While dance floors lie dormant, DJs are left to record and release their mixes from home. It’s no perfect substitution for the real thing, but there’s plenty of great sets to be heard from some of the world’s best selectors. This series is a recurring roundup of the month’s best mixes.
On this installment: new mixes from DJ Q, Karima F, Martyn Bootyspoon, and quest?onmarc, a cassette release from Shanti Celeste, and a b2b2b from DJ Swisha, AceMo, and Kush Jones.
Shanti Celeste – CATALYTIC CRACKING
Mixes are rarely a physical thing you can hold in your hands; ideally, a DJ set is experienced in the flesh, surrounded by strangers under massive speakers. It is temporary and spontaneous, never to be copied or repeated in exactly the same way. The tunes are tailored to the room, not beholden to a single discography or setlist—each night is entirely new. It’s been a year since these conditions existed and dance music has adapted: radio shows have multiplied, livestreams exponentially so, Patreons aplenty. But my favorite new trend is the DJ mix on cassette. No, it is not as magical as hearing the mix on a packed dance floor, but it plays to the selector’s and medium’s strengths. Shanti Celeste’s latest release is an excellent example. Taken from a live 2019 recording in Berlin, the cassette is just-over-an-hour of lovely breaks and flips with endless replayability—I’ve had this on loop at work all week. Sure, cassettes are a silly, outdated technology, but they are aesthetically pleasing and have enough space for many of the mixes being released these days. It sure beats a Soundcloud URL.
DJ Q – RA.776
Not one to linger on a track, DJ Q crams over 30 of them into his hour-long turn on Resident Advisor’s podcast series. It’s a bassline clinic, rifling through choice UK garage and bassline—nearly half the productions his own—at a feverish pace. In an accompanying interview for the mix, DJ Q promised that we’ll be hearing much more from him this year with mixes, EPs, and a potential full-length scheduled for 2021. From what we hear in this mix, it’ll be another banner year for DJ Q.
Karima F – Dekmantel Podcast 320
Animal Collective and Slowdive are selections you’d be more likely to hear on a college radio show than the Dekmantel podcast, but Karima F makes it work on this left-field mix. While there’s plenty of the techno and house cuts that you’d expect from a Dekmantel mix, the 70-minute set has all sorts of surprises—the weird detour half an hour in gets close to overstaying its welcome, but the mix whips back into shape with a vengeance when George Kranz’s “Din Daa Daa” rears its head. The requisite IDs are a treat too, rounding out a robust mix from the Norwegian artist.
quest?onmarc – Rinse France 10 Février 2021
quest?onmarc is one of the most exciting up-and-comers on the scene, applying what they learned in the ballroom world to bend and break the rules that so often sterilize dance music. The Rinse France resident turned in without a doubt the most ferocious mix of the month, a set that throws you into wormhole after wormhole, letting up every once in a while just long enough to catch your breath before dropping another hammer. It’s an exploration of techno therapy (a concept the Brooklyn-based artist has been exploring) and while an hour of pounding, screeching beats may not sound therapeutic to everyone, blasting this mix is an undeniably cathartic experience that I cannot recommend enough.
Martyn Bootyspoon – 40 Love (That’s The Game)
If there exists a line at which a mixtape becomes too horny, Martyn Bootyspoon does not care how far he crosses it. Bootyspoon’s contribution to the burgeoning Mixtape Club, a project from Finn and Local Action to financially and artistically support DJs during the pandemic, will be a staple for many Valentine’s Days to come. Structured in three chapters, the tape culls tracks from the likes of Drexciya, Moodymann, FAUZIA, Omar S, SOPHIE, MoMa Ready, A.G. Cook, and a few from Bootyspoon himself, an all-star cast that doesn’t waver for even a second. And look at that artwork! You’d be doing yourself a disservice if you skip this mix.
DJ Swisha, AceMo, Kush Jones – The Lot Radio 02-25-2021
The worst parties I’ve ever been to were the ones where everyone in attendance dressed like they were trying to get into Berghain. At one such party in San Francisco, a guy trying way too hard to look like Richie Hawtin called me the f-slur for wearing a neon pink, yellow, and lime soccer jersey. He continued to loudly complain when the DJ clanged a transition—a minor and often endearing mistake that does not deserve any of the hate thrown by the worst corners of the dance music community—and then got so drunk his friends had to carry him into an Uber. These Types Of Guys, the miserable Berlin wannabes, do not see dance music for what it is: an expression of joy and love shared with friends and strangers. That loser is so stupid he wouldn’t even have a good time listening to this b3b from DJ Swisha, AceMo, and Kush Jones. While its sudden twists, turns, and occasional clang will turn away purists, it’s the most fun mix of the month, chock-full of unreleased heat from the Haus of Altr and Juke Bounce Werk extended universe and replete with shoutouts to SanDisk, hard drives, Pisces season, cables, and Ethereum. If you haven’t tuned into these guys yet, fix that immediately—even when they’re messing around, this crew is the best in the business.