Played Out: The Science Of ItaloJohnson’s Peak-Time Sets

01. ItaloJohnson_Press_Shot
The guys behind Berlin's most enigmatic trio of party-rocking DJs break down how they sequence and select a classy and effective banger marathon.

PLACE: The Dance Tunnel in London
TIME: 2 a.m.—Peak hour

1. Dennis Ferrer, “Underground Is My Home (Instrumental)” (King Street)

The three of us rarely get to play warm-up sets anymore. We usually start in the middle of the night, so we don’t ever play epic intros. “Underground Is My Home (Instrumental)” is perfectly armed to start out peak-time because it packs a hard kick, proper sub and a murder midrange bass. Every element of this tune has its own frequency range, which help us figure out what works on the sound system. We prefer sub-heavy systems so we don’t have to play too many howling sounds. This tune simply creates silence and tension on the floor without putting the club to sleep. It lets you wait for more.

“Underground Is My Home” is sneaky and repetitive, so it’s perfect to tiptoe the swinging hi-hats and drum breaks of ITJ10 on top of it to ad more midrange and sound to the mix.

2. ItaloJohnson, “ITJ10-A1” (ItaloJohnson)

Why not pick one of our own tunes? Track number one from our latest release will definitely blow the lid off—peak time! Our productions are always affected by the clubs and cities where we regularly play—especially London and the Dance Tunnel. Playing in the UK for almost 5 years has left its traces, so we’ve been experimenting more with breaks and low ends.There’s no need for false modesty; “ITJ10-A1” gets the job done.

Even though ITJ10 A1 is quite busy in terms of drums, there’s still headroom to push into.

3. Delta Funktionen, “Redemption” (Delsin)

There’s no such thing as an ItaloJohnson set without a proper techno banger. This track off Delta’s first LP is a weapon and without any doubt the ultimate basement track, which is perfect for the Dance Tunnel since the location is below ground. With its hollow FM bass sounds, its rather jacking drums and its pumping mix, “Redemption” is made to bring out the best of the tunnel’s PA.

After a pumping sci-fi banger it’s time for some dope breaks because we don’t want to lose the floor over too many straight kicks.

4. Benton, “The Callin’” (Benton Beats)

When we play in the UK and especially London, we always pack some golden era-referencing jungle or bass cuts. British ravers still appreciate classy breaks, and it seems like it’s in their blood to move their butts to broken beats—and we’re happy to pay our respects and contribute to that school. “The Callin’” is a massive choon, and after a series of straight-ass house and techno bangers, a soothing change.

After a twister of snare drums and screaming vocals, it’s time to calm things down a bit and give the Tunnel dancers a chance to hug their neighbor.

5. Maas, “Look At Me Now, Falling (I-Cube Simple Mix)” (Soma Quality Recordings)

This is one big and classy Soma tune, at least to us. It never gets old and it kicks ass to finish a sweaty set with. We banged this one out the very first time we played at the Dance Tunnel in March 2013, and we’ve finished our sets there with it ever since. There wasn’t a set at the Tunnel where people didn’t throw heaps of hand hearts at us or stood in line for a brotherly fist bump when “Look At Me Now, Falling” was on.

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