We don’t cover dance and electronic music all the time on Pigeons & Planes, but when we do, we bring you the best of the best. Each month, Plugged will take a look at certain aspects of the electronic landscape, filling you in on the artists, scenes, and music that you should be paying attention to, whatever your taste.
This weekend, the world of electronic music kicks off festival season with the culmination of
the Winter Music Conference Miami Music Week’s massive EDM fuckfest, the Ultra Music Festival. It can be a tragic sight, if I’m being honest. While I “get” what makes EDM work, it’s hard to get enthusiastic for the majority of the DJs up there. Not because they aren’t good at their jobs, but because they aren’t challenging enough.
Part of that is the nature of these festivals; there’s no real room for going deep into sounds, nor are DJs up for dropping tracks that are older than the kids turning up. Why? There are a lot of reasons, but they all seem to boil down to people not giving a crap. Which is sad. It’s hard to not look at EDM as a phase when that’s how it’s being treated by promoters, attendees, and bandwagon DJs and producers.
At the end of the day, this sweatshirt speaks the truth, and as long as the art of DJing will be all kinds of vital to the growth of various forms of electronic music, I’ll stand on a soapbox and proclaim that these selectors need to do more or find a new hobby. That’s not to say that there aren’t fire DJs out there—this past month birthed a number of mixes that buck trends while turning up. Here are four of them, featuring a selection of forward-thinking DJs dropping a multitude of styles and genres all in the name of preservation and advancement of the culture. Everybody might want to be a DJ, but that doesn’t mean they should be one.
Mix: Juke Bounce Werk Exclusive Mix
Sounds Like: The future of music, Chitown-style
Traxman actually dropped two sick mixes this month, and while his INTERLUDE set is fresh, let’s look at this thirty-minute mix for Juke Bounce Werk. If you wanted a time capsule that contained numerous styles of Chicago’s footwork and juke scenes, this is the mix I’d throw in there. From the soul loops in the intro to Kanye West-meets-acid house party anthems in the middle to jungle-influenced rhythms towards the end, this is an exercise in the variety of the footwork scene.
DJ: Heroes x Villains
Mix: Diplo & Friends guest mix—uncensored
Sounds Like: The trap going techno
If HXV wins at anything, its the idea that he can weave that thoro ATL trap shit into a cornucopia of electronic sounds. While everyone was trying to make the grey area between rap and EDM’s trap sounds work, HXV was building a bridge into deeper techno sounds. HXV’s guest mix for Diplo & Friends somehow finds a way to manipulate the 3AM-ready rave sounds with grittier cornerboy tales like that’s just how things go. Maybe because that’s how they should go…
DJ: Mr. Mitch
Mix: Solid Steel guest set
Sounds Like: UK grime’s melodic future
With UK’s grime scene seemingly ready to erupt all over the faces of eager American listeners, Mr. Mitch is cutting through the rougher edges of the sound, which started with his “peace” edits and—alongside the Boxed crew—turned into a totally new, melodic take on the sound. His guest set for Coldcut’s long-running Solid Steel program finds Mitch taking 54 minutes to recalibrate what you thought the future would sound like.
DJ: Samo Sound Boy
Mix: FACT mix 488
Sounds Like: The musical embodiment of one man’s feels
We’re still a month away from LA-based Body High co-founder Samo Sound Boy’s debut album (Begging Please) being released, but if you wanted to get a better understanding of what he has in store, this mix(tape) is the perfect primer. Samo calls this mix a “story about the last couple years of my life, told the best way I know how,” and instead of hitting you with the freshest of numerous electronic waves, we’re getting Prince’s “17 Days,” some of his own original productions, and a beautiful pile of intriguing, quirky ditties that will have you feeling all of the feels in front of you.