mum for some decks so she could learn to DJ, a teenage Teisha downloaded Limewire and began making her own CD compilations of tracks. Unable to afford a DJ for her 16th birthday, her party’s soundtrack, which veered from The Prodigy to The Chemical Brothers’ ‘Hey Boy, Hey Girl’, came from one of her early mixes. “None of my friends listened to that stuff and they were really confused because it went real mad,” she recalls. “I was trying to make a rave!”

By the time she turned 18, Teisha had high expectations of her first clubbing experience. Instead, she was left feeling “really disappointed” by the “absolute shit” that Fareham nightspots Liquid and Envy played. “The music was just… not what I had in my head, it wasn’t what I imagined,” she considers. This disenchantment with her local scene led her to take a step back from dance music. Instead, she focused on the urban dance course she had started at the University of East London after finishing college.  

“It was quite a history lesson in styles you wouldn’t normally study: hip-hop, pop, locking and breakdancing,” she recalls. But it was discovering and researching house dance that “reignited” Teisha’s love for dance music. “I loved the concept of a DJ being like a preacher and how house dance was a sort of trance where people could escape.”  

Soon after dropping out of university for health reasons, she bought a basic DJ setup, “like a £100 controller”. It helped that Teisha was also making video content for Jump Off who, to partly pay for her work, organised DJ lessons with Radio 1Xtra’s Melody Kane. “From there, I just started practicing at home and blagged my first gig,” she laughs. 

But she found it difficult to get any house gigs. “That world is quite shut for many people, unless you have someone to get you in.” In need of cash, Teisha was happy to take anything and started playing R&B and hip-hop events where she “knew people and they were more welcoming,” she says. Following in the footsteps of many aspiring DJs before her, she then began working as a mobile DJ, in part to fund her newfound interest in music production. “I had a whole rig; lights, speakers… I was doing weddings, 50th birthday parties, but I hated it. I had to lug the gear around myself, or wear a dress and heels for seven hours if it was a bar gig.”

Investing the money she’d made in buying better decks and equipment, Teisha enrolled in a music course to learn the basics. Before long, she was practicing an hour of piano and 45 minutes on guitar each morning, while learning the ins and outs of Ableton. But it was seeing Bonobo’s live show at Brixton Academy that formed her I-need-to-do-this moment.

TSHA was born and, having constructed a yearly plan, she spent all her savings on the mixing, press, and artwork of her debut single. Her first full EP, Moonlight, even attracted major label attention. “I think they wanted to turn me into the next Calvin Harris,” TSHA recalls seriously. “In their heads, I imagine they thought, ‘She can produce dance music and she looks okay so we could market her this way.’” Instead, she signed with Ninja Tune’s sister label, Counter Records.  

Two years later and her unbreakable determination has paid off. As well as securing a three-album deal with Ninja Tune, her emotional banger “Sister” — created after Teisha found her long-lost sister during lockdown, and taken from her stunning new EP, Flowers — is sitting pretty at 1.4 million streams.

Not one to let the hype get to her head, seconds after our call and TSHA is off, humbly moving to the next item in her seemingly-endless schedule: teaching a production masterclass. After spending an hour in her company, it’s clear that nothing is going to stop Teisha Matthews from achieving whatever she sets her mind to. 

Ben Jolley is a freelance journalist. Find him on Twitter.

The acclaimed electronic music artist was 30 years old.

In an announcement posted to his Instagram account, DJ-producer Garrett Falls Lockhart, better known as i_o, passed away at the age of 30 on November 23rd, 2020.

“This extremely talented spirit taught us that even if nothing matters, you can still lead with love,” the post reads. “Garret’s truth and soul lives on through the music he shared.”

Currently, the young artist’s cause of death is not public knowledge.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by i_o (@i_oofficial)

Having first produced music under the moniker Fawkes with releases on labels like Dim Mak and DOORN Records, Garrett Lockhart stunned the world of dance music when he premiered his i_o project with the track “Warning” on the 2017 mau5trap compilation We Are Friends, Vol. 7

A slew of revered techno releases followed on deadmau5’s label, such as his celebrated Rave 444 and House Of God EPs. In addition to releasing big hits on mau5trap, he also pushed out a stunning mixture of techno, deep house, and trance via labels such as AnjunadeepSPINNIN’, and Armada Music the latter of which he had just signed to back in August and pushed out his last single, “Castles In The Sky,” only a few days ago. i_o will live on through his fantastic productions and always be remembered for wowing crowds at venues and festivals such as Ultra, Electric Zoo, Igloofest, Solaris Music Festival, Beyond Wonderland, and more.

On Twitter, a flurry of artists and fans alike have expressed their heartbreak at the news.

Dance the year away with Beatport as we bid farewell to 2020 with 20+ hours of dance music excellence.

2020 is bound to go down in history as one of the most challenging years in recent memory. For music fans around the world, the usual respite and fulfillment found at clubs and festivals of all sizes was suddenly taken away, forcing fans, as well as performers and the music industry as a whole, to find new and innovative ways to keep live music in our lives. 

From our marathon ReConnect livestreams, which raised money for COVID-19 relief and aid for Beirut, to our genre showcases and collective and artist takeovers, Beatport has been proud to bring you a diverse array of hugely talented DJs and performers via global live streams since the start of the pandemic. 

To cap off the year, you’re invited to dance the year away with Beatport and Absolut for the last and most ambitious livestream of 2020: a 20-plus hour online party hitting more than 15 time zones with DJs in cities across the globe. Kicking off before midnight local time in Melbourne, Australia with Carl Cox, followed by sets from Jamie Jones, BLOT!, Jaguar, TOKiMONSTA, and more, the New Year’s Eve party will travel the globe countdown clock hits major cities around the world before finishing up back in Melbourne with a second and final closing set from Cox. Each set will see the performers building up towards midnight in their own timezone, bidding a final farewell to 2020. 

Check out phase one of the lineup below.

Melbourne: Carl Cox
Tokyo: TBD
New Delhi: BLOT!
Bangkok: TBD
Dubai: Jixo & Danz
Odessa: TBD
Berlin: TBD
London: TBD
London: Jaguar
Florianopolis: TBD
Miami: Jamie Jones
Calgary: TBD
San Francisco: Tokimonsta
Melbourne: Carl Cox

Beatport x Absolut’s New Years Livestream Celebration will be available to watch on Beatport’s Twitch channel, as well as on YouTube and Facebook.

Join us in celebrating the international solidarity and passion that keeps dance music thriving! Besides, what better way to say goodbye to 2020 than celebrating its passing 14 times!?

With festivals on pause, Marcus Barnes digs into just how representative dance music festivals are, and what where we should go from here.

After the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer on May 25th, huge waves of protests swept the globe. Millions of people seemed to finally wake up to the systemic racism and white privilege that have been in place for centuries, as issues of racial discrimiation and marginalization, central to the Black Lives Matter platform, were once again thrust into the spotlight. 

This awakening has been very prominent in the music industry. Black artists and pioneers who’d long been oppressed and overlooked began speaking out, and were re-centered by the media and others. A renewed discussion about the lack of representation in lineups was sparked, becoming a key talking point among many high profile Black artists and their allies. 

Two years before all of this happened, however, Anna Codrea-Rado explored the gender imbalance on festival lineups for The Guardian. Triggered in part by the #MeToo movement, festival lineups came under the microscope as awareness of the lack of female representation increased. The article indicated that there was still a lot of work to be done. Imbalance was systemic, the result of a lack of diversity from the top down. In other words, the decision-makers were mostly men. 

Thankfully, there has been a “steady rise in female acts in electronic music festivals over the past eight years,” according to the 2020 FACTS survey, which is conducted annually by female:pressure, the international network for female and female-identifying musicians and artists. “For the period from 2012 to 2019 overall, 17.3 percent of acts are female,” the study states. “For the newly collected data for festivals from 2017 to 2019, there are 20.5 percent female acts, 0.6 percent non-binary acts, 70.3 percent male acts‚ 6.6 percent mixed, and 2.0 percent unidentified acts.” 

While these numbers are encouraging, we wanted to know what a similar survey of electronic music festival lineups would look like if they were also split according to race. After all, these events hold outsized power in elevating DJs  and performers to the top of the economic and social pyramid. With the festival scene on pause and future lineups up-in-the-air, now is the time to address issues of racial imbalance.

To do so, we spoke to a cross-section of subjects, each of whom works in a different aspect of the festival industry: behind-the-scenes, bookers, volunteers, and DJs. The aim here was to explore some of the issues currently facing the industry and provide a platform for the expression of ideas and opinions regarding how positive change might be achieved.

A look at the data

As a starting point for this piece, I looked at a selection of 34 festival lineups from summer 2019, segmenting artists by gender (male, female, trans) and ethnicity (white, black, other). The festivals were then divided by region — UK, EU, and World, the latter of which encompases events in Canda, America, Vietnam, India, and Morocco  — with a final Overall selection added to illustrate the average percentages across all festivals analysed. Averages were then calculated across these categories. The focus on this side of the world was admittedly drawn from bias — I spent my formative years writing about, reviewing, and partying at festivals in the UK and Europe. But given the outsized influence, the European festival scene holds over the industry at large, the picture painted with the data I’ve uncovered likely reveals some hard truths for most regions and sectors of the global electronic music scene.  

Case in point, 82 percent of overall artists booked for mainstream dance music festivals in 2019 were male. 76 percent were white, while 14 percent were Black and 18 percent were female. Half a percent were trans, while 10 percent were neither black nor white (other).

Zooming in, male to female percentages didn’t shift much across geographical divisions. However, in the UK, Black artists made up an average of 18 percent of festival bills, while the percentage of other ethnicities increased significantly at events happening outside the EU and UK (our World category), to 25 percent. We can reasonably assume this is due to local bookings in those territories, which include India and Vietnam.

A glance at the list of festivals I selected demonstrates that some have been much better at achieving representation across race and gender in their bookings than others. In particular, those that are focused on a broader selection of genres had more diverse lineups, whether that be so-called “world music” or contemporary rap. Some British city-based festivals were highly diverse; in particular, Parklife in Manchester and Lovebox in London. Located in ethnically diverse cities, their audiences, and subsequently their lineups, are bound to be more diverse. Though it also helps that they are easy to access, and not camping-based, which I’ll explore in more detail later on. (I contacted both events for more insight into their booking policies, and representatives said neither were currently doing interviews). 

More than half of the performers at London’s Lovebox festival in 2019 were Black, which is the highest of all the festivals I looked at. We Out Here and Dimensions also had more ethnically diverse lineups, featuring 39 percent and 24 percent Black artists in 2019, respectively.

Switzerland’s Polaris also stood out, with 45 percent of its 2019 lineup dedicated to Black performers, while roughly three percent of its artists were trans. Out of 34 events, Scotland’s Fly Open Air was the only festival with a lineup of more than 4 percent trans artists. More than half of the events I looked at had none.  

Other festivals, however, were far less diverse. With more than 200 acts on the bill, one event’s lineup was 85 to 90 percent white male. For a large-scale dance music festival, this is unacceptable.

Similarly, it’s clear that many festivals are still lacking in representation with female and female-identified bookings. Some events were as low as five percent last year. Though Lost & Found, for instance, had the strongest representation at 34 percent female and female-identified bookings, followed closely by Fly Open Air with 30 percent. Even with these standouts, female and female-identified artists averaged just 18 percent of festival bookings we looked at — well below the parity that groups like Keychange hope to achieve. Clearly, despite years of activism and campaigning stretching even beyond the #MeToo movement, the dominance of white male artists at dance music festivals has, for the most part, pervaded. 

Where do we go from here?

After collecting and analyzing the data, I reached out to artists, bookers, and festival owners — people who make booking decisions and those who are affected by them. This was more difficult than I’d anticipated. We were still feeling the aftershocks of George Floyd’s death. And with the world’s attention finally focused on the Black experience, many of the Black artists I contacted were weary, sceptical, and tired of all the requests they’d received in the fallout after the Black Lives Matter protests. I understand and empathise, as my experience has been similar. It’s insensitive to expect Black people to give up more free emotional and physical labour in the name of anti-racism work when they’ve been fighting for their rights since day one. It’s tiring, and the huge catharsis sparked by George Floyd’s death and everything that followed has been exceptionally exhausting. 

Fortunately, a few were willing to speak, and without them this piece would not have been possible. So, a big thanks to you all.

As one of Detroit’s worldwide ambassadors and an unapologetically straight-talking figure, Carl Craig was one of the first artists I called. Over the course of his career Carl has taken his music into venues where, historically, it would never have been considered that a Black artist may one day perform. In April 2019 he played a sell out show at London’s Royal Albert Hall, afterwards telling me, “When they built the Royal Albert Hall, they weren’t thinking somebody like me was gonna be playing there. 

“When everything was popping about why there weren’t enough female DJs, there became a division where there were the people who jumped on board, and maybe even over-jumped on board, and the people who were pissed about it,” he says, referring to the way in which some promoters were seemingly trying to compensate for a historic lack of female representation. “What was happening then is similar to what’s happening between Black Lives Matter and ‘All Lives Matter.’ It was a stupid conversation because there wasn’t a necessity for people to jump on the bandwagon, it should have just been that inclusion all the time.” 

Carl’s been involved with music since the late eighties. He’s part of the second wave of Detroit techno innovators, and spent a prolonged period in the UK in his early twenties where he witnessed the whitewashing of jungle music. He speaks about tokenism and the ways in which people feel obligated to put women or people of colour on their lineups to meet quotas. “You say, ‘You haven’t got any Black people on your lineup’ and they say, ‘Well we’ve got Carl Cox,’ like what the fuck?! It’s like Token from South Park.” He says Time Warp is “glaringly out of step with the world view in relation to what they see as the Mannheim view,” citing his own very public calling out of the festival via Twitter. (I had an exhaustive off-the-record chat with Time Warp founder Steffen Charles, but he did not respond to questions sent to him via email).

He also mentions Dutch events Mysteryland and Awakenings. “Awakenings did an online thing recently and the only person of colour they had on there was [Loco] Dice, and it blew my mind because there’s so many Black guys that make techno in Holland!” he laughs. “You couldn’t pick at least five guys to do an Awakenings stage in a time when it’s becoming such a big deal?” Awakenings announced the 2020 timetable on June 22nd, roughly two weeks after the event shared a black square in solidarity with the BLM movement on Instagram and Twitter. While the lineup was likely booked long before this year’s protests, the online backlash was immediate. It’s unclear why Awakenings didn’t make any last-minute adjustments to the event, which was broadcast online. Awakenings provided no comment for this story.

We move on to discussing the way Black artists and genres can sometimes be segregated on their own stages, rather than share the main stage. “There’s a ghetto-ising that I think people try to do with festivals, too,” he says. “In order to show that they have representation in the Black world, they’ll do a drum & bass stage or something and put Black artists on there.” Some of the festivals analysed in the data section avoided this ghettoisation by presenting a variety of genres on their main stage, with a few giving music of Black origin (and its proponents) prominence across their lineup and stages.

It must be noted, though, that some genres attract very few Black or female artists, which can make it difficult for festival bookers. Take Bang Face for instance. The annual weekender, which usually takes place at Pontins in Southport, focuses on niche and often novelty throwback rave-style music. For whatever reason, few people of colour or women operate in that field. 

Which brings us to the topic of representation as a workable concept. What does representation actually mean? Should festivals all over the world always aim to book lineups that include black and indigenous artists of colour, even when the host country’s population is majority white? Is it a case of looking at the ethnic breakdown for each country and addressing diversity from that angle? Or do you simply aim to create, and stick to, an internal policy? Or should there be an industry-wide policy? These are questions that festival owners, bookers and promoters need to discuss and find answers to. Canvassing attendees and artists, instigating conversations and continuing to experiment and refine their approaches are important steps in making progress towards a better understanding and implementation of equality and representation.

Similarly, how do you attract people of colour to your events when many minorities come from low-income backgrounds? Or how do you cater to differences in cultural needs and expectations? Addressing these differences can play a key role in attracting more diverse crowds. Techno, for instance, has been whitewashed for so long that its Black roots have almost been forgotten. Certainly, there are less Black people on the average dance floor of most techno events than there were when the music was conceived. There’s the question of whether young Black people even care about the music. A whole generation clearly view it as “white people’s music,” so how many of those even want to reclaim it or be encouraged back to the dance floor when they’ve naturally moved on to other types of music that they identify with more than techno?

Representation matters on the dance floor just as much as it matters behind-the-scenes and in the booth. The dance floor can act as an industry pipeline, inspiring a passionate new generation of ravers to get involved as DJs, lighting specialists, sound engineers, PRs, agents, journalists, bookers, or any number of roles. Diverse crowds also produce a certain kind of energy that is ineffable. And minority representation and inclusivity lies at the heart of original club culture, which sprung up in the mid- to late-eighties. And although commercialism and consumerism have heavily infiltrated our culture, the universal essence of the dance floor can still be maintained with proper cultivation and attention. 

“When I did the lineups for the first two [Detroit Electronic Music Festivals] here in Detroit, my aim was to present a global view of the music,” Carl Craig says. “It would have been very easy for me to say, ‘Ok, we’re only going to have Detroit artists,’ and it would have been a completely Black festival at that time. From my view, I knew it would not be inclusive enough to represent the music that influenced and represented techno.” He describes the “potholes” that can appear when considering bookings and, if there were only Black artists, perhaps it would echo back to a time when Black performers had to dance on stage for their food. 

Traversing historical tropes and general cultural sensitivities can be fraught. But there’s no doubt that if you’re at least genuinely trying to present a more rounded lineup, and willing to learn, you’re on the right track. This often means communicating with the communities you are trying to represent. In order to make positive change, everyone I spoke to agreed that festivals need to begin reaching out, engaging, and creating open forums for discussion while listening to what is being said. So many marginalised people feel as though they aren’t heard and their needs are not met. Putting privilege and ego aside to make space for criticism, and responding to that criticism with grace and humility, is key. 

Carl highlighted the fact that the ethnic portrayal of DJs in the media has shifted since the eighties, as media representations have become whitewashed, parallel to genres like house and techno. “I’ve been in the music business a long time now and what I understand most about it is that it’s a trend-based industry,” he says, describing his attitude to being overlooked by bookers. “Trends at festivals are based on the biggest records of the time or the biggest artists. So there’s the reality that there will be low points as well high points in every artist’s career.” 

Trends also have greater influence over some festivals more than others. “Big corporate EDM festivals are less community-focused and are driven purely by ticket sales, which are reflective of the popular (trendy) artists of the moment, says Andrea Graham, co-founder of Canada’s Bass Coast festival. “So in these types of festivals, it’s very common to see the established white male stars as the majority on the lineup.” 

“However, change has slowly been happening in the more community-focused festivals that support local talent and who believe in fostering community and art,” Andrea continues. “Women and people of colour are still the minority by far, However, as these artists are supported in the grassroots level, they will hopefully rise up to play the larger festivals.” 

As such, it’s crucial that more festivals lead by example. Bookers, managing directors, staff, DJs, performers, editors, journalists, and everyone who has the opportunity to shape public opinion can plant the seeds of change. Trends don’t always have to be driven by public consumption. Festivals can dictate trends — especially the most revered and trusted events. If a major European techno event booked, say, Steve Rachmad or Benny Rodrigues alongside their usual lineup, it’s not hard to imagine that the majority of the crowd would trust the festival enough to enjoy both DJs without question. It’s up to the decision-makers to put more faith in the crowd, perhaps by continuing to book the big headliners that will help sell most of their tickets, then utilising the rest of the lineup to make space for lesser-known or underrepresented artists. 

“If festivals can nurture a community that trusts their curation, they can book up-and-coming artists and it isn’t a risk,” Graham says. “There are so many black and/or female artists available who are talented and will deliver an excellent set. Change comes down to the festivals deciding to make it a priority.”

UK selector Sherelle broke through last year thanks in part to a killer Boiler Room set, and as we talk, she discusses the way in which marketing companies can sometimes run misguided campaigns aimed at equality and representation due to lack of awareness. She highlights Smirnoff’s Equalizer campaign, which sought to present lineups that were split 50/50 male to female. But, she says, there was a lack of intersectionality, with not enough queer Black artists or people of colour. “People assume that, as long they’ve got a woman on a lineup, they’re doing a bit towards making music a lot more equal. But people don’t think about intersectionality — ‘What does my lineup represent as a whole?’ — [which is] one of the biggest issues I see with festivals,” she says, noting that she’s a prime example of someone who “ticks many boxes.” “I don’t see enough Black gay women. I’m cisgender, but I feel that I’m quite masculine in the way I dress. Women that are booked for events generally don’t look or act anything like myself.” 

As she’s risen to prominence over the past few years, Sherelle has seen an uptick in her own festivals bookings. But, like Carl Craig noted, Sherelle says she’s normally one of a handful of ‘en vogue’ Black artists, and often it’s the same small pool of Black performers that are being selected to play over and over again. This was evident in my analysis, as the same few Black female DJs came up: Josey Rebelle, Carista, Ash Lauryn, and very few others. Honey Dijon of course, being another regular face of diversity. 

An often espoused reason for the lack of Black female DJs on lineups is that there’s just not enough of them. Whether it be plain ignorance or laziness, this has never been acceptable to those who are repeatedly overlooked. There are thousands of Black artists and DJs out there, and with so many publicly available resources, it’s been made even easier to discover them. FAKA from South Africa, Jimblah from Australia, Chizu Nnamdi from Glasgow, Plain Jane Francis from the US, Mim Suleiman from the UK, Rish from Kenya, and thousands more. A quick and simple Google search leads to an abundance of Black performers and creators. Claiming there are not enough of them is absolutely unacceptable.

In a series of tweets posted not long after George Floyd’s death, Josey Rebelle called out those who claim there are not enough Black female DJs for them to book, also directing her frustration at promoters who said they would start to address diversity issues in their 2022 lineups (according to the Keychange Pledge). “There is not one promoter on this planet that needs until 2022 to diversify their line-ups. 2022! Driverless cars out in the streets and you just now stopped being too lazy to Google,” she wrote. 

So why do all-white lineups continue? “If you’ve grown in a world where you’re used to seeing yourself on TV, represented in magazines and films, it would be a natural thing for a promoter who’s white to not necessarily realise they have a lineup that isn’t representative,” Sherelle says. “White people haven’t really had to think about themselves in this way before. Also, a lot of music forms are created by Black communities and, as they reach popularity, they can be whitewashed,” she adds, citing jungle and rock & roll as examples.   

Marketability and unconscious bias both play another critical role in how lineups are curated. Whitewashing isn’t always necessarily a conscious process, but instead can be the product of white privilege occupying the spaces where decisions are made, which in turn influences who receives preferential treatment and who is deemed to be marketable to an imagined audience. That audience typically is envisioned to be white, so Black artists are not considered to be as marketable as their white counterparts. 

Black artists and other marginalized groups are not considered to be the norm, or representative of the mass audience. But this is a misguided way of thinking, especially when we live in such an interconnected world where, pre-Covid, people traveled all over the planet to attend festivals. Assuming that ticket buyers are white, heterosexual, and will only want to see white artists, plays into the notion that booking anyone who isn’t white would be a risk. Promoters and bookers typically aim to avoid risk in order to sell tickets and hopefully turn a profit. Financial pressure can lead to trend-based, “safe” bookings to get people through the gates, especially in today’s highly competitive festival market. But this type of thinking discounts a huge portion of society. 

“I do think it’s a load of bollocks,” Sherelle says in response to the risk excuse. “I’ve been to nights like BBZ where they did an event with Percolate and sold it out, so I don’t really understand how people can’t come out of their comfort zones and stop putting the same old DJs on lineups.” She describes the growing disparity between artists who get booked time and time again, and those who are struggling to get bookings. The gap continues to increase as lesser-known artists are overlooked and don’t get the breaks they need, and spaces where up-and-coming acts can build a following continue to disappear from our towns and cities. For instance, access to small venues where you can throw relatively risk-free events is becoming a rarity in London. “There are not enough small clubs at the moment for us to come through and try to develop a sound,” she adds. “There aren’t enough of these spaces for promoters to go and see an act and be like, ‘They’d be amazing on the big stage’.

Kitty Amor is a linchpin of the afro house underground in London. An experienced DJ and promoter, she runs the Motherland record label and party series, and has recently been consulting with SheSaidSo, providing content and navigating their influential network to showcase the Black underground scene in London. In doing so, she aims to spark collaborative ideas with the organisation’s members that will help to shape the wider narrative by creating more awareness and engagement with London’s Black underground. 

I ask her if she’s had much interest from festivals since the BLM protests began, and since joining the SheSaidSo community. “In terms of actually being approached for a lineup next year by any of the top festivals, absolutely not a single thing,” she says. “I know for a fact that there are festival programmers in the SheSaidSo network, or at least people that work alongside them. I sent out the Motherland June stream to show them what we’ve created, the music we are providing and what we’re challenging. 80 percent of those who responded were like, ‘Ah yeah, it looks good, keep it up,’ rather than saying, ‘Let’s do something.’

“I’m not saying SheSaidSo should deliver events for me,” she adds. “There’s engagement with the stream to tell me how good it is. But to take the leap of faith and speak about next year, or the years after, and actually being part of that change, no one’s said anything.” 

Kitty highlights the fact that many festivals have simply rescheduled this year’s lineups to 2021 without rethinking bookings. Since many 2020 lineups would have been booked before the protests, it’s safe to assume they wouldn’t have been much different to those I analysed in 2019. “If there’s enough room to alter your lineups, whether that’s an extra stage or making small adjustments to really show you’ve taken on board all that’s happened in 2020 and implemented that into next year’s lineups, then this is when you should be doing it,” she says. “I’m waiting to see what happens, but it’s disheartening.” 

Without a booking agent representing her, Kitty has been reaching out to promoters on her own. Every year for the last three years, from November to March, she’s contacted festivals with detailed examples of her accomplishments in London. “I would say two people out of the huge number of emails I’ve sent have responded. One is Noah Ball, and that’s how I ended playing at Soundwave. Soundcrash also got back to me, and booked me to play at Printworks,” she says. 

While Kitty would have previously accepted the lack of response, now she’s using her platform to call out promoters and events, emboldened by the movement. “If I don’t speak on it and try to advocate change with just my presence, I have a feeling that it will still be missed. You have to use your voice in order to see change,” she says, revealing that she’s planning to organise a livestream discussion with promoters and Black artists to address the issue on a public forum. 

I bring up the risk debate, which takes us to the way in which social media numbers can be used to dictate whether artists will be booked or not. It’s a source of frustration for Kitty, who feels as though it’s another barrier to entry for underrepresented artists. “I hate the fact that ‘risk’ and ‘underground’ are two words that have been lumped together for a long time,” she says. “I know for a fact, as a Black woman in this industry, forget about being a gay Black woman, I have to have numbers that either match up to my white peers or at least double them regardless of whether I’ve got the talent. Either that or I’ve played for the BBC, Kiss FM, or any other big platform. Even then it still might not happen.” 

“If it ain’t Black Coffee, ain’t no one trying to hear us,” she continues. “If you haven’t got the numbers or they don’t think you can bring the numbers, you’re not even considered. You have to sell yourself in mad ways. It’s ridiculous, because what I’m bringing is tasteful, it’s new, and if you act upon it, you should want to see yourself as the leading brand that has given this music a platform. But that term ‘risk’ is everything they think about.”

Cassandra Frey-Mills has used her time during lockdown to launch Without Exception, an organisation that brings underrepresented voices together to help guide the festival industry to a more inclusive state across all sectors. “Our intention is to put solutions directly in front of the people who can make a change. We know there’s no excuse to keep things the way they are,” she says, addressing the issue of financial pressure. “Anyone who thinks that money is the obstacle standing in their way hasn’t thought about all the research that shows that a diverse workforce leads to better financial returns. You will make better festivals, sell more tickets and make fewer gaffes. When you think about it, this offers a lifeline to survival for the festival industry.” 

Cassandra and her partner at Without Exception intend to use their privilege to elevate others, bringing people together to hopefully be the catalyst to long-lasting and positive change. With the festival industry suffering terribly during the Covid-19 crisis, she knows it won’t be easy. 

“When the festival industry was ground to a halt by the pandemic, me and a long-time colleague found ourselves once again discussing the lack of inclusivity and equality we had seen in our years working in the industry,” Cassandra says. “From the cultural appropriation you see in some of the get-ups at festivals (don’t get me started on indigenous headdresses and bindis) to how much whiter the workforce is the further you go up the ranks — and that’s leaving out how few female festival directors there are. We wanted to use lockdown to identify ways we could help tackle these issues.

“Festivals are this unique melting pot of industries,” she adds. “You’ve got the creative arts, hospitality, music, and of course the events industry. It’s relatively easy to find organisations promoting inclusivity and equality in each one of those intersecting groups, but almost none for festivals. We didn’t want to reinvent something that already existed, but when you look at just the festival industry, we’re really behind the curve.”

“Dee” is part of the team behind Decolonise Festival, an event aimed at addressing the lack of representation of Black punks. It was launched in 2017 by Stephanie Phillips, a journalist, and musician who plays guitar in Black feminist punk band Big Joanie. Dee’s experience as both a volunteer and participant at festivals goes back 14 years to when she was 16 years old. Not only is she experienced in working for a festival that celebrates representation in a niche genre, but she also speaks from the lived experience of attending festivals and working behind-the-scenes.

“Most of the festivals I’ve been to have been electronic music-based: Dimensions, Outlook, Boomtown, Electric Picnic, Melt! in Germany,” Dee says (she asked that we not use her real name). “I’ve been doing that since I was 16 and I’m 30 now, so I have seen a gradual transition in the punters,” she says. “Back then it was me and two other Black girls. People would think we were a band. It was like, ‘Why would three Black girls be at this very white festival?’ Once we realised, we’d just walk confidently past the bouncers and get in backstage. We ended hanging out with The Prodigy at Exit in 2009 by doing that.” 

At Exit, in Novi Sad, Serbia, Dee says strangers in the crowd sometimes asked to take pictures of her, which I also experienced there. While initially amusing and flattering, it can sometimes taint your festival experience when it happens one too many times. The people asking for pictures rarely try speaking to you beyond their request, making you feel like an exotic creature in a trophy photo. Things are improving, but in countries where it’s still a white majority, people of colour who are visiting have to be aware that they may encounter this kind of behaviour, which is often relatively harmless, but sadly is sometimes a lot worse. 

“It’s been nice to see crowds changing a bit now,” she continues. “But the organising of festivals is still very, very white and very, very posh. At certain festivals, all the management team are white and all the people volunteering are Black. That’s part of the reason I didn’t get on at some of the festivals I worked at. I was always asked to do menial jobs when I’ve got loads of experience.” 

Dee sees this as a reflection of the old boys network and nepotism. Wealth, race, and class are intertwined, giving power and privilege to a disproportionate section of society, some of whom launch festivals and hire their friends to come and work for them. How we change this is down to a systemic overhaul, and authentic, heartfelt efforts to be inclusive at all levels. “There needs to be a genuine effort of reaching out, and people of colour can tell when it’s performative. Engaging with people from top to bottom is a way of tackling it,” she says. “Also, being open and admitting when you’ve made mistakes, trying to look at ways that people are hiring. Not always assuming that Black and people of colour are the entertainers. Listening to what people are saying and paying attention to suggestions that would make festivals more appealing [in ways] that management might not think of.” 

As I mentioned before, city-based festivals, where you can pop in without camping overnight, seem to attract more mixed audiences and more diverse lineups, while the bigger camping events are not always as ethnically diverse as you might expect. Glastonbury is a great example of this. On so many levels the attendance is very diverse: class, age, musical affiliation. People from all over the UK attend, from pasty-white middle-class indie kids to perma-tanned northerners. But the ethnic diversity is still pretty lacking, and the reasons are both economic and cultural. 

“Festivals need to advertise the things that would make them more attractive to people of colour. It’s a bit of a generalisation, but making tickets more accessible with different tiers [would help],” she says. “My cousin, for example, would say it isn’t worth £280 to go and sit in a field all day. Value for money isn’t really pushed. The horror stories about no toilets, no showers, standing out in the rain… you could have spent that money going to Spain.” 

The camping aspect can also be a barrier to entry for some people of colour, more so than it is for white people, which lays bare the complexities of cultural differences. “Multi-date festivals aren’t as appealing to Black people,” Dee adds. “I don’t know if there’s a way of making it less scary and pushing the facilities they have, but there’s got to be a way.”

Dee also points at the difficulties some Black people can face in getting started in the music world. Again, economics play a role here, but there are also a myriad of social issues people of colour can face, like the family pressure to succeed, or the need to work twice as hard as their white counterparts. 

“A lot of [white] musicians started out with grounding or the support they needed to become what they are,” she says. “The emphasis on being an artist isn’t quite the same when you’re from a POC family because they’re worried about how you’re going to survive in the world. You can’t just think you’re going to be an artist, you’ve got to have a degree to fall back on. Even access to instruments and things like that [can be a barrier]. A lot of people of colour have a lot to deal with before they can commit to music. The reason why there’s white male dominance is because they have the resources, the time, and the support.”

In my analysis, We Out Here was one of the more representative festivals. The brainchild of Gilles Peterson and his team, it has a strong focus on global music, with a variety of performers from across Africa and the rest of the world, representing jazz, soul, hip hop, and electronic music. 

Noah Ball is one of the founders of We Out Here, with Outlook and Dimensions also on his resume. He had plenty to say about how festivals can move forward and work towards a more inclusive focus based on his depth of experience.

“When you look at crew companies, stage management teams, so often it’s a bunch of white dudes in black crew uniforms,” he says, echoing Dee’s point. “We made a really positive impact on the makeup of staffing at the festival last year, but we’ve still got some way to go. It’s an ongoing process, something you have to take on and understand that you can make positive changes, step by step, and you’re not always going to get everything right immediately. But the point is that you continue to make positive steps. Hopefully, with each year and each event, things become as well balanced and as fair a representation of the society we’re in as possible.”

Noah’s experience and personal musical tastes have given him the conscious awareness that’s essential to achieving genuine inclusivity. He loves Black music, working consistently to present it in a respectful way while using his privilege to provide a platform to genres and artists usually overlooked at other events. The scale and success of Outlook and Dimensions go some way to proving that these genres and artists have a big enough fanbase to make booking them less of a presumed “risk.” 

He also speaks about camping. “One of the barriers that we had at We Out Here was, culturally, that Black audiences don’t want to go camping,” he tells me. “It does have a stigma attached to it in some cultures, so we had to try and navigate how to remove these barriers to people attending.”

Addressing the problem has meant taking steps to collaborate with groups that are embedded in Black working-class communities, and connecting with people to figure out how to make it easier for them to attend. “We worked with a lot of music groups such as Tomorrow’s Warriors and Urban Development and a handful of others in cities across the UK,” he reveals. “Through those groups we had a number of discounted glamping options, and for young people who potentially couldn’t afford the ticket price, we worked with these groups to provide reduced-price tickets or, in some cases, gifting tickets. Transport was [also] an issue for some people, so we organised buses. We’re still trying to work out how to do it better each time, but it’s certainly worked in some way. The site is only an hour away from London, so if someone wants to come and do a day then get the last train back, they can if they want to,” he concludes.

With the Covid-19 pandemic putting a halt to festivals all over the world, and the increasing awareness around race, gender and LGTBQ+ rights within the industry and general population, this is the perfect time to hit the reset button. The pandemic has presented an opportunity for festivals to reconfigure their hierarchies and how they approach bookings in order to redress the balance that has been sorely lacking. There’s never been a time like this for festival culture. The pause on activity is unique and must be taken advantage of. Simply shifting lineups to next year cannot be the only solution. Festival promoters, bookers, agents and directors have to start taking responsibility for how they present electronic music, the origins of the culture, and the performers. By booking more diverse lineups, festivals have an opportunity to increase their target market, sell more tickets and diversify the festival ecosystem. 

Socially and culturally, there’s a great opportunity to inspire and include Black people, women, the LGBTQ+ community, and other people of colour. Likewise, the hierarchy behind the scenes in the festival industry also needs a big shake up so that better-informed decisions can be made. It can be done, but collective effort and conscious awareness are essential to making it work. If festivals are going to survive this increasingly dire situation, they’re going to have to think about widening their appeal and connecting to more communities, which means diversifying audiences.    

Electronic music is universal, it always has been. It was designed to be enjoyed by everyone. But over the years, this ethos has been eroded and superseded by a system based on western white privilege. There is no better time than now to begin formally dismantling this system, and restoring the core ideals of our culture for future generations.  

Marcus Barnes is an author, journalist, copywriter, and tastemaker with over 15 years experience in print and online. Find him on Twitter.

Our expert curation team brings you the best tracks on Beatport you may have missed. This time featuring Steal Tapes, Gerd Janson, Mark Knight, Oscar G, and more.

Steal Tapes – On Fire (Original Mix) [W&O Street Tracks]

Steal Tapes is determined to set you On Fire with his latest single on W&O Street Tracks. An absolute Acid House banger with a bassline that will haunt you! 

Ben Gomori – Fluxed Up (Original Mix) [HOMAGE]

We are not used to having such peak time groovers from Ben Gomori, a rather super talented Deep House producer, but “Fluxed Up” grabbed our attention instantly. Imagine dark rooms filled with smoke and a heavy sound system; this is the track that will transport you to that place! 

Superlover – Turn Me On (Original Mix) [Mother Recordings]

This vocal is ADDICTIVE! But we didn’t expect less from Ferri Borbas (AKA Superlover), who is a master of delivering memorable tunes and hooks that will stick to mind and never vacate. Do you want it disco? Do you like it funky? Superlover delivers!

Jacques Renault & Gerd Janson – One More Slam (Remix) [Let’s Play House]

We’ve been expecting this collaborative EP from these two gents for a while now. Jacques and Gerd have finally come together with their Toolbox EP on Let’s Play House, and the overall result is nothing short of excellent. “One More Slam” is an instrumental groover that is fit for every house performance and will be the perfect bridge track to move around tunes and sets with its funky percussion and addictive filtered lines. Don’t sleep on this one!

Anane – Get On The Funk Train (Michael Gray & Mark Knight Mix) [Nervous Records]

All aboard! Anane invites you to get on the train to “destination funk,” and you’d be amiss to let it leave the station without you. With its amazing string section, phat bassline, catchy vocals, and swinging percussion, Michael Gray and Mark Knight nailed the feel-good vibe with their remix of this fresh disco single.

Oscar G – Warehouse Girl (Original Mix) [Nervous Records]

I’ve been a fan of Oscar G for as long as I can remember. Recently resurfacing on the timeless dance music imprint, Nervous Records, his single “Warehouse Girl” is a tremendous underground house winner with deep chords and vocal toplines that mesh together with hypnotic cadence. Dig in and get lost in the groove with this one!

BEATPORT HYPE PICK

Hype is your destination for new music from up-and-coming labels and artists on BeatportLearn more here.

Simon Hinter – Alright! (Original Mix) [Quintessentials]

Since he put out his Tired Up EP on Freerange Records earlier this year, Simon Hinter’s work has continued to grab my undivided attention. “Alright!” is the lead track off his new Wanna Make Love EP on the excellent Quintessentials label. Fueled up with a house and funk fever, the guitar riffs, party atmospherics, and swishing percussion make this one a lethal groover that will have you sweating and grooving wherever you may wander. 

For more house tracks you may have missed, check out our Beatport Link Playlist.

After putting out their critically acclaimed C166W EP via Monika Kruse’s Terminal M imprint in 2018, Joyhauser has continued to work their way towards the stratosphere of techno stardom. Here, we catch up with the Belgian duo as they honor the iconic German label with an exclusive mix of some of the imprint’s biggest tunes. 

Joris Cielen and Stijn Vanspauwen started off as two wide-eyed techno sprouts at a very young age, making their way to Belgian festivals such as Pukkelpop and I Love Techno as early as 14 to go check out the biggest and best new DJs the scene had to offer. Growing up in the small town of Bilzen, about an hour east of Brussels, Joris and Stijn made a name for themselves as the municipality’s foremost purveyors of dance music. Stepping out into the wider world as they grew up, Stijn continued working at his family’s furniture shop while Joris went professional in football before an unfortunate injury cut his career short, and he went on to become a psychologist. 

The story certainly doesn’t end there, and as far as their music career goes, it seems we’ve only reached the beginning. Despite having played together for a good chunk of their lives, they officially joined forces as Joyhauser in 2011 and continued to pursue their love of techno. Playing together regularly throughout Belgium, their musical symbiosis strengthened to the point of excellence where people in the broader scene started to notice. After steadily improving their capability — both in the studio and behind the decks — Joyhauser took the techno scene by storm in 2018 with their debut C166W EP on Terminal M. Since the runaway success of that release, the duo has pushed out music on labels like Respekt RecordingsSecond StateLabyrinth MusicDrumcodeToolroom, and more. Their tracks have racked up millions of streams around the world and have become incessant weapons for major acts like Amelie LensPleasurekraftAdam Beyer, Pan-Pot, and many more. 

Joyhauser’s sound is scintillating, dynamic, and, most of all, massive. It fills up huge techno arenas and brings a full-throttle invasion of synths, kicks, and soundscapes to your ears with an unrushed and level-headed approach. All in all, they’ve established themselves as key players in Belgium’s ongoing domination over the global techno scene. 

Their fruitful relationship with Terminal M continues to this day, and with their new remix of Push’s single “Strange World,” out now on the label, we caught up with Joyhauser to learn more about their past, present, and future ambitions. To celebrate their new track and 20 years of Monika Kruse’s iconic techno imprint, Joyhauser has put together a behemoth hour of Terminal M classics and slammers via an exclusive mix.

Bring us back to the first parties you two threw together in your hometown of Bilzen in Belgium. What year were those parties taking place? Describe the scene, the vibe, and the type of music that helped drive your intro into techno. 

It must have been around the year 2007. There weren’t a lot of decent electronic music parties in our region, so a couple of friends and us decided to team up and throw the parties ourselves. It was a beautiful time. We were very young and actually just dipping our toes into nightlife. The first parties were more of a get-together between friends, but eventually, we drew more and more people to our dance floors. We were playing a lot of M_NUS and Cocoon stuff back then.

After building up each of your reputations as individual DJs, what made you decide to join forces as Joyhauser? What year was this, and what was the process like in finding your ideal techno style? 

We’ve been listening to electronic music since we were very young, but the techno bug bit us for the first time at I Love Techno 2006 in Ghent. Stijn already played as a solo DJ, and Joris played soccer on a professional level, so he didn’t have much time to combine the two. When we started doing our own parties, we played some spontaneous b2b sets, and we immediately felt a good vibe between the two of us. After a serious knee injury, Joris had to give up on soccer, and we decided to continue as an official DJ duo in 2011. Our taste in music has always been much alike; however, one of us liked to play the harder straight techno while the other liked to play the more melodic side of the genre. Through the years, this developed into the DJ sets we play now, a perfect symbiosis between the two.  

You both had full-time jobs before deciding to pursue music in full just last year. Can you tell us about your jobs and what it was that really pushed you towards full-time careers as DJ-producers? 

Stijn worked at a family company selling wood and furniture for almost ten years while Joris had a career as a psychologist. We tried to combine our jobs and DJ careers for a long time. I think we kind of wanted to play it safe from a financial point of view. Up until 2018, we were mostly playing at parties based in Belgium, so it was pretty doable. When “Galaxy Phase” became a hit in the summer of 2018, more and more booking requests from abroad started rolling in. Travel took up an apparent roll in our schedule, and we were getting booked for peak time, and closing sets more often. The lack of sleep started to take its toll. Going in for work on a Monday (or even a Tuesday) really became a drag. Our management suggested just taking a leap of faith and quit our daytime jobs, so we did. Looking back now, we can’t even imagine how we managed to combine both. The peace of mind and focus we now have translates into a much more productive vibe in the studio and on stage.  

Tell us about your first time meeting Monika Kruse. How has she and her Terminal M imprint helped you two grow as artists? Are there any essential lessons regarding studio tactics or the music industry that she imparted on you? 

The first real meeting was between Joris and Monika Kruse at Lagoa Club, Belgium, in March 2018. A good friend/promotor invited us to play the closing after Monika. Unfortunately, Stijn wouldn’t be able to make it that night due to circumstances. We usually don’t do solo sets, but this was a huge opportunity to finally meet Monika. We had been fans of her and Terminal M for so many years. So we made the exception, and Joris went alone. Very glad we did because when Joris played, Super Pollen Monika came straight up to the booth to ask which track he was playing. After that, each time he played a Joyhauser track, Monika came up to ask the track ID. She ended up staying until seven in the morning to dance to our set. Her tour manager was not amused!

In the months that followed, we started sending her some of our tracks. Monika can be really critical when it comes to music, so this wasn’t an easy task. I think we might have sent her close to 10 tracks in total. A few weeks later, we saw she was playing at Moonday in Ghent, so we decided to head up there and meet her again. We ended up having a really good time at the party, and when the day ended, she concluded that she wanted to sign a four-track EP. Monika certainly pushed us to always do better at our productions. The process of signing a full EP can be painstakingly long, but in the end, we always end up with an awesome release. 

Your Terminal M debut, the C166W​ EP, was met with widespread critical acclaim. How did things change for Joyhauser following the release of that record? 

That EP definitely changed our lives for good. After the success of the single “Galaxy Phase,” we were eager to release our first full-blown EP. We are delighted that Monika Kruse and Terminal M gave us that opportunity. After the release, it quickly became apparent that “Galaxy Phase” wasn’t just a lucky shot because we immediately gained further support from some big names in the scene, such as Adam Beyer, Pan-Pot, and Amelie Lens. Everyone was playing it! Today it’s still prevalent. With over five million streams on Spotify, you can consider it our most successful track to date. Also, we can’t go a single DJ set without playing it. The crowd still goes crazy every time they hear the first beat drop. 

2019 was a huge year for you guys, and you had many dates and tours set up that were supposed to carry on into 2020. How have you been keeping on with the pandemic? What strategies do you use to stay motivated and keep up your artistic momentum? 

In the first month, we just took some time off because we had been touring for almost two years straight. After that month, we decided to dive into the studio and we produced a lot of new music (and not purely techno). Unfortunately, the uncertainty of the pandemic development also brought quite some stress into our lives, knowing that we quit our full-time jobs only one year before. Luckily, we built up quite a bit of momentum in 2019, and our release schedule for 2020 had already been filled until the end of the year. We did some fun live streams but not too many because we don’t consider that as a worthy alternative to a real DJ set at all. Most of the big bookings that got canceled are already rescheduled to 2021, so we just try to be patient until this all blows over. In the meantime, we want to be as productive as possible in the studio. We also gained a weekly residency at the national radio station, Studio Brussel. We present our own radio show each Saturday night and consider it an excellent alternative and medium to share our music with our fans in these crazy times. Furthermore, we also ‘released’ our very own Joyhauser beer. Beer is another BIG passion of us, and with COVID around, we finally found the time to finalize the plans we’ve had for a while. Our first batch is already sold out, but we’re working on the second one as we speak. 

With lots of time to reflect on your young but wildly successful career in 2020, is there a memory that you often revisit as being a “career-defining moment” moment for the two of you? If you had to choose one, what would it be?  

A highlight for us personally must have been at Pukkelpop in 2018. Pukkelpop is one of Belgium’s biggest festivals, and we’ve been a visitor since we were only 14 years old. It defined our taste in music, seeing all the big DJs and bands playing there at such a young age. It was always a dream to play in their Boiler Room (the DJ stage) one day. We just returned from Tokyo the day before (our first gig outside of Europe) and had massive jetlag. We played a special set with only Joyhauser tracks, and the thousands of people that were there just went nuts. That gig was a confirmation for us that we were on the right path, and it gave it so much energy to keep pushing through.

Do you have any plans to release an album anytime soon? Are there any other Joyhauser releases in the pipeline that we should look forward to? 

We have some pretty awesome releases coming up soon. We also started working on an album, and it’s coming together pretty nicely. The initial plan was to release it in 2021, but with COVID still disturbing our daily life, we’ve postponed it for now. It’s done when it’s done. What’s certain is that the album won’t be strictly techno. It will be something more unique. You’ll see!

Tell us about the mix you made for us. 

Terminal M has a very impressive catalogue and history, so it was tough to select the best tracks. We had a shortlist of about 40 tracks. Eventually, we just stuck to the ones that we played the most during the last couple of years. That goes to show how much quality is to be found on this label. We can’t express in words how happy we are to be a part of it. Congratulations Terminal M!

Cameron Holbrook is Beatportal’s Assistant Editor. Find him on Twitter.

Do you want to become a DJ, but aren’t sure where to start? Do you want to learn how to mix songs, but don’t know where to buy them or what equipment to use?

 

This starter guide will help you with your initial steps, and should answer some burning questions you may have have when it comes to getting started with DJing.

Starting out as a DJ has never been easier. The ability to access controllers, decks, and a near-unlimited amount of music means you can start playing straight away, picking up skills, techniques, and styles as you progress.

Not only that, but the costs required nowadays are far much lower than they used to be. Whether you’re looking to start out by using CDJs, playing with controllers, or just playing with DJing software, the setup costs now make it possible for anyone to DJ.

The introduction of Beatport LINK has also made the jump into becoming a DJ more effortless. To become a digital DJ, you no longer need to rely on downloadable music or downloading MP3s. With Beatport LINK you have access to millions of songs in all kinds of styles at your fingertips.

With the right setup, a bit of practice, some confidence, and of course the right music (and global health situation) you could find yourself playing at your favorite next party. 

But before you ask yourself questions like how to beat match, or even — if you’re getting ahead of yourself — how to stream your DJ sets, you first need to decide on what tools you want to use as a DJ.

In the end, it is the music you play that defines who as a DJ. But to get behind the booth you need to find the right controllers, turntables, or decks that fit your style.

DJing with laptop

The first thing you’ll want to consider is whether you want to DJ with or without a laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

Traditionally, the classic setup — playing with two turntables and a mixer — is a good option. But unless you use this setup with a digital vinyl system (we’ll get to that later), you’re limiting the amount of tracks you have at your fingertips to what is available on vinyl. Thus, by using a laptop, or an app with an in-built-streaming system, you allow yourself access to a far greater palette of music. This setup can also be prohibitively expensive, if cost is a consideration. 

All of this begs the question: which DJ software is best for you?

DJing digitally allows you to get a handle on the fundamentals of playing. Whether you’re using VirtualDJ, Serato, recordbox, or any other favored DJing software, you’ll be able to interact with the basic properties that will allow you to mix two (or more) tracks together. By cueing up tracks, looking at their waveform properties, creating loops, mixing your tracks together, and then playing with effects, you can start to properly understand how DJing works. 

You’re not just limited to using a laptop either, with the majority of DJing platforms available as downloadable apps, some of which are even free of charge.

Starting off with djay / djay PRO by algoriddim, for example, is a great introductory tool to get started with DJing. With a free version that works on all devices and operating systems, you can experiment with waveforms, mixing, loops, and more. What’s more, the PRO version is compatible with multiple streaming services, including Beatport LINK, which allows you to integrate a near-infinite amount of tracks in your performance. The PRO version is also compatible with multiple controllers, allowing you to physically control the music you’re playing.

DJing with controllers

You don’t actually need anything more than DJing software in order to start playing. But for maximum impact, you will want to look at adding a controller to your setup.

Controllers don’t just allow you to better interact with your music, they also give you the most satisfaction by allowing you to get a real hands-on experience.

Essentially, controllers are reproductions of traditional DJ setups, designed to be more transportable, easier to use, and with more up-to-date features that allow you to be more creative with your mixing. They are also often less expensive than traditional setups. 

Controllers come in all shapes and sizes and are made by various brands, but most will come with the same functions: jog wheels, mixers, and pitch control. Most importantly though, controllers nowadays come with their own audio interface, which means you can connect it to your laptop, mixer, or soundsystem without having to invest in a separate system.

Whichever controller you use, make sure it’s compatible with the DJing software you’ve selected to work with. 

DJing with decks

For the more adventurous DJ, it’s recommended to start out with more professional hardware, CDJs. With CDJs, you get the full tactical experience of playing digital music with that tactile feel, allowing you to speed up, spin, or stop the music without pressing any buttons. 

The most popular CDJs on the market are made by Pioneer DJ and Denon.

Newbies need not fear. Many systems are tailored such that they can be used by pros and beginners alike, designed with sync functionality and large screen displays that allow you to easily browse, cue, loop, and much more.

If you’re a regular viewer on streaming platforms such as Beatport Live, then you’ll notice that the majority of professionals are DJing with USBs, often using the Pioneer CDJ-2000. Pioneer have become the industry standard when it comes to CDJs, such that they are found behind the booths at many clubs across the world. If you want to be a DJ that can play anywhere, then learning how to play with CDJs will be a massive bonus in the long run.

You can access a near-infinite amount of tracks using CDJs as well. Both Pioneer and Denon use library software systems, in which you can access your entire music library. 

By using management tools, you can tag, file, and find your tracks with the greatest of ease. Not only that, but both systems employed by Pioneer and Denon are compatible with streaming services like Beatport LINK, so you can integrate Beatport’s vast library of electronic music into your set wherever you are.

Denon DJ even has Beatport LINK integrated directly into the players, so that no laptop is required to access the complete Beatport catalog.

The final thing that we didn’t fully mention yet is digital vinyl systems (DVS).

These are the tools that allow you to control turntables through a digital medium, made popular through DJs who use Serato. This is when you see a DJ, like Jazzy Jeff, or DJ Marky for instance, controlling a turntable or CDJ through a timecode vinyl, or CD. As Beatport LINK is fully integrated into Serato, that means you can have the near-infinite Beatport catalog at your fingertips, controlling the music and the selection at your will.

Finding the right music

Having looked at all the options available to you as a DJ, from ones that fit in your pocket to the ones behind the booth, the next step you need to take is finding your music.

Remember, music is the special sauce behind any DJ set.

The music you play, and the way in which you play it, sets you apart from everybody else.

That’s why when it comes to selecting your music, it’s important to find something that represents who you are. Build playlists to fit moods, and contain tracks that stylistically fit together. Dig for music that is unique, but crowd-pleasing. Browse playlists and DJ charts and keep up to date with trends.

This is where Beatport LINK becomes incredibly useful. Its game-changing functionality allows you to access an unlimited amount of music, regardless of the device you’ve used to perform with. For the first time ever you can experiment with playing a multitude of tracks, styles, and genres, without having to invest in records, or purchasing individual tracks.

With Beatport LINK you can seamlessly work between finding music and building playlists. Use your preferences, and personalized workflow within Beatport to search through a near-unlimited amount of tracks, tag them and file in your own custom-built playlist to play later.

It is through the use of proper file management that will help you select the right tracks at a later date.

And finally, practice. Regardless of your style and DJing medium, your confidence, technique, and knowledge of your music will radiate through your sets the more time you’ve put into playing.

As one half of powerhouse label Night Slugs, L-Vis 1990 spent the 2010s twisting club music into thrilling new shapes. Newly reborn as Dance System, he’s going back to the source in order to bottle lightning a second time. Gabriel Szatan hears his story. 

It seems too good to be true. You spend all club-less year working on a project that captures the giddy essence of clubbing. You reach out to a small army of contributors, friends old and new, to see if they’d have the time to help. Time is the one thing everyone has in abundance now, so you receive a wall of “yeses” in your DMs. You begin to tease the project from a distance –– new name, new label, new logo, new hairdo, new energy –– getting closer and closer to release date. The first single, “Let’s Go!” is a turbo-banger, although tinged with bitter irony that no-one is going anywhere fast. Will this amped-up concept land when everyone is trapped at home, profoundly miserable? It’s out of your hands now.

In any other year, dropping a tranche of summer slammers in the depths of winter would be a one-way ticket to bricksville, but you’ve been holding off all of 2020 and can’t wait any longer. You announce Where’s The Party At? and hope for the best. Right on cue, a vaccine has been found. This stroke of luck is scarcely believable. There’s a crackle of vague optimism in the air for what feels like the first time in centuries. You drop a second single, “Hands In The Air,” and they’ve found another. Green shoots of recovery are emerging from the layer of permafrost coating clubland. You are Dance System, and you’ve timed this to perfection.

That’s how it looks, at least. The reality is a little less glamorous. James Connolly is sitting in a pub garden, shattered glass speckling the concrete under foot. Chafed by icy rain, he swivels for warmth on a high chair probably intended for a truculent child, tucking his knees under his arms and pulling his reflective jacket –– which is pleasingly colour-matched to the streak of silvery-grey hair in the middle of his side parting –– right up to his chin. The only other person here is a bloke at the end of the table skinning up while having an argument on speaker phone. Dreams of filter-sweeping to ecstatic crowds under starry skies is a while off yet.

We’ve picked this inauspicious location due to its proximity to Redstar, a Camberwell venue where the very first Night Slugs parties took place in March 2008, a good couple of years before the label started in earnest. At the time, Connolly went by L-Vis 1990, playing with a rotating cast of twenty-somethings including Bok Bok, Manara, Girl U No Its True (later abbreviated), Oneman and MC Asbo, as the likes of Jam City peered on from the other side of the decks.

It’s nice to be back in the area, Connolly shrugs, but the true nostalgia actually kicked in a few days prior to our meet-up. Having flown in from his current home of Rome while it was still legal to do so, he’s been crashing in the lounge at his Dad’s place, where stacks of Connolly’s dog-eared records from his adolescence are kept. Connolly has been making hay with these online. By posting up MiniDiscs of Daft Punk’s NYE 1998 Essential Mix, or old records that range from the somewhat forgotten (Hatiras’ Liquid Adrenaline Sessions 3) to the comically overloaded (Dex & Jonesey’s remix of “Higher State Of Consciousness”) to the timeless (Underground Resistance’s “Transition”), he’s deliberately giving flashes of his past to telegraph future motives. These records, he says, are the key that unlocks the purpose of Dance System.

“Dance System goes back to my bedroom. Well – everything goes back to my bedroom,” Connolly explains. “Before Night Slugs, before I was running breaks or drum & bass parties in Brighton, before any of that came house music. The first two records I bought were Cassius’ 1999 and Armand Van Helden’s “You Don’t Know Me” – then came DJ Deeon, DJ Sneak and the rest. The sound of that era just spoke to me: there’s soul and there’s grit, a bit of sweetness, a bit of edge, and it’s all super playful. So every time I go back to my Dad’s, that collection from when I was 16 is right there waiting for me. I’ve come to realise that’s really the core of what I love about music. So what I’m doing with Dance System is rekindling that first love and exporting it to a new generation.”

Where’s The Party At? is a riot. The mixtape comes off like a dramatic rewind: past the creative bottoming-out of techno; past the overextension of superclubs; past the deaths of Kim English, Phillipe Zdar and Romanthony; past every heartbreak and downturn in fortune, to a time when hip dogs and Housecats reigned supreme. Environmental noise and chunks of dialogue draw you in and out of focus, a tactic to evoke zipping around from car to club to smoking area to lights up. If all this wasn’t already screaming late-’90s MTV Dance, one listen to the opening single confirms it.

Barely six months removed from their own song of the year contender, “For You,” India Jordan’s team-up with Dance System on “Let’s Go!” adds another candidate – a megahouse bulldozer with occasional snatches of filter to clock you cold. By complete chance, Connolly laughs, he had already been chiselling away at a tune with the very same sample India deployed on “I’m Waiting (Just 4 U).” Rather than feeling cheated by the cosmos, Connolly gamely abandoned his, sensed they could be on a similar wavelength and reached out to them. 

“There was definitely a shock when I tuned into Teki Latex’s show on Radio 1 and heard the same original record [Stephanie Mills’ “Put Your Body In It”] that I had been working with that same week. I was just like, ‘Hey! That’s my song!’ But India killed it with that sample, we clearly have shared strengths, and it made sense to link.” Connolly loves to function like this. 2017’s MC-led album 12 Thousand Nights was the same: getting together with the likes of Flohio, GAIKA, Mista Silva and Lord Narf, and watching sparks fly. The same goes for performing too – if someone’s in town with a free evening, Connolly is keen to give it a whirl, which is how he ended up in a b2b marathon with Skrillex at tiny East London bar The Glove That Fits last year.

Almost every song on Where’s The Party At? is the result of a similar flight of fancy. The varied collaborator list has resulted in a mix that exists within the four walls of house, but takes glee in sticking elbows out the window and pounding holes into the drywall. On the A-side, a peppy vocal cut with UNIIQU3 (“Get Up On It!”) sits next to a greasy ‘00s electro grinder with ABSOLUTE. (“Bumbading”). On the darker B-side, the Mike James-assisted “This Is Business” could be straight out the Crydamoure handbook, while Hugo Paris’ collaboration “Concern” is heavily reminiscent of Robert Hood’s wayward take on DBX’s “Losing Control.”

There was no preconceived idea of a mixtape to begin with, merely Connolly hitting up people on the fly. He was stuck in locked-down Italy, making tunes in his headphones while his girlfriend was “on the desk nearby, finishing her degree in structural engineering.” Some rare synths became available in a nearby sale for a knockdown price, further accelerating Connolly’s desire to plant a flag in the ground for Dance System and the newly-established System Records with it. To his delight, assistance came through in spades. “There’s only a few collaborators that I haven’t met in person,” he explains. “Boxia, Big Miz, Herbert, and I believe that’s it. But the rest have all been people who’ve come in and out of my life at different stages.”

“I’ve played with A-Trak in Paris, in New York, at Fool’s Gold parties – all over. Hudson Mohawke, we were coming up on the circuit at the same sort of time, we’d cross on Numbers x Night Slugs bills. It’s really nice to have been on two very distinct journeys over the past 10 years and now find ourselves in a similar spot. As for Lauren Flax, I used to see her DJing in New York a lot and thought she had a super unique style. I let these connections guide me. Maybe the relationship won’t last a lifetime, but if we can make something happen in the studio, it’s all worth it. And, I mean, I enjoy the journey. There’s no need to force anything.”

Where’s The Party At? winds up with a wind-up. “Hypnosis” –– which links neatly with Poochi, the swirly-eyed cartoon puppy that Connolly sketched as Dance System’s new figurehead –– is a slice of mania, Connolly and Cromby invoking the barely-restrained chaos you’d find on Djax-Up-Beats. Then it unexpectedly ends. Cup your ears and you can almost hear a crowd boo-cheering for one more tune. The crumb of closure comes in a sample of a rich Scottish brogue in the distance saying “Dance System…this guy’s just having a laugh!” That would be Calvin Harris, singing Connolly’s praises live on Annie Mac’s BBC Radio 1 show.

Squaring Night Slugs’ track record of headsy, futuristic and sometimes mystical club music with these co-signs from Skrillex, Calvin Harris and A-Trak will be a challenge for some. Isn’t this what the underground was meant to contest? Before System Records was formed to give Connolly and label partner Sophie Glynne creative autonomy, you could grip early Dance System records on Mella Dee’s Warehouse Music, Jimmy Edgar’s Ultramajic and Modeselektor’s Monkeytown. Again, for heads-down lurkers on the shadowy corners of the dance floor, this is inevitably going to set off alarm bells.

The signs that Connolly’s tastes didn’t always cleave to cool have been there, if you knew where to look. His breakthrough as L-Vis 1990, United Groove, arrived in 2009 via Mad Decent. The stuttering rhythms and staccato synths that characterised Night Slugs’ output are as indebted to the unrestrained glee of Baltimore, Philly and Jersey club as they are to early Lil’ Louis. You could hear Connolly slyly deploying Laurent Garnier’s “Coloured City” in Night Slugs’ banner Rinse FM shows, or catch him confirming five minutes into his Essential Mix that it was, indeed, time for the “Percolator.” At the time, these felt like launch ramps for an incoming drop of, say, “Wut” or “Bring In The Katz.” But they were always just as essential to him.

Connolly has spent stretches of his life butting his head against a low ceiling of other people’s restrictions or having his ambitions misjudged by fans and critics alike. He’s keen to stress that the apple hasn’t fallen as far from the tree as you might assume. “The artists who I grew up with took the piss. They had stupid project names, they goofed about, they weren’t snobby about the record labels wanting to take them to as big an audience as possible. But they’re all deadly serious about the music. That’s where I’m coming from with Dance System, and so is every artist that I’ve worked with on this record. They know it’s a way to explore their colourful side, get into banger mode, go full-pelt without feeling wary about it. I mean, that’s why club kids are getting more into happy hardcore again, right? Things in the past five years got abstract and they got cynical – now people just want to have fun again.”

By this point in our conversation Connolly has warmed up mentally, if not quite physically. He’s begun to show flashes of the personal needs that are driving this reboot as Dance System. As is to be expected for someone who follows their artistic whim without asking questions, Connolly goes through phases fairly regularly, each usually a reaction to the last: steely percussive bangers following melodic jams, no-holds-barred techno following introspective R&B productions, and so on. But one early attempt to shift gears was, he reflects, a car crash.

In 2011, with Night Slugs on a peerless run of singles, Connolly released his first album. Neon Dreams was a collection of lovelorn synth songs and gaudy house throwbacks, much slower and softer than what L-Vis had been known for. “The reaction was,” Connolly grimaces, “pretty brutal. I put my heart into this idea, my dream on the line, just for people to bring it down. It was hard. To me, it felt like a natural progression. I’m into that kind of luminescent visual feel which was all over the first Night Slugs sleeves. I was really pushing this idea of light-as-sound, but the correlation got missed. People could only see me through the lens of our record label, just some DJ that releases tunes, not an artist. If I don’t explore ideas and concepts, they’ll eat away at me forever. But it was too soon.”

Ghosted by his management after the second Neon Dreams single “failed to connect,” Connolly hatched an escape to New York in 2012. He arrived days before Hurricane Sandy tore the city apart. That winter barely let up: a blizzard dropping off several feet of snow in early February here, a freak snowstorm in late March there. Connolly, stuck in a windowless spare room in Chinatown, was charmed by the welcoming gift. He laughs at the memory now: “New York, man. It throws everything at you to make sure you’re strong enough to be there.”

In the end, that move to NYC turned Connolly around at a time when he was in danger of sinking into a low place. “The energy in the city was fantastic, and musically I developed much faster than I had been on the UK club circuit. Kingdom and Total Freedom were smashing it. Night Slugs formed a partnership with Qween Beat and Fade 2 Mind, and we all collided with the fashion world as Hood By Air was on the rise. Nick Weiss from Teengirl Fantasy, ADR from Gatekeeper, Massacooramaan – that was my crew. The sound was getting industrial in 2013, and I went down that wormhole in my DJ sets. It was beautiful, crazy inspiring to be a part of.”

He pauses here. “But there’s loads of music from that era that simply never came out. I don’t think I had confidence to risk it. I worked with bands, shot videos, prepared for a new journey and…it’ll never see the light of day. After Neon Dreams, I didn’t want to throw people again.” To prove a point to himself as much as his peers, Connolly pulled in the opposite direction: “I wrote a manifesto, pushing myself to go hard and dead against any sentimentality. The rules were strict: short reverb, no emotions, two-or-three note melodies tops, just raw and simple.” This release, called Club Constructions, was only intended to be an outlet for Connolly’s retaliation. But the material was electrifying, so the manifesto was released publicly and grew into a namesake sub-label that –– alongside a prominent integration of ballroom –– defined the sound and feel of Night Slugs’ second wave in the mid-2010s.

Ever since that bracing moment of overexposure, Connolly has removed successive layers of armour and put more of himself into the music. Dance System was actually christened back in 2014, but he only let himself lean in so far.

One artefact from club music’s period of arch-conceptualism, a 35-minute mix called Workout Module 001, was a step in today’s direction, but played by Connolly with a wink – just in case. Musically, Workout Module 001 is strikingly close to Where’s The Party At? – but launched through high-concept DiS Magazine, and with an interactive site featuring animated ab-crunchers, it was aesthetically more of a James Ferraro type beat.

“That was part of my environment,” Connolly reasons. “You know, I’ve never worked out in my life! So I thought it was funny. Then in 2015, I made an EP called System Preferences, with a lead track called “Safe Mode.” Looking back it’s obvious what I was going through. I really over-thought this shit and how it would need to fit in the world. House music comes naturally, but I was still assuming I had to challenge myself at every turn.”

Connolly found purpose by using his voice more prominently. In 2014, he pushed hard in the press for artists from Dance Mania to receive proper acknowledgements for their contributions to history. He practised what he preached too, cutting profits with Jammin’ Gerald on a song that used only a tiny vocal snippet. The importance of splitting opportunities goes right back to the start of Night Slugs, he says. “We were crazy into UK funky and bassline, but we recognised we were getting press rather than Marcus Nasty; in Europe, they would maybe book Roska, but that was it.” As well as feeding the bubble and bruk of UK funky into their sound, Connolly and Bok Bok consistently booked funky acts like Ill Blu, Crazy Cousinz, D-Malice and Cooly G when few others did. It’s the very same community-minded thinking that informs his collaborative approach in the studio, and which leads into the present day.

By 2019, with Dance System records picking up steam and the 12 Thousand Nights campaign winding to a close, Connolly was committed to making a fresh start in earnest. The final gig as L-Vis 1990 came at Glastonbury Festival that year, on Block 9’s enormous IICON stage. Connolly bade farewell with a look at what a hybridised L-Vis / Dance System future could look like: instant crowd-pleasers from Camisra and Switch meet cutting-edge bangers from quest?onmarc and DJ Lag, with a few Night Slugs staples like NA’s “Xtreme Tremble,” Apple’s “De Siegalizer,” and S-X’s “Woo Riddim” thrown in for good measure. The set went down a storm, further reinforcing that he was ready for the plunge. He emptied his hard drive onto the web with Decade of Dubz and stepped into a new guise permanently.

Connolly’s ride on the reputation rollercoaster has left some bruises, but also sharpened what he wants Dance System to stand for. “It’s not my time in the underground any more, and that is perfectly fine. I’m a 36-year-old man. That scene is for young people to experiment and explore just like we did. But,” – he grins here – “the last thing I want to be doing is playing a “2009 Special!” set in years to come, taking up room. L-Vis had value in its prime, but it’s time to move on.”

Now, Dance System is intended to function as one stop on a long line of paying it forward. “I didn’t invent the music I’m making and playing now, obviously. But I can package up what I see as a special time in house music, and also put new artists on. It’s a chance to train in on what was –– and still is –– super exciting to me, and use that energy to spark inspiration in young ravers at the start of their path. They aren’t born into a world like I was, where you can go to a record store and the staff will say, “Oh, you like DJ Zinc’s Bingo Beats, here’s Jesper Dahlbäck’s Robot Dance.” I want to have that same kind of influence for someone out there. And the mixtape is just the first step toward that.”

I mention that this sounds a lot like Daft Punk’s shout-out to the originators of house and techno on Homework’s “Teachers,” and Connolly lights up. “Exactly that. I’m still a student. These are my heroes, I’m inspired by the music they made, and I want to help break more people into that world where fun is key and close-mindedness is left at the door. And you know, this year we’re all in the same position. None of us can DJ to crowds. We’re not superstars. Stuck in our studios or our bedrooms, we’re basically 15 or 16 again anyway. So why not embrace it?”

Gabriel Szatan is a freelance journalist living in London. He has previously written for RBMA, Resident Advisor and DJ Mag. Find him on Twitter. 

If you’ve ever wondered how your productions could end up as a soundtrack, Parisian producer Saycet, whose compositions have appeared on Canal+ and Netflix, offers his tips.

My name is Pierre Lefeuvre and I am a musician, composer, and producer from Paris. You’ll perhaps know me better under my artist and project name, Saycet, which I have been operating under for around 15 years. My music has taken many forms and is influenced by many different artistic styles, but it is only since the more recent years of my life where my composition works for film and TV have become known. This year I have composed the music for a Canal+ nature documentary called Bastard Lion, which also features composition work from Laurent Garnier. Most recently, I composed the full soundtrack for Netflix France’s drama series La Révolution

My approach to scoring music for film and TV is of course different to how I would approach working on, say, a standalone track, or even an album or EP, as obviously the music needs to sync up stylistically with the storyline of the film. A great soundtrack or composition in my opinion is crucial to visual storytelling, as it adds a further dimension to those who are watching, particularly on an emotional level. 

Here, I’ve compiled some tips below which I feel are important to consider and be aware of for anyone who is looking to explore the field of music composition for film and TV.

Make a showreel

This is a really key piece of advice which I think people often forget. Start with short formats, like short films, or even remake music on film clips or commercials that you like. The showreel should contain a selection of your best work and ideally, across different styles to show your creative extent. Once you have a showreel, then you can present it to agencies that work in film. It is a world where your work can often be judged on the spot, so another tip — if you are just starting to enter this field, then you can also compose an original piece of music for an already existing film to showcase your compositions. Quality over quantity is always key, as it takes time and experience to be able to score a composition for a full film or documentary, for example. 

Have a specific sound

This tip could on the surface sound obvious, but crafting your own specific sound and personal vision is key. This tip comes with time and experience, but you won’t get there if you don’t explore many different types of composition work, study composers, and of course be aware of certain trends. Your own sound is your own personal vision. It belongs to you, no one else. For example, if you want to copy the work and style of Hanz Zimmer or another composer, then this of course will help you progress musically, but for someone starting out, it won’t lead to many opportunities.

Build a network

I’m not going to lie, this is a profession which works on human relationships. Either we have a manager who takes care of that or we have to go and see people, introduce ourselves, and network. A physical visit with people working in film and TV music composition where possible is always to be favoured. In my opinion, it is better to introduce yourself and leave a demo in person rather than just sending an email with your work.

Make a library

Music supervisors or sync agencies often spot composers on tracks who already have a profile. It is not common enough that a composer’s first score to video is ultimately a re-adaptation of a title that an agency has placed. To expand further – keep building your library of tracks that can be synchronized to images according to your own style, and experimenting with placing your music to the background of already existing video work.  

Be patient

Proposals and offers for long formats such as films, often only come after a successful string of short format work, such as in advertisements or short films. On this tip, patience is key. I cannot stress this enough. Another point on this is that there is also a relationship between your own time management and stress levels which is extremely important in this profession. When you are starting out, it’s important to let your own creativity flow naturally and to not set yourself unrealistic milestones and goals which may cause you to burn out. Again, scoring music for advertising campaigns is always a good starting point as a short format test.

2020 has been a disaster for most of the electronic music scene. But there’s one area where it might be okay to feel optimism. Shawn Reynaldo reports.

Baldo Gallego and Paul Marele didn’t plan to start their business in the middle of a pandemic — it just happened that way. Their decision to take over the distribution arm of Barcelona’s Subwax record shop had been in the works since last year, but by the time that all the paperwork was finalized and all of their new accounts were up and running, Spain was in lockdown. Like everyone else, they were worried, but after months of preparation, they had little choice but to get down to work.

“We just did it,” says Gallego. “Of course we didn’t know it was going to last this long. We thought it was going to be maybe two or three months, but we just stayed busy, learning more, and looking for ways to improve our business.” To their credit, that strategy has largely paid off, even as the world has floated in and out of lockdown over the past eight months. Aside from an initial slowdown when the pandemic first hit, sales have generally been steady, and in some cases have improved, especially as Gallego and Marele have made a concerted effort to expand and bring new labels into the Subwax fold. They now have more than 100 imprints on their roster, including labels like Limousine Dream, Butter Side Up, and SlapFunk, and they’ve even taken on new labels that started up in the middle of the pandemic, such as Maricas and Mindhelmet.

2020 has been short on good news for the electronic music industry. The year’s festival slate has essentially been wiped out, and while clubs did re-open (in a limited fashion) for a few months in parts of Europe, the reintroduction of lockdown measures has basically put an end to that as well. International travel remains difficult (or, depending on your location, impossible), artists are stuck at home and nobody is quite sure when any of the industry’s live-music machinery will be up and running again. This has also affected electronic music media, as reduced advertising dollars from club and festival promoters (and in the case of Resident Advisor, a near wipeout of its revenue from ticket sales) have pinched budgets that were already stretched to begin with, prompting several outlets to either lay off or furlough staff while reducing their freelance budgets.

“The gig world is obviously decimated,” says Jimmy Asquith, founder of Lobster Theremin, a UK-based label and distributor. “All of that is in a really tough place at the minute. But when it comes to releasing records and releasing music, I’d say it’s super healthy.” His words may seem surprising, but despite all the pandemic-induced worry that’s out there, electronic music sales have been a genuine bright spot. “Record sales have jumped and digital has had a jump simultaneously as well,” says Asquith. “It’s actually been a really good six months for record labels and distributors overall, especially within the realms of dance music.”

Lobster Theremin, which started in 2013 as a label, added a distribution arm (Lobster Distribution) in 2015 and now has a roster of approximately 300 labels, including Local Action, Shall Not Fade, Naive and Hardline Sounds. During the years before the pandemic hit, Asquith had already seen several ups and downs in the vinyl market, but he feels that the current surge in sales largely comes down to lockdown restrictions and macroeconomic factors, like government stimulus checks and furlough programs, that are essentially out of the industry’s control. “The majority of the vinyl market, if we’re being honest, is home DJs, not club DJs,” he explains. “So what are people going to do if they’re spending all of their time at home? They’re going to spend money on things that they can use at home. And because they can’t go to raves, they want to be DJing at home. If you’re being paid 80 percent of your wage and you’re not spending any money on going out or eating out, tell me you’re not going to buy a load more records than you were before.”

As a label, Lobster Theremin — which actually serves as an umbrella for numerous imprints, not all of them known to the public — is having a banner year. “We’re releasing more than we’ve ever released,” says Asquith, who notes that they’ve already repressed at least 15 different releases from 2020. Amongst fans, there’s a genuine excitement about buying new electronic music, particularly around genres like UK garage and the faster end of techno, and many record shops seem to be benefitting. They’re definitely buying more stock, as Lobster Distribution has seen larger stores taking 80 or even 120 copies of certain new releases (and occasionally even more), while more niche shops will sometimes ask for 20 or 30 copies of a highly anticipated record. These numbers represent significant jumps, and mean a lot when only 300 or maybe 500 copies of a release are being pressed in the first place.

Clone Records has been going strong for nearly three decades, operating out of Rotterdam as a shop, label, and distributor. Its distribution roster, which currently numbers more than 100 labels, includes Delsin, Hivern Discs, трип, and Nous’klaer. Sales, both physical and digital, have been steady for the Dutch outpost this year, as Hans Verhaag, co-manager of both the physical and online Clone stores, explains. “There was a brief slowdown in the spring when, especially in countries like Spain and Italy, everything was closed, including the stores. That put a dent in our volume, but now it’s pretty much back to normal.” Oddly enough, one of their biggest initial challenges was convincing other entities — particularly labels — that it was safe to move forward. “Initially, a lot of labels were perhaps a bit anxious about how sales were going to be with the pandemic happening, so a lot of releases got postponed,” says Verhaag. “We made an effort to make labels aware that it was important to keep the stream going because the demand is still there, regardless of the coronavirus.”

Although Clone hasn’t seen a major uptick in business, they also haven’t had to reduce their staffing levels or make any major adjustments to how they operate. The physical shop has fewer customers than before, and safety measures like mandatory masks and gloves for both staff and customers have been put in place. But online sales are solid, and barring some sort of unforeseen downturn, there’s no looming existential threat to the company. “We’re not looking at any kind of desperate measures,” says Verhaag, whose many years in the industry have given rise to a notably pragmatic outlook. “Of course, it’s a rough year and this will affect the company’s finances, but honestly, even in a good year, it’s really not too easy to maintain a healthy business selling vinyl.”

Back in London, however, Lobster Theremin’s Asquith is feeling undeniably optimistic. “Overall, 2020 is more open-minded, less gatekept and a massively exciting time,” he beams. Although he doesn’t cheer the setbacks faced by the music media — whose reviews and coverage theoretically help drive record sales — he’s also realized that their work has less of an impact than most people realize. “The traditional channels of press and journalism have been massively thinned, but those channels didn’t necessarily affect vinyl sales,” he says. “We’ve pushed artists who’ve sold thousands of records and you’d never see them on Resident Advisor.”

Knowing that, Lobster Theremin is looking to put its current run of success to good use, refining its business practices and leveraging its influence to bring new voices into the fray. On a practical level, that means partnering with more new labels and new artists. And while that drive began before this year’s Black Lives Matter protests and the subsequent discussions they prompted within dance music circles, the company has now further expanded its efforts to work with more people from communities that are underrepresented in dance music — and the vinyl market in particular.

Many of these partnerships will involve pressing & distribution (P&D) deals, which are actually quite common between distributors and small labels. Traditionally, they involve the distributor fronting all of the costs for pressing a release, which they then distribute in hopes of recouping their money and, if all goes well, turning a profit that is then split with the label. For a label, especially a young one, this kind of deal can be great, but the risk level for the distributor is quite high, especially in an era when profit margins, even for successful releases, are often razor-thin. As such, most distributors are quite selective about which labels they will offer P&D deals, leaving anyone without the clout to qualify — or the capital to press their own records — outside of the vinyl game.

To help combat this, Lobster Distribution began rolling out “hybrid” P&D deals late last year, in which labels front a small amount — something like £500 — as a deposit. The remainder of the pressing costs are covered by Lobster, which then proceeds as normal with distribution, recouping its costs through sales and settling the balance sheet with the label approximately six to eight weeks after the initial release date. By mitigating some of the upfront risk involved, the company is able to offer more of these deals, and in some cases — like imprints with a proven track record or artists, labels or collectives from underrepresented communities — the deposit paid by the label is negotiable and can even go all the way down to zero. For Lobster Distribution, these hybrid deals are essentially a form of investment, widening  their network of artists and labels while simultaneously platforming new voices, scenes and sounds. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a lot of really pivotal projects, labels and artists come about over the next 12 to 24 months,” says Asquith.

Although Clone’s plans for the future are less ambitious, Verhaag is certainly pleased that 2020 hasn’t shaped up as disastrous for the company as some people feared. “I’m so happy to see that even in a weird year like this, most people are staying remarkably positive,” he says. A similar sort of cautious optimism has taken hold at Barcelona’s Subwax, where Gallego and Marele received an unexpected (albeit welcome) surge of new releases in September and October. “The labels are feeling optimistic and thinking that everything will come back to normal, but we’ll see,” says Gallego. “We’re not making any plans past February.”

“We don’t know what’s going to happen” adds his business partner Marele, “but we’re proud to do this. We’re helping the people who make music to continue putting their music out, and whether the clubs are open or not, dance music has to be alive.”

This is the third and final installment of a series on the effects of coronavirus on the dance music industry. Read part one here and read part two here.

Shawn Reynaldo is a freelance journalist and editor based in Barcelona. Author of the weekly First Floor newsletter, he was a longtime contributor to RBMA, previously served as Editor in Chief at XLR8R, and has also written for places like Pitchfork, NPR, Resident Advisor, DJ Mag, Bandcamp, and Electronic Beats. Find him on Twitter.

Having just released the 5th installment of her adored compilation series, Moxie Presents, we catch up with the UK selector to go over her listening habits, art school, her On Loop imprint, and finding the right balance with club music.

Having just come back from a day working at her local North London food bank, Moxie explained the ideas behind her new compilation. “It’s a real labour of love,” she says of the A&R process, though she could equally have been speaking about her day out volunteering in Tottenham. Both come from a sincere place of wanting to share what she has.

The series of Moxie Presents compilations began with a free download album in 2014 as a platform to showcase some of the artists who’d been sending Moxie music for her much-loved NTS radio show. From there, it organically grew into Moxie’s On Loop record label and event series.

Moxie Presents, Vol.5 has all the sounds and colours you would hear in a Moxie DJ set — from dubbed-out, UK garage, to classic house and unconventional breaks. She put it together with painstaking attention to detail and her well-honed ear for a musical journey. The tracklist includes established names like rRoxymore, Al Wootton (FKA Deadboy), and Yu Su, as well as up-and-coming talents like System Olympia and Ronan. This latest compilation also has one of Moxie’s own paintings on the cover, bringing another side of her creativity to On Loop.

How does this latest compilation differ from previous volumes?

To be honest with you, this one has taken the longest to put together. I’ve been working on it for over a year and a half, on and off. It’s been a journey! I set a rule for myself when I did the first one that each compilation will have more female artists than the one before. This time I wanted to try and have it equally split between men and women to show how far the scene has come, but still that was a challenge in itself as it’s only recently that things have started to shift. I would never sign an artist just for being a woman, I have to connect with the music and it has to work with the label. I’m beyond happy that we have five women featured out of the seven tracks.

Which was the first track you confirmed for this volume and did that shape the outcome?

I believe it was the rRoxymore track. We’d already been speaking since 2018 about doing something for Vol.4, but she was so busy at the time it didn’t work out. So when I started the next volume she was one of the first artists I messaged. I love her stuff, she’s such a unique producer and has such an interesting take on dance music. She has her own identity — quite quirky and out there sometimes.

In terms of influencing the rest of the compilation, I would say that once the first four tracks are confirmed, I can then have an idea of how it’s going to sound. I have this ongoing list of artists, so I go back to that and see who I think would work.

I imagine sometimes an artist sends you a selection of tracks to choose one for the compilation, but you want to choose them all and release an EP.

Yeah, that happened with this one, and the release will come out next year! It was so easy, all the tracks were ready to go! 

Do you enjoy the back-and-forth process of giving feedback to the artists? 

Yes, but it’s quite time-consuming. A real labour of love compared to working with one artist. 

Did you give the artists a brief?

If someone has a distinct sound, like Al Wootton’s dubby, deep garage sound for example, then I don’t need to. Whereas System Olympia’s productions can levitate in different directions, so with her I wanted to hone in the R&B element that she does so well. Same with Pursuit Grooves. She’s an incredibly effective producer and can go in many different directions.

Do you tell the artists who else will be on the release?

I don’t tell anyone who else is on the compilation until I start getting the pre-masters in, just because things sometimes fall through. 

I was going to ask if you approached this compilation any differently due to the fact clubs are not open right now, but I guess not if you have been working on it for a year and a half already.

The thing is that a year and a half ago, I had two or three tracks locked in but it wasn’t quite gelling together. It was the first time I’ve had that with a compilation. I think it was partly due to me and the artists being really busy with touring. I decided to put it on hold and came back to it in February this year. I think the remaining tracks that I ended up selecting have a deeper vibe to them, compared to the earlier ones. So I think there was definitely a subconscious element going on when finalising the remaining tracks.

It’s really hard to get that balance with club music, especially if you don’t have anywhere to test it out and, most importantly, hear it loud. I have that with my show sometimes, I think, “Ah, is this too much?”. But I also crave it and whenever I play more clubby stuff on NTS it gives me this rush. It can be incredibly overwhelming at times as it’s a snapshot into what we used to do every weekend. So, for me it was still really important to have that element of club music on the comp.

How have your listening habits in general changed since you’re not playing in clubs?

I go up and down. Sometimes all I want to listen to is chilled out stuff, ambient, R&B, or hip hop. But when it comes to prepping my show, I get sent so many demos and I’m always trying to work my way through them. It’s interesting not having the context of the club, but it makes those special tracks stand out even more. They’re beyond being club music. There’s a recent release from Midland’s label Intergraded by Tom VR. As soon as I heard that whole release, I was so excited to play it. It’s just mind-blowing club music.

Without club gigs, I’m not gathering music in the same way. If I’m going to play club music, it’s only the best of the best. In a club, however, you also need some tools. Having said that, there is still so much amazing club music out there, and it’s a big part of my radio show, so I’m here to represent that.

What have been some of the biggest highlights from your NTS radio show so far?

In the first few years on NTS, we had some really special guests. I interviewed Laurent Garnier, Kerri Chandler, and Jeff Mills. Then Jeff Mills got in touch and we ended up doing a radio project together for his Axis label. That was really full-on and a challenge, as we had to write the script and everything. Going to Japan for the Red Bull Music Academy with NTS was another highlight. Also, just generally all the guest shows over the years. When Peach, Shanti Celeste, and I went back-to-back, that was so much fun! I feel quite sad about not having that personal element of the show at the moment.

This is now your fifth compilation. Are there some important lessons you’ve learned along the way that you wish you knew at the beginning?

The first couple were given out for free, and it wasn’t really a label but a side project, so I suppose it was a bit different then. But since starting the label properly, I would say having a label manager has helped loads. Doing all the backend admin stuff properly is really time-consuming, but it pays off so much for me and for the artists. I want to be able to pay them a decent amount, especially during these times. Having a label manager earlier might have helped, but it’s all a learning curve. I’m so proud of each compilation. For this new one especially, I’m so excited that there are so many female producers and women of colour. It’s the most diverse one yet. 

The artwork you painted for the compilation is awesome. Was it specifically made with the compilation in mind? 

Yes, it was specifically done for the compilation. I was at art school when I was younger, but I got so busy with DJing and radio that I never had enough time to paint. Last year, I did the artwork for the Desert Sound Colony release and promised myself I would do the artwork for all of the label releases from now on. For this compilation, I did a lot of sketches and finally landed on this one. Then I worked with a Spanish artist called CM-DP to refine the piece and polish it up.

It’s a strange question in such an uncertain period of our lives, but is there anything else you are planning with On Loop and as a DJ at the moment?

I’m always trying to think of things to do! Never sitting still. I have the next couple releases for the label which are coming next year so I need to get the artwork done, and think about how I want the aesthetics to be for them. I’m also getting into doing more of my own personal artwork as well. I got some really nice feedback about the cover for the compilation so I might do some prints of it. I want to use this time to reconnect with my years of going to art school. It’s a big part of who I am. 

Richard Akingbehin is a freelance music writer living in Berlin.

Our expert curation team brings you the best tracks on Beatport you may have missed. This time featuring Pub, Reedale Rise, Dub Taylor, Modus, and more.

Pub – Summer [Ampoule Records]

After 20 years of waiting, the masterpiece that is “Summer” is finally available digitally. You might have missed this as there wasn’t a huge fanfare about it but rest assured, you need this in your collection. A true journey, over the course of 16 minutes, we’re treated to stunning sound design and absolutely heart-wrenching tones.   

Reedale Rise – Glade [Frustrated Funk]

“Glade” is just one of the many excellent tracks by the Liverpudlian electro maestro Reedale Rise. True to form, it’s a classy love letter to the genre in hand, with 808 beats, twinkling melodies, and lush pads. He’s an absolute dab hand at making these subtle weapons, so we highly recommended having a look at his back catalogue.     

Dub Taylor – Figure Two (12” Version) [Forms & Figures]

Another 20-year-old track that is just now seeing a digital release, the full 12-inch mix of Dub Taylor’s “Figure Two” is a lesson in understated dub techno. Each of the track’s elements gets its own effects workout, with delays, reverbs, and much more being brought in and out in true dub mixing style.  

Modus – Beefed Up Lemmings [Outer Zone]

Here we have a great techno workout by Modus. “Beefed Up Lemmings” combines delayed bell-like synths with some classic 909 tom action. The imprint, Outer Zone, while only four releases in, has impressed us greatly and has featured the likes of DJ Stingray so far. Indeed, a label to watch. 

KAAP – Basics 002 [ÆX]

A name we hadn’t heard of before, KAAP delivers a funky, swung dub techno tool that has plenty of personality. From the pitch-perfect chords to the lush pads and ambiance, “Basics” has the right amount of classiness mixed with dance floor sensibility, all underpinned by razor-sharp drums. This one has had us dancing around our living rooms.  

Pharaoh, Yogg – Maurice (Amandra Remix) [Parallax]

Amandra offer up their stunning remix of Pharaoh and Yogg’s “Maurice”. Steam train hats set the pace while a beautiful and vibrant synth line unfolds over the top. The bounce and shuffle of the beat beneath provide a lovely contrast for the delicacies above. Heads-down-eyes-closed material here.  

Wa Wu We – Opens The Door [Hypnus Records]

Wa Wu We or Sebastian Mullaert (Minilogue) are no stranger to trippy, hypnotic techno. With 20 plus years of releases under his belt, it should come as no surprise that this effort is nothing short of exemplary. “Opens The Door” combines and uneasy, undulating bassline with some outer-national percussion and, finally, a spooky lead synth. Check out Hypnus Records for more of the same. 

Tune in to the MARICAS showcase on Sunday, November 15th via Beatport’s Twitch Channel.

Following the announcement of Beatport’s exclusive livestream partnership with Twitch, our channel’s Sunday evening programming will focus on showcasing electronic music collectives from around the world, musically and geographically.

Turning our attention to Spain, Sunday’s stream will highlight Barcelona-based LGBTQ+ club night and collective, MARICAS. Created by three women with a yearning to build a dependable and safe space where marginalized individuals could explore new strains of techno and let their freak flag fly, MARICAS excels in curating only the best vibes while bringing visibility to queer talent. Its motto, “TECHNO, PERVY & LOVING,” perfectly sums up the love language of its brand, which has managed to continue its mission online during the pandemic with its non-profit, digital, multiformat platform, HOUSE OF MARICAS. With a new record label in the works, the Barcelona collective’s dedication to self-expression, artistic solidarity, and cutting-edge underground music sets them apart. 

“We are so delighted that Beatport invited us to take part in this streaming series for Beatport x Twitch” MARICAS resident and co-founder ISAbella says. “I will be streaming from Barcelona, home to our much-missed MARICAS parties. We are really excited to showcase mostly queer Latin American artists. This is especially important to me because I come from Cali, Colombia. We can’t wait to bring you the music we love!”

With artists dialing in from Stockholm, Bogota, Buenos Aires, and San Pablo, The MARICAS Collective Stream kicks off on Sunday, November 15th, at 3:00 PM PST // 12:00 AM CET.

Tune in via Beatport’s Twitch Channel

Check out the schedule below:

3:00 PM PST // 12:00 AM CET — ISAbella (last 30 minutes b2b w/ Bella Saris) – (Stockholm, Sweden)
5:00 PM PST // 2:00 AM CET — Bella Sarris (Stockholm, Sweden) – Beatport Chart
6:30 PM PST // 3:30AM CET — Diamin (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
8:00 PM PST // 5:00 AM CET — Randy (Bogota, Colombia) – Beatport Chart
9:30 PM PST // 6:30 AM CET — Valentina Luz (San Pablo, Brazil)

What is foghorn? It’s a sound that now defines drum & bass for a generation — much to the dismay of scene veterans. Ben Hunter speaks to the sound’s pioneers to find out just how we got here.

The last five years of drum & bass have been dominated by the foghorn. Loud, rough, and garish, the foghorn has been as polarising as it has popular. Steeped in the long history of jump-up’s tendency to ruffle feathers, and birthed from an in-your-face mentality, the foghorn is unashamed, unabashed, and unbowed. It takes the grating textures of jump-up and pulls them in all directions. It removes the four-four stabs previously dominant in jump-up, replacing them with long, distorted tendrils that ripple with reverb and move through the air in fits and screams. Rather than the traditionally flat, wide-angled drums of jump-up past, the foghorn saw movement towards small, tapping percussion which left ample space for honks of ever-larger size. Exemplified by Serum’s “Black Metal” or Benny L’s ‘“Vanta Black,” the foghorn has bled into the whole genre, with tracks like Enei’s “Sinking” or Waeys “Objection” offering dynamic fusions of jump-up, rolling tech, and biting minimal beats. 

You only have to look at the Drum & Bass Arena Awards to see how influential the sound has become. Back in 2015, the winner for Best Newcomer was Cartoon, a synth-heavy producer who leaned towards the mainstream, whilst Best Track went to Noisia & The Upbeats’ “Dead Limit,” a dance floor anthem that in hindsight was the high watermark of neurofunk. Fast forward to 2019 and Best Newcomer went to Kanine, whose breakthrough hit “The Shadows” landed in 2017 on long-time jump-up imprint Subway Soundz. Perhaps more significantly, Best Track went to Urbandawn’s “Come Together,” a Beatles cover that drew heavily from the foghorn’s trademark drawn-out bass notes. That it came on Hospital Records, the biggest label in drum & bass and one not exactly known for its nods to jump-up, shows the sound’s pervasiveness.

But where did the foghorn come from? And how did it take over drum & bass? 

Where this story begins depends on whom you ask, since it’s impossible for the foghorn to be precisely defined. For the purposes of this article, the word “foghorn” refers to not only the signature drawn-out bass notes of Serum and Benny L, but the accompanying wave of jump-up they inspired — a necessarily broad definition if we’re to fully appreciate the stylistic shift over the last three or four years.

Some trace this wave’s origins all the way back to Doc Scott’s “Shadow Boxing” in 1996, which, following a video by Stranjah, was rumoured to have been based on an actual foghorn sample until Doc Scott issued a correction in a thread on Dogs on Acid. Not only is “Shadow Boxing” a far cry from the twisted, snarling feeling of the modern foghorn, there’s very little direct linkage between its production in the mid-1990s and the foghorn era of the late 2010s. The history doesn’t add up. 

The best candidate for the honour (or dishonour, depending on your opinion) of the first true foghorn is Tyke’s “Buzzards,” released in 2012 on Twisted Individual’s Grid Recordings. A high-resonance, drawn-out bass sound with a distinct horn, “Buzzards” not only sounds the part but can be directly linked to the onset of the foghorn era in 2015 and beyond. 

Tyke tells me that “Buzzards” was “definitely” the first foghorn track, but that it “wasn’t supposed to be a foghorn or any of that stuff. When I made it I didn’t think ‘oh that’s a horn,’ that’s not what I was going for.” He had made similar sounds before, “like this tune called ‘Nightmares’ that sounded similar but the bass wasn’t as extended,” he recalls. But the game-changing track sat on his desktop for ages, “until one day Lee [Twisted Individual] came over and asked about it, I played it and he thought it was wicked. That night we went out and DJed, I was on before him but didn’t play it because I thought it was shit, and then Lee played it and the place went crazy. I had producers coming over to me asking about it, and so I went back and finished it a couple days later. It was a talking point at the time, but then nothing happened.” Trends don’t start overnight, after all, and for a certain idea to move beyond its original innovator requires the right timing and a handful of influential early adopters. 

Enter Serum, who in 2015 released his remix of DJ Sly and Bassman’s “Quarter Pounder Bass.” With a drawn-out bassline coated in reverb and pumped with valve distortion, “Quarter Pounder Bass” screams foghorn both literally and figuratively, and its wobbling call-and-response format was to later appear in various incarnations and numerous rip-offs. By 2015, Serum had been releasing a blend of jungle and old school jump-up for eleven years across labels as diverse as Critical, 31 Recordings, and Philly Blunt. But this remix marked a turning point that would see him come to dominate jump-up’s new wave.

Photo: Serum

“Sly wanted a release from me and I wanted to do a tune with a vocal from Bassman, who was Sly’s MC at the time,” Serum says about the remix. The all-important bassline began life as a “big screechy sound” made on a Moog synth, onto which Serum “slammed a load of reverb before lengthening it out and applying a lot of valve distortion.”

For Serum, it was an attempt to “contrast where jump-up was at the time, because I was playing the Belgian scene, which was kicking off, but I didn’t like any of the music. It was very much a reaction against how jump-up was being mechanised. It was sounding very four-four to me. Instead of having these stabby four-four bass notes, I was trying to do long, drawn-out notes, putting a lot more space in the tune and letting the drums do a bit more of the work.”

“Quarter Pounder Bass” first saw the light of day at the Drum & Bass Arena 2015 Summer BBQ, which took place in the Ministry of Sound courtyard on an overcast day in July. It was the second track in an hour-long B2B with Bladerunner and the debut appearance for Serum’s new stylistic direction. The set was uploaded to YouTube and created instant hype, leading to a huge spike in Serum’s bookings. 

“If I had to pick a turning point, it would be that video. I played those tunes, and then that sound developed into the thing that allowed me to sack in my job,” Serum says. Two years later with Benny V he launched Souped Up Records, a label that’s come to define the sound, and which has helped launch the careers of pivotal figures like Bou, Dutta, Simula, and others. In hindsight, his success on that cloudy day at Ministry of Sound would come to be a seminal moment in the foghorn’s evolution. 

Although Tyke wasn’t at the summer BBQ, a crucial piece of his hardware certainly was: the sound of the Thermionic Culture Vulture. Originally released in 1998, the Culture Vulture is a rack-mounted valve processor that is normally applied to guitars but which also works fantastically well if you want to create long, distorted basslines. It was the method behind the madness of “Buzzards,” and Tyke says that following the track’s release, “a lot of people asked me how I made it, so I told them and they went off and bought the Culture Vulture.” 

Voltage remembers buying a Culture Vulture around the beginning of 2015, a discovery he made following a studio session with Serum, who had stumbled upon one the year before. He explains that this specific processor “drives the resonance of the bass through the filter, that’s what gives it that really disgusting, horn-like sound.” Although neither producer was tipped off directly by Tyke, their adoption of the Culture Vulture parallels the sound design and high-resonance originally debuted with “Buzzards.” 

By 2015, Serum, driven by dissatisfaction with the mechanisation of jump-up and utilising the valve distortion of the Culture Vulture, had, according to Voltage, “figured out the process for creating these big fucking horns.” “Quarter Pounder Bass” relied on the Moog synth rather than the Culture Vulture, but it’s crucial to the story because it represents Serum’s role in the sound’s evolution. But it wasn’t the beginning of the trend. Voltage thinks it was “too much like shock tactics, people couldn’t figure out the process, it stood out on its own too much, just like “Buzzards.” 

At this point, Bladerunner was also using the Culture Vulture, a continuation of his long history of shared musical purpose with Serum and Voltage. Serum and Bladerunner had collaborative releases going back to 2009 on Fabio’s Creative Source, and in 2015 the three were releasing broadly similar music. Voltage describes it as “the same kind of rolling drum & bass, that bubbly Bristol style a lot of us were making at the time, keeping that sound alive, really, doing things over on Philly Blunt and introducing it to Low Down Deep.” 

Philly Blunt is a sub-label of Bryan Gee’s V Recordings, and it was this connection that would prove critical to the next chapter in the foghorn story. Voltage recalled that “Bryan was doing a Philly Blunt takeover on Rough Tempo in April 2016, and he hit us up because we’d all just had releases on the label. It was supposed to be a set each, but me and Serum had been getting booked together for the past two years and Serum and Bladerunner had a longstanding relationship, so we just thought fuck it, let’s go B2B for three hours.” The reaction to this set would lead to the trio’s reincarnation as Kings of the Rollers, a supergroup that tied together several threads key to the story: knowledge of the foghorn and experience in its production, a drive to push jump-up in new directions, and a growing momentum within the scene. 

“When we came off, the Internet just exploded. It was wild, absolutely wild. It was everywhere. Everyone was like, ‘What the fuck was that?’ I got a phone call from my agent the next day just like ‘Mate, what the hell happened last night? I’ve had agents clambering over themselves to try and be the first to book you three.’”

     Photo: Voltage

The decision to form a permanent partnership was near-instant, although for the next year it would remain limited to the DJ booth. Voltage saw it as “a chance to push the type of music that we loved. People wanted to see it at the time, everyone was making jump-up, we were in the middle of jump-up raves every week but at that point, rolling drum & bass wasn’t a popular, primetime sound.” 

The next step was deciding on a name, because Serum, Voltage, and Bladerunner is, in the words of Voltage, a “fucking mouthful.” The name Kings of the Rollers was born following a suggestion from Serum on a Whatsapp chat, but the day prior to the group’s launch, Micky Finn suggested a phone call to Doc Scott to make sure it wasn’t an issue, since 31 Recordings had released a series of EPs with the same name in the early 2000s. Voltage remembers Scott’s response: “If anyone is going to run with that name at the moment, it should be you guys.”

Kings of the Rollers has proven to be a controversial name. Many don’t see the trio as more deserving of the title than producers like Break or Skeptical, but Serum points out that “our thing was a more rolling sound that fitted in with jump-up and, at the time, it really did fit. It’s just a name,” he says. “But these things exist and work at that little point in time, when there’s a big hole where that sound fits.” At that point, he saw drum & bass as either “really abrasive, mechanised jump-up or very deep, quiet stuff. It was either boot your face off or go to sleep, and that was how we came through the middle.” 

The importance of this moment in allowing the sound to spread can’t be overstated. In 2012, when Tyke released “Buzzards,” drum & bass was dominated by sounds from the likes of a British tech step duo Calyx & Teebee, who won Best Producer, Best Track, and Best Video at that year’s Drum & Bass Arena Awards. Tyke’s innovation was lost against the prevailing wind of neurofunk, a subgenre arguably just as popular in 2016 but which, perhaps with the exception of Noisia’s Outer Edges album, was no longer a prominent source of sonic innovation. 

The terrain was therefore open to occupation, a fact spotted by the Hospital A&R team in 2017. London Elektricity emailed the trio out of the blue that year to ask if they would be interested in writing three albums, which Voltage says was a big shock considering they hadn’t even made any music. Individually, they were jump-up artists, and didn’t consider themselves Hospital Records material. But Hospital had seen their string of sold-out shows and knew which way the wind was blowing. 

Their first track, “Burnt Ends,” debuted on Sick Music 2018, and it’s then that Serum believes people started using the term foghorn, “that’s what coined the phrase,” he says. Voltage was responsible for the bass sound — a high-resonance, tonal horn-driven through a filter via the Thermionic Culture Vulture. It draws clear parallels to Tyke’s “Buzzards,” so much so that Voltage remembers he “rang Tyke as soon as it was done to tell him we’d made it, and that if he wasn’t into it we wouldn’t put it out.”

The green light duly came, and “Burnt Ends” was released as a pre-album single in late 2017, which is a notable point in our timeline for another reason: Benny L’s “Low Blow.” The title track to Benny L’s debut EP on Metalheadz, “Low Blow” followed a string of hugely popular releases on Shimon’s Audioporn that established Benny L as one of the most significant players in jump-up’s new wave. With an all-encompassing, gravelly bassline, “Low Blow” blended a darker version of the foghorn with broad, punchy drums grounded firmly in the Metalheadz tradition. Benny L’s music embodied Serum’s rejection of samey, abrasive jump-up by twisting the once-familiar genre into something almost unrecognisable in form and character — music that incorporated the foghorn ethos but which applied new and exciting formulae.

At the 2018 Drum & Bass Arena Awards, Benny L won Best Newcomer, while Souped Up Recordings won Best Newcomer Label and received a nomination for Best Label. Drum & Bass Arena’s Dave Jenkins hosted interviews during the ceremony, and in a short cutaway segment, noted that the sound of Voltage, Serum, and others had “dominated drum & bass this year.” The foghorn’s rise was now complete.

It’s impossible to pin down exactly how and when these transitions happen, but it’s clear that between that overcast day at Ministry of Sound in 2015 and the Awards in 2018, the foghorn completed its ascent. The stylistic journey started by Tyke and continued by Serum was, in 2017 and 2018, picked up by the entire scene, and the list of artists involved is almost inexhaustible. Our story has focused on only a handful of them, but it’s important to note that no trend can exist without the hundreds for whom it resonated creatively, as well as the thousands of fans who bought music and went to gigs. 

     Photo: Tyke (by Chelone Wolf)

A key indicator of the foghorn’s spread can be found in labels outside the jump-up ecosystem. Critical Music founder Kasra notes that Enei’s “Sinking,” his label’s biggest track of 2019, was “quite heavily influenced by that sound.” Kasra describes the foghorn as “very impactful, because it’s just one sound that’s very distinctive, it works on any rig, it’s not about the sub’s weight but about catching the ear.” Critical signs music based on whether Kasra likes it or not, a high bar, and it’s unsurprising that he doesn’t like everything made in that style. It nonetheless shows that the foghorn has been impossible to ignore even by those outside its natural audience, and attempts at cross-genre fusion have resulted in some of the sound’s most exciting permutations. 

Overview Music, an insurgent imprint based in Brighton with a stylistic history rooted in dark, minimal tech, has embraced the sound with open arms. Through artists like Klinical and Waeys, Overview has successfully merged this history with the rough attitude of jump-up, a fusion for which A&R manager Oliver Dumas (AKA Sub-Antics) credits “most of our success.” It was a natural direction for the imprint — label mainstay Klinical has a jump-up background, whilst Waeys got into drum & bass during foghorn’s ascent between 2017 and 2019 and quickly came to love it. Oliver believes it’s “given the label a unique identity” and an individual sound, which reflects both their history and the current contours of drum & bass. 

Trends move in cycles, and given that the foghorn came to prominence three to four years ago, you would expect it to now be on its last legs. This is especially true considering all the low-quality knock-offs and uninspired copies the foghorn inspired, a trait attributable to its relatively simple production. Tyke remembers that “at one point, I was going into raves and every tune was just a honk. I was like, what the fuck is happening to drum & bass?” For Serum, who was originally reacting against a homogeneity of sound within jump-up, the foghorn’s saturation means he is now “having to react against my own music, which is really weird.” His new single, “Terrordome” featuring Bassman, is his final foghorn, and he says that he’s “done with that sound, really. I’m working on loads of other stuff.” 

A post Serum made on his Facebook telling people that ‘Terrordome” would be his last foghorn evinced some happy responses, testaments to the foghorn’s controversial nature. Whilst some saw a breath of fresh air in a stagnant scene, others saw an invasion of a new and especially pernicious strain of jump-up. This reaction was partly due to the sheer amount of foghorn tracks released in its 2017-2019 heyday, but it’s not the whole story. As Serum says himself, in 2016 drum & bass had “a surge in popularity,” with a whole new cohort of young, eager ravers who pushed the sound in new directions. This influx was timed perfectly with the rise of the foghorn and this new, overwhelmingly student audience, many of whom were understandably unversed in the genre’s breadth and history, saw the foghorn and drum & bass as one and the same. That anticipation for a specific sound incentivised DJs to ignore diversity and focus on the horn, making the style even more monolithic and infuriating those, notably older fans, who weren’t particularly keen in the first place. 

Its decline will come as music to the ears of some, but the impact of the foghorn will outlast its period of popularity. In just the same way that the sounds of the early to mid-1990s created the jungle generation, the last few years have birthed the foghorn generation. For them, the foghorn represents their youth, their time at university, and their initial exploration of rave culture. As Voltage points out, “every student that has been raving for the past three years are part of the foghorn generation whether they like it or not, because at some point some DJ in some rave somewhere would’ve dropped a foghorn and they would’ve lost their shit.” 

The foghorn generation are the Gen Z of drum & bass, the first cohort to be more online than offline, and Instagram clip-sharing channels like DNB Allstars have been vital for foghorn’s spread. It’s no coincidence that DNB Allstars won Best Newcomer Label in 2019, representing not only a stylistic shift but an economic and social one. As Voltage describes, this generation “just rave in a very different way.” It’s this generation that will define drum & bass in the years to come. 

Tyke may have made the first foghorn, but it’s not a widely known fact because, as he describes, “the kids are the people who buy music, the kids are the people who go raving, the kids are the people who read posts and share stuff and if they don’t know where things originated from, that’s because they’re young. I made a tune eight years ago and someone repeated it eight years later and they got all the credit and nobody knows about me, I don’t have a problem with that because it’s all about the kids at that specific time.” 

Did this inspire any feelings of regret? “No, I don’t think so, not at all,” Tyke says. “I know I’ve got one track that’s been put down in history, I didn’t need to recreate it, it got re-created itself. I’ll never have any regrets.” Laughing, he continues: “Actually yeah, I would’ve preferred a bit more money.” 

Ben Hunter is a freelance journalist living in London. Find him on Twitter.

The Association for Electronic Music, or AFEM, has today launched a Code of Conduct to help combat sexual harassment and discrimination within the industry.

The newly-launched AFEM Code of Conduct has support from over 220 companies, including SheSaid.So, Amsterdam Dance Event, and media partners like Mixmag, DJ Mag, RA, Attack Magazine, and Beatportal.

According to the official announcement from AFEM, which can be viewed as a PDF here, “The AFEM Code of Conduct begins the process of setting professional standards within the industry for our members and industry to adopt.” AFEM hopes the code will help create a professional working environment where, “through awareness, education, increased respect, protection and prevention,” sexual harassment and discrimination are no longer tolerated.

AFEM notes that the Code of Conduct will work in tandem with any local laws, and they encourage anyone witnessing harassment or discrimination intervene when possible before reporting the situation to proper authorities within their organizations, as well as local authorities.

AFEM have provided a simple reminder: #StopSupportReport

This announcement comes during a year in which sexual harassment in dance music again made headlines. Rebekah, who launched her own anti-harassment and discrimination campaign, #ForTheMusic, backs the Code of Conduct, saying in a statement that “as a global industry, we have to be self regulatory, and this is a giant step to implement and tackle the abhorrent amount of sexual harassment that happens in our workplaces and dance floors.

“The Stop Support Report goal of the code is a great and simple way to do this,” Rebekah continued. “So many times we see harassment go unreported in fear of retribution or the fact that the powers that be will choose to not believe the accusations, ultimately protecting the perpetrator until they end up assaulting more and more people. This way we can choose to support the victims first, flipping the switch on the such discrimination.”

For anyone affected by affected by sexual harassment within the electronic music industry, AFEM sponsor a confidential support service. Call 0800 030 5182, or if  outside the UK, dial +44 800 030 5182. Trained experts will listen and support.

Producers can increase their publishing royalties and get their Beatport income faster than ever.

Beatport has partnered with one of electronic music’s most accomplished publishing services, Sentric Electronic, to find an easy way to return your publishing royalties faster than ever before.

The inherent challenges in registering copyrights and pinpointing all the potential revenue streams for your original tracks can be a significant hassle for independent artists, often at the expense of the creative process.

Sentric Electronic’s tailored publishing solutions are fine-tuned to help you collect more royalties from untapped markets in over 120 territories, ensuring you get paid what you’re owed when your music has been sold, streamed, broadcast, or played live.

For artists with music available on Beatport, signing up with Beatport Publishing’s easy-to-operate online portal will allow you to receive your track payments quarterly — bringing essential income to those whose touring revenue is currently on hold.

With Sentric Electronic, you retain 100 percent of your copyright and receive 80 percent of the royalties collected, with no sign-up fee.

Signing up is easy, and you can leave at any time within 28 days of registering. Simply create a free account, add five-tracks to unlock the full publishing platform, and enjoy cutting-edge rights management solutions with hands-on support from dedicated sync and creative teams.

Get your free account started with Beatport Publishing here.

With established artists and labels like Patrice Bäumel, Victor Ruiz, Metodi Hristov, Joyce Muniz, Sincopat, Urbana, and Culprit already on board, you too can boost your track revenue and get back to what’s truly important: spending time in the studio.

We chat with Sem Thomasson — leader of the Belgian house and tech house imprint Hot Fuss — to learn more about his label’s energetic and approachable club sound while getting a taste of its sultry output with an exclusive mix.

One of the freshest and most noteworthy purveyors of blistering electronic music, Belgian imprint Hot Fuss knows exactly what clubs all over the world are hungry for. Started up by Sem Thomasson in 2018, the imprint isn’t evasive about what their mission is — making accessible house and tech house music that will bring people from all walks of life together on the dance floor.

Pushing out humid and heavy singles, EPs, and compilations at an incredible rate, Hot Fuss gained widespread attention from the scene after releasing NightFunk’s remix of the Technotronic classic, “Pump The Jam“. After this spicy rework climbed the charts to Beatport’s overall number one spot back in June of 2020, the dance floor arsenal that Hot Fuss has built up since then has only served to impress audiences further. Their catalog includes audacious tracks from Belgian house music all-stars and international acts alike, such as Dario BaldasariWithusKagge & BowenMathyJanaHeff Teppa, and more. All in all, Hot Fuss is shaping up to becoming one of dance music’s go-to outlets for unmissable tech house heat.

We caught up with label head Sem Thomasson — who recently introduced his new HURM alias via an exclusive Beatport livestream — to learn more about the plans Hot Fuss has for future dance floors. He also provided us with an energetic mix that will give listeners the low down on what Hot Fuss is all about.

When did you first fall in love with dance music?

I can’t really recall when it was, but I remember watching a television show in my childhood named The Deejays on a Belgian television channel. They showed the life of a DJ, the atmosphere in clubs, and that really triggered my interest in electronic music. I think I must have been around eight years old. A few years later, Santa Claus gave me a digital sampler to play around with music, and that’s how it all started.

What motivated you to start a label in the first place?

In 2006, I founded my first label. It existed for only a couple of years, but the basic idea behind it was getting my music out. It was super hard to gain attention from big labels as a “new” act, so I decided to release music myself. That way, I built a name for myself and could release on my dream labels a few years later. After a very successful period, back in 2018, I was eager to go back to the roots and start an imprint that focused on music that I love along with my friends. That’s how Hot Fuss was born.

What are you typically looking for in an artist before signing them to Hot Fuss? Who are some of Hot Fuss’ most essential acts?

With Hot Fuss, we want to bring accessible club music to the forefront, whether it’s pure house music or tech house. It needs to fit in every club night. We are looking for honest and pure club music. Besides having some long time friends signed to the label, we are also working a lot with NightFunk, who has a momentum since his Beatport number one — a remix of Technotronic’s “Pump The Jam.” Recently we signed a talented guy named Dario Baldasari, who we will work with closely over the next few years.

How did you come up with the name and design for the Hot Fuss logo?

The name Hot Fuss comes from the idea of creating hype with music. Back in the day, hits were born from the clubbing culture. We want to bring the hype and the fuss around clubbing back. The logo is formed in a timeless design but hints at the early clubbing days.

Describe the type of dance floor that you would typically find a Hot Fuss track being played. Who are some big-name acts that have supported you in the past?

When I think of Hot Fuss, I think of a dance floor in a warm and cozy club or playing on an open-air festival stage somewhere in the woods during a warm sunset. Oh God, saying that makes me only miss nightlife even more. Bloody Covid-19. Anyway, we are happy to have gained support on our tracks over the last year from both commercial as underground names from Michael Bibi and Patrick Topping to David Guetta and Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike.

You were supposed to host several stages during summer festivals this year before COVID. What were some of the events you were meant to play, and what are your hopes for next summer?

This summer, we would have made our hosting debut with stages on several Belgian festivals such as Sunrise Festival and Genk On Stage. It would have been an excellent test for us and brought significant exposure to help grow the label. Luckily, most lineups are moved to next year, although I don’t have high hopes for the summer season. Realistically, I think we are looking at autumn next year before events are fully back.

Can you give us some insight into your weekly livestream series, Hot Fuss Summer Camp? What artists would play, and how would you describe the overall vibe?

This past summer, like most DJs and labels, we did a series of livestreams. We invited mainly Belgian DJs for the stream who are artists or supporters of the label. It was a great way of staying in the picture, and we noticed the overall solidarity has grown. Despite Covid-19, we had a taste of great upcoming music and felt the Belgian scene’s affection and unity.

What can we expect next from Hot Fuss?

We received some great demos the last few months, and some of our key artists have excellent releases lined up. We want to release even more music and keep growing as a label, but first and foremost, we plan to keep putting out the music we love.

Tell us about the mix you put together for us.

It’s a mix of mainly Hot Fuss releases: approachable house and tech house vibes. Perfect listen for a party setting at home or in your car!

Welcome back to On Our Radar, Beatportal’s monthly roundup of the DJs and producers we can’t get enough of.

FLAURESE

Flaurese has been bubbling up in the London scene for a couple of years, but really hit his stride in 2020 with the release of his debut EP, Sake Of Lust. Beforehand, he impressed with strong remixes for Rosie Lowe and Promis3, but Sake Of Lust further showed the depth and scope of his abilities. Comprising one instrumental and collaboration with vocalist Rosa, the two-tracker Sake Of Lust is lush house music at its best. Brimming with key melodies and founded on satisfyingly-chunky percussion, his tracks are timeless and clearly informed by real musicianship. It’s no wonder they are being picked up by tastemakers, from BBC Radio’s Lauren Laverne to Bonobo and DJ Monki. The latter was so impressed by his sound, that Flaurese’s brand new disco-tinged next single, “Silk Robe”, will be dropping on Monki’s &Friends imprint on November 13. Check out the delicious groove below.

CRYSTALLMESS

Parisian Christelle Oyiri (AKA CRYSTALLMESS) is a richly-talented and visionary multi-media artist. Her music occupies an ever-evolving niche between glistening ambient, spiky IDM, techno, and other forward-thinking electronics. She has released on leading, experimental outpost PAN and remixing Lafawndah while self-releasing her debut EP ‘Mere Noises‘ in 2018. Aside from her work in the studio, CRYSTALLMESS is an NTS Radio host (of the monthly show UNLEASHED), had a residency at the UK’s celebrated Wysing Arts Centre, and has played in some of Europe’s best venues. Each chapter of CRYSTALLMESS’s story brings new, cutting-edge, and thought-provoking work across various disciplines. 

MOLØ

As the daughter of a Stockholm scene veteran, dance music is in MOLØ’s blood. She has been DJing regularly in her home city, and landed her first release in 2019 when her inspired sketch “Vanadis” was completed by Jeremy Olander and released as a collaboration on his label Vivrant. A year later, she is back on Vivrant with her debut solo EP, Luma. It’s been two years in the making, and it shows. The distinctive, refined brand of melodic techno, full of twinkling arpeggios, could well be the work of somebody much longer in the game. The five tracks on Luma encompass the range of moods you might hear in a MOLØ DJ set, from melancholic soundscapes to punchy, technoid rollers. It’s a bold statement from a promising talent in Swedish dance music, and a sign of big things to come.

WAX WINGS

If you haven’t already heard of Wax Wings from his releases on HE.SHE.THEYKneaded Pains and Mobilee, or remixes for Maya Jane Coles and Jimmy Edgar, his new single “Reclaim Me” is the perfect chance to change that. It’s an infectious cut of vocal, UKG-leaning house, in the vein of golden era Disclosure. Though Wax Wings himself is a captivating performer, he hands the vocal reins to Nimmo on “Reclaim Me” and instead shines in the production role. When the live music industry gets back on its feet, you should mark Wax Wings down as someone to see play. His DJ sets revolve around his original music, striking look, and dark, captivating performance style. Altogether, it’s something to behold.

PAULA TAPE

If organic, earthy, and retro-edged sounds from around the world are your thing, Paula Tape’s music should tick all the boxes. Her freewheeling show on Worldwide FM displays her enviable record collection and wide-ranging tastes, which she distills into productions for much-loved labels like Permanent VacationRhythm Section, and Montreal’s SOBO. Though originally from Santiago de Chile, Paula Tape now resides in Italy, from where she runs the label Tempo Dischi. Reissuing lost and forgotten gems from Italy’s rich musical history, Tempo Dischi’s impeccable curation further proves Paula Tape’s ear to the ground and comprehensive knowledge.

DAVEY

Davey’s self-titled debut EP is a stirring concoction of elements that shouldn’t work together but do. It’s avant-garde in the least pretentious way possible, maximizing fun, energy, and creativity in a unique manner that’s not for the fainthearted. As half of Vallis Alps, davey (born David Ansari) is already known in the Sydney music scene and beyond, but his solo music is a different beast. If this first EP is anything to go by, Davey will soon be a trusted source of provocative dance music innovation and collaboration. His beats equally stand-alone or lend themselves to rappers, so expect him to straddle the world’s of instrumental music and rap in a way that’s purely davey.

With his upbeat attitude and relentless work ethic, Hot Since 82 has achieved what most only dream of. But personal tragedy rocked his very foundations, and threatened to take everything. As Alice Austin learns, the road to recovery has given him a second lease on life.

Daley Padley is having a manic day. His dog is sick, so he had to take it to the vet. But then he forgot his wallet in the car, and his wife Abbie is renovating her beauty salon. So the man who’d normally be touring the globe as Hot Since 82 is looking after their newborn son Enzo, AKA Hot Since 2020, who’s 10 weeks old and has a jam-packed schedule of pooping, crying, and sleeping.

“Sorry I’m late,” he says (twelve minutes to be precise, which is basically early in dance music). “It’s all just crazy at the minute. Jesus, one sec — I can hear my son crying.” Daley disappears off camera. His kitchen is open plan, in case you’re interested, with sleek grey cabinets, a cream breakfast bar with matching stools, and a crystal chandelier tinkling overhead. It’s all clean lines and rectangles, feng shuied to high heaven, the kind of home Marie Kondo would take one look at and say my work here is done. It’s as sleek and polished as Padley’s house productions; as stylish as his unending supply of designer t-shirts.

Daley comes back in view holding a minuscule human. “This is Enzo,” he says. Enzo stares at the camera, slightly startled. “Everything’s mad right now,” Daley says, but he doesn’t look stressed. He looks delighted. 

Hot Since 82 is such a house heavyweight you’d think he’d have some kind of superstar DJ affectation. He could’ve picked one up after his Pacha Ibiza residency, his recent track “Be Strong” with Rudimental hit 500k streams almost instantly. Or when he lapped the world about 20 times playing every festival under the sun, or when his Green Velvet remix hit number one on Beatport, or when he released chart-storming tracks on Defected or Get Physical. But he’s somehow managed to maintain the air of that one bloke in your friend group who always offers to buy the next round even if it isn’t his turn. He might be one of the biggest names in dance music, but Padley’s Yorkshireman persona has prevailed. He is the happiest of chappies, always grinning and his eyes are bright and curious. In fact, he’s so interested in what I’m up to, the interview has to be steered back in his direction multiple times.

One of four siblings, Padley was raised by his mum in a three bed council house in Barnsley. He describes it as a kind of musical funhouse. “We’re all the same, we all need ambience in a room,” he says. “So we’d have BBC Radio 3 in the kitchen, MTV in the living room, hip-hop or soul in my room, Madonna or TLC in my sister’s room.”

Padley’s father faded in and out of their lives, but his mum was and still is a reigning figure in the family. “We call her the jukebox,” Daley says. “She can pick any genre from any decade and tell you what label it’s on when it was released, where it got in the charts. It’s insane. She’s a very cool mum actually. She’s a bit mad, but aren’t we all.” He chuckles. “This is great. It’s like therapy!”

They didn’t have much growing up, but they didn’t know any different. The estate Padley lived on felt more like a community, and he had his siblings to bounce off of. He’s always liked fashion and remembers being so hellbent on copping designer gear he’d use catalogues to buy Lacoste shirts and Adidas creps, paying it off in instalments like a mortgage. His mum would save all her five- and ten-cent pieces in a jar and use it to pay the electricity bill. He speaks of it warmly. “We were just good kids,” Daley says. “There were heroin addicts around but we never went down that route. I was a little shithead to be fair, but I never brought trouble to the door. I surrounded myself with good people.”

Padley started playing clubs in his home town under his own name in the early 2000s. Barnsley is an old coal mining town located in northern England between Sheffield and Leeds. It’s famous for its football team, Barnsley F.C., who are currently skidding towards the wrong end of the Championship, and for the Barnsley Chop, a double-loin rib steak slow-cooked in gravy. But the town has always had a small and mighty nightlife, and back then it consisted almost entirely of Padley’s mates. “There was about 50 of us and we all lived in each other’s pockets,” he says. “So whenever the owner of a bar booked me they knew they’d make it back tenfold from my crew.” Daley became resident at a local club called KGV and soon rose to prominence in the Yorkshire region for his extended sets. “I’d go back-to-back with my friend every Sunday. We’d start at lunchtime and finish at 1 a.m. That taught me how to play long sets, how to build it up, drop it down, how to be a DJ, really. I learnt the craft there.”

Padley still thinks of those years as the best of his career. He’s a raver at heart and that time was pure — unclouded by money or status. Twice weekly he’d go crate-digging in Leeds. And on the train home, white labels in hand, he could hardly sit still with anticipation and excitement. Soon his never-ending sets were becoming legendary in Ibiza, London, Miami. “I was doing the DJ circuit, trying to become something,” Padley says. “At that age, you don’t even know what you’re trying to achieve. Just plugging away at something.”

Padley’s standing up now, holding Enzo like a rugby ball. Enzo’s staring at the camera, tiny limbs dangling off his dad’s non-sleeved arm when his expression turns from startled to alarmed. “Did you hear that?” Padley says, beaming. “He pooped! Anyway — I was putting records out, had some success, but it was consuming me. I was so passionate about it but not really getting to where I wanted to be. I didn’t have a day job to keep me grounded, I was just putting everything into DJing.” So in 2008, in a bid to preserve his marbles, Padley stepped away from nightlife and spent two years renovating a house.

In 2010 he moved to an apartment in central Leeds and found himself in the epicentre of the deep house explosion. Padley instantly felt reconnected to the early days. Vocals were back, as were big basslines and disco. And more importantly, people were dancing. “I started raving again,” he says. “It felt like I was 21. I made one particular record and that popped off. And since then everything’s snowballed so fast I never got the chance to catch my breath.”

Hot Since 82 went from playing 3 gigs in 2011 to 61 gigs in 2012. That same year he released his Forty Shorty EP on Get Physical, then his first full-length album, Little Black Book, on Moda Black in 2013. By then his name was firmly established amongst the world’s leading house artists. He was sharing the booth with Richie Hawtin, Adam Beyer, Annie Mac. And in 2014, he launched Knee Deep In Sound, “house music for the next generation” — a label that champions undiscovered producers. The lad from Barnsley regularly cites luck as a key ingredient to his career, so giving young talent a leg-up is his way of paying it forward.

In 2014, Padley and his manager James Drummond launched their uniquely branded club night, Taken, which throws parties in venues that have never hosted events before. Buying a ticket even gets you voluntarily abducted. Punters are blindfolded by masked men, piled on to a bus and deposited at the venue, which could be a log cabin in the Austrian alps, a warehouse in Brooklyn or an abandoned gasworks in LA. It’s an exhilarating experience, but the true pull is Padley. When Hot Since 82 emerges behind the booth, silhouetted against the smoke and lasers, the vibe goes into overdrive. It’s been a few years since the masked man has been active,” says Drummond. “We’ve not seen or heard of his whereabouts for some time. It wouldn’t surprise me if he returned at some point. It’s out of our control.”

Friendship has played a continuous, central part in Padley’s career. And in April 2017 his world came to a jarring halt. Padley’s best friend of 15 years, Paul “Coop” Cooper, took his own life. When Padley got the news at Frankfurt airport, everything froze. He didn’t cry, he says, it just felt like all feeling had been sucked out of him.

It was the beginning of the Ibiza season, and Padley was hosting his first Labyrinth residency at Pacha. The show, somehow, had to go on. “I went into self destruct mode from May until the end of October,” Padley says. “I was being an absolute arsehole. Partying when I shouldn’t have been, just caning it.”

He hid it from everybody. He’d ask his driver not to tell his friends or partner that he hadn’t slept all weekend. “I was in a really bad way,” Padley says. “I was just self-medicating.”

When the season was over, he got support and learnt how to channel his grief in a healthy way. He cleaned up his act, locked himself in his studio, and produced 8-track, an emotive, and brooding house record that steps away from the dance floor and into a more introspective space.

“Just a few days ago I got up early with Enzo and listened to 8-track from start to finish. I was sat on the window ledge, Enzo was asleep in my arms, and I could just feel the story. I’m really proud of it.”

Since then Padley’s reduced his partying to a minimum. He loves tequila, he says, because it loosens him up, but apart from the odd shot he doesn’t drink much. “It’s invigorating, being on the money all the time,” he says. “[Partying] has been fun, but now it’s more important I play as best I can and make the best music I can.” His face lights up. Abbie’s home. “Heya love,” he says. “We’re just having a therapy session.”

Padley donated proceeds from 8-track to the mental health charity, Mind. Losing Coop, Padley says, “took a lot out of me for about 18 months.” And that’s why his next album, due for release November 27th, is called Recovery

It’s a return to his disco and house roots, a restoration of those halcyon days in Barnsley, except he’s gone nuts with production. He collaborated with singer-songwriter Liz Cass, Hot Creations boss Jamie Jones, and worked with Sam Smith’s producer to create some radio-ready tracks. “But only a few,” Padley says. “I want to come back from 8-track with something a bit more dancey.”

Boy George also makes an appearance. They met, kind of, on a flight to Heathrow a few years ago. “When George is not dressed in make-up and a hat, he’s not Boy George,” Padley says. “And when I got off the flight he tweeted to say he’d been sat next to me. So I responded and said, ‘Let’s make some music.’”

Padley asked George to record his memories of 1982. “It’s like eight minutes of just Margaret Thatcher, mining strikes, Italy won the world cup, Haçienda, Kraftwerk. He just gave me this big blurb.” The result is “Body Control,” a fearless throwback to the thumping bass-lines and trance drops of the eighties.

Amongst the damage and debris of a year that’s decimated the music industry, Padley’s new album is full of hope, and feels like a subtle return to the dance floor. It’s not overly jovial — it is 2020 after all — but a sense of optimism and strength runs through it. “Eye of the Storm,” a dark pop track, is an unflinching encapsulation of dance music’s current mood, while “Barefoot” is a return to minimalism; a stripped-back reminder that, although it’s hard to imagine, one day this will all be over and we’ll be dancing shoulder to shoulder once again. Recovery is a tribute, it seems, to the healing power of house, and to the resilience of our industry.

Alice Austin is a freelance writer from London, based in Berlin. She writes for Mixmag, Beatportal, Huck, Dummy, Electronic Beats, and more. She likes to explore politics and youth culture through the lens of music, a vocation that has led her round the world. She can be reached and/or followed via Twitter and Instagram

The top-selling Belgian techno star secures the most votes for DJ Mag’s Alternative 100 list.

Belgian techno superstar Charlotte de Witte has surpassed two-time champion Carl Cox as the winner of the Beatport x DJ Mag Alternative Top 100 DJs list. 

Despite worldwide lockdowns, De Witte has had a hugely successful year, dropping the Vision EP via Len Faki’s revered Figure label back in February, remixes of Jerome Isma-Ae’s “Hold That Sucker Down” on Armada in April, and her own Return to Nowhere EP on her label KNTXT this June. The success of that EP was powered in part by the Return to Nowhere EP livestream launch on Beatport, which helped push “Sgadi Li Mi” to the number one position in the techno charts and the EP itself to the top of the overall chart. 

As for other artists, Carl Cox took the number two spot, followed by the enigmatic Claptone at number three, Adam Beyer at number four, and Amelie Lens at number five. The annual list is compiled by combining votes in DJ Mag’s Top 100 DJs poll with house and techno sales data from Beatport to give us a list of the top house and techno DJs in the world.

Other noteworthy changes from last year’s results include Green Velvet, who replaced Richie Hawtin as the list’s highest-selling North American DJ and took the number six spot; and ANNA who has replaced Ricardo Villalobos as the number one alternative DJ from South America after climbing 52 places on the list. Italian Deborah de Luca, who is up 31 places in the Alternative list at number 14, joins a handful of other DJs who have climbed upwards toward the most prominent spots on the list this year. These names include: The Martinez Brothers (up 31 places), Meduza (new entry at No. 22), Honey Dijon (new entry at No. 23), Maya Jane Coles (up 23 to No. 25), and Nicole Moudaber (up 15 places to No. 26).

Check out the full Alternative Top 100 DJs list on DJ Mag.

Every Monday, Beatport will hand over control of our Twitch Channel to our monthly artist in residence. Up next, Scandinavian electronic music trio, WhoMadeWho.

As part of our exclusive music partnership with Twitch, Beatport has launched The Residency, a new series at the center of our monthly livestream programming.

Every month, Beatport will give full control of our Twitch channel to some world’s foremost dance music artists. Four times a month, our chosen resident will recruit both established and up-and-coming talent to join them on the decks for personally curated shows that will showcase the host’s taste and artistic vision. Check out Nastia’s Residency Takeover here.

Copenhagen pop-dance trio WhoMadeWho takes the helm for our second official residency with a list of phenomenal talent slated to perform throughout November, including Axel BomanMichael MayerPerelRebolledoTerr, and more.

Having already kicked off their Beatport residency this month, WhoMadeWho got the ball rolling with a DJ set from Echonomist direct from Copenhagen, Denmark.

See the dates and lineup for WhoMadeWho’s Residency program below, and check out their Residency playlist on Beatport.

Week 2: Monday, November 9th (20:00 – 1:30 CEST)

20:00 – 21:00 — WhoMadeWho (Hybrid DJ-Set)
21:00 – 22:30 — Marc Piñol – Beatport Residency Chart
22:30 – 00:00 — Axel Boman
00:00 – 01:30 — Michael Mayer – Beatport Residency Chart

Week 3: Monday, November 16th (20:00 – 1:00 CEST)

20:00 – 21:00 — WhoMadeWho
21:00 – 23:00 — Rebolledo
23:00 – 1:00 — Perel – Beatport Residency Chart

Week 4: Monday, November 23rd (20:00 – 1:00 CEST)

20:00 – 22:00 — WhoMadeWho
22:00 – 24:00 — Terr
24:00 – 1:00 — Frank Wiedemann

Tune into ‘The Residency’ via Beatport’s Twitch Channel.

Today, Beatport and Serato have officially launched the long-anticipated Beatport LINK integration with Serato DJ Pro.

Beatport today has announced that Serato users will be able to power LINK directly from the latest version of Serato DJ Pro.

Beatport LINK allows users to seamlessly and spontaneously choose from the millions of tracks available on Beatport’s catalog directly through their DJ gear using Serato, with critical track information like BPM and waveforms available in real time. Users can also directly access all of the site’s charts and playlists, as well as create their own LINK playlists.

A DJ of any skill level, whether a beginner, hobbyist, or a seasoned club veteran, can cue up the music they want to play via LINK and immediately start mixing tracks in Serato without purchasing individual MP3s.

“With streaming being such a big part of the world of music, we’re excited to have worked with Beatsource and Beatport to bring their comprehensive catalogs to our DJs,” says Serato’s Chief Strategy Officer Nick Maclaren. “The ability to instantly access such large collections of open format and electronic music gives DJs even more freedom, creativity, and, importantly, choice.”

Beatport LINK is available in 3 tiers: Basic, with high-quality streaming and full track playback on the Store for $14.99 per month; LINK PRO with premium quality streaming, full track playback on the Store, and a 50 track Offline Locker for $29.99 per month; and LINK PRO+ with premium quality streaming, full track playback on the Store, and a 100 track Offline Locker for $44.99 per month. 

Although the Offline Locker functionality is not yet available for Serato, the development teams for both Serato and Beatport plan on releasing an update with the feature activated for PRO and PRO+ users soon. 

To find out more about Beatport LINK’s subscriptions and free trial offer, head here.

Our expert curation team brings you the best tracks on Beatport you may have missed. This time featuring Reel People, Rick Sanders, The Funk Hunters, Westcoast Goddess, and more.

Rick Sanders feat. Black Aura – Night Breeze [Smiley Fingers]

Italian talent Rick Sanders teams up with stunning soul vocalist Black Aura for “Night Breeze.” With the artist’s fantastic voice sitting perfectly on top of a classic disco groove with rich piano chords and a rolling funk guitar riff, this track has that extra punch to make you move. Don’t miss it!

The Funk Hunters x CMC & Silenta – Tribute (La Felix Remix) [Westwood Recordings]

Not sure what the samples are on this absolute funk groover, but it stuck in my mind from the first play. La Felix has given “Tribute” the extra twist and form it needs to work in both your living room and soon in your local club. Be sure to keep an ear out for the wild synth solo towards the end. It will take you straight to the ’80s!

Westcoast Goddess – The Devil in Mr. Holmes (The Erotic Soul) [Delusions of Grandeur]

Berlin-based artist Westcoast Goddess delivers sun-soaked vibes with “The Devil in Mr. Holmes,” a transportive tune that will light up any room and have you thinking of warmer places. I wouldn’t expect any lower quality from the Delusions of Grandeur label anyway. Hats off to Jimpster for the signing! 

Quiroga – Martinica Feelings (Whodamanny Interpretation) [Hell Yeah Recordings]

This piece of disco pleasure touches some Italo territories, and that rings my bell straight away! You don’t need much, some synth work, a funky bassline, and a repeated vocal hook… oh, and a lovely saxophone riff certainly wouldn’t do the track any harm. Big love and big grooves all around on this one!

Captain Sky – Saturday Night Move Ease [Past Due Records]

“Saturday Night Move Ease,” says Daryl Cameron (AKA Captain Sky), and we’re inclined to believe him. Straight from 1978, this absolute gem sees the light of day again to remind us what a golden disco record sounds like. Classic, original disco with a hype whistle, some bongos, guitar riffs, and a high-flying synth for maximum boogie vibes.

Risk Assessment – One More [Midnight Riot] 

Risk Assessment has been on my radar for a while now. So much talent in an artist we rarely see. The London based producer can easily vary his sound, from house to disco to deep and jackin grooves. On his disco tip with “One More,” the UK artists samples Chic for a get-down groover with a modern touch. This one may very well remain in my playlist forever.

Reel People feat. Speech – I Never Knew [Reel People Music]

I wasn’t aware of Speech before this track, but after hearing “I Never Knew,” I will make sure not to miss any of his future works! Teaming up with London’s well-established music collective, Reel People, this track is a beautiful hybrid of nu-funk and soul with disco touches all over.

For more nu disco / disco tracks you may have missed, check out our Beatport Link Playlist.

Jasmine Kent-Smith catches up with dance music maverick DJ Krust to discover more about his quest to deliver gripping cinematic experiences via his latest album, The Edge of Everything. 

Bristol-born drum & bass pioneer DJ Krust has been at the forefront of several musical eras and movements over the course of his career. There was his stint in local group Fresh 4 in the late ‘80s, the launch of Full Cycle Records with fellow Bristolian Roni Size in the early ‘90s. And of course, Krust teamed up with Size as part of D&B crew Reprazent, which famously won a Mercury Award in 1997.  

More recently though, Krust, AKA Kirk Thompson, (though he goes by “K”), has been channelling energy into an era of self-discovery and curiosity fulfillment. In doing so, he’s picked up various influences and reference points, which have informed his typically moody and often rule-breaking sound in surprising and unconventional ways. From the likes of Christopher Nolan and Martin Scorsese to more spiritual, philosophical or totally miscellaneous sources, his upcoming album, The Edge Of Everything (his first full-length release in 14 years), seeks to explore the full spectrum of his influences and offer a visceral, movie-like experience; one that dives deep into Thompson’s own inner journey, while encouraging listeners to set out on their own.

It’s been 14 years since your last album. Why did now feel like the right time to put something else out into the world? 

I go through five or seven-year cycles of activity and different things. I have to move through things quite quickly. If it doesn’t stimulate me that much, then I keep moving on. Towards the end of Reprazent I was kind of burnt out. I’d had enough of making music. I’ve been doing it since I was 14 and I got to about 35 and I hadn’t had a break. It was just constantly: music, learning, travelling, growing, being involved in the front-line of the cutting-edge. It was fun doing all of those things, but I didn’t have a relationship for years. I was quite lonely; I didn’t have much contact with my family because I had committed all of myself. When they say you give yourself to the cause – I gave myself to the cause! You know, we built drum & bass and jungle from a couple of guys kicking cans around the streets to an international, Mercury Award-winning group. But towards the end, I found myself asking, ‘who is Kirk Thompson?’ I’d been Krust for so long that I never paid much attention to my real needs. 

I went on my journey. I went travelling. The inward travelling, in this sense. I read, studied, meditated. I studied philosophy, consciousness. I came back with this whole coaching, mentoring thing. Through that process, I’d be talking to people and they’d say, ‘what’s up with you, you’re different. What’s going on?’. I’d explain to them, ‘look, I’ve been reading this stuff, I’ve been meditating, I’ve been thinking like this’ and I could see it was having an effect on the people around me. It just grew out of that. That period lasted six, seven years. I woke up one day and the music was just calling me again. So, I just sat down one evening and started tinkering again in the studio.

When did you start working on The Edge Of Everything?

This project started manifesting maybe six years ago. The seed of it, the idea of it, thinking about it. But I thought, ‘is an EP, four tracks, going to be enough? Is that what you do if you’re going to be coming out after…’ I never knew it was fourteen years – I thought it was ten years! So, I thought to myself, ‘after ten years you’re going to just put out a couple of singles, how do you feel about that? I said, ‘nah, I want to create an experience. I want it to be like a summer blockbuster movie where you go into the cinema and you have this all-consuming experience.’ From there it was two years of conceptualising the project in my mind and really building the universe, collecting the data, doing the research, looking at equipment, looking at sound sources. Then, it was a case of really executing it. I found and built a studio and kitted it out. I meditated for a couple of weeks in the space and tuned into it. Then, I just went about doing the work.

Speaking of cinema, I read that you were inspired by a whole list of things including big-name directors. What does cinematic mean to you in the context of music?

I’m not making music. I’m making experiences. I made a film – it’s not an album, it’s a film. When you go and see a movie in the cinema, it doesn’t matter what film it is, in the first fifteen minutes of watching you’re allowing your unconscious mind to be taken in by what you’re seeing on this screen. For all intents and purposes, it is real. That’s why you jump, or you laugh, or you cry. You are totally engrossed in that experience. For me, that’s an art form. I studied that. I said to myself, ‘how do you create a story that’s so engrossing, so deep, that when people enter into that experience, they are completely absorbed by it?’. Cinema was one of the great ways of achieving that. I looked at all the music that was happening at the time and it was very formulaic. Beginning, middle, ending, drop here, drums here. I understand that, but I want people to come in and have a visceral experience and when they leave, I want it to be: ‘Oh my God, what then fuck did I just see?’. 

What you were saying actually about films gripping you right at the beginning, it’s the same with your album. The first track isn’t a gradual easing in, instead it sets the tone for the rest of the release from the off. Was that intentional? 

Yes, definitely. One of the greatest films that I ever saw was Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The reason why that film is so good is because straight away, for the first twenty minutes, it’s this mad adventure. I said to myself, ‘This whole thing about building up with an intro, that’s done’. If you give someone an experience, give them an experience. I had to shatter all of the illusions, preconceived ideas about what a record is supposed to do. There’s none of this, ‘this is the intro,’ or ‘this is the outro’. People have been listening to the project and they’ve said they didn’t know what was going to happen next. That’s the point! How often would you want to go to a cinema and watch a film where you knew exactly what the actor was going to say, exactly when the car crash was going to happen and exactly when the bomb was going to go off? That would be boring.

What can the album offer that may align with current events or changes in listener needs or even consumption? We’re not listening to music in clubs or traditional dance floor spaces right now.

I’m fortunate that this music isn’t for the dancefloor per se. It just so happens that people will have the opportunity to listen to it in the environment that I intended, which would be on headphones in a dark room, or maybe with a couple of friends [with] the lights down low, meditating on this sound. It’s up to you how you consume it, but the message is simple: Tune into you. Tune into what your beliefs are. Tune into what your abilities are. Tune into what you can create for yourself. I had one of the most revealing journeys to produce this. It was such a deep, emotional journey that I kind of wasn’t prepared for, but once I realised what it needed to accomplish, I really had to give myself over to the process. I’ve done that a few times in my career. It’s really emotional and mentally draining, but what you produce is something amazing. The essence of that, that’s what people are listening to and that’s what I’m focusing on. If you sit down and listen to this music, and for an hour afterwards, you’re sitting there and wondering and thinking, then that’s the effect I’m going for.  

Are you the type of person to embrace change and enjoy the process of change or does it intimidate you?

No, I’m restless. I need constant stimulation. I’m a curious type of person. I studied engineering for this project. I looked at monster trunks, goldmining, space, planetary alignments, Mayan culture, Egyptian culture, Greek mythology, spirituality, consciousness – I went through the whole gamut of psychology and alchemy and ancient religions to tune into some knowledge that wasn’t obvious and could be of interest. One of the things that I found really interesting was business economics. How finance works and how countries use economics to use as leverage and tools. 

How do these reference points, or areas of knowledge that you’re drawing from, filter into what you’re actually creating in the studio?

In my studio, I had a wall. I call it a wall of power. I’ve had them in most of my studios. It’s a twenty-foot wide wall, about seventeen feet high, it would be completely covered in images. Pictures of things I like, controversial things, stories, successful people. Anything that’s stimulating. Anything I was learning I would put on the wall. Every day I would sit in front of the wall and look at these images and get a sense of what the album is. It was just a case of sitting there, meditating, and absorbing the energy of it. Then, it would just come out. It would come out in a bassline, in a riff, in the choices that you make about the sounds that you use, the edits that you use, the chords that you use.

Something you touched on earlier was using psychology in the recording process. How does that work? I read that you used an “80 percent psychology and 20 percent mechanics” approach.

I’ve been teaching this subject for the last twenty years and so most of the people that I talk to, coach, or work with, the mechanics side of it (which is learning how to use programs) they are quite proficient in. They don’t really need any help in that area. The problem that they have is actually in the psychological aspect of it. They’re not in tune with who they actually are to present something original. So, they’ll spend all their time making music, but it sounds like everybody else. The rub of that is, humans by definition are social animals. So, we won’t do anything that will compromise the safety of the herd. How that that transpires in music – or anything – when you see people copy everybody else, they’re just seeking safety, comfort. My approach to making music is to get outside of that comfort zone. The 80 percent psychology is really about understanding that you have to be able to break out of your comfort zone and think differently. You have to get used to being uncomfortable for long periods of time. Get comfortable being uncomfortable, because that’s where the breakthroughs happen.

Jasmine Kent-Smith is a freelance journalist. Find her on Twitter.

Tune in for a unique livestream event on Saturday, November 7, that combines live musical performance with a specially curated mental health seminar for the electronic music community.

So far in 2020, more than 30% of adults have experienced symptoms of anxiety, depression, or severe loneliness. With the shuttering of dance floors worldwide, members of the electronic music community feel more shut off and isolated than ever. But this doesn’t mean the music and the solidarity experienced on dance floors have to cease.

We’ve joined forces with When the Music Stops — a nonprofit organization focused on combating depression, anxiety, burnout, and suicide through community support — as well as Silentmode, which is a revolutionary Peak Performance company using the combination of guided breathwork, music, science, and technology to develop the tools and techniques to help people reduce their resting heart rate and enable happier, healthier lives. With this new collaboration, Beatport is proud to present a new take on its famed ReConnect livestream series with #YouAreNotAlone. Taking place Saturday, November 7th, this 24-hour-plus program will feature live sets from world-renowned DJs along with a multitude of educational segments surrounding mental health from artists and wellness professionals alike.

Throughout the program, viewers can enjoy performances from acts such as Adam Beyer, Boys Noize, Ida Engberg, Kaskade, Kevin Knapp, LOUISAHHH, Mason Maynard, Scuba, Shinedoe, Yousef, and many more. Alongside these sets, attendees can lock into intimate discussions and Q&A’s with artists like Ceri and Rebekah, as well as experts in the field of mental health, including wellness music / Breathonics composer, and sleep coach, Tom Middleton, psychotherapist Dr. Aida Vazin, AFEM’s Tristan Hunt, leading breathwork expert Stuart Sandeman and Silentmode founder Bradley Dowding-Young

In addition, Silentmode will curate a Breathonics chill-out room on Beatport’s Twitch channel, where fans can experience calming tracks and relax in between the music and educational segments over the 24-hour period.

Throughout these talks, we’ll be offering tips and resources on topics such as depression, sleeping habits, productivity during the pandemic, creativity, and the challenges facing the electronic music scene and the world in general right now.

Check out phase one of the lineup below.

RSVP on Facebook and check out some of the lineup’s Beatport ReConnect charts below.

Alex Niggemann – Beatport ReConnect Chart
Lauren Lo Sung – Beatport ReConnect Chart
LOUISAHHH – Beatport ReConnect Chart
Luke Solomon – Beatport ReConnect Chart
Morgan Page – Beatport ReConnect Chart
Riva Starr – Beatport ReConnect Chart
Scuba – Beatport ReConnect Chart
Shinedoe – Beatport ReConnect Chart

Tune in via Beatport’s Twitch channel on Saturday, November 7 at (7 pm PDT / 4 am CEST) and find new ways to sharpen your mind, improve your wellbeing, and explore innovative musical perspectives during this one-of-a-kind community effort!

We recap the debut of Beatport’s brand new livestream series — The Residency — with Ukrainian dance floor stalwart, Nastia.

As part of our exclusive music partnership with Twitch, Beatport has created The Residency, a new series at the center of our livestream programming that gives full control of our Twitch channel to some of the electronic music scene’s most revered artists for a weekly show each month.

Every Thursday, our chosen resident will recruit both established and up-and-coming talent to join them on the decks for personally curated shows that showcase the host’s taste and artistic vision.

For the series debut, Beatport has teamed up with techno and drum & bass giant, Nastia. As one of the world’s foremost selectors, the expert DJ has curated a stellar lineup for her livestream takeover.

Check out our full recap of Nastia’s ‘The Residency’ program below.

WEEK ONE

For the inaugural The Residency stream on week one, Nastia got things off to a fiery start with an incredibly talented team of fellow Ukrainian performers to deliver a headrush of techno to the viewers at home. Fresh out of the gate with a devilish and friendly two-hour b2b with Daria Kolosova, their set was followed up by live performances from hardware wizards Splinter UA and Bejenec before wrapping things up with Ukraine techno pioneer Mays.

Nastia b2b Daria Kolosova – Watch on YouTube + check out their Beatport Residency Chart 

Splinter UA (live) – Watch on YouTube + check out his Beatport Residency Chart 

Bejenec (live) – Watch on YouTube 

Mays – Watch on YouTube + check out his Beatport Residency Chart 

WEEK TWO

Keeping it fresh and rapid for part two of her livestream exhibition, we see Nastia switch gears to drum & bass, serving up a gritty combination of mouthwatering tracks such as Coco Bryce’s “Blue Tile Lounge” and Special Request‘s “Spectral Frequency“. Followed by a beautiful live performance from Monoconda and a mind-boggling set from Etapp Kyle, both Poly Chain and S.A. Tweeman were charged with closing out the stream.

Nastia – Watch on YouTube 

Monoconda (live) – Watch on YouTube

Etapp Kyle – Watch on YouTube + check out his Beatport Residency Chart

Poly Chain – Watch on YouTube and check out her Beatport Residency Chart

S.A Tweenman – Watch on YouTube and check out his Beatport Residency Chart

WEEK THREE

For part three of Nastia’s livestream residency, she invites yet another wave of exciting Ukrainian talent to join her on the decks with a hard-hitting b2b with local Kiyv dance floor staple #BSKD, followed by a golden and minimalistic set from another pioneering member of the country’s techno scene, Stanislav Tolkachev. This was followed up by a breakneck all-vinyl set from Vladislav Deniraw and a clever performance from Andrew Deme.

Nastia b2b #BSKDWatch on YouTube + check out their Beatport Residency Chart

Stanislav TolkachevWatch on YouTube

Vladislav DenirawWatch on YouTube + check out their Beatport Residency Chart

Andrew DemeWatch on YouTube + check out their Beatport Residency Chart

WEEK FOUR

Wrapping things up for her final showcase of what’s been an amazing debut to this exciting new residency program, Nastia hit the decks alone for a two-hour session of fluid, deep, and mystical techno. Her performance was followed by a complex and ethereal live set from Na Nich before Recid, the popular resident of a new Ukranian club called No Name, for a down and dirty techno and electro set to cap things off.

NastiaWatch on YouTube

Na Nich (live)Watch on YouTube + check out their Beatport Residency Chart

RecidWatch on YouTube


Tune into ‘The Residency’ via 
Beatport’s Twitch Channel

Celebrating 20 years of techno mastery, Kristan J. Caryl tells the story of Monika Kruse’s prodigious Terminal M imprint.

As we chat over Skype on a drizzly mid-week afternoon, Monika Kruse is shaking off a little weekend hangover having gone out for a friend’s birthday. “I miss dancing, I miss traveling, I miss seeing my friends,” she says, and there is a very real sense of dejection in her voice. 

When you work in an industry that has been in hibernation for six-plus months, motivation can be hard to find. But Kruse has found it in daily meditation, healthy homemade juices, and doing sports every other day. At first, she found being isolated at home depressing, then adjusted to the situation and enjoyed the slower pace of life, but is now starting to “feel bored” again.

Her creative outlet throughout all this has been an exploration of the healing frequencies of binaural music. The results have informed her latest EP, Rising Heart, a much more ambient-focussed offering than her usual club grooves. “With Corona, obviously, the tool-y tracks don’t work as well as they used to work. Techno is for dancing, not sitting down. So we’ve worked on finding music that works better at home,” she says in good English, with a soft German lilt, adding that she believes the Corona-enforced “lack of dancing and outlets for people to express themselves” might be what has lead to rising tensions and anger in people, some of which has spilled over into occasionally ugly anti-mask protests in Berlin. 

This move toward releasing more listening music is not the first shift in Terminal M‘s sound, but the only one that has been quite this sudden and necessary. In the past, the label subtly moved from its big room techno roots to more melodic techno realms — especially on sub-label Electric Avenue, which ran 2004 to 2013 but eventually proved “too much of a distraction” — and later on to tech house.

Label artist Transcode, who’s topped charts with his tunes on Terminal M, adds that “it’s a very well run label with solid backing from a wide range of tastemakers in the industry. The sound is fairly broad but represents music with a strong groove, melodies, and hard-hitting drums. What I like is that they aren’t afraid to take risks and they genuinely want their artists to succeed.”

Monika continues, “I don’t go with trends at all, I’ve never jumped on any hype. I just do what feels right, but I can’t really tell you what that is. The music I sign for Terminal M just gives me a certain feeling. It’s just about releasing what I like, I don’t care what sells or not.”

This underlines the fact Kruse likes to live in the moment. Rather than dwelling on the past or projecting too far into the future, she prefers to meditate and be right here, right now. She references Eckhart Tolle’s cult book The Power of Now early on in our conversation, which explains why she has the mindset she does, and maybe why there has never been a master plan for Terminal M. 

When the label started 20 years ago, and further back still to 1991 when Monika first started DJing, techno was very different. It was a world dominated by men. Record labels weren’t collected like lifestyle accessories, and the underground scene was infinitely less businesslike. Some of Kruse’s operational methods are a throwback to that time, but she is also a long-standing trailblazer who broke plenty of the early stereotypes.

Her label, Terminal M, has been a vehicle for all this ever since inception in 2000. At the time, digital wasn’t yet a thing, and labels were necessarily vinyl only. Despite the extra challenges this presented, Monika wasn’t cowed. With “zero money” and “really no clue” but the help of friend Marc Romboy, she plowed ahead starting her own imprint and pressed up “maybe six or eight thousand copies” of her first EP, Needlehopper, a collaboration with friend Patrick Lindsay as Monika Kruse @ Voodooamt. They all sold out. “Maybe it would help if there was a formula. But my plan was always just to have fun with nice people.”

By then, Kruse already had the experience of working as a product manager for Chrysalis Records with groups like Gang Starr, and had her own high profile DJ career. Releasing with other labels, though, meant long waiting times. What’s more, she was also “surrounded by great friends and producers” who she thought deserved to be heard. In fact, that is where the label gets its name. “A terminal in an airport is a meeting place, and is often where we ran into each other back then,” says Berlin-born and based Monika. “So I thought it made a great name as I have always wanted the label to be about friendships and family.”

This was backed up by Alex Stein, a Brazilian-German artist based in Berlin who has become a recent addition to the label’s ranks. Back in 2014, he decided he wanted to release on Terminal M, and in fact wrote that down in his “goal book,” before officially signing in 2019 for his Rebirth EP. “We first met during a friend’s dinner,” he says. “But it was only later that year, at the airport in Berlin, that I made contact and talked with Monika for the first time about wanting to show her my music for the label.”

Monika is very low key. Maybe it’s the lingering effects of the weekend, but seems shy in conversation and reticent to big up her own achievements. Really, she has every right to be anything but shy, because she remains one of Germany’s most prominent international DJ exports, having been involved in the scene since day one. She started out playing hip hop and funk, and later early Chicago and Detroit house and techno, at a bar “to about 30 people.” The first big step up saw her become a member of the Ultraworld Crew whose events in abandoned WWII bunkers played a key part in the evolution of the early Munich techno scene. At the same time, Kruse also became a regular at Sven Väth‘s iconic Omen in Frankfurt, and before the end of the decade, was a resident at Belgium’s Fuse. A move to Berlin led to the launch of Terminal M, as well as playing at Berlin’s Loveparade in front of 1.5 million people and becoming a regular at places like Berghain. 

“There wasn’t anyone to look up to when I started. We were really the first wave,” says Monika. “I always just made my own decisions, but also back then the sound was more rough. Now with digital everything has to be that bit more perfect, so I can help my artists with those things.”

Alex Stein has been on the receiving end of that, and more than agrees. “Monika is amazing when it comes to that. She is hands-on, but can also be hard. Not in a bad way, just very real and honest, the way it should be. I am incredibly grateful for her giving me feedback on all the demos I send her, taking the time to listen in, and test these tracks. But especially for taking the time to give me feedback about the music and to talk to me about it to the point where I feel comfortable, and know that sometimes there’s not necessarily something wrong with the music, but she just knows that I can do better and is pushing me to do so.”

Transcode echoes these sentiments and recalls sending Monika the first version of his track “Devotion.” He’d written it after really falling in love with techno, and specifically the Terminal M sound. “She asked if I could tweak a few things, including the notes of the Reese Bass, and once I did, it really took the track to a whole new level, and she fell in love with it straight away. So the feedback has actually been super useful. It pushes me to reach my full potential and I’ve really grown as a producer working with Monika, even in a short period of time.”

While Kruse didn’t have direct input like this when she was coming up, she says she really looked up to her idol, Prince drummer Sheila E. “I used to see her rock so hard and I thought, ‘fucking hell, women can do whatever they want to, even playing drums.'” That said, for the reserved Monika, singing or even playing drums felt too exposed, so she stuck to DJing, which at the time was not about superstar selectors and social media posts, but purely the music. “I could just hide away back then.”

Though not a fan of today’s cult of personality or the egotism of social media, Monika accepts they are necessary evils in 2020. “I play this game because it is a tool to bring the music to the audience. Nowadays, DJs have to travel with photographers. There is real pressure to post stuff all the time or you risk being forgotten. It’s not about music, but pictures. Promoters book people because of followers. So I do it when I have to, but it’s not a good thing for the scene at all.”

Despite the challenges of the digital revolution, the seismic impact of social media, and even a period a decade ago when the label was losing money, Monika has “never even been close” to closing up shop. Success for her is not so much about sales as getting good reactions in the club. “If people freak out on the dance floor, that’s why we create music. I hear stuff that I know will be Top 10 on Beatport easily, but if it’s not right for the label, then it’s not right.” Stein adds that he feels “there is never a need to make a certain style for Monika’s label, and that is one of the things I love the most. You have the freedom to create, all that matters is that it rocks the dance floor, but at the same time, I know that she expects the best of me.”

Unlike many of her peers, Monika is still involved on a personal level with everything the label does. She has just one assistant, and between them, they do everything from the A&R to the artwork, the social media to the distribution deals. This hands-on, old school approach extends further: Terminal M doesn’t force artists to sign the same exclusivity deals that many contemporary labels do. While they are keen to protect investments and their brand, Monika is “fine with artists releasing on two or three other labels. I’m proud to give them that platform and happy to watch them succeed.” 

She is, though, weary of A&Ring certain demographics in order to meet quotas. Instead, signing female talent has always come naturally over the years, from Miss Kittin in the early days, to ANNA more recently. In fact, for a veteran like her, none of today’s social and political issues are anything new: she founded No Historical Backspin, an event series promoting diversity and tolerance, long before discussions of such issues were as commonplace as they are now.  

At heart, Kruse is the same music addict today that she was when she first started obsessively collecting records in her early teens. So long as she continues to find music that excites her, and form friendships that make her proud, she is happy. As for the future, the label has five or six EPs planned between now and February. Beyond that? Nothing, because as Echart Tolle would say, only the present moment really matters.

Kristan J Caryl has been a freelance music writer for more than a decade, with bylines in RA, DJ Mag, Mixmag, Bandcamp, Attack Mag and RBMA. He’s based just outside Leeds, where he started community station KMAH Radio in 2015. As well as music, he’s overly obsessed with trainers, gardening, boxing, and his two children, who he raises with his wife. Find him on Instagram.

Our expert curation team brings you the best tracks on Beatport you may have missed. This time featuring Partenaire, E-Clip, Nōpi, Weird Sounding Dude, Mattim, and more.

Partenaire –  Mercurial State (Original Mix) [Transpecta]

Up-and-coming Buenos Aires producer, DJ, and music writer, Partenaire, delivers a ghostly sonic expedition on “Mercurial State,” one of three tracks on his arresting Tunnelvision EP via Transpecta. For those regularly in search of temperate yet gripping beats, Partenaire has quite the magic touch.

Siva Prayojan – Lost We Are [Differed Records]

Over the years, Siva Prayojan has made a name for himself in electronic music — a few, actually, under aliases such as Deej, DeLaFlame, and Pavaka. Out now via Differed Records, Siva Prayojan’s latest Destinys Chant EP offers the warm, melodic “Lost We Are,” an aptly-titled tune that epitomizes the beauty of simply letting go and embracing the moment.

Arn, Korb – Perfecta [Explore Records]

If you’re a sucker for luscious synths, this one’s for you: “Perfecta” comes to us via fresh faces Arn and Korb on Explore Records. A standard progressive house arrangement guides this tune, but the angelic synth melodies sprinkled throughout the production really drive this one home — make some room for bliss in your life and listen to “Perfecta.”

E-Clip – Akasha [JOOF Recordings]

With roots in trance and its psychedelic subgenres, E-Clip nails a harmonious balance between high-energy psytrance and tranquilizing progressive house throughout his catalog, including his latest release, “Akasha” via JOOF Recordings. This track expands and retracts through a variety of vocal, percussion, and melodic elements, all the while bearing an irresistible groove — what a ride.

Nōpi – Hookan Idyll [Sound Avenue]

Ukrainian producer Nōpi has cracked the code to creating organic, delicate sounds throughout his career with a natural ability to tell stories through this music. On “Hookan Idyll” via Sound Avenue, Nōpi demonstrates the ideal progressive house track made for listeners to look within — you can almost feel the presence of holy spirits and smell the fresh air radiating from this one.

Menkee – Black Butterfly (Mattim Remix) [BC2]

It’s always exciting to hear a fabulous song from a newcomer to the scene: Argentinian producer Mattim takes on Menkee’s “Black Butterfly” via BC2 Records for a tantalizing new ride. When you press play, that beefy kick drum serves as the perfect foundation for muted melodies and harmonizing vocals to come. Anyone who misses the feeling of experiencing live music should hear this tune to feel nostalgic for the clock striking 5 a.m. on the dance floor: it’s a fitting end to a long, memorable evening.

BEATPORT HYPE PICK

Hype is your destination for new music from up-and-coming labels and artists on BeatportLearn more here.

[HYPE] Liam Sieker – The Forest feat. Alice Campbell (Weird Sounding Dude Remix) [Open Records]

Despite the name of his alias, Weird Sounding Dude has quite a knack for pumping out lush progressive house productions easily (and eagerly) digestible by audiences around the world. His latest remix for Liam Sieker’s “The Forest,” featuring Alice Campbell transforms the original song into a gracefully understated trek through airy peaks and valleys.

For more progressive house tracks you may have missed, check out our Beatport Link Playlist.

Drum & bass kingpins Chase & Status have teamed up with fabric to present RTRN II FABRIC — a 44-track compilation of high-octane dance floor gold. We caught up with Will Kennard (Status) to learn more about their year, the process behind their new mix album, and hear stories about the club that helped turn the duo into the musical giants they are today.

When London’s iconic music venue, fabric, was shuttered in 2016, it was a massive loss for the city’s club culture. The Metropolitan police put the club’s license up for review after two young men tragically lost their lives in the venue from drug overdoses, and a few weeks later, fabric’s license was revoked, “permanently.” Despite the ruling, the global electronic music scene banned together to save this essential cultural hub, with top-tier talent writing appeals to London Mayor Sadiq Khan and gathering widespread international support to help reverse the ruling.

Thanks to the united effort of punters, DJs, and music enthusiasts worldwide, fabric was able to reopen. Among the most vocal advocates of the #savefabric campaign were Saul Milton and Will Kennard (as well as go-to hype master MC Rage) of the globally-renowned drum & bass and dubstep group Chase & Status. Regulars since its opening in 1999, both artists credit fabric as being the spot that helped them find their musical inspiration, and they’ve been fixtures of the club ever since. It was the first place they heard one of their tracks get played out in a big room, and since their rise to stardom, they’ve played the venue countless times. 

Fabric’s music label has also been a staple of underground music culture since 2001. After ending its FABRICLIVE mix series with 100 compilations from some of the best artists in clubland, the new series fabric presents was born, bringing audiences releases from the likes of The Martinez Brothers, Amelie Lens, Bonobo, Kölsch, and Maribou State.

Fresh off their wildly successful 2019 album RTRN II JUNGLE, Chase & Status are once again joining their beloved club with fabric presents Chase & Status: RTRN II FABRIC. The 44-track compilation features new originals and fresh dubplates, along with a plethora of old-school heaters and new-fashioned breaks laced together in an expert mix. 

With the compilation out now we caught up with Will Kennard (Status) to learn more about the rewarding yet painstaking process behind creating the album, how they’ve been spending their 2020, playing at socially distant venues, and their favorite memories from fabric.

Hey Will, thanks for taking the time to speak with us. How’s life?

All good, man, all good. Just getting through these crazy times. I’ve had quite a welcome distraction because my wife Sophie and I had twin girls a few months back. It happened just around the peak at the end of March, so when everything was full fucking madness here. And so it was a little bit stressful, but in a way, we kind of just locked down anyways, so it was weirdly kind of a blessing in disguise. But it’s all good, strange times, just keeping my head low, getting back into music-making.

What kind of plans did you have for 2020, and how did you and Saul find yourselves adjusting to the new pandemic reality?

Coming out of 2019, we had just done our RTRN II Jungle album, which was all about us going back to not only our roots, but trying to find the roots of drum and bass, the music we love, and bringing this authentic dance or Jamaican feel back to the music. And it was a fun exercise because it was us just not worrying about the commercial side of music, which we’ve also had some success in, and just doing stuff purely for the love of it, purely for the club culture. We ended up just focused on DJing clubs worldwide and just trying to bring the rawness back to the music we loved.

2020 was gearing up to be a fantastic year of shows for us, with lots of DJ work off the back of the RTRN project’s success. We had tons of bookings, and we had our Ibiza residency again, celebrating 10 years of us playing at Amnesia in Ibiza, which was special. So it was quite a big year for us in terms of work. In January, I remember we did a few shows, and then toward the end of February the word was coming in, but people still didn’t take it quite that seriously. And I remember right at the end of February, we had a show in South Hampton in the south of England, and it was just at the cusp of people getting wary of being in large crowds.

I had a heavily pregnant wife at home, and Saul’s got young children. And we decided not to go to that show, and we felt terrible. And this promoter, luckily who’s a friend and he understood, and we just moved the date a few months later, and he let everyone in for free sort of thing and complimentary drinks and stuff. We felt terrible for letting the people down. And we thought we were mad, we were like, “What are we doing? It’s not that big a deal, we just go in…” And it was a room of 2000 people sweating next to each other just as loads of people were catching it, and we hated ourselves for canceling. And in hindsight, thank god we did. It was two days later that every pub shut. So it was a mad start to the year.

As you said, RTRN II JUNGLE was a massive success for you guys, and now you’re on to part two of the return, fabric presents Chase & Status: RTRN II FABRIC. How did the plans for this extensive compilation album come about?

Fabric is an institution in British clubbing and global clubbing for that matter. It’s an iconic place that so many people grew up in, ourselves included. And it’s had difficult times fending off the authorities to stay open recently and done a fantastic job at doing that. They’ve also released so many incredible compilations from the FABRICLIVE series over the years. We’ve been huge fans. So they approached us in 2019, and by that point, I don’t think we’d ever done an official or proper mix album compilation before. And I liked the fact that they’re not doing quite as many at the moment. Some inspiring people have done fabric compilations in the past, so we were very honored to be asked. 

The timing was perfect. As I said we’d just released this album, we had ideas for our next record, but it’s quite far away. So we wanted to keep playing off this RTRN II JUNGLE thing that we had done, and we said to them, “Look, do you mind if we call it RTRN II FABRIC? Kept the theme of jungle music and that more kind of rooty sound, would you mind that running through in some old records and some new?” And they loved the idea. And we went about trying to make it, thinking it would be effortless, just to do a quick mix at home and put it out. And it turned out to be the longest thing ever, more extended than writing any album we’ve ever done. It was really difficult, man. And now I’m so pleased with the way we did it and the way it’s come out and finished and stuff, and I can’t wait for people to hear it. But it was a challenge making the compilation for so many reasons that we didn’t even think about when we said yes.

The mix and compilation has a total of 44 tracks. Can you let us in on the selection process and what it was that made the process so difficult?

We had a lot of tracks that we wanted to include — a lot more than the 44. And it was interesting in 2020 compared to when we were bedroom DJs more in the millennium or even in the ’90s, because with mixtapes, you’d mix and you’d just kind of put it out with giving it out physically. Now or even if you’re selling it, everyone, you would license the songs. But now, with digital streaming, these underground independent labels that we’re working with sometimes didn’t necessarily understand the licensing process.

It gets quite complex with figuring out who’s making the royalty and ensuring that everything is royalty-free. And obviously, every single jungle song written before 2004 has got some dodgy old sample, hip hop sample, or reggae sample. So we’d be creating this really intricate mix, and you’re like, “that’s song’s important there, that song is a transition between it, this bit goes with that bit,” and we’d suddenly find out that we had to replace some of the tracks. You know you get really into a mix, and you’re doing it, and it all makes sense for the journey. It was undoubtedly a real challenge.

The fabric compilation includes a few new originals like “Hardstep,” “Engage,” “Why,” and a handful of VIPs. Tell us a bit about your studio method with these new singles and dubplate/VIP choices.

We wrote the new tracks off the back of the loving reception of the jungle sound we were releasing. They were inspired by DJing a lot, getting vibed up, and just continuing to make that stuff for our own DJ boxes. And as a producer, you’re always on your laptop, whether you’re traveling or you’re at home. Those were new things we were playing [with]. When Saul and I hang out, we’re always seeing who’s got a little cheeky thing that the other guy hasn’t got, especially when we are playing b2b

And so there was stuff that we were doing — both separately and together — to keep the set exciting. We wanted to put them out, but putting random one-off music out with no context sometimes isn’t a great idea. This just made perfect sense. Doing a mix with other people’s songs is cool, but we wanted there to be a bit more interest in it. There are lots of original versions of stuff, original music, and just kinds of different edits of existing songs. So I think it sounds pretty fresh!

It feels only appropriate that you are doing a fabric compilation seeing as you’ve played the club so many times. Can you bring us back to your first and perhaps fondest fabric memory?

We’ never forget going to fabric as 19 or 20-year-old punters going down for the player’s night. It was massive. When fabric opened, we had just started getting into production, so we would go down there and almost step back a bit and listen to the songs, absorbing everything and taking in the reaction that was going on rather than being in the middle of the mosh or whatever. 

So we’d go there a lot and stand in the background just listening for hours and hours and just seeing what worked, what didn’t, hoping that maybe one of our new tracks would get played.  I remember Zinc playing one of our songs, a very early song called “Love’s Theme,” which came out on his label, Bingo Beats. It was one of the first times we heard one on our records at peak time, with a big DJ in room one. It was the biggest rush for us.

It was those moments as a young producer when we felt like it’s going to happen, we’re going to make it. That was a special moment. A few years later, we were DJing at fabric around 2011, we were put on the lineup after Andy C. By then [even though we were more] prominent, we were very nervous to DJ after Andy C. He tears the house down. It’s his thing. Just stepping up, and I remember doing a big drop, I think with “No Problem,” one of our songs at the time, a big mix, we’re trying to take on Andy with an even bigger mix.

You see that swell of people falling to the front of the stage. I love the acoustics there, you can kind of really get close to the crowd, and you hear the atmosphere building. I remember that exact moment, just the rush of just big mixes, big moments happening in a DJ set at fabric are so much more intense. That’s why we love DJing there still, and I can’t wait to get back with it. 

You guys recently played in Newcastle for a socially distant event. What was that like? You closed out VM Unity Arena before it shut its doors due to local lockdown measures, but what’s your take on that action? How did you think the venue was handling social distance measures?

Yeah, we did a couple. Weird, obviously. People are into the pens in groups of six or eight. In a way, you’re having a great time because actually, you’re with your eight buddies, your best mates there. Eight’s quite a good number [through] now that’s not even allowed because they’ve reduced the number, but then it was eight people. And so probably enough to get a little party going. You’re ordering drinks on an app, and they’re brought to you, so that’s pretty cool.

There’s no pushing through people to get to the bar. It was summer outdoors, so a bit warmer and stuff. And one of the shows was relatively light, it wasn’t fully dark, so you can kind of see the space, and it feels a bit empty. But as the sun went down, it brought it back. And while it was definitely not the same as having everyone together and that feeling of togetherness that a crowd brings and unity, which is quite special, it was still great to play some live music. And just hearing live music, we hadn’t heard loud music out of a system in months. 

It’s a powerful thing that you forget how amazing it is. If you think about the first time you ever went to a club and heard a system, it was sort of that feeling again like, fucking hell, shit sounds different this loud. And also this music’s made to be loud. So that made sense. And it was a bit emotional, we played some of our old stuff just because we hadn’t played out for a while and people had come far and wide to see us play. There was a bit of an emotional feeling. It’s like god, this is what we do, and it’s under threat at the moment. Regardless of money or anything, this is what we live for. So it was a kind of emotional feeling of happy to be there, but terrified that this is going to be the new norm. So mixed emotions, but yeah amazing we got to do it.

Cameron Holbrook is Beatportal’s Assistant Editor. Find him on Twitter.

We’re in the midst of a new era in jungle. Joe Rihn speaks to the producers at the forefront of this modern movement.

The sound is unmistakable. Explosive beats at breakneck speed, otherworldly soundscapes either sampled or synthesized, and that driving-but-dubby low end formed from pure, uncut sine waves. From the early to mid-1990s, this new style known as jungle ushered electronic music into a bold era of technological experimentation while opening a fresh chapter in UK club culture more indebted to Jamaican sound systems than acid house raves. Yet another innovation of Black musical creators, jungle took the hyperactive breaks of hardcore rave and set them against the heaviness of dub to become the discontented roar of England’s working-class youth. The music could be menacing and raw, like the British answer to gangsta rap, but it could also sound like a space-age reflection of jazz. While the musical moods and stylistic tendencies differed between artists, DJs, and labels, the blueprint remained consistent: samples, bass, and breaks at 160 beats per minute.  

However, the rapid evolution of jungle also led to its dissolution, and soon its frenetic beats gave way to the propulsive rhythms of its chiseled-down successor — drum & bass. By the late ’90s, commercial interests had infiltrated the underground, employing the sound for countless video games, cartoons, and commercials. Goldie was a household name in England, Roni Size had won a Mercury Prize and glitchy breakbeats were the sonic stamp of impending Y2K. Soon, drum & bass bore little resemblance to its junglist roots, and the sounds of UK garage bubbled up, paving the way for dubstep and grime. 

But along with all things ’90s, jungle is having an undeniable resurgence in dance music circles. The signs of a jungle comeback have been around for a while. Techno and house records feature breakbeats again and the price of classic jungle on Discogs has steadily inflated. It has also become more common for DJs within the wider underground dance music scene to weave jungle tunes into a set. Take New York DJs AceMo and MoMA Ready, who are known for a fusion of breakbeat science and high energy techno. And in London, standout DJ Sherelle and her 6 Figure Gang collective are bridging the gap between jungle and other forms of uptempo dance music. 

Along with the genre-bending DJs who’ve folded jungle into their repertoires, a loose cadre of producers and labels is rebuilding jungle into its own small but dedicated scene. Much like Dâm-Funk’s modern funk movement applied crate-digger wisdom to reboot boogie, modern jungle offers new tracks that draw heavily from the past. In 2020, old-school jungle is more than a nostalgia trip written in YouTube comments. Once again, this music is alive and well.

Coco Bryce, who hails from the Dutch city of Breda, grew up on skate video soundtracks and began DJing gabber and hardcore as a teen in the 1990s. Although he’s always had a deep appreciation for jungle, Bryce took a roundabout route to producing it, moving from the European squat rave genre known as “tekno” to instrumental beats in the vein of Flying Lotus and Scandanavian “skweee” music. “It wasn’t until six or seven years ago that I really got back into jungle and properly started producing it,” he says. Today Bryce is one of the most prolific artists in the jungle scene, churning out fresh music for his own labels Myor and Diamond Life, and others including 7th Storey Projects and Lobster Theremin.

“Five years ago there were only a handful of producers doing it,” says Bryce, describing how the scene came together. “If you only have a couple of names that are doing it and regularly releasing records, then it’s only a matter of time before they connect.” But unlike in the original jungle era, when specific musical and cultural happenings in London forged a sound that was synonymous with the city, this new strain of jungle was born online. 

     Photo: Tim Reaper

London DJ and producer Tim Reaper discovered drum & bass and later jungle through a school assignment in 2007. “When I found out what jungle was, I was so taken in by it that I felt like I had to get involved somehow,” he says. “The only places I found myself fully able to talk about jungle were the Subvert Central forum and the chatroom for an internet radio station called Jungletrain.” Facebook groups, such as Long Live Beautifully Crafted Jungle, have also been instrumental in introducing contemporary tracks to old school junglists and curious newcomers alike. 

Jordan Leal, who makes jungle music as Rebuilder, is about as far from London as it gets. Residing in the California desert town of Calexico, situated on the Mexican border just over 100 miles east of San Diego, Leal got acquainted with jungle through the Warp Records website, where he discovered Aphex Twin and Squarepusher. “Before producing jungle and drum & bass, I made hip hop beats,” he says, citing the influence of LA beat producers like Ras G, Samiyam, and Madlib. Leal came into the modern jungle scene through connections made online, and now has a release on Amenology and a collaboration with scene stalwart Msymiakos on Meditator Music, one of the scene’s flagship labels. 

As a niche interest shared by a relatively small number of participants scattered across the globe, modern jungle takes place largely over the internet. “There’s no real geographic center, we’re from all over the place,” says Dutch artist Tommy De Roos, who records and DJs as FFF. Compared to the original jungle boom, which was nurtured in London by DJs Fabio and Grooverider at Rage and sustained at the Blue Note during Metalheadz Sunday Sessions, the role of clubs isn’t as prominent today. However, as the genre’s birthplace, an undercurrent of jungle has remained in the UK capital. “There were jungle nights going on, but also more mixed genre events taking place where jungle had a strong presence. I also noticed lots of techno DJs were ending their sets with jungle,” says Mantra, co-founder of the long-running drum & bass club Rupture. Along with the all-vinyl night Distant Planet and a handful of others, Rupture carved out space for contemporary jungle, but the genre still only makes up a small fraction of London nightlife, with far less activity in other cities. “Besides Rupture, I would say that the club aspect for it has not been very present,” says Reaper. “That was the main reason I felt like I had to start Future Retro, initially as a club night dedicated to the modern jungle scene. But the pandemic got in the way of the first night and it transitioned into being a record label for new jungle instead.” With many UK clubs in a government-sanctioned freefall and music venues the world over suffering the fallout of COVID-19, this new wave of jungle seems unlikely to establish a formidable club scene anytime soon.

During jungle’s first wave, producers and DJs were equally essential to the progression of the genre, and many figures did both. Although plenty of modern jungle producers are DJs themselves, you’d be hard-pressed to find a DJ in the scene who doesn’t make tunes. Some factions of the scene, such as the Sheffield-based Green Bay Wax label run by Kid Lib, are focused on pressing vinyl. But most releases are widely available digitally, on Beatport, Bandcamp, and other sites. It’s also hard to underestimate the role of YouTube in disseminating new jungle tunes. Through his channel mickeybeam75, Mickey Beam shares the latest and greatest in modern jungle. However, he initially started the account to post selections from the encyclopedic collection of jungle and rave music he’s been amassing since the early ’90s. “I noticed a considerable amount of tracks that were missing, so it was my intention to fill the gaps,” says Beam, who experienced the original scene firsthand in London but now lives in New Zealand. As contemporary labels and producers approached him with freshly minted tracks, the channel became an essential destination for keeping up with new releases.

     Photo: FFF

     Photo: Coco Bryce

Since its inception, jungle has been home to numerous subgenres — from the snarling ragga of Remarc and the horror movie atmosphere of Source Direct, to the lush soundscapes of LTJ Bukem and perfectly balanced craftsmanship of Just Jungle and Lemon D. But those are only a few of the distinct sounds being revisited today, and behind the various styles are different ideals and production techniques. Artists like Kid Lib and Phineus II take a decidedly old school approach, using vintage gear to make rough and pummeling tracks that emulate the harder styles of the early ’90s while sounding convincingly aged. But for every traditionalist wading through the tiny menus of an Akai sampler and resurrecting ancient PCs from the junk heap, another is hammering away on a laptop and digital audio workstation. “I haven’t got any outboard gear in my production setup,” says Reaper, while Bryce explains, “I am not that interested in just making it sound like it was produced in ’93. I want my tunes to have that kind of vibe, but I don’t mind if it sounds like it was produced in 2020.” 

Regardless of how artists achieve it, chasing that vibe is a big part of why modern jungle exists. A quarter-century on, there is still something singular and enchanting about the music. “I was just captivated by the sound and the vibe, it spoke to me and made me feel something special. The balance of light and dark, softness and toughness, emotion and edge,” says London DJ and producer DECIBELLA, who discovered jungle in the late ’90s by way of UK garage and drum & bass. “I got hold of a DJ Rap tape from around ’93 and I loved this tape — when I found out that it was a woman DJing, it planted the seed in me that I could play and make this music too,” she recalls. That reverence for the sound of jungle’s golden era is something many modern jungle producers share. “Jungle music from the mid-’90s had such a beautifully unique sound. There’s something in how it combines various genres of music that I love,” says Leal, while Tim Reaper muses, “The formula of the classic jungle style and how all the elements come together is so spot on.”

In addition to jungle’s enduring allure, there may be a historical reason for why the genre is providing fresh inspiration. “[Jungle] was only around for a very short time before it morphed into something else,” says DECIBELLA. “Since it only lasted a small number of years,” Reaper speculates, “there is still some room for exploring the blueprint.” FFF agrees. “From a producer’s standpoint, I think styles and subgenres back then were happening so fast and things changed so quickly that it left so much open to explore.” 

Reaper proposes that people who’ve fallen in love with jungle but were too young to experience it in its heyday are also adding fuel to the scene. “The fact that a lot of people currently into it may not have had the chance to be a part of the original ’90s scene means that [modern jungle] serves as an opportunity to be able to get involved,” he says. DECIBELLA confirms that theory. “I was too young to go to the jungle raves when it was a new sound. I felt sad that I had missed jungle and that it wasn’t really being made anymore,” she says, adding, “I think a lot of the newer producers who are making jungle now came from the same era as me — just a bit too young to experience jungle the first time around.”

     Photo: AceMo

With his YouTube archive spreading the gospel of jungle to a new generation of artists, Mickey Beam has a lot of appreciation for their musical contributions. “The thing I love most is some of these new jungle producers were way too young and in some cases weren’t even born during the main ’94 boom in jungle, yet they’re making some really good stuff that would’ve been hammered back in the day.” Leal, who has several of his tunes hosted on Beam’s channel, is one such producer. “The internet has allowed for anyone to go back and listen to the classics or overlooked tunes while discovering current producers who are carrying the torch forward,” he says. “I think the audience and artists appreciate the history and foundation of the music and hold it up with high regard.”

However, the proliferation of tracks that convincingly mimic the past, made by people who never lived it, reveals a tension at the heart of modern jungle — between past and present, current and classic. Can a scene obsessed with recreating retro sounds offer something innovative? Or is modern jungle mostly a rehash of a bygone sound? It’s an important question, especially because so much ’90s jungle was built around a futurist aesthetic that approached the digital frontier of music with a cyberpunk attitude. “Instead of simulating the already-existing qualities of ‘real’ instruments, digital technology was exploited to produce sounds that had no pre-existing correlates,” wrote Mark Fisher in Ghosts of My Life, his essay on the groundbreaking 1993 track of the same name, produced by Goldie under his Rufige Kru moniker. According to Leal, “It’s undeniably clear how boundary-pushing the music was with the limited equipment available.” Bryce agrees: “Back in the day they were actually pushing their kit to the limit,” he says. But nowadays, all it takes is a laptop to imitate alien time stretches and superhuman snare rolls — the hard-fought sounds wrestled out of obsolete gear with far less computing power than a cell phone. “I’ve read many differing opinions online where people don’t like how new producers are pumping out copies of that era,” says Leal.

“I could see why a lot of people would think it comes off sounding a bit pastiche and a bit regurgitated,” Bryce reasons. Despite their clear debt to the past, many artists driving this new era in jungle want to offer something fresh, while still retaining jungle’s defining qualities. According to Bryce, “It’s a fine line. If you make it too different then it doesn’t sound like jungle anymore.” In his own work, vocals that invoke UK garage are fairly common, creating an R&B feel that endears the music to home listening as much as a club environment. Jack Robinson, who makes music as The Meditator while running Meditator Music and its parent label WhoDemSound, takes a similar approach on the stunning “I Wanna Know.” It’s also a sound that FAUZIA of 6 Figure Gang pushes on “When It’s All Over,” a lighter-than-air roller with a sultry vocal from Kelela that pulls the jungle format through a timewarp into the 2020s. Other artists, such as Sully and Alex Eveson — who made a name for himself in drum & bass before moving into jungle as Dead Man’s Chest — incorporate detailed sound design that points toward the precision of advanced DAWs. Then there is AceMo’s full-length Mind Jungle. While AceMo is adamant about his dedication to the lineage of Black and Brown music above any one genre, Mind Jungle stays true to the core elements of jungle. At the same time, the record creates an atmosphere of arpeggiated patterns and sharp melodies that sounds very different from the style’s old school iterations. “Americans have barely been exposed to this,” he says regarding his East Coast peers and noting the work still needed to uplift the Black and Brown history of electronic music. “It’s like people have heard it in their subconscious and have yet to hear the style harped upon.”

     Photo: DJ Noir

     Photo: Rebuilder

One of the rare figures pushing jungle in the US since the mid ’90s is Los Angeles-based DJ Noir, co-founder of the international DJ collective Juke Bounce Werk. First exposed to the UK sound in 1995 when a rave promoter neighbor invited her to a party that led to a chance meeting with Goldie, Noir quickly became immersed in the scene. “I was drawn to the energy and the rawness of the sound, the references to American R&B, and the fact that it was a truly new innovation in electronic music at that time,” she recalls. While jungle may be catching on with a new generation, Noir explains that this music has had a dedicated underground following since day one. “It never went anywhere because it has been in my life every day,” she says. At the same time, Noir sees exciting developments happening in the genre, especially as it crosses over with footwork. “People are making incredible music with these influences that have been handed down. Things that we can no longer put into a genre category,” she says, adding, “The hi-tech era of music production is a truly inspirational time, and I think that’s why so many of us, now decades deep, are still inspired to continue to push the sounds and discover the future.” Mantra echoes that sentiment. “There’s an exciting new wave of young producers coming through whose music is heavily influenced by early rave and jungle,” she says. “These producers, alongside DJs such as Sherelle and 6 Figure Gang championing jungle on BBC Radio One have meant it’s reaching a really wide, young audience. It’s inspiring to see.”

Kush Jones, a Bronx-based member of Juke Bounce Werk, is one of the foremost producers melding jungle with footwork and other club styles. Turned on to jungle by DJ Noir and her Juke Bounce Werk co-founder Jae Drago during visits to LA, Jones notes a strong cohesion between jungle and footwork, from the shared 160-BPM tempo to a similar sense of melody and structure. “Good, timeless, powerful music doesn’t ever die, but is rediscovered by whoever finds it or is reintroduced to it by those who have always had the knowledge,” he says. Bryce and FFF are also optimistic about the creative potential of blends between jungle and other styles. “I hope music and music scenes will cross-pollinate even more, making more futuristic hybrids but with an old school feeling,” says FFF.

Ultimately, it’s the very existence of another 25 years of music that helps prevent this new jungle scene from repeating the past. For Tim Reaper, that means the “ability to sample new music that wasn’t existent in the original golden era.” There’s also hindsight. “The ability to look back in retrospect at the ’93 to ’95 era and see what worked and what didn’t — what was being done and what wasn’t being done, and using that to shape what’s being made nowadays,” he says. 

With speed, aggression, and complexity that surpasses the limits of most other dance music, maybe jungle is also turbulent music for turbulent times. “It’s a very rebellious counter-culture music, and with what’s going on in the world right now it makes sense,” says DECIBELLA. Discussing jungle for The Wire magazine in 1996, Simon Reynolds wrote, “The pervasive sense of slipping into a new Dark Age, of an insidious breakdown of the social contract, generates anxieties that are repressed but resurface in unlikely ways and places. Resistance doesn’t necessarily take the ‘logical’ form of collective activism (unions, left-wing politics); it can be so distorted and imaginatively impoverished by the conditions of capitalism itself, that it expresses itself as, say, the proto-fascist, anti-corporate nostalgia of America’s right-wing militias, or as a sort of hyper-individualistic survivalism.” Sound familiar? Reynolds goes on to suggest that the darker and grittier aesthetics of jungle were a reaction to a society defined by hostile conditions and institutions that can’t be trusted. 

Modern jungle may not be the same localized cultural movement as its predecessor, but the factors that originally fueled jungle’s musical intensity and subversive attitudes are more pronounced than ever. And maybe, the dystopian future conjured out of primitive PCs and 12-bit samplers during jungle’s heyday has finally arrived.

Joe Rihn is a freelance journalist living in Los Angeles. Find him on Twitter.

Ralph Moore gets to know Logic1000, a seismic, floor-shaking house and techno talent who hails from Sydney but now lives in Berlin.

Logic doesn’t always prevail in real life, but on the strength of her new single, “Perfume”, Samantha Poulter (AKA Logic1000), has plenty more in the proverbial bottle. But the stuttering drums, percussive groove, and sweet, soulful vocals of  “Perfume” are actually from a finessed version of the very first track that Sam made as Logic. 

About four years ago, I started making Logic1000 tracks with my husband, and we would upload them to SoundCloud as DJ Logic,” she explains. “The very first tune I uploaded was ‘Perfume’. It sounded quite different though — the drums were super dry and it was a lot harder. We lost the original project, so once I decided I wanted to release it officially, we had to recreate it from scratch. It was fun because we ended up changing a few things, and now it sounds a lot more in line with where my sound is now. The fact that it’s the first song I ever made makes it really special to me.” 

And while she’s open to everything that the world has to offer, in many ways Sam already has her perfect creative partner in husband, Tom McAlister. “I think I’ve already found my ultimate collaborator!” she smiles. “We work so well together in the studio. We’re always open to each other’s ideas and I think that comes from the huge amount of respect we have for each other’s taste in music. We’ve also been in each other’s lives for nine years, so we’re a well-oiled machine!”

As well as “Perfume” and a haunting vocal mix of Lapsley’s “Womxn” on XL Recordings, plus a smart re-fix of “La Vita Nuova” by Christine and the Queens, there’s plenty more to come from this seriously talented Sydney-born producer, who is as inspired by classic ‘90s soul divas and Aaliyah-esque R&B as she is the latest trick from Four Tet and Caribou. 

“I think my love of R&B is probably mostly the result of being born in 1986,” she starts. “Growing up in the ‘90s and naughties meant I was constantly exposed to R&B; I still adore it too. New artists like Summer Walker and Erika de Casier still scratch that same itch. To me, it’s just undeniably good music.” 

A forthcoming release from Sam also samples “Never Forget (When You Touch Me)” by Hardrive 2000, a project from the mighty Masters At Work that was originally released in 1999. Thankfully Louie Vega himself has already approved the usage, which means that rather than releasing a mere bootleg, she has the seal of approval from a bona fide Master At Work. 

“A friend of mine sent me a huge pack of acapellas, and this one stood out — I knew I had to use it,” she says of the new song. “I think with a lot of the samples I use, it’s about the feeling I get when I hear it for the first time. I usually know within the first 15 seconds whether I’ll be using it or not. Because of my deep love of R&B, they tend to be samples from that genre. There’s so much personality and musicality and soul in the vocals.” 

Instead of sampling, say, Deborah, Cox, or Masters At Work, would the ultimate dream be to actually work with them? 

“Yes, most definitely! I would love to work with vocalists instead of sampling them. That’s my ultimate goal. I’m actually working with a vocalist at the moment and I am really loving the process. I think she’s quite new to the game and has a huge amount of talent. We’ve nearly finished the track, it’s an absolute banger. She’s nailed it. It’s also kind of a weird process because of COVID — we’ve done this collaboration over the Internet! So yes, I’m looking forward to being able to work in the studio directly with artists.”

But this isn’t the first spike in Samantha’s career. Four Tet seriously backed her music when she released the Logic1000 EP on the SUMAC label back in 2018. “That was a huge moment. I have my friend Gus from Skylab Radio to thank. It’s weird how these things pan out, and strangely I’ve had a lot of offers and interest since Four Tet played it at Coachella.”

The success of the record resulted in her moving with her husband Tom to London for music opportunities. And, she admits, as a total spur-of-the-moment decision. The adventure was either going to take them to London or Berlin: and now they’ve actually made the jump to Germany as a couple. (Logic also played Printworks with Moodymann and Theo Parrish last August, her favourite show to date, even though she’s only played a handful so far.)     

Asked to describe herself, she fires back with “resilient, generally very positive, needy, and I like to laugh at really stupid things”. Despite the state of the world, Sam remains resolutely positive. “Things are so grim at the moment for so many people,” she muses. 

“If you had asked me this five years ago, and all of this stuff was happening, I probably would say I’m feeling really depressed and anxious, and there’s no hope for anyone. I was in a bad place and a lot of bad things were happening in my life. But on a very personal level, I’ve never been more stable and happy. This is obviously a lot to do with my privilege as a healthy, white-passing, mixed-race woman. I think 2020 and all the years preceding it have been super hard for a lot of people of color. I think about this a lot, especially with the brown side of my family, and even with my siblings, but especially my black friends. 

“There’s no escaping what’s going on in the world, they can’t just switch off,” she continues. “I try to use my stability at the moment to listen to and help my friends and family who might be struggling. But I’m feeling optimistic. I think with the BLM movement and seeing how we are all adapting and changing to the new world we are living in, I have hope for the future.” 

But what’s been the biggest surprise of lockdown for Sam? “That my mental health didn’t take a beating. With my illness, stress is a huge trigger and also when “weird” stuff happens, I sometimes freak a bit. But I just took it in my stride, which I am so proud of. I started cooking so much. That was the main joy of lockdown. My mum is writing a cookbook of all the family recipes that have been passed down through the generations, so I definitely gave that a good go. Lots of curry and rice for dinner. Also I bought a KitchenAid mixer, so I was able to tap into my British/Scottish side and got into baking cakes. I’m actually pretty bad at baking which is a huge shame because I love naughty treats!”

Aside from all the baking and cooking, she also has a career to balance, and she admits that while she thought about never playing shows again, she now hopes to release an album in 2021.

“Fingers crossed!” She pauses. “I’d also like to get back into playing shows if that’s even possible by that time. During lockdown I said to myself I never want to play shows again. The thought of it really scared me. But I think that was because of the isolation anxiety. But now I’m getting out more and doing some mixes.” Which brings us to a close to where we started: talk of collaboration. 

“I’m still open to working with other producers,” she clarifies, just in case we thought she was part of a husband and wife production duo only. “It kind of intrigues me to see how other people work. Four Tet and Pearson Sound would be at the top of my list.” 

Ralph Moore is a freelance journalist, presenter at Worldwide FM, and music director at Mixmag. Find him on Twitter.

Unsung Pioneers speaks to the artists and labels who’ve helped shape dance music as we know it but haven’t received the credit they deserve. This time, Michaelangelo Matos hears from legendary Baltimore-based house producers, the Basement Boys.

Initially a trio — Thommy Davis, Teddy Douglas, and Jay Steinhour — the Basement Boys are one of the definitive East Coast house production teams. And this November, Douglas, and Steinhour will celebrate the 100th release on Basement Boys Records. But their work in the late eighties and nineties has a particular resonance — nowhere more than on their biggest hit, Crystal Waters’ “Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless).” A Billboard Top 10 hit in the spring of 1991, it was one of the biggest and best of the period’s pop crossovers from the club world.

The Basement Boys teamed up around 1983. “It was really Thommy and me who started playing around in my studio, trying to do tracks for ourselves to play: We were both DJing in local clubs,” says Steinhour. “Then, Thommy brought Teddy into the group.” Douglas also DJed; all three frequented Odell’s, “the Paradise Garage of Baltimore,” as well as Hats and, in Washington, DC, the Clubhouse. 

“We were in the studio five days a week. Basically, every night after work — Thommy and I left the record store, and Jay worked during the day as a graphic designer,” says Douglas. “We were making five or six tracks a week, every night for about two years.” Douglas also wrote songs, adding another layer to Steinhour and Davis’s basic track making, and when they began producing singers, Douglas would act as vocal coach. “I was like, ‘Why don’t we take this to the next level? We’ll get songs and really develop this.’”

Their early sound was shifting along with club music itself. “Baltimore has always had its roots in mimicking what was happening in New York City,” says Douglas. In the early and mid-eighties, that meant electro, disco, funk, and danceable rock. But when the Basement Boys signed their first 12-inch, “Love Don’t Live Here No More,” to the New York indie Jump Street Records in 1986, they were right in time to ride the house wave. 

That meant making better deals, as much as it meant getting their tracks played. With Jump Street, Douglas recalls, “They said, ‘We’ll see you on the back end’”—meaning they’d be paid after the record had made a profit. “And you never saw the back end,” Steinhour explains. “At that time, we were not business savvy. We just wanted a record out.”

But the Basement Boys’ records had a more commercial sheen than many of their trackier colleagues’, and it didn’t take long for the major labels to notice. In 1989, they wrote and produced “It’s Over Now” by Ultra Naté, a soulful anthem hooked to a fluttering saxophone riff and stomping drums, for Warner Bros. “She was a club girl,” says Steinour, “but we didn’t really know her in the club.” She came to their attention when they began auditioning singers.

They got the hook-up via Cynthia Cherry, who’d signed them to Jump Street. She’d moved over to Warner’s UK office. “Ultra Naté’s stuff was being played by Tony Humphries at Zanzibar [in Jersey City], so she heard it,” says Douglas. Steinhour adds: “We didn’t want to do a one-off single. We started to get attorneys by that time, as well—‘You got to give us an album deal or nothing at all!’ We started to be a little bit savvier about the business end of things.”

That put them in good stead shortly thereafter, when they met another Baltimore vocalist with character to spare after they’d appeared on a local music-biz seminar panel and were handed a demo tape. Crystal Waters was the vocalist of Modern Art, per Douglas, a “Swing Out Sister/Captain and Tennille kind of thing. I was blown away. I really wasn’t into what was on the tape as much as I was her unique voice. The moment you heard it, you knew it was identifiable, you know?”

Amazingly, the single that made Waters’ name sat on a shelf for a year before it was released. “When we went over to England, I think to do Ultra’s first video, we bought a bunch of demo tapes and set up meetings with a lot of A&R people in London,” says Steinhour. When the Basement Boys played “Gypsy Woman” for Mike Sefton of A&M Records, he told them, “This is either going to be a smash or it’s going to do awfully.” But the producers were adamant: “We decided, we’re not going to sign a deal unless you get a comparable deal in the States,” says Steinhour. “We didn’t want to just come out in England. So it was sitting on his desk for about a year until they found somebody in the States who would put it out as well — Bruce Carbone at Mercury decided he would go along with it.”

Not that “Gypsy Woman” was silent all that time — the Basement Boys were, individually, playing it in clubs. (“Luckily, we didn’t give it out to people,” says Steinhour; Tony Humphries was the exception.) Douglas remembers premiering the track at Baltimore’s Club Fantasy. “I played it off a cassette tape. The crowd had never heard this record before. We had no expectations it was going to be a worldwide success. But this club was just in hysteria when I put it on. They were throwing trash and paper at the DJ booth, screaming and hollering: [high-pitched voice] ‘Put it back on! Tell him to put it on again!’ It was unbelievable, the reaction that first night. I’ll never forget that.”

“Gypsy Woman” sealed its success in March 1991, at the sixth annual Winter Music Conference — then in Fort Lauderdale, rather than Miami, and still small enough to fit a single building. “It was a couple hundred people, maybe — under a thousand,” says Steinhour. 

“Winter Music Conference was very exciting back then,” says Douglas. “And it was a time where you could get a record broke there. Danny Tenaglia was the party of the last night of the conference, and he broke that record. It was magical. And you had everybody there. Everybody in the industry was there. By the time people got back to New York, it had already created this hysteria. Frankie Knuckles had a residency at Sound Factory. He came on board with ‘Gypsy Woman,’ and he helped create the whole hysteria for that in New York City.”

Waters’ first album, Surprise, was made without record label interference. “That first album, we pretty much did our own thing,” says Steinhour. “But that changed. By the third album, relationships had really broken down — all of them.” Adds Douglas: “Artists are always torn between management and production companies. She was caught in the middle. I’m imagining it was tough for her, you know?” Steinhour notes, “She eventually renegotiated a little bit and got a little bit more control. All that stuff got worked out.”

Nevertheless, Waters’ second album, Storyteller, featured “100% Pure Love,” another Top 20 pop hit — a rare thing at the time for a dance artist, particularly one following up another hit. “There was enormous pressure, especially on me, who was the guy who had to come up with the goods,” says Douglas. “You don’t want to be a one-hit-wonder. I had an ulcer from that. I had to go to the hospital.”

The big money from that era, though, came from a series of high-profile remix credits. “We got calls from Meli’sa Morgan, Paula Abdul, RuPaul, Michael Jackson — I mean, the list was incredible,” says Douglas. “We wanted Michael to come to the studio, but that wasn’t going to happen.” Adds Steinhour, “Everybody wanted to do a Michael Jackson remix if they could. I’m sure we had dropped [a hint about] our wish to do that.” 

They got their shot in 1996, with a reworking of Jackson’s “Stranger in Moscow.” “We definitely dropped everything,” Douglas recalls with a laugh. The team spent two weeks on it. Listening to the multitrack master — containing more than 128 individual tracks — was revelatory: “Michael makes a lot of noise in the vocal booth,” says Douglas. “Yeah, he bumps and flips, clapping and snapping his fingers,” adds Steinhour. “We had to sometimes mix around it. The engineers did a lot of work.”

Get to know Basement Boys in five tracks.

Love Don’t Live Here (Original Mix) – Basement Boys [Basement Boys Records]

100 Percent Pure Love (Original Mix) – Crystal Waters [Basement Boys Records]


The Violin (Basement Boys Club Mix) – Teddy Douglas, Louis Radio [Basement Boys Records]

Gotta Keep Tryin’ (Basement Boys Remix) – Michelle Weeks [Basement Boys Records]

It’s Over (Basement Boys Album Remix) – Byron Stingily [Nervous Records]

Michaelangelo Matos is a Brooklyn-based music journalist and author of ‘The Underground Is Massive: How Electronic Dance Music Conquered America’. Find him on Twitter.

We catch up with Utrecht-based producers Jordi van Achthoven and Micha Heyboer aka Tinlicker whose remix of Robert Miles “Children” hit Beatport’s overall top spot.

Jordi and Micha, Congratulations on your new number one on the Beatport charts! Did you already have a chance to celebrate?

Jordi: Thank you very much. It’s our first number one. We’re very happy about it. Actually we didn’t have time to celebrate it yet. But we are going to do that. We probably buy ourselves some sugar coated cookies and have a cup of tea on the couch with each other. 

Robert Miles “Children” has one of the most instantly recognizable melodies in the history of electronic dance music. What made you want to remix such a classic?  

Jordi: I always thought it would be nice to play that song some day. And that day came in October 2019 where Micha and I had to play in Prague. Before our show we edited the original “Children” track into a Tinlicker song just to play it for that one time. We never realized this would become an official track. 

The original version of “Children” came out when you were both still kids. Can you remember listening to it back then? Do you feel a special connection to the song?

Jordi: I was 14 years old and I bought the CD single. I was sitting in my parents house in my small bedroom and after inserting the disc and pressing play I somehow always was nervous when that melody came. But it always blew my mind back then. Hearing it now makes me feel so nostalgic in a good way. 

How does it feel to have such a big release without the possibility of playing it in front of a live crowd?

Luckily we made this song a year ago. We had the possibility to play it out for example at the Anjunadeep open air in Prague — you can see footage of it on YouTube. That was pretty epic. But it feels weird not to play. Luckily enough our music is also enjoyable listening. 

How are you dealing with the current pandemic and does it have any effect on your productivity as a musician?

It’s been a weird year so far. We both decided to work from home around March and April. But after those two months we didn’t speak to each other and our productivity almost disappeared at some point around May and June. There was nothing to work for in all these months and then there was also so much negativity in the news. But now since we launched our own Patreon page we definitely found our inspiration again.

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