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A few years back, an older DJ friend of mine asked me to join his long-running DJ party called Key of Life. Overjoyed, I accepted immediately and it’s been my regular DJ event ever since. The problem was when I first joined, I didn’t realise that it was primarily a house event (in the past, when I used to go and check the event out, it seemed a bit more open format, though with a healthy helping of disco) and at the time, I wasn’t buying or playing house in my sets at all. But despite a rocky start over the first year or so, I finally started finding stuff that I like, trying to strike a balance of old and new-school in my sets. So essentially what I tried to do with this mix was to find a way thread all the old disco that I like with my newer house-y stuff into a cohesive whole. By no means is this mix perfect, I do feel like I managed to strike a balance between the two ideas I wanted. So without further ado, let’s get into the breakdown.
The Track list:
1) Flying Squad – Launh (Boney M. Night Flight To Venus Edit)
When I first heard this track, I had no idea that it was Boney M. song originally (though upon finding that out, it actually made me appreciate it that much more). Thanks to raucous opening including a countdown to launch and some of the most thunderous disco drums I’ve ever heard, this made for the absolute perfect opening track, in my opinion.
2) Spaghetti Head – Big Noise From Winnetka
There’s usually a variety of ways that I go about piecing together songs for a mix; melodies, themes, or in this case, percussion. This was the only track that I could find in my collection that just had the best sounding drum fit (and I was looking for any excuse to put this song on a mix).
3) Bohannon – Let’s Start A Dance
In yet another surprise turn, I had no idea that this was a Larry Levan edit, since his name is no where to be found on the label. Don’t really have much to say about this one other than it’s just some good, percussion heavy disco.
4) Seven Davis Jr. – Friends
And so begins the twist. The transition from the Bohannon to the next track had me stumped for awhile; seemingly nothing would fit. Finally, in a weird eureka moment, I tried matching this Seven Davis Jr. track with Let’s Start The Dance and surprisingly it worked. Ever since I bought this record I’ve been wanting to play it out but never worked up the nerve to. Just some weird minimal, soulful house goodness from an exciting and occasionally frustrating producer.
5) Max Graef – Jungle Ft. Andy Hart
Speaking of exciting producers, Max Graef definitely has my number right now. Hard percussion and drums and tons of groove on this one.
6) Tomson, Eddie Leader, Chez Damier – I Am With You (Dub)
The main thing that stuck out to me about this track is the old-school vibe in the melody and chord progression. It gives of the feel of an old classic house track without sounding too dipped in nostalgia. That should come as no surprise though since Chez Damier is from Chicago…
7) Mary Jane Girls – Candy Man
As I stated before, I usually look for some sort of common thread to link songs together. Ultimately though, what ends up on a mix is simply because I want it to be on the mix. Such is the case with the jarring transition from I Am With You and Candy Man (sorry). Originally, this song and Tuxedo were supposed to go together but I felt like Tuxedo would work better as a closing song. However, I didn’t want to take this track off so I just found a way to keep it in the mix. Despite being of two different feels, I felt like the melodies went together quite well. Oh and fun fact: Mary Jane Girls were produced by disco/funk God, Rick James. Explains a lot doesn’t it?
8) Huxley – Say My Name ft. Yasmin
I have a huge soft spot for soulful, female vocals in house music. I also love Huxley. Put em together and you got this solid, simple yet effective house track.
9) Brame & Hamo – Parish Rumors
Again not a lot to say with this one other than it’s on my current favorite house label, Heist Recordings. Just some good melodic deep house.
10) Kon – Love Shine Ft Induce
In what is probably the roughest transition on the mix, it was a real challenge to find a spot for this guy in the mix. But thanks to that buttery transition between this song and the next it managed to avoid the axe. Just some good old-fashioned disco-y funk.
11) Mr. White – Change (Burna Soundmachine rmx)
As the title suggests, I really wanted this song to be the turning point for the mix; where it would break in a different direction. A song that I’ve been wanting to put on a mix for a long time, I think it does a great job of setting up the second half of the mix, which is definitely a bit heavier on disco than the first.
12) Isaac Hayes – I Ain’t Never
Come on, you can never go wrong with a little Isaac Hayes.
13) Karen Young – Hot Shot
Sometimes when you DJ, it’s easy to forget in your own self-righteousness, that ultimately DJing is about having fun. To me, that’s what this song embodies: pure, unadulterated fun! Nearly impossible not to love this song.
14) T – Connection – Do What You Wanna Do
Another track that I’ve desperately wanted to put on a mix. This is just some good funky disco with a fantastic bongo breakdown. A surprising gem from a group that usually inspires feelings of “eh” when mentioned in the pantheon of disco/funk greats.
15) Isley Brothers – Live It Up (Mike Clark Edit)
This edit is crazy because the BPM is all over the place, making it a bit intimidating to mix. But it was a song that I felt like belonged on the mix because not only has been a staple of my more disco sets at Key of Life, the energy of song completely embodies what Key of Life sounds like to me.
16) Brian Scott – Funk Train (Club Train Mix)
This actually ended up here because the flip side of the Flying Squad track is an edit of the sample source of this house track(Munich Machine, Get On The Funk Train by the way), and that edit has long been a staple of my Key of Life sets. That bass line kills em every time!
17) Huxley – Sphere
The only artist on here that makes a double appearance. Can’t get enough Huxley.
18) Light of the World – Time (Koko Paradisco Re-Edit)
Nothing much to say on this one other than it’s just a really good disco edit.
19) Kenny Thomas – Keep The Fires Burning (DJ Meme Club Mix)
This is the type of song that inevitably gets played toward the end of the night at Key of Life. For reasons unknown, soul house just feels so good at 3 a.m. Hence it’s inclusion on this mix.
20) Tuxedo – Do It
And finally closing things out is the Jake One/Mayer Hawthorne collaboration project, Tuxedo (review coming soon). I feel like this track does a perfect job of summing up the mix: old and new-school combined together to enlighten a new audience.
So there you have it. Hopefully you enjoyed this little summary and gained a little more insight into my thought process that goes into my mixes. Please let me know what you think and if you want me to keep doing these!