“I see you baby / Shaking that ass.” This lyric from 90′s dance superstars Groove Armada’s “I See You Baby,” out at a time when the U.K. was producing crossover big beat heaters left and right, is one of the most recognizable lines in dance music. Straight to the point, it’s a jab to get a crowd moving everything below the waistline on the dancefloor and the reason it’s had staying power is because it works.
DMV native Henri Charuau, known as the DJ and producer Riffa, is the kind of rave-minded, young blood producer who understands the weight and gravitas of such a legacy. Using the sample in his latest original, “Graffiti,” Riffa contextualizes grime and bass with wonky idiosyncrasies updating the Groove Armada ear worm into a banger worthy of Dirtybird’s catalog. Classing it up a level above standard G-house fare, the track understands the ‘less is more’ rule laying down a thick layer of kick, hi-hats, and snare which move like clockwork allowing the edit to revel in its beautiful simplicity.
Right now it’s available as a free download on SoundCloud. Listen to “Graffiti” by Riffa below.
The Cyprus producer Transposon recently gave us a journey of a track, premiered by Soundspace. The swirling techno production is filled with whirring synths that fall in and out of tune and is accompanied by an extremely pitched down vocal sample. Transposon takes you through some 4-to-the-floor techno then throws in some old-school breaks that ends up giving it a nostalgic feel. It’s out on Tessier-Ashpool Records so grab it up!
Jersey-based producer, promoter, and artist Ezrakh flipped the script on us for his birthday this year, giving the public a Present. You might know him as the co-founder of the legendary #THREAD parties, or maybe as a member of the pioneering Brick Bandits crew. But with his latest mixtape, Ezrakh gives us further proof that he’s a musical force to be reckoned with. The 8-track Present draws on an eclectic range of influences from folk to hip-hop to r&b to house to club music, all of which shine through at strategic moments throughout the tape.
While the project’s component parts come from all over the place, the tape has a cohesive, coherent overall feel: whether chopping up sax samples on housey jam “Little Things” or simultaneously channeling Tom Waits, Raury, and the guy who writes the copy for Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap on “One”, Ezrakh opens a window into his experiences and ideas about the past, future and Present. At times boastful and at times vaguely inspirational (“Open your eyes and see it all starts with you / universal truth, universal you”), Present is accessible, but thoughtful; respectful, but playful; and forward-thinking, but nostalgic.
For my money, the most evocative moment on the project is the instrumental outro of “Somethin bout Love,” where Ezrakh’s guitar floats over a deep club kick pattern and a barely-there vocal chop – all elements you might find on a traditional Jersey club record, but totally reimagined. Ezrakh pays homage not only to Jersey’s club tradition, but to its storied house roots also. If you’re a fan of urban music, dance music, or urban dance music, you’ll find this tape relevant and refreshing.
The Blinkhorn Batch is a deliberate and meticulous selection of new dark, deep, and occasionally sinister sounds followed by a classic production of the same style. This ongoing series of posts is curated by Blisspop author Patrick Blinkhorn.
Starting off this installment of The Blinkhorn Batch is Norwegian artist Todd Terje’s remix of Dolly Parton’s classic song, “Jolene.” Terje’s remix is a slow burner in every sense – he sets a house-centric atmosphere, waiting until 2:28 to bring in Dolly’s iconic vocals. After Dolly belts the hook, Terje accompanies her voice with his funk-infused variation of a classic country walking bass line. At roughly ten months old, Terje’s remix is not new, but it’s still fresh. Listen to and download “Jolene (Todd Terje Remix).”
Now down the rabbit hole we go, into the dark abyss also known as techno.
Techno hoss Alan Fitzpatrick is back with a dark, driving track on Drumcode. Fitzpatrick makes good use of effects, sound design, and a heavy kick to make “Eternia” memorable. Listen here:
This week’s classic is Pleasurekraft’s “Tarantula.” With a perfect kick drum, compelling percussion, and of course, the eerie tarantula-esque sample, “Tarantula” is a necessary track in every DJ’s library. Listen to a snippet of “Tarantula” here:
Track of the Year
My criteria for “Track of the Year” is centrally focused around crossover appeal and what song can transcend genres, sub-genres, and sub-sub-genres to appeal to dance fans all over. So, with that being said, my selection goes to Oliver Heldens and Shaun Frank for “Shades of Grey” featuring Delaney Jane. It’s an awesome, energetic dance track with serious grooviness and deep house vibes – the ones that have declared supremacy in the game right now.
Honorable mentions: Airwolf, “Lose the Lazy”; Penthouse Penthouse, “69 Camaro.”
Artist of the Year
This has to go to JackLNDN. After dropping Summer Never Ends Volumes 1 and 2 as well as the Drop Out EP, this guy still has enough time to drop some of the best remixes and singles I’ve heard all year. 2014 was a break out year for him, he really stepped up in 2015, and stood as someone who was dropping fire nearly every week. Smooth nu disco and deep house vibes on top of superb production and live skills makes JackLNDN the top artist of 2015!
Honorable mentions: Blonde, Amtrac.
Best New Artist
This was a super tough decision. I’m blowing this one out to encompass the entire wave of indie dance producers in Australia that have redefined the entire nu disco genre. This includes Airwolf, Young Franco, Tyler Touché, etc. All of these guys have dropped masterful singles or innovative remixes that are absolutely funky and refreshing. Hard to pick just one of them, so they all deserve credit as “new” artists that I believe made a major impact in 2015.
2015′s best remix will go to The Magician for his remix of Blonde’s “All Cried Out” featuring Alex Newell. The original was a gem of a track: one that was not only energetic and danceable, but emotional and heartfelt. Yet, The Magician took his magic and created an absolutely beautiful touch up that put the song on fleck with deep, bass-heavy vibes and a filtered, French feel – a beauty!
Honorable mention: Lianna Le Havas, “What You Don’t Do (Grades Remix).”
There weren’t to many full-length LPs that stuck out to me in 2015, however there were a number of EPs. My favorite would be Page One is Love by Aeroplane. All three tracks on it are remarkable and could be singles if he really wanted. This Belgian is a genius and truly is one of the best in the dance game.
Favorite Show of the Year
My favorite show of 2015 was Bit Funk and JackLNDN’s visit to U Street Music Hall in May. It was a sold out monstrosity of an evening. I’ve never danced so much in my life. They ripped up the venue in a way I’ve never seen before, dropping new tracks and rare remixes that were beyond blissful. Truly awesome.
Label of the Year
To be honest, no label stuck out to me. The internet has changed the game and I’m not a huge fan of the major EDM labels signing independent artists. So, with that, I say a big ol’ N/A.
DC Artist to Watch
I saw her opening for a couple of awesome artists in 2015, and I think its time she breaks out with her particular brand of the ‘French Touch’ and indie dance, thus my vote goes to Eau Claire. In 2015, we saw her drop some visible bangers and mixes in her remix of Golden Coast’s “Futurist” and her MOARRR mix. I’m a big fan and I think she has a unique offering that enthusiasts of nu disco will adore. Looking forward to her Feed Me Disco series in 2016!
Honorable mention: Julius Jetson