Played Out: DJ Bone Explains His Bloc Weekender Set

If  you’ve ever had doubts about the expressive potential of turntables and vinyl, look no further than Detroit native DJ Bone to teach you the truth. The painfully underrated selector, producer and label owner mixes with three or four decks at once, morphing classicist techno into something unfamiliar and genuinely exhilarating. Here, he unpacks the method and philosophy behind his charging whorl of sound, taken direct from a Sunday night set at Bloc. Weekend festival in England. You can watch the whole set on Boiler Room; the part he describes below starts at 28:00.

PLACE: Bloc. Weekend, Minehead/TIME: 7:28 P.M. Sunday/Festival Closing Night

1. DJ Bone – “Detroit Is…Hard”

This is my current peak time favorite. It’s a banger, but the sentiment comes straight from the heart. I went into my studio, expressed myself, and this was the result. I played this to give the crowd a glimpse into my vision of Detroit. It references what Detroit is—not only for me and many of my peeps, but also for music fans around the world whose basis for techno stems from Detroit electronic music. It bangs hard but there’s a melodic key line and vocals of dedication to offset the heavy drums.

Heat, mood and intensity are my gauges in the mix. To take things even higher, I needed a dark, charging follow up.

2. Planetary Assault Systems – “Rip the Cut”

Luke Slater, aka Planetary Assault Systems, is a master of his craft. This track is complete mayhem! It has that tribal feel that I love and fades into sinister territory while remaining funky. It’s very deliberate, almost like it’s in a hurry to reach its destination. Luke has this form of expression in some of his tracks that’s truly amazing. Honestly, my intention was to go from “Detroit…Is Hard” to “Rip the Cut” in order to tear the roof off the place.

Fade in my remix of “Strings of Life” while the two previous tracks continue. Don’t forget I’m using three decks here! I cut faders in and out to introduce different elements while making sure I maintain the beat. I finally remove everything but “Strings” when that piano line drops.

3. Rhythim is Rhythim – “Strings of Life (DJ Bone Remix)”

This is an unreleased remix I made of Derrick May’s “Strings of Life.” There have been so many remixes but I wasn’t feeling any of them. I felt this classic needed an aggressive update. I introduced organic percussion and chants that get things popping, only to have it all drop out for the infamous piano line. It’s a yin and yang thing here. Old school becomes new school, preserving an important piece of history for me and remaining true to the roots.

While the percussive elements of the remix battle it out with the beautiful strings and piano, I fade in the aptly titled “Distracted” by Ø [Phase]. This queazy, hypnotic track floats well on top of “Strings.”

4. Ø [Phase] – “Distracted”

This came out on Token Records in 2013 but I still find myself drawn to it. Ø [Phase] has made several tracks that convey certain moods very well. “Distracted” has a wandering, seasick synth line but it never goes too far out. This sort of sound is a perfect way to disrupt a typical four-to-the-floor loving crowd. I use this track as a transition from one mood to another. It seems to hang in mid-air.

The next mix brings together two very bouncy tracks that really swing. A sort of giddy-up vibe is created.

5. Ben Sims featuring Paul Mac – “Can’t You See?”

I received this gem from Mr. Sims quite a while back and have been running it non-stop ever since. I’m not sure if or when it had a proper release. Also, the title may have been changed. It’s a very hypnotic track with a disco essence to it. It’s the choppy sample edits that give it its soul. These relentless, unapologetic twists and turns fit my style of DJing perfectly.