It’s that time of the year when we look at what has happened, what we enjoyed and what we didn’t, our environment and all the other factors in life.
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Firstly, let me congratulate you. If you are reading this, it means you survived 2015. One of the worst years I can think of in recent times for environment. No, not the environment like greenhouse gases, environment as in what has been happening in the world. 2015 has been pretty grim and we have seen a lot of ignorance and hatred, two things as a well-adjusted member of society and also a house music lover I can’t stand. And there has been a lot of that. Bombings, violent attacks, general out and out racism, prejudice and ignorance have been big news.
Closer to home, we have also moved into the land of the Geordie shores era in clubs. Nu-Wags and Weekend warriors everywhere! You know how to spot them. Weekend warriors have quiffs, short jeans, brogues with no socks, floral shirts from Top Man and spend the week doing steroids and protein and the weekend doing cocaine and lager. Oh, and fighting and ruining your night. The Nu-Wags have constantly surprised eyebrows, orange skin, a pout like a catfish and tend to generally do more gear than any of the men do. Yeah, they’ll also ruin your night. This era has also left us in a state where we have to promote to people what consent it. I mean really? CONSENT!!! No means no, if you get told no, back off and leave people alone. If they are too drunk to tell you no, that’s a no. If they are unconscious, that’s also a no. If they said yes and now are saying no, it’s a no! You should be flattered that someone wants to sleep with you; it’s a privilege and not a right.
We also got further bombarded by new “Deep House” remixes of RnB tracks. The first few were great but they just seem to keep coming and coming this year. The vast majority sounding like a mash-up of Robin S’ “Show Me Love” and whatever track it was and as I say, some were good. Most weren’t. EDM was on the headlines a lot, mostly due to America’s general debauchery around it, again, issues around “Bro-Culture” (America’s equivalent to Weekend Warriors), the massive increase of use of very unsafe drugs, people performing very strong sexual acts in the middle of stadium crowds and its increasingly generic sound. There was also the really unfortunate incident on the Mad Decent cruise. If you are from America, props to you for surviving EDM, the police, Donald Trump and the wrath of Deadmau5 on twitter!
As the year ends, not only are the majorities’ beards longer and more well groomed, “as is Seth Troxler’s moustache” exclaims Startifacts. We actually see a sense of unity from most. At an absolutely tragic cost I might add. All I need say is Paris. I was DJing that night and didn’t see what had happened until the end of the night but it was too awful for words. At least it seems most people feel the need to unite afterwards rather than divide. Our thoughts are with all those affected by such acts this year.
So I bet you feel pretty depressed after all of that, but hold on. 2015 was a pretty awesome year as well! Loads of really cool stuff happened too!
Ireland legalise same-sex marriage, we had a new royal baby, throwbacks on films like Back To The Future and Star Wars, we had a solar eclipse, the Dali Lama did a set at Glastonbury, we had a mini heat wave in July, the England Women’s football team did really well at the world cup (much better than the men can I might add!) and we hosted the Rugby World Cup and finally got a new Dr. Dre album to name but a few! We also had a pretty good season in Ibiza which included the locals successfully rejecting “Ibiza Shore” from filming there for MTV and another great Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE).
But the best thing about this year… Some great music!
The Music of 2015
First of all some shout outs. Big up to Low Steppa, Endor and James Hype for putting out some absolute fire remixes and original work of their own. These guys have to be the people who I have had most material from throughout the year. And I have enjoyed playing their music and always get an excellent reaction from it. I wish continued success to them for next year.
We had great albums from Julio Bashmore, Dr. Dre, Disclosure, Claptone and J. Cole to name but a few, although if we have to admit it, we all were a little disappointed that Disclosure’s album didn’t have a few more upbeat club friendly cuts on it!
Then we have Where are U Now. I have to admit, although this track was released in February, it took me ages to get it. The first time I heard any version of the track, it was actually the Knocks bootleg of the track and Kono had hit me up and recommended it as he added it to the site for download. I was kind of confused the Kono would even consider a Justin Bieber record on Dirty Disco Radio if I am completely honest, but as I do, I trusted him and took a listen. And I loved it!
It took me back to the days of funky house at its finest and even though it was Bieber, the vocals were clean sounding, romantic and likeable. I had no interest in the original record, and I knew for a fact I wouldn’t be playing the original of a Justin Bieber record in one of my sets so I stuck with what was recommended and played the knocks bootleg.
2 or 3 weeks later I heard the original and thought what the fuck?! It wasn’t dubstep, it wasn’t EDM, it wasn’t really anything I knew in a pure form. It was of course, close to the sound I had grown used to from Diplo with Major Lazer, but they hadn’t done anything I had liked recently as much as their early stuff but at the same time, that groove that made it halfway between house and dancehall (two of my favourite forms of music) meant I couldn’t entirely turn my ignore it.
We then had this controversy over some comments made about 9/11 on one of the video slides. If you have actually watched the video, you will know that was freedom of speech and not a subliminal from the musical artists involved. Even trying to rally the hate of the American public didn’t seem to be able to de-rail this surprising collaboration.
I simply haven’t got enough time, energy or space to write about how much Deadmau5 hates this track and everyone involved in it and how much coverage this has caused this year. He made a parody of the track and put it on soundcloud, he said it sucked donkey balls (or something to that effect) and endlessly trolled it but in all fact, if he spent half as much time on music as he does being the biggest dance related bully on the internet, he would be the one in the limelight. It’s really very sad to see a man of his talent and someone who is blessed to be a full time musician and DJ and make a LOT of money from his career become so bitter and twisted about other artists, I hope whatever issue he is currently dealing with, he overcomes it soon.
As I said, I didn’t get it (and I don’t think Deadmau5 does even still) for ages. I’m sure after first hearing the full original version I referred to it and something along the lines of “dodgy flute music.” Not that I have anything against flutes per se, they just aren’t my thing as a DJ!
It also resonated with the younger generation of EDM fans, and if I’m honest, I don’t really wish to be involved in that hands in the air, cake throwing, bro culture scene.
Moving towards the end of the summer, I’d not really thought about the track, I was more interested in what was coming out of the tail end of Ibiza, waiting for Disclosure’s new album, trying to find some house music that didn’t sound generic and a number of other things to even be considering any of the involved artists, and then it happened. It clicked.
Much in the same way I had had an epiphany listening to one of Idris Elba’s 7 Wallace sessions last year with “Walking With Elephants” by Ten Walls, I was listening to a radio session with Mistajam on BBC 1Xtra and the penny dropped. But more on that later (see September).
Less than 2 weeks later, the New York times publish a set of interviews with the boys regarding the record, discussing the making of, the use of drums, the “dolphin” noise (that I previously described as a flute) and much more. They also released a number of articles surrounding the track.
It’s left me thinking, is this one of the cleverest records of the year? I suspect it is. Maybe it’s the fact that Skrillex and Diplo are visionaries, or maybe not. You can’t dispute that they are talented producers, even if for the most part Skrillex’s music isn’t really the scene I enjoy, and it’s been quite some time since I enjoyed a track from Diplo quite as much. For a lot people, where are u now has been a grower.
Since then, I’ve been through the Jack U album and not found anything else I have enjoyed like where are u now or that stood out to me. The album is decidedly cast in a mixture of trap snares and drumrolls and EDM drops which most people who have listened to my sets know doesn’t really appeal to me, and really, where are u now shouldn’t appeal to me either. Truth be told, I can’t tell you why it does.
And that is the genius of it!
There are currently a lot of people talking about this track again, and I could break down much like they have, regarding the use of drums and snares and give you a full music lesson, but I’m not going to. You’ll have your own opinion, whether you like it or not, why you like or dislike it, if it’s cool to like it or not because of Bieber or the EDM scene, and any number of other factors.
Regardless, this track from three people who you usually wouldn’t associate with each other (well maybe Diplo and Skrillex) has become a great piece of mainstream pop. I know a lot of people think pop is a dirty word, but let’s not forget, most of Daft Punk’s stuff did well in the charts and can be considered pop as well. I’m not saying that where are u now will become one more time. That would be ludicrous.
Or would it?
Maybe the new generation of EDM kids have found their big anthem? There can’t be many dance singles that have gone multi-platinum so far this year right? Where are U now and this years, please-stop-asking-for-this-I’m-going-to-rip-my-ears-off classic in Felix Jaehn’s remix of Omi’s Cheerleader and one other. Ironically, Diplo has also become the person who created the “most streamed track ever” on Spotify. Under his alternative name Major Lazer (a collaboration with Washy Fire from Black Chiney) he released “Lean On” which at the time of writing has been streamed over 557 Million times! I think it safe to say Diplo won’t be stopping any time soon.
Highlights of The Year
January – Wish You Were Mine
I was a bit nervous of how we would start the year after such a great year last year, but we started with some great music. This one whether you like it or not due to its commercial nature, is still massively popular on the dance floor. Add to it that he’s from my home town of Nottingham as well maybe makes the appeal for this track to me too. I don’t tend to play the original much any more as I have some excellent (unofficial) remixes of this track. But here it is none-the-less.
February – Fade Out Lines
The original of Fade Out Lines was out the tail end of last year and is an amazing moody track, but when Endor dropped his remix of it, it became a completely different beast for me. The re-imagining of this track into a moody bassline driven and key heavy track was a highlight for me. I also played it on my first guest mix on Dirty Disco Radio which also gives it a sentimental value too.
March – Talk Talk
The Moon Boots remix of George Maple’s Talk Talk is where I first came across Moon Boots and I’ve been getting stuff by them since. This is a lovely down tempo warm sounding track which is a great way to start sets. This track will often be overlooked due to the fact it’s not been a massive track commercially but it should definitely not be ignored!
April – Liquid Spirit
Whilst having a discussion with a good friend of mine, DJ Damian Wells, he mentioned that I should check this track out. The Claptone remix of this is just brilliant and it even got the heavily hat-laden Gregory Porter out to perform a live P.A. out in Ibiza for Radio 1’s Ibiza weekend over the summer too. Both Porter and Claptone have gone on to do some serious damage (in a good way) in the house scene for the rest of the year as well.
May – House Every Weekend / Everyday
If you haven’t heard this then you have been living in a cave this year. It became the unofficial shuffler’s anthem. It was everywhere. It was trolled and parodied online. The original mix was a little too basic for me, but I picked up the LuvBug remix and I’ve played it loads. Almost… every weekend! Like it or not, it was house every weekend… house every weekend….
The underground release that again has been massively overlooked that I have hammered to death was Jose Burgos – Everyday. This is plain and simply 7 minutes of thumping soulful heaven. This may also be my favourite tune of the year too!
June – Holding On
From the first time I heard that big note from Gregory Porter to open this track I knew it was special. And all of us as DJ’s had fun finding different ways to mix that beginning as well, cutting, chopping and scratching it into mixes. Disclosure’s best work this year by far.
July – Skin Deep
I’m not aware of a bad track that Dusky have ever put out. They always sound, dark, moody and original. They feel like and in fact are, the genuine article. You just have to listen to this track to enjoy it. Not a big commercial dance floor or chart hit, but that’s the way we like Dusky. Successful in the clubs and on the underground and still very much cool and not selling out.
August – Holding On (again) / Chunky
After years of waiting, the man Julio Bashmore popped up with an album. This was the first track from it and was absolute class as we have come to expect from the Bristol native and sounds like a Daft Punk-esque disco filter classic. Great vocals to boot and you have a beast of a track on your hands.
It was around this time of the year we saw the bubble up for Format B’s Chunky. This has been an absolute banger this year and I’ve still not heard it enough yet. Sampled from a Huey Lewis and the News track, add a bizarre video and a big push from Ministry of Sound and et voilà, instant commercial success and big tune. Not often this happens with a track you first heard in a Carl Cox set in Ibiza!
September – Fill Me In
Seems like everyone must have seen this but all of this stems from a bit of fun on the radio. Mistajam (BBC Radio 1) did a 60 minute takeover with comedy garage collective Kurrupt FM (People Just Do Nothing) which featured a massive line up of UK garage artists. The final guest was UK Garage poster boy and subject of rubber-face ridicule himself, Mr Craig David. He sang Fill Me In and we were all taken back to the land of 1999 and garage. I was actually in the process of reaching for my Gucci loafers and Moschino shirt when he pulled it up and went freestyle. And the freestyle was over Jack U and Bieber’s massive smash “Where Are U Now.” This footage sent the internet on fire. David performed it live with Diplo when he was in London a few weeks later and there is talk of an official release in 2016. I am quite lucky as I already have a copy of this and it has been kept firmly in my (digital) box for the last couple of months and has had a brilliant reaction to it every single time I’ve played it. The entire show is below but the section I’m talking about is at 45 mins for about 5 mins.
October – How Deep Is Your Love
Calvin Harris drops a track and I barely batter an eyelid. He’s got what he likes and I have what I like. The two don’t often meet. When I heard it was a collaboration with Disciples I figured I’d at least check it out. I mean, they don’t know was a big track. And this wasn’t half bad too. Once we figure in the harder production remix from Chris Lake and we are back ready for bass line bangers.
November – Dancing (Again)
This has to be this year’s most catchy tech-house release. Maybe Format B’s Chunky comes a close second. This bootleg has been doing the rounds now for around a year but has just seen a release and is gaining massive popularity, perhaps due to its catchy nature. I love it and equally hate it as I find my way through life with …dancing, all night dancing… looping around in my head!
December – Dreams??
Released early December, this remix package of an original garage classic was always going to be welcome. The package offers remixes from original 4/4 bassline don DJ Q, a no doubt commercially successful version from Tough Love and in my opinion the best remix, one from Low Steppa which perfectly blends the underground and the mainstream without ruining the original record.
Perhaps you are a DJ too or even just as big of a music lover as us here at Dirty Disco Radio and you would like to give your perspective on the subject, we always welcome your feedback and you can always share your thoughts emotions, suggestions or story with us in the comment section down below on the page.