Your Favorite DJs Name Their Favorite Michael Mayer Tracks

In the late ’90s and early 2000s, Cologne was the capital of slick, pop-centric minimal techno—and that’s largely due to the efforts of producer and DJ Michael Mayer. His prolific Kompakt label and Total Confusion club night shaped the sound of European minimal dance music and brought to term a now-legendary stable of artists including Wolfgang Voigt, Superpitcher and The Orb. His own output is similarly extensive, with over 23 EPs, 170 remixes, several officially released DJ mixes and, as of October, three LPs. The third is &, a !K7-signed collection of collaborations he helmed with longtime friends like Roman Flügel and Miss Kittin, some of whom contributed their favorite selections to our retrospective look at his huge catalog. See their picks below.

Gui Boratto: Supermayer, “Two Of Us” (Kompakt 2007)

“Why? Probably because I love the riff bells. They’re so creepy! I remember the first US tour I did with Michael. We played at Movement in Detroit. He played it in the middle of his set, and people were freaking out! I freaked out! Amazing tune!!!”

Barnt: Frank Martiniq, "Adriano (Michael Mayer Mix)" (Kompakt 2002)

“This came out around when I had just moved permanently to Cologne. Every Friday I would go to Total Confusion, which was Michael’s and Tobias Thomas’ now-legendary club night at Studio 627. The soundtrack of my start in Cologne. Pure trance.”

Camea: Michael Mayer, "Sneaker" (Kompakt 2002)

“It is hard to pick a favorite track of Michael’s, as he is one of of the most talented producers out there and he has been a big inspiration to me. I’m going to go with the first record that I bought by him in 2002: Speaker on Kompakt. Back in those days in the U.S., getting a Kompakt record from Germany was like finding a diamond in the rough. Both sides of this record were huge club hits, and I played them on my gigs in the Lower East Side of Manhattan for at least year. It was always in my bag. In fact, I still play it today, which says a lot about a producer that makes music so timeless that you can play it 14 years after it’s release! Kudos, Mr. Mayer.”

Matthew Dear: Michael Mayer, Immer (Kompakt 2002)

“I’m going to change things up slightly and say my favorite production by Mr. Mayer wasn’t a particular song of his, but instead his Immer DJ mix from 2002. This mix was an era-defining moment for myself and many other young dance music enthusiasts of the time. It was the first time I heard actual ‘songs’ being born from the scene and put onto a mix as opposed to technical tracks. It showed a lot of us young DJs and some already-established ones how to rethink the concept of a mix and make it more personal and heartfelt. There was also so much creative energy in and around the Kompakt crew at this time, and the mix encapsulated it all so well. This was back when your favorite CDs had scratches because they had been handled and played so often. Pretty sure my copy was hardly playable by the time I was finished with it.”

Locked Groove: Apparat, "Songs Of Los (Michael Mayer Remix)" (FM X 2012)

“It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I think this comes pretty close. I love the contrast between the big-room kicks and the lush synth and vocal work. Superb remix that gets me every time. It embodies what I hear in my mind when someone says ‘Michael Mayer’: beautiful soundscapes with enough drive and punch in the low end and percussion to make any dance floor move.”

Ivan Smagghe: Egoexpress, "Telefunken (Michael Mayer Mix)" (Ladomat 2000 1999)

“A bit of a forgotten one. That remix from Michael is very wrong—and I like wrong records. Firstly, it’s fast—’too fast,’ some would say. (Slow is the new black.) This is raw as meat. No sign of ‘posh trance’; we are punk here. And kind of rock? Or rock with drum machines? I have no clue what it is, and that’s usually a good sign. Also a good sign: the main riff shares a kindred spirit—albeit more groovy—with Rotterdam Termination Source’s ‘Poing’ in its simplicity, or Speedy J meeting LCD Soundsystem in a broken elevator. The fact that I sometimes play it at the wrong speed is not relevant, except that it ends up sounding like a bizarre instrumental of House Of Pain’s ‘Jump Around’.”

Bloody Mary: Michael Mayer, “Love Is Stronger Than Pride” (Kompakt Extra 2002)

“The first time I heard Michael Mayer DJ was in the early 2000s, before I moved to Berlin and when I was still living in the south of France. I was not really familiar with the Kompakt sound at the time, but after listening to Michael’s set that night, it really grew on me. I remember one particular track he played that stuck in my mind after the party. The following week, I went to my local record store and bought Speicher 2 on Kompakt. “Love Is Stronger Than Pride” by Michael Mayer is the track I’m talking about, and it has been in my collection since that day. I find the male vocals completely hypnotizing, and the lyrics are something I think everyone can relate to. Since my exposure to that track, I started following Michael and his label, Kompakt. I’m grateful to both Michael and the label for broadening my musical tastes and introducing me to artists I wasn’t familiar with before.”

Roman Flügel: Michael Mayer, "Action" (Kompakt 2016)

“My favorite M.M. track is ‘Action’ from Kompakt’s Total 16 compilation. It has an irresistible force caused by a fantastic groove combined with simplicity. What more can you expect from a techno track?”

Lawrence: Michael Mayer, "17&4" (Kompakt 1999)

“My all time fave by Michael Mayer is ’17&4′, an enormous monster of deepness that was released on the Kompakt Total 1 compilation in 1999. I’ve been playing it since that time! Whenever I put this lovely animal on the turntable, I get a tiny bit sentimental about how crazy and wonderful those days were. Though I’m so happy that music like this stays forever!”