Anatomy of a DJ Mix: Summer 2018

The compact DJ controller I picked up this year has reminded me why I got into DJing and why I enjoyed it so much. As an old-timer DJ who swore by Technics 1200s, I wrote about my thoughts on the effect of modern DJ tech in a separate post here.

A DJ mix (especially when I’m the only audience) is like a story, capturing my mood, energy, interests, and curiosities over the duration of the mix. DJ mixes can be highly personal too, as each track was reflects my experiences, interests, and tastes. Adhoc DJ mixes can be especially fun, because unlike a regular playlist of songs, there’s no advance planning and everything is done in the moment and quickly.

After spending a beautiful Seattle summer afternoon at Gas Works park with friends, I was feeling energetic and inspired. When I  got home I hit record started an ad hoc mix session. I quite enjoyed the resulting mix, and wanted to capture the story throughout the 40min session.

I’d describe this mix as mostly dark jackin’ house music sprinkled with soulful R&B samples or classic 2000s hip-hop.

Here’s the mix:

Start – Summertime energy

With the Seattle summer sunshine and gorgeous weather, I was feeling upbeat and light so I selected a track that reflected my mood. I started with a short upbeat track with light-hearted synths (La Douche – Funky Feels). From there I wanted to continue on the upbeat funky summer time feel but also pick it up just slightly. I dug out a track I loved from years back that has an infectious soulful feel, Sonny Fodera’s modern mix Dusty Springfield’s version of Spooky, with her deliciously smooth vocals.

Main course – Gettin’ dark, funky, and retro

After an upbeat and fun start, my energy levels were up and I took the feel towards a more jackin’ darker vibe. I came across a track that reminded me of Mos Def’s Miss Fat Booty, which in turn sampled an old Aretha Franklin track. I loved the deep jackin’ bass-line of this house version paired with the eerie Aretha Franklin vocals (Anhanguera – 2 Soon 2 Forget You).

At this point, a few themes will persist throughout the mix. I tended towards tracks sampling hip hop tracks and old R&B.

The dark jackin’ vibe at about 12 min sparked me to dig up a track I had come across in college, a house remix of Missy Elliot and Method Man’s “Bring the Pain.” From here the mix maintains the vibe as I progress through darker tracks which include another Wu Tang sample track, Claptone’s take on Wu-Tangs classic C.R.E.A.M., and yet another dark house track sampling an old R&B track, Irene Reid I – Must Be Doing Something Right, from the 1970’s .

Bringing it home – A little pop and fun

At about the 30 min mark I decided to change the mood again as I prepared to wrap things up. I found an interesting Claptone remix of a Disclosure – Omen, with a dark bass-line, spacey breakdown, and pop vocals, so I gave that a go to bring things more upbeat. The track has a long vocal intro without much else going on, which made for a serendipitous mix as I kept the dark bass-line of the previous track at the forefront of the mix.

After the pop-like direction, I thought I’d finish off on a similar direction and selected a catchy, playful track with easy going vocals and loops. I found the energy of this track to be along the same lines as I had started the session with. It felt like a good way to bring things full circle and ended the session as the final track played out.

In the 40 min that was the mix, I enjoyed the Seattle summer vibe, got some soulful feels in, danced around, reminisced on favorite hip hop tracks, got into a deep jackin’ house groove before finally picking things back up into a friendly vibe to end off.

 

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