It’s pretty fair to say that 2016 isn’t going to go down as a classic, or if it does it’s for the wrong reasons: Brexit, Trump and the unfortunate passing of many iconic musicians.
To look at the positives on a personal tip, I’ve enjoyed interviewing individuals that I’ve respected and looked up to for years and enjoyed some interesting opportunities with Deeptrak, the production team I’m part of.
What does 2017 hold? Gawd knows but it’s surely gotta be a better one than last year so onwards and upwards…….
Top Ten House Tracks
TIEKS – Sunshine
Full crossover, happiness vibes ahoy. This tune just puts a smile on my face & yeah OK it initially came out last year but it’s given me sunshine through 2016 .
KDA feat. Tinashe – Just Say
Just Say is only KDAs 2nd original track and doesn’t seem to have had the same impact as Rumble, but that shouldn’t detract away from how good the track actually is.
Rudimental – Healing
Not sure what the deal with this track was? It came through originally as an unknown promo and you’d never guess it was a Rudimental track if you heard it didn’t know, which makes it all the more interesting to me.
The Chemical Brothers – Sometimes I Feel So Deserted (Skream Mix)
Skream can put his hand to creating a real variety of different sounds and for that I tip my hat. This Chems remix is epic as you like.
Duke Dumont – Be Here
I admire how DD can straddle the chart fodder and club cuts effortlessly and Be Here sounds quite reminiscent of old Kim English cuts on Nervous back in the 90s.
Sonny Fodera feat. Janai – You & I
A stand out cut from an awesome album. A wonderful intro that lures you in, ready to smack you round the chops when the beat drops.
Marquis Hawkes feat. Jocelyn Brown – I’m So Glad (Paul Woolford Mix)
Paul used a similar piano riff in his Nimmo remix this year but it works so much better on this remix with Jocelyn Brown’s topline and pulsating bassline.
Fono – Feet On The Ground (Got Some Stomper Mix)
Got Some got the right idea calling this mix a stomper! The marching band drum rolls give plenty of energy to a track that has plenty in its OG guise anyway.
Infinity Ink feat. Yasmin – How Do I Love You
This is just a beautiful, poignant piece of music. I always thought it would come with a raft of remixes but as yet there have only been a couple, either way it’s fine in its original form.
Dua Lipa – Hotter Than Hell (Shadow Child Dub Mix)
You’d find it hard to even really find Dua Lipa under this fantastic glitch twisted dub remix from Shadow Child. There is a vocal mix but this dub mix is where it’s at.
Best DJ Gig
I may well have got a random grapevine dance going at my Kinky Malinki set at Ocean Beach in Ibiza, my fav gig was something else. Now I’ve never really been big on back to back gigs unless it was with someone I know and trust musically, as it can often be a musical mess for the clubbers, but with Deeptrak moving in the right direction Tony and I came together to actually DJ as Deeptrak a few times this year. My most enjoyable gig of the year was with Tony at Circuit (which is now Sankeys East) and he was jamming along playing some popular riffs over our set.
I’ve had some frank and honest interviews this year (along with those can’t be arsed ones you get from time to time) and some of those have been with idols, like Roger Sanchez but my favourite had to be sitting down with Defected big boss man Simon Dunmore. To discuss the thoughts and business acumen behind such an iconic label was an honour even if I was shitting my pants a little bit at the start.
Simon Dunmore Interview
El Row / Nightowl – Space Ibiza
Even though it was a struggle to get a proper groove on in the main room at Space due to how busy it was, there was a great atmosphere across the club, as there always is at El Row events and to top it off good pals Nightowl were hosting a room and I was also able to witness Dominic Longley play at Space , which is a long way from him learning to DJ in my flat every Monday a few years back. A poignant evening and even more so as it was the last time I’d step inside the legendary club that is Space.
Best House Album
Sonny Fodera – Frequently Flying
There have been some fine house efforts this year with Eli Escobar, Justin Martin, Soul Clap, Mr Oizo but Sonny Fodera has the most well rounded album of 2016 to me.
Alyss – The Talking Palm Tree (T. Williams Mix)
Have a listen to the original version, then take a listen to T. Williams massively slept on remix. Now you’ll realise why I’ve picked this as my fav remix of the year. Heavyweight business
Top Ten Non-House Tracks
Fatima Yamaha – Love Invaders
From the minute I heard this I was in(vader) love. It’s basically a slice of modern lo fi boogie. I squeezed in a few sets over the year too with the pitch set to warp speed.
Maggie Rogers – Alaska
I found out about this artists from the video with Pharell (below) who caught dem feels from this track. As did I.
Sampha – Blood On Me
I can give you a fact here, Sampha has never featured on a duff track, EVER. How’d you like those apples?
Adibanti – Pearls
Basically a modern slice of subtle UKG, one that would definite be a tune for the ‘gyal dem’ if the radio MC was introducing it.
Whilk & Misky – All By Myself (Mall Grab Mix)
Them slowed down rave broken beats have me all weak at the knees, or kneak at the wees? See what I did there?
Rag & Bone Man – Human
One of those artists who’s voice doesn’t match up to what you think they look like, but you know what? Who cares what he looks like? Just check that voice out.
Children Of Zeus – Still Standing (Lenzman Mix)
If this didn’t come out in 2016 don’t cuss me as I only found it this year and it’s a D&B slice of beauty.
Mura Masa – What If I Go?
TBH I could listen any Mura Masa track. What a talent but I really dig the sweet vocal and twisted drum programming.
ROMANS – Pacify
I seem to have slept on this guy but Roc Nation obviously haven’t as that’s who he’s signed to. An artists that does the lot.
Folly Rae – Hard To Love
Sounding a bit like Delilah, which is never an issue to me, with skittering beats & a pop tinged vocal this track isn’t hard to love at all.
Best Non-House Album
Avalanches – Wildflower
Spotify suggests that I’ve listened to this album the most this year and for good reason. Carrying on seamlessly from where their debut album left off all those years ago.
Best Twitter Follow
The account that has given me the most joy this year has to be @jeansandsheaux so simple but so effective. Picture after picture of terrible jeans and shoe combos. Check it, you won’t regret it.
I don’t think Bruno Mars comes in to this category any more, does he? If he does it would be him but I think 24K Gold is just a great piece of throwback infused music that everyone should enjoy, thus not making it a guilty pleasure. So I’ll go with me enjoying the duet of Robbie Williams and Emma Bunton singing Spice Girls ‘2 Become 1’ for some Christmas Charity bash.
This year’s proudest achievement came about by fluke really, but fluke or not, I stuck together 30 odd seconds of our Deeptrak remix of B15 Project’s classic ‘Girls Like Us’ over a couple of kids dancing like crazy and 6 months later that video clip has been watched close to 2.9 million times and has helped Deeptrak get that remix signed to Armada Music.
Allen Stone @ The Scala
I’d seen Allen before at the more intimate Village Underground and been blown away, so I was expecting great things. I was not left disappointed. He really is the most engaging artist I have ever seen and I’ve seen a hell of a lot of acts from the greats like Stevie Wonder and The Rolling Stones to new kids on the block like Ed Sheeran. A lot of people in the UK hardly know who he is but watch this and you’ll get an idea on how great he is…..
One thing 2016 has been good for is movies, or I think so anyway from epics like Tarantino’s Hateful Eight to DiCaprio finally winning an Oscar in The Revenant. I also loved Deadpool and was fan boying out to the latest Star Wars instalment Rogue One but my fav film of the year is something that has possibly passed most of you by and it’s a New Zealand poignant comedy flick called Hunt For The Wilderpeople. It has laughs, Sam Neil and an underpinning story that’s rather endearing. If you get a chance, watch it, you won’t regret it.
2016 was the year of the NMD and Adidas continuing to bully Nike in ways I’ve never seen before, mainly with the help of everyone’s fav headline demanding rapper: Kanye West. My fav drop had to be the re-re-release of the Air Zoom Spiridon and this time around the Hypebeast/Resellers were on full alert so I’ve not managed to pick more up yet.
Tips For The Future
On a house tip I think I’m going to go with FONO I’ve heard an album sampler (or it may have just been an EP?) but every cut was of a superior level and it’s really only a matter of time before he reaches that next level up where Disclosure sit comfortably.
On a pop tip I’m gonna go with Rag & Bone Man, I’ve been catching up on his older material after catching him on Jools Holland and he is one talented guy with a great voice.
For those of you who are not yet aware, after me constantly going on about it, pimping releases and uploading daft/amusing pictures/videos, I’m one third of DEEPTRAK a house music collective out of Essex and I recently did this promotional DJ Mix that you will probably enjoy quite a lot
If you have reached your mid-30s, dabbled in London life and been a clubber or DJ (or both), there is a high chance that your musical progression went something along the lines of this: Rave/Jungle/D&B to UK Garage to House Music. This was my musical path and there are still a legion of white van drivers listening to pirate radio, caught in gridlocked traffic and tooting their horns to poor passers-by, that will attest to something similar.
Over the past few month’s I’ve done some articles for Decoded Magazine that I’ve been really chuffed with. With interviews, you never quite know how they’ll turn out. They are only as good as the questions I ask. Those questions generally shape the way the interviewee will respond. I’ll be honest, I’ve had a few flat one’s over the years, but this round up features a definite highlight of my writing ‘career’ for me.
My first face to face interview & with none other than Defected Records label boss, Simon Dunmore:
Witty little interview with Teenage Mutants:
A revisit to a topic I initially wrote about here. It was my most viewed blog & the reboot has surpassed that tenfold:
Too Old To Rave – The Return
An article I did as I felt that Soulful House was making a welcome return to more people’s consciousness:
The Rebirth of Soulful House
I’ve interviewed plenty of DJs over the years, but I’ve hardly ever had the chance to interview a club promoter, so I was keen to try and catch up with Kai who run’s Abode, one, if not the most popular house music party in London right now. I’d always noticed on socials that Kai was interestingly verbal about the scene so was keen to get an insight from the man himself ahead of a Secret Abode event on the 16th January on the 28th Floor somewhere in LDN.
Thanks for joining me for a chat Kai, it’s often, and understandable, that it’s the DJ/artists that get the shine with the interviews, but there’s always that person (or people) in the background, putting the pieces of the puzzle together. You’re someone that has not only pieced together some great puzzles over the past few years, you are not what is deemed to be a typical money hungry club promoter, so I’m going to try and delve a bit deeper and see what makes you tick?
You often see either fake positivity (all ‘What a great night’ when it was a total flop) or bitchiness from a lot of club promoters these days on social media, but thankfully you buck that trend. Obviously you have had a huge success with Abode, but would you be any different of you hit a rocky patch?
If I’m totally honest, we didn’t have a great start back in September 2014 when we first started. We launched the party with a huge line-up including Dyed Soundorom , Waff , Audiofly and No Artificial Colours, which cost us an arm and a leg. Even though it made huge noise on the scene, the party went on to lose a lot of money on the launch and the two events that followed.
Luckily for me, I work with most London promoters and promote their nights for free across our socials, so we have a pretty good relationship and try not to get involved in politics and bitchiness etc.
If we were to hit a rocky patch we would sit down as a team and look at where we went wrong and fix the issue to make the next party the best we’ve ever done.
It’s not all been plain sailing of course, you had an unfortunate situation through Summer with the Exodus Ibizan boat parties. Can you elaborate on what went wrong there perhaps and what you learnt from that experience?
Alex Metric feat. The New Sins – Drum Machine
Rosie Lowe – Worry About Us (Ewan Pearson Mix)
Waterson – Tell Me (KDA Dub)
Marc Talein – Leave Me
Franky Rizardo – Knockout
Riton – Rinse & Repeat
Wayne Dudley – Your Mind
Chemical Brothers – Sometimes I Feel So Deserted (Skream Mix)
Kideko & George Kwali – Krank It
Paolo Calamari feat. Kathy Brown – I Know (Lupe Fuentes Vocal Mix)
Frances – Borrowed Time (KDA Mix)
Casey Spillman – Another Kiss
Maribou State – Wallflower (Lane 8 Mix)
This time last year I was writing the preamble and talking about a new job and buying a new house. A year later I’m back living the bachelor flat life. Life is a funny old thing, isn’t it? Bumps in the road all over the shop. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and all those other clichés!? In other news I turned 40, had a fantastic trip to NYC, along with a family trip to Ibiza, celebrating my folks 60th birthdays, my Uncle’s 50th and my little brothers 30th, showing that the White Isle really is an island for all. Oh and I actually bought a new car after 13 years of having a girls car. Not a terrible year, but I won’t be sad to see the back of it and look forward to what 2016 brings.
Top Ten House Tracks
Fono – Real Joy
This track was one of those instant tracks for me and I’ve rinsed it out this year, especially the Chris Lake remix, that I didn’t really think would turn out to be some bumpy UKG like banger.
Waterson – Tell Me (KDA Dub)
Quite a new release, but what a tune and what a remix by KDA, who I’ve ended up being a bit of a Stan about this year, but if you checked his body of work, you’ll see why.
Gregory Porter – Liquid Spirit (Claptone Mix)
I’ve been a fan of Gregory Porter for a few years now, I just love his tone of voice and this Claptone mix managed to turn his sultry tone into a soulful house groover.
Gorgon City – Imagination (Weiss Mix)
This remix by Weiss aka as scene stalwart Richard Dinsdale, has some real heavyweight driving drums and was definitely up there for consideration for remix of the year for me.
Jonas Rathsman – Wolfsbane
I thought this was going to be this year’s ‘Walking With Elephants’ and end up in the national chart, but alas it didn’t happen and for such a huge tune, it seemed to tail off a little. It was still such a massive tune IMO.
Disclosure – Bang That (Kevin & Dantiez Saunderson Mix)
In its original guise this was Disclosure’s first new piece of music for a few years and a precursor to their second album ‘Caracal’. If I’m honest, I was underwhelmed however this remix switched it right up and I ended up playing this loads this year.
Mele – Ambience
I’d say this was 2015’s version of Ninetoes ‘Finder’ pure sunshine vibes and uplifting percussion, where you can’t fail to shake a leg to it, unless you’re dead inside?
Rudimental feat. Will Heard – I Will For Love (Sonny Fodera Mix)
I think it’s fair to say it’s been a pretty damn decent 2015 for everyone involved in this remix. Fantastically housed up by Defected’s man of the year, surely?
Blonde feat Alex Newell – All Cried Out (The Magician Mix)
This track is pure hands in the air, piano fodder for the gyal dem, but I don’t care. The top line is killer and I was singing it (badly) before the tune was finished, the first time I heard it.
Format B – Chunky
Format B have been around yonks and managed to score a crossover hit with this track, which had a quirky vocal about roosters. Not your usual lyrical content for a house banger admittedly.
Best DJ Gig
I really enjoyed Kinky Malinki’s 17th Birthday Party at Ministry of Sound this year. I played in the bar and was thoroughly entertained by the other DJs on before me, being Jess Bays and Curtis Gabriel. It was one of those gigs where those previous sets had really got me going, along with the bottle of vodka I was unexpectedly (but appreciatively) given.
Zoo Project Ibiza
I didn’t smash it up too hard in Ibiza this year. Understandably so on a family holiday. I did manage to get to a few of my usual spots, but one thing I popped my cherry with and enjoyed so much, was the Zoo Project. No huge focus on big name DJs, a great setting, with a crazy colourful animal painted crowd, where you can’t fail to smile and dance.
Best House Album
Huxley – Blurred Love
There have been some great house music artist albums this year. I’ve often been critical of them in the past as they either have lots of filler around a few singles, or lack any real direction but this year Noir, Catz & Dogz, Till Von Sein and George Fitzgerald but I think Huxley just pips it past the post with a cohesive, but varied selection of tracks.
Vaults – Premonitions (KDA Mix)
I mention further down this ‘year in review’ that KDA’s beat are badass and none more prevalent than on this remix of the vocally haunting Vaults track. It originally came with some solid remixes anyway, but then the KDA mix was part of Annie Mac’s Free Music Monday and you can get it for yourself below, if you so wish?
Top Ten Non-House Tracks
Josef Salvat – Hustler (Solomun Mix)
Over the years of compiling this yearly review,I’ve taken liberties with the non-house selection and I’m doing it again. Strictly speaking, it is house music, but not something I’d get the chance to play out, so it ends up topping the pile here, as it’s just a great piece of production all round.
Bicep – Just
Eek, I’ve done it again!! My website, I can make the rules up surely? It’s one that I’m going to have to show you, so that you can hear quite how good this is. If I heard this tune in a club and I was a tad wonky, it would be like winning a musical lottery
Drake – Hotline Bling
This tune has to be in every DJs chart of the year for something or the other surely? Crappest dance moves? Best back off in a video? Catchiest song of the year? Whatever, you couldn’t escape it PLUS I love it.
Ane Brun – Shape Of The Heart (La Fleur Mix)
I literally have ZERO idea what Ane Brun is actually singing in this, but rest assured I’m trying to sing it in my head whenever I play/hear this tune.
Julio Bashmore feat. Sam Dew – Holding On
The year loads of decent artists called a song ‘Holding On’ in the space of a few months. This disco infused number from Bashmore was my favourite and probably the best cut off his debut album too?
Grades – Owe It To Yourself (Beyond Paradise Mix)
Starts off like some Toni Braxton ballad, then turns in to some sort of boogie x modern R&B niceness.
Lxury feat. Deptford Goth – Square1
To my (rather large) ears, you can recognise the Lxury drum programming pretty easily and I recall hearing this for the first time thinking it’s gotta be a Lxury jam and low and behold it was, and a great little track it is too.
Roisin Murphy – Exploitation (Falco Benz Mix)
I’ve always been a fan of Roisin’s inimitable voice and she’s the winner for strangest album title of the year with ‘Hairless Toys’ (possibly??), with this track, in its original guise, being one of the standout tracks, however this twist up by Falco Benz really stands out for me.
Zak Abel – Alchemy
Joker brought out quite an ‘interesting’ album towards the end of the year, which was heavy on movie soundtrack kinda vibes, but before that, he dropped an EP with Zak Abel, who I think is on to big tings in 2016, and the standout was this garage tinged number.
Tom Misch – Sunshine
I was put on to Tom Misch via his Beat Tape 2 album, then I found this little beauty. A simplistic topline and a nice guitar lick combine to make one of those tunes that actually make you feel good when listening.
Best Non-House Album
HNNY – Sunday
My year may not have been quite so blessed in general, but musically it sure as hell has been. Dre finally dropped some new material. Kendrick dropped a new album. Rudimental and Disclosure followed up both of their huge debuts with solid efforts. All in all I was spoiled for choice. However my choice of album of the year has to be this laidback offering from the mysterious HNNY. You can stick this on, shut your eyes, listen to it in it’s entirety and just not GAF about a thing
Best DJ Mix
Lee Foss – Mixmag Lab LA – December 2015
I don’t have too much of an opinion on Lee Foss, which may be a surprise to many who think I have a strong opinion on absolute everything, but I was ‘easy come, easy go’ with him until I was sent this mix by a workmate the other day and was instantly transfixed by his mix……and the dork dancing to the side of him too, in signs reminiscent of most Boiler Room dancing divs.
This one is pretty easy, and makes DJ Sneak and his constant whinging (yes, even more than mine!) seem insignificant in contrast. This year’s biggest buffoon, is Ten Walls, who had a tremendous fall from grace after one vitriolic homophobic rant online. He went from national charting, festival playing, DJs worshipping, to NOTHING in a very short space of time. Let that be a lesson, that there really isn’t a place for that behaviour or mind set in house music, when, at its core, it is music for ALL and had its formative years firmly rooted in the gay scene.
2015 was definitely the year that everyone felt comfortable with saying they enjoyed listening to Justin Bieber. He still seems like an absolute douche, and I’m definitely NOT a Belieber,but musically, he wormed his way in to everyone’s subconscious with his Diplo/Skrilex collab and then went on to further world domination by getting a world record amount of singles in the UK chart.
This year’s moment was another football based occurrence and another that came about with my links in with the guys at Method Records (Disclosure’s record label). What started off as a 5-a-side tournament amongst record labels, including Black Butter and Warner, ‘coached’ by footballing legends including John Barnes, Dennis Wise and Peter Shilton, eventually led to me standing in for Peter Shilton (as he was way past the age of flinging himself around for LOLZ now) for the Legends team against Black Butter who were eventual tournament winners. I know it may not seem much to many, but it was for me, as I’d grown up idolising Shilton and even though it was a fun kick around to round off a great day of football for charity, it made a 40 year old man child rather happy.
Jamie Woon @ The Scala
Although I was spoilt for choice with the albums, I haven’t been to too many gigs this year. There is one that really stood out and if I’m honest I wasn’t expecting much, even though I loved Jamie Woon’s debut album Mirrorwriting. As much as I enjoyed it, I thought it may well be a real laidback affair at the Scala. As much as it obviously wasn’t a mosh pit fest, it was a fantastic concert and what Jamie lacks in song break banter, he makes up for in musicianship.
As you creep towards the end of the year you get some of the Oscar efforts being released, but the movie I’ve plumped for was out earlier in the year, however should have a Best Actor Nomination for its star Colin Farrell. The Lobster sounds absolutely bonkers on paper and is equally bonkers on the screen, but if you love the types of movie Wes Anderson or Michel Gondry make, this is an absolute MUST SEE movie
I went to NYC expecting to be blown away by the crep selection. I’d told myself I could get 3 / 4 pairs as a 40th birthday treat to myself, but I only came back with 2 pairs. Places like Flight Club are way overpriced. The Nikelab store on Mercer didn’t have anything there I couldn’t get in London and the sales assistant actually asked me about the AM98s I had on, which were a US release only and he’d missed them apparently! I did walk away from the Big Apple with a nice pair of Jordans though and not your normal AJ fodder, these were the smart looking Jordan Westbrook 0s, which are tidy enough to fool archaic Essex bouncers in to thinking they aren’t really trainers. Idiots.
Tips For The Future
You may say it’s not much of a tip after having a UK No.1 but bear with me…….KDA has only really released remixes prior/post having a smash with Rumble. If you listen to his remix work, you can’t pinpoint an exact blueprint, but his drums get me every time and I’m pretty sure he’ll be dropping plenty of original material in 2016.
As for an actual musician I was going to go with Jack Garrett but I think that’s too obvious, so I’ll go with Honne, who I’m really digging and hope I can get to see live soon, as I’m loving their futuristic R&B flavours but with a heavy leaning of pop appeal.
Have a great 2016 ya’ll. Much Love, GRx
Over the past few months I’ve been lucky enough to be part of a triumverate of interviews that, not only am I very proud of, but the interviewees have been rather happy with. With Sam Divine saying her interview was one of the best she’s done and that the questions were frank and searching. It’s those little comments that make me strive to get better at this writing lark.
Admittedly I’ve done Q&As/Interviews for Kinky Malinki for yonks, but I feel with the Decoded Magazine team behind me, it’s helped me gain confidence and ‘go there’ with questions that I may not have asked in the past.
If you’ve not read these already, have a butchers, there is some insightful and informative stuff contained within:
Seinabo Sey – Pistols At Dawn (KDA Mix)
Rebecca & Fiona – Letters (HNNY Mix)
Pete Moss – Tried To Tell You (Karizma Mix)
Rampa feat. Meggy – Everything (Sonny Fodera Mix)
Lane8 – Without You
Fernan Dust – Dictator
Paolo Rocco feat. Wayne Tennant – Caution You (Ohmme Mix)
Oscar G – What You Need (Denney Mix)
Majesty – Tales Of The Unexpected
Jose Nunez & Eddie Amador – Lights Out
Sandy Rivera – Physical
Rufus Miller – There’s A Power
LA Boxers feat. Rose De Mai – Say When (Alex & Dougie Mix)
Demuir – The Cheerleader
The Avener – Fade Out Lines (Klaves Mix)
HearThug feat. Stee Downes – Every Day’s Another Night (Ben Gomori Mix)
Akabu – Not Afraid Of The Future (DJ Fudge Dub Mix)