Every summer deserves its anthem–the track that follows you around from dancefloor to dancefloor, the one that’ll always remind you of that time and those people. In another timeline, we’d have established the contenders by now, but this year’s soundtrack is bound to be more personal, defined by our headphones and our closest crew.
This month’s best mixes tap into that feeling too, with DJs stamping their personality onto every selection. Highlights from July’s haul include music critic Xela defining “femboy heaters” and Rizu X leading us into a dark fairytale of her own productions. UNIIQU3 highlights women producers on an East Coast celebration and Atlanta’s Zaida casts her net wide for a polygenre workout. Plus, a blissful sunrise session picked by Powder, a ridiculous slab of mutant club moves from AYA, and Haider rewinds to the peak of Sheffield bassline.
Before that, two sisterly bonus mixes that shouldn’t be missed: Club Chai co-founder Lara Sarkissian shows us the sounds of Armenia on a radio special and Hooversounds boss Naina celebrates Bollywood’s best club moments.
Zaida – Discwoman 95
Reporting from Atlanta, Zaida gives us a taste of clubbing down South on her breathless and expressive session for Discwoman. Moving in the same circles as local talents Leonce and Helix, her approach to the decks is fluid and conversational, adding layers of effects in order to make smooth left-turns into R&B, house, electro, and techno from across eras. It’s not often you hear such a varied tracklist fit together so tightly–expect Cardi vocals, samba whistles, UK garage divas, and Arabic hand drums, with no idea hanging about for too long.
Powder – Live at Love International 2019
In our long dark summer of canceled festivals, it almost hurts to think about where we should be right now, at the height of the season. But take a tip: find a calm spot near water (ideally ocean; canal will suffice), crack open something with bubbles, and sink your whole self into this recording of Powder’s sunrise session from Love International last year. We’ve hazy memories of hearing these beautiful records and wondering if we’d ever hear them again–blissful, chugging AM selections, including Rudoulpho, Young American Primitive, and Levon Vincent.
AYA – Bandcamp Week Mix for Crack
If anything good has come of the last few months, it’s probably come from Bandcamp–god knows how many rent payments were made thanks to those fee-waiver days this spring and summer. (Lucky landlords, huh!) To mark July’s fee-waiver day, Crack invited a selection of DJs (including Ron Trent and FAUZIA) to put together a Bandcamp-friendly mix with a shoppable tracklist. They’re all worthy of inclusion, but AYA’s mix shines a light on a certain stratum of wired nu club music, offering a 2020 take on punk, trance, grime and techno, among other unsavoury urges. Open your heart and your wallet for Warsaw’s Baby Meelo, NYC’s Deli Girls and C Powers, Miami’s Nick León, and an assortment of underground artists with lower-case names and ridiculous track titles.
UNIIQU3 – Recognise Mix
Before coronavirus, Jersey club icon UNIIQU3 had started PBNJ, a monthly party rotating between the famed club cities of Philadelphia, Baltimore, and New Jersey. It’s this kind of community focus that fuels her spectacular mix for DJ Mag’s Recognise series, in which she keeps it East Coast-influenced and crafted by women. Featuring music from Jubilee, Suzi Analog, Rye Rye and UK allies Anz and KG, the mix travels far beyond the confines of classic Jersey club, demonstrating the huge influence these cities have had on the sound of modern dance music without stopping for breath.
Xela – femboy heaters
As a writer, musician, DJ, and former boss of legendary label Type, John Xela has been involved in some of the most influential scenes of the past two decades. Are they the Kevin Bacon of weirdo club noise? Possibly. It’s been many years since they last recorded a mix, but femboy heaters was worth the wait. The result is “a chaotic blend of ideas I’ve been playing with for years,” Xela explains, the latest iteration of the “pure eclectic mashed up noise-bass weirdness” continuum they’ve been obsessed with since 2002. Skidding wildly between Basic Rhythm and Young L, Siete Catorce and Cassie, it’s a multi-deck meltdown crowned with a revelatory Autechre x Miley Cyrus blend.
Haider for Untitled 909
Back in the early noughties, Haider was known as DS1 and a regular at legendary Sheffield nightclub Niche – a venue that gave its name to a style of music later to become known as bassline. The club closed in 2005, just as the “Niche” sound hit its peak, but bassline lives on in many guises. Haider is making moody electro these days, but for Untitled 909 he delves into his old crates to put together a fast and furious bassline mix. “I bought 90% of these records from Studiobeatz in Sheffield in 2005,” he says. “I would go to Niche pretty much every weekend and spend most of the week in Studiobeatz helping around the shop.” Note how these tracks rush rather than roll, possessing a speedy finesse that’s quite different to the latest wave of bassline, with its bolshy EDM trimmings.
Rizu X – Radio Buttons 98
Cómeme affiliate Rizu X makes music that’s sometimes described as “dystopian,” as she says of her mix for Berlin’s Radio Buttons. But if that word conjures up sci-fi visions of apocalyptic futures, this hour of music is more like a dark fairytale, or a journey into the collective unconscious. The Berlin-based artist puts together a selection of her own tracks, including unreleased material and demos, that are (obviously) a “projection of current times”. The result is a pensive and cloudy session of off-kilter rhythms and rough surfaces, a landscape where dreams and nightmares coalesce.
Chal Ravens is a freelance writer based in London. Find her on Twitter.