The podcast mixes are in full throttle this year; I received two just this past weekend which are total bangers! I will post the second later in the week, but would like to start out with a tech house jam session local DJ Owen Williams sent me. Over the past few years I’ve heard critics declare the art of the journey DJ set as “dead”. Good thing nobody told Owen this. While all those flavor-of-the-week mixes get outmoded as soon as the songs they comprise are released, I’ll still be jamming to Owen’s navigation around the many styles of tech house five years from now. It’s a terrific merger of the old school style of DJ-ing (where each track speaks for itself without any far-fetched mixing gimmicks) and the utilization of the latest technology (Mixxx) to do so.
Mixxx is a relatively new, FREE, open-source program designed for digital DJ-ing. Owen works for the company as a developer. Not only can you customize the app however you desire, but it also lets you use MIDI controllers, or a CD/turntable with Serato/Traktor control discs. You don’t even need the Serato/Traktor hardware! This is quite an interesting development, and later this year I plan on writing a piece about Mixx once I test it out for myself.
Oh yeah, the mix itself. Owen’s “journey” starts out a tad on the deep side, albeit with plenty of booming kicks and shuffling hi-hats. The first 20 minutes build in energy smoothly while managing to not take too much soul out the equation. I especially like the garage-house throwback of Franck Roger’s “After All”, which I literally had to look up on Discogs to disprove my theory that it came out in 1995, not 2012! It peaks with Kaiserdisco’s “Callao”, after which the energy (and conga drums) recede to the background to wind things down properly. I love the piano on Soukie & Windish’s “Tango Zebra”, a classic example of no-frills house that just puts people in a good mood.
I had a chance to toss a couple questions in Owen’s direction, which he was happy to answer. Both about the mix and, well, Mixxx ;)
Nick: Cool mix- very fluid the way each song fit together! How did you compile this compilation? Was it an off-the-cuff session, or did you carefully plan out which tracks you were going to play? Which style of DJ-ing (pre-planning vs. ad-libbed) do you prefer?
Owen: Almost all of my mixes are off-the-cuff, this one included. The few times I’ve tried to really plan out a tracklist I feel like it hasn’t had the energy I wanted, or as I’m making it I just feel dissatisfied. The only reason I can be fluid is because I cheat. I use the comment field of the library to add keywords like intensity level, style, and even instrumentation-I can just search for the type of track I want and narrow the list down quickly. I still go through two or three options before I pick the next one, though.
Nick: Which producers are you really keeping your eye on at the moment? Any up-and-comers that tech house fans should be on the lookout for?
Owen: My first love is deep techno, so doing an all tech-house set was a stretch for me. These tracks represent a lot of digging through DJ Charts, podcasts, etc. The producers I really watch are in the Berghain or UK techno orbits: Cio D’or, Tin Man, The Black Dog, Raime, and everyone on the CLR label.
There are two local acts that I want to give a shout-out to: B-Tracks and Dark & Stormy; their stuff fits into my sets very easily. A couple more EPs like these guys have put out and Boston may finally become more than the place Soul Clap moved out of.
Nick: I noticed you were a developer for Mixxx. Describe what Mixxx is, and what its benefits are compared to Serato/Traktor. Will it work with any Mac/PC laptop, or MIDI controller? How much do you use Mixxx in your own DJ work?
Owen: Mixxx is a full-featured free & open source DJ application for Windows, Mac, and Linux. It has a built-in mixer, supports looping and samples, and works with midi controllers and digital vinyl control. For anyone already using Traktor or Serato there’s probably not a compelling reason to switch to Mixxx exclusively. But it travels very well, working in places where you can’t have a full laptop/mixer/turntable setup. You could even install it on a USB stick, take it to a house party, commandeer the itunes party laptop, and mix just using the keyboard.
I started using Mixxx because I was cheap (free is good!), but it works so well I see no reason to trade up. It sounds great and doesn’t crash. Now that I hack on it, it includes several features that I wrote myself (vinyl control chief among them). So in a very real way it works exactly how I want it to.
Mixxx is the only DJ software I’ve used, actually.
Craig Hamilton - Bounce
&ME - Glaced (Original Mix)
Maertz - Vilares (Miguel Lobo & Andre Butano Remix)
Franck Roger, Mandel Turner - After All (Original Mix)
NTFO & Optick - From The Tower (Nikola Gala Remix)
Kaiserdisco - Callao (Original Mix)
Alessio Mereu - 2 Points After You (Original Mix)
Pig & Dan - Got Me Down (Original Mix)
Freak Seven Feat. Aniff - Nano Kids (Vocal)
Bjorn Storig - Jazz Thang (Original Mix)
Soukie & Windish - Tango Zebra (Original Mix)
Soukie & Windish - Whats The Cure (Original Mix)
Kassem Mosse - Untitled 2 - Original Mix
Enjoy the mix guys. And by the way, some good news on the podcast tip: I **FINALLY** submitted the RSS feed to the iTunes store, and just got approved today. So from now on, you can subscribe to the series right through the app itself! Really not sure why I never sorted this out two years ago, but better late than never, eh? Cover art has also been freshened up a tad.