My Favourite DJ is a feature series on Resident Advisor with a pretty simple concept: We ask DJs to talk about their favourite DJs. Up-and-coming talents, legendary names and local scene stalwarts are all fair game. We purposely leave the door wide open for interpretation from our participants to encourage a range of answers. In this edition, we’ve focused our attention on DJs with UK ties to highlight the best of the best.
My favourite DJ right now is without doubt Shaun Reeves. Over the last two years every time I’ve seen Shaun play he’s always been bang on the money. Perfect track selection, never too hard but always with plenty of energy. At BPM [festival] at the start of the year, I saw him play about five times in the space of a week and each time he stole the show, managing to deliver a completely different musical experience on every occasion. His mixing is always super tight and the fact that he’s so down to earth makes him one of my favourites. I guess he’s what you call a “DJ’s DJ.” Dan Ghenacia and Dyed Soundorom both sit in that same category for me too: Energy, a solid groove and no messing around when it comes to quality house music!
The best DJ set I’ve ever seen is Thomas Bangalter in Space in Ibiza in 1998. But my favourite DJ is Carl Cox. Obviously his music isn’t always my taste, but watching him DJ is an absolute pleasure. Watching the smile on his face, watching how he engages the crowd, the way he mix his records… I remember seeing him on the Space Terrace in the ’90s and when I think about it now I get goose bumps.
I had never seen anyone mix with four decks before him. And while he’s great at mixing, when one slightly drops out he knows exactly what is and gets it back in there again. I used to play three vinyl decks quite a lot, but I never ever had a go at four in a club, not in a million years. And he just steps up there like… well, he’s done it every weekend every year for the last 30 years. It’s just a pleasure to watch him DJ basically.
In order to make a tricky question a bit easier, I’m going to narrow this to DJs I’ve had the pleasure of sharing the decks with over the past three years of running Highlife at the Sub Club and other venues in Glasgow and being a resident at the Huntleys and Palmers nights at Plastic People in London.
If a DJ’s role is to educate as well as rock the dance floor, I have to give my “favourite DJ” tag to JD Twitch from Optimo. Growing up in Glasgow, you are aware of Twitch’s massive presence across genres from an early age—from DIY indie to cumbia to acid techno and everything in between. He’s a musical polymath and the continuing popularity of Optimo for more than a decade is testament to that—you never get sick of it. Like most Glaswegians, Optimo has been an influence into my DJing as well as how we promote our club nights: I don’t think my tastes would be as varied if it hadn’t been for them. If you have ever seen him DJ, you know he’s a risk taker—a trait which seems to be becoming more rare these days.
We had Twitch play for us at Highlife in early January, the shitest date of the year to put on a club night, but the place was absolutely rammed. Twitch smashed it in typical fashion with a specially curated “Highlife” set showing how adaptable he is to any genre of music. Unplanned, we had to open the doors to the illegal after party venue to continue the party as people didn’t want the night to end at 3 AM. Twitch and I ended up DJing for 4 more hours! As a good friend once said about our generation in Glasgow: “We are all Optimo’s Children,” which kinda sums it all up.
This is one of those questions that I hate to have to answer. I’ve never been a fan of having to decide on a favourite anything, it seems so final. I spent a long time thinking how to go about picking a DJ to write about, and so many names were bouncing round in my head. One artist I kept coming back to through all this indecision was Silent Servant. I’ve been lucky enough to play with him on a number of occasions, and the way he balances incredible depth with the ability to move dance floors always amazes me.
The thing that clinched it for me though was seeing him open at Berghain a few months ago, slowly working his way perfectly through a huge selection of styles from ambient, post-punk, industrial, old Chicago house and into the harder sound usually associated with the club. The moment he played Throbbing Gristle’s “Hot on The Heels of Love” I was totally caught. Maybe one of the reasons he affects me so much are the shared musical leanings and interests outside techno, and this set summed it up perfectly.
Calibre is the most unassuming DJ I know. He doesn’t rate himself nor does he especially enjoy the experience, which consequentially means seeing him play is always a treat, as he’s not oversaturated like a lot of us. I’ve always had mixed emotions when I hear him play. His sets consist of mainly his music, and I love hearing the new batch which I know is gonna hurt me, but it’s almost annoying how prolific he is. The consistently high quality of his productions, the simplicity and honest sense of soul is amazing to hear. He’s probably one of the only DJs where I constantly ask “What’s this?” Anyone into drum & bass should see him play and appreciate the music man in action: There’s no bells and whistles here, just beautiful soul music.
There are many DJs I could pick, especially when looking back across the last 10 to 15 years of UK techno, but Surgeon is the one DJ that you can rely on to surprise you with each and every set. His sets fit the occasion perfectly even when he veers away from the dominant sound of that particular club or event, and you can always feel that he is playing equally for his own satisfaction and that of the crowd.
From opening his set at Freerotation in 2011 with John Coltrane to his fusion of classic techno styles with bleeding-edge new ideas, he is the one DJ that always inspires and re-energises me. His Warp and Fabric mix CDs are both key points in my musical education and his 10 Years of Birmingham Techno mix is arguably the definitive snapshot of an era that is currently so frequently referenced.
via – Resident Advisor