Discover more from Herb Sundays
Herb Sundays: Oops, all DJs edition
DJs share their favorite mixes.
Its supposed to be the off-season but I can’t stop. I was encouraged by the response to last week’s newsletter about the joy of the recorded DJ mix, so I wanted to follow that path a bit further.
Last week’s post was really more of a musing or a thought bubble, but I then recalled that an actual journalist, Shawn Reynaldo had covered some of these topics recently including a deeper dive into the state of the DJ mix and into emerging web3 futures in his great First Floor substack. There’s also a recommended piece by Gabriel Szatan about the last mixtape renaissance almost a decade ago, centered around Galcher Lustwerk’s seminal 100% Galcher mix (more on that record soon).
So this week, I asked some actual living DJs for their favorite, or just deeply influential, mixes. You’ve read the “your favorite DJ’s favorite DJ” trope before but here we go, soul for real.
A lot of new discoveries and only a couple of duplicates, but unlike in album lists, you’ll not find any singular north star, it’s truly all over the map. Mixes are truly personal, and the romantic responses below speak to this.
I also asked each DJ for a mix of their own that they like or are happy with, which you can get to by clicking their name. So here you have like 70 handmade mixes, I am def taking next week off. Last note, I’m incredibly happy to have two of my Michigan mentors and music/DJ heroes Todd Osborn (Osborne/Soundmurderer) and Brendan Gillen/BMG in here. Here we go. - Sam
”RIP Spinbad! Rock the Casbah (1996) made every DJ I know feel like they were being lazy. And started a whole wave of intricate mixes.”
”Richard Fearless is a big influence and someone I look up to. This mix turned me on to so much good stuff.”
“Choosing a favorite mix is near impossible, so I chose something formative. Ron Hardy is the alchemist that made everything I care about come together. Feel the width of styles, the depth of the freakiness. There is so much power in these edits, in these selections, in his audio magnetism and aural hypnosis. Well, some of this might seem normal now, this is the person who found these things like these short elements of Kikrokos that sound more futuristic than Trans Europe Express which is from the same time, or getting to hear how Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes 1974 disco connects to Liaisons Dangereuses or hearing Prince in the context of Jack, it's just magic.”
Just one of the scores of time-capsule cassette-tape mixes recently unearthed on Fire Island, all up on The Pine Walk Collection page on Mixcloud. This one, recorded at the Ice Palace in the Pines, is from the glorious Roy Thode, a resident at the Saint and so many other hallowed halls of the '70s and '80s.
“What are mixes except auditory captures of a past time, fuzzy memories projected in between each note, every transition. I picked this one because it's the one I've listened to the most in the past 5 years, and each listen brings me to some of my happiest, most peaceful memories.”
“There are way too many Andrew Weatherall mixes for me to pick just one. He was probably my fave DJ of all time and as I didn't hear this one till after he passed, lets go with this..”
“ronja enriched my life with these incredible diversified compilations of quiet music”
“Everything I learned about DJing House music I learned from Frankie Knuckles Weekend Mixes on Hot 97 circa '90-'95. When I would come to NY in the summer, I would tape him on the radio, listen to that mix all year in Lincoln, NE until I returned to NY the next summer and this went on for years. I'd painstakingly search for all of the records in that radio mix all year..sometimes it would take me years to find the tracks (Many never got official releases). This is pretty much the gist of what those building block years were for me. Still get chills when I listen to this era of House.”
“Sasha from In Flagranti gave me this mix on CD when I was just starting to get a foot in DJing and promoting in NY. It had no tracklist and contained a bunch of edits of some obscure, some obvious, disco that were all pretty hard to identify. So it had so much mystery and otherworldliness about it that you just don't get with mixes these days.”
“This mix literally changed my entire brain. It made me rethink DJing as a whole, but it also just gave me a whole new perspective on the continuous groove that can be had vs. the build-up -> breakdown -> repeat cycle of most things.”
“Kuedo always did it for me with his mixes. It just felt so exciting and cutting edge. Hard to describe other then it felt magical and I was just a passenger on their ride.”
“Love the way it’s more than a mix, like a collage or original piece, blurs the lines between Dj mix and sample composition, when you think about it, the difference between the two can be quite arbitrary.”
”Pretty much the logical sequel to Pure Garage compilations in terms of pace and power, this is a romping bassline/4x4/niche hit parade, as presented by Bok Bok & Manara when Night Slugs was just a tiny SE London party and not yet a pacesetting label. Does more in 30min than most mixes accomplish in 3hrs, using dynamite material from the UK's overlooked North and Midlands (Birmingham, Sheffield, Leeds, Bradford, etc) which completely evaporated from the rotation of tastemakers after only a few months c.2007-08 — for shame. Makes a great argument for why wobblers should roam the earth again, and how about that Mariah remix at the death? Chef's kiss mate.”
“quavius brings back all the rare moments of joy driving up and down I-95 during early pandemic, super infectious track selection, combines everything i like about quavius' productions as well”
“Kerri is a genius. He’s a true afro-futurist and master of audio technology that I look up to, and am inspired by. This mix by him represents all of that.”
“Ordered this from Tape Kingz during my very brief stint at Eastern Michigan in the fall of 1994. Classic mix from the man that was making the best shit in hip hop at the time. RIP Greg Tate.”
“I remember getting this when it came out in 2004. Optimo Kill the DJ, Kon & Amir On Track series and Beats in Space were always mixes I reached for but this Rub N Tug CD was just something else. It was a party with all the people, styles, tempos and quick transitions. Captured themselves and what it was like to hear them out. Ahhh memories of early 2000s NYC...”
“You could feel the fun in this mix. It's raw in a good way. The track selection is great and Claude's skills on the decks have always been top-notch.”
“This was my intro to rave. It blew my mind when I heard it turning me into a raver for life and and still hits the spot to this day.”
“A fave mix that came to mind in this hazy, post-Movement weekend bliss is Jiro Bevis' Soft Rock Special on NTS. After dancing my @$$ off all weekend to thumping house and techno, it's a relief to hear some calming, classic rock. Pairs well with: beachy days, boat rides, bonfires, and buds.”
“This Armando Mix is just...sonically the best headspace — every mix sounds like a table cloth being pulled and all the cutlery staying on the table, but so close to it all falling apart and causing a scene. Super brash. The radio commentary alongside as well that ducks the audio out, the compression — it's all so perfect.”
“Jan Schulte is a big big digger and collector with impeccable taste and big heart, that closely mirrors my own tastes, so his mixes are always an inspiration as I mess around in the dirt looking for new ideas to light the flame of a new track”
“The rawness of the mix / session was nothing i've ever heard before at that point. I was already deep into breakcore at that point, but this had the full weight of sound system culture behind it, converging the best of dancehall, jungle and extreme club music into one monumental moment.”
“I was lucky enough to witness this in person & it takes me back to that wonderful moment, my eyes were opened to the beauty of speed garage.”
“Eris is my partner, but also my favorite DJ (even before I knew she had a crush back on me 💙) This mix includes my song Daylight which was an unexpected surprise when I first heard it. It made me cry”
“Tornado Wallace making dollar records sound priceless.”
Rob Sevier (Chicago, The Numero Group) - DJ Premier - Crooklyn Cuts III
“(because 1996, Brooklyn)”
“This mix just completely and utterly blew my mind. The juxtaposition of so many seemingly disparate elements all came together seamlessly to create an altogether otherworldly and straight-up fresh new sound, especially for that era. From the scope of different musical influences to the pairing of frenetic breaks and almost lulling baselines, esp. those massive 808 subs, the unabashed
musicality was on full display here.”
Soela (Berlin) - kettenkarussell mix
“This mix helps me to think and observe. I was listening to it a lot when I had depression, and I was able to escape the world and problems for quite some time while going somewhere with my headphones on.”
“Frankie Knuckles. Bronx Legend - God Father of House. As a Bronx Native and figurehead of a brand new subgenre of house music, It all just lines up for me. The Ariana Grande remix always gets me. RIP.”
“I can’t remember a set at any time that introduced me to more killer records- I had never heard italo, had limited experience of real electro…. And this just blew my mind/ I know for a fact it was the first time I heard Spacer Woman, Mr.Flagio AND Problemes D’-amours. So the impact was instant and massive. Also/ it was around 2000-2001 where I was getting a chance to spread my wings- and this just inspired me more.”
“This tape is what "turned me on" to the rave in 1991 and still takes me back to the halcyon days of San Francisco. Needs to be heard in its entirety but wow. Still gives me the chills. Scott Hardkiss. RIP Scott - One of the best tapes I’ve ever heard to this day (Jenö -"Inspiration" is a close 2nd).”
Toby Feltwell (Tokyo, Cav Empt) - DJ Kicks: Claude Young ) (see above)
“It's the best! Life changing!”
“This Gemini mix is amazing. He seemed to have disappeared off the face of the earth in the late 90's. It's hard to find any of his DJ sets recorded and when you hear this one you'll get a great window into how great his track selection and mix is and will leave you searching for more.”
“an utterly essential series of compilations that transformed the UK underground as well as inspired generations of homegrown electronic music makers. Tough to choose a favourite but this mixed by Herbie from the London soundsystem Mastermind probably was my most listened to.”
“This classic mix by Gilles Peterson dates back to 1997, before mixcloud, soundcloud and all the clouds. I copped this at Tower Records in Atlanta and it led to many a discovery, including Jazzanova.”