EB’s new B2Beats mix series spotlights the creative bonds between selectors. For decades, electronic music has united entire subcultural communities, but scene-building often grows out of those initial close-knit collaborations. B2Beats delves into the unique personal relationships and sonic conversations that emerge from sharing an hour-long session on the decks.
Their friendship began, quite literally, with a spark. Neana recalls standing outside Berlin venue OHM, where he and AUCO initially met and played their very first unexpected b2b in mid-July of 2017. “The only thing I remember saying to you that night is like, ‘Oh, you want to go smoke a zoot?’” Neana tells me, “And you were like, ‘Did you just say zoot?’” AUCO, who takes the pronouns they/them, laughs along, “Oh that was so nice to hear that word! I think I hadn’t heard it in ages.”
For the two UK expats, slang, kush, and propulsive club music signaled an immediate common ground for the two rather unlikely best friends. As the pair sit across from one another on the overstuffed couch in front of me, munching on salted dark chocolates and passing around a freshly-lit spliff, it’s clear the ways in which their mismatch works.
Neana, a self-contained blonde from the Lakes District who was formerly affiliated with Night Slugs, is so soft-spoken during moments in our interview that I’m concerned the microphone won’t pick up his responses. AUCO, meanwhile, blew into the meeting half an hour late like a classic Londoner. A member of Berlin’s No Shade collective, they teem with a chatty, chaotic energy. Each of them hold opposing, yet complimentary temperaments–which also translates into their DJ sets, too.
As AUCO puts it, “I play jungle, whereas Neana’s more into a vocal, RnB kind of style. He adds a sunshine element. Then I bring more of a dark side.” Neana agrees, also noting, “That contrasts interestingly in a b2b as well because you get that element that you wouldn’t normally have in your own sets. You get to expand.”
That’s why, over the course of their two-year friendship, they sometimes find themselves swapping their usual sensibilities. “Say like one day I’ll be playing dark tunes and AUCO will be playing super sweet RnB tunes,” Neana explains, “And then the next day AUCO will be playing some really heavy stuff and I just want to mix RnB into it, some like spicy whatever. So there’s always this fun balance.”
But what drew the two Berlin transplants together the most was strengthening a sense of community in a brand new city. Music, for someone as reserved as Neana, is a bonding opportunity and “another kind of conversation,” he says, “because I just can play tunes with someone for just an hour and already feel like I know them.” AUCO wanted to take this one step further by founding a club night, named after one of their favorite books by David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest: “ I’d never been on the same line-ups as any of my mates, so I wanted to have an opportunity for us to be all together.”
And that’s how their party endeavor Infinite Quest was born. For AUCO, in particular, who had just started DJing after No Shade’s mentorship program in 2017, Quest’s endless b2b format was a way for them to learn new blending techniques from the people they respected the most. Plus, they add, “it’s just nice to let two of your mates play some fun tracks together, and get into a little battle or game.”
Their kickoff at the dingy bar Chausseestraße 131 in Mitte felt more like a family reunion than a traditional gig. The official line up included footwork prodigy DJ Paypal and Philly’s very own Kieran Loftus, but Blasé Vanguard, Anz, and her partner Jungle Joe blew through through as the special unannounced acts. Hard Drum frontrunner MM was in town for a Sukuk and Bratwurst gig and also dropped into the continuous b2b.
But perhaps the most surprising special guest, although he didn’t perform, was grime legend D Double E, who ambled into the crowded space with seemingly no connection to any of the other partygoers. Other notable artists who have passed through the Quest roster over the course of their six parties include Asmara, Dis Fig, DJ JM, and TD_Nasty. Everything from hard drum, hip-hop, grime, afrobeats, jungle, hardcore, to ballroom sounds percolate throughout the dancefloor–which is now located in Kake, a queer art space in Neukölln.
For their B2Beats debut, AUCO and Neana conceptualized the mix as an evening’s gradual escalation, from pre-drinks all the way to after hours or, as they put it, “an early night then a late night kind of vibe.” Within is a potent cocktail of genres including tracks—in true Infinite Quest style—created by close friends, with a few offbeat foreign downloads thrown in. In brief, it’s a b2b that’s simply overjoyed to spark one up and throw down.
Tracks mixed by Neana (N) and Auco (A)
1. Teyana Taylor & Kehlani, “Morning” (N)
2. Gaia Beat, “Espalha” (N)
3. Neana, “Neural Grease” (N)
4. DJ Flex, “Egg Plant Afrobeat (ft. AStar EDouble)” (A)
5. B.Ames & Jojo GF, “Kittybox” (A)
6. DJ Swisha, “High With U” (A)
7. Leonce, “Shade Incarnate (Instrumental)” (A)
8. Addictive, “Bad Girl ( Champion RMX)” (N)
9. DVA & KG, “B2L” (N)
10. Florentino, “Na Fuga (feat. MC Bin Laden & MC Buzzz)” (N)
11. DJ Nigga Fox, “Talanzele” (N)
12. LSDXOXO, “Truth or Dare” (A)
13. A1 Baseline, “Falsehood” (A)
14. Gage, “E-Anthem” (N)
15. Vjuan Allure, “Picasso Rembrandt” (A)
16. Jumping Back Slash, “Untitled Darknezz” (A)
17. Quest?onMarc & Neana, “Fantasy YER” (N)
18. BbyMutha, “Dark n Lovely (Byrell The Great RMX)” (N)
19. Martyn Bootyspoon, “Spread That Kat” (A)
20. Helix, “No New Way Back” (A)
21. Ikonika, “Primer” (A)
22. Quest?onMarc, “Midnight Request Line RMX” (N)
23. Leikeli47, “Bad Gyal Flex” (N)
24. Neana, “Digiworld” (N)
25. Girl Unit, “Wut (Remix)” (A)
26. Jamin, “Go DJ” (A)
27. Anz, “Loa” (A)
28. Neana, “SlimTim” (N)
29. YGG, “Any Violations” (N)
30. Quest?onMarc & Neana, “Long Night @ Long Island City” (A)
31. Digga D, “No Diet” (A)
32. Auco & Neana, “Infinite Quest 3” (N)
33. Tre Oh Fie, “No Letting Go” (N)
34. TD_Nasty, ??? (A)
Whitney Wei is the Editor-in-Chief of Electronic Beats. Follow her on Instagram.