The Dance Acts, Part 1
Disclaimer: I am going to skip many Electronic Dance Music-labeled DJs and focus more on lesser known artists for this section. Here are some DJs worth checking out at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival for floor-filling sets with a looser vibe.
DJ Harvey (pictured on front cover) (Friday)
Choice Mix: Resident Advisor podcast mix
According to an interview with Resident Advisor, cult hero DJ Harvey rarely performs mixes nowadays to avoid bootlegging. When one of your promotional mixes fetches $380 or more, there’s no doubt countless people will try to get hands on a copy whatever the means. DJ Harvey’s eclectic taste and superb mixing of out-of-this-world recordings is one that certainly matches the extraordinary price tag. His recent mix for RA is a phenomenal gateway into his mind, which includes sounds such as psychedelic Afrobeats and avant-garde house. With DJ Harvey, you never know what you’re going to get with or where you’re going to end up.
Jamie xx (Friday)
Genre: House, Dubstep
Choice Mix: FACT mix
First known as one of the three members of indie rock band the xx, Jamie xx branched out into the dance circuit with DJ sets, original production and remix work. Characterized by roomy bass and sun-soaked synths, Jamie xx’s beats move steady with funk. “We’re New Here,” Jamie xx’s remix album with musician Gil Scott-Heron, is the best example. For his sets, Jamie xx’s mix for FACT Magazine is excellent. His set is more for late nights, but Jamie xx’s choice in dark, sharp-edged dubstep is also an exciting aspect of his taste.
Four Tet (Friday)
Choice Mix: Fabriclive59
Kieran Hebden, better known as Four Tet, started out as a post-rock outfit called Fridge. But as time went on, his Four Tet moniker delved more into experimental hip-hop and electronica. Hebden’s adoption of club music is a more recent one, and his dance-oriented releases are spectacles, one after another. Four Tet recently released “Pink,” a compilation of club-minded singles, which includes critic favorite “Pyramid.” Hebden has been DJing more, so it’s likely he will have a DJ set at Coachella. His acclaimed mix for the “Fabriclive” series is just a piece of his wide range of taste as he digs into his collection of fantastic garage and grime to build up an hour worth of sweat and funk.
Simian Mobile Disco (Saturday)
Genre: House, Acid
Choice Mix: “Is Fixed”
The majority of Simian Mobile Disco’s work follows a line of steady house with an acid touch. Its recent album “Unpatterns” had the group expanding its squirming synths into sleeker grooves. SMD’s choices in tracks may be a continuous flow of mid-tempo, but it surely gets the head nodding. Its 2010 mix “Is Fixed” is a good place to start as it compiles tracks similar to the group’s production including fuzzy synth lines and kicking techno thump.
Maya Jane Coles (Sunday)
Choice Mix: DJ-Kicks
Since her rise in 2010, U.K.’s Maya Jane Coles has held a status as one of the top DJs of the scene. In RA’s annual reader polls, Coles ranked No. 9 and No. 10 in the Top DJs of both 2011 and 2012, respectively. The house tracks she produces are mesmerizing in texture as they come for a more silent kill. Beating similar to her production, Coles showcases her smart touch of house music in her mix for the “DJ-Kicks” series, her first commercial mix CD.
Genre: House, Garage
Choice Song: “Control feat. Ria Ritchie”
The U.K. duo Disclosure quickly rose up to be a household name. Breaking out with “The Face” EP last year, the brothers brought back a smooth feel influenced by the duo’s love for early garage and dubstep. For the type of dance music Disclosure has an ear for, its mix for FACT Magazine is a solid set full of throwback funk similar to its work. The duo may do a live show of work instead of a DJ set. In that case, its “Control feat. Ria Ritchie” is a good track for start getting used to the duo’s vibe to.
Julio Bashmore (Sunday)
Choice Mix: BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix
Julio Bashmore landed in 2010 with production work, and when he released “Everyone Needs a Theme Tune EP” in 2011, he dropped the anthem “Battle for Middle You.” Modest in build, “Battle for Middle You” has knocking bass and its mantra, “People get up / Stomp your feet / Let’s get down” was obeyed to the fullest. Since then, he kept rolling with another chart-topper, “Au seve” and lent a hand to U.K.’s songstress Jessie Ware. For a little taste, check out his 2011 BBC Radio 1 Mix, which displays the producer’s taste for irresistible funk and smooth house.
James Blake (Sunday)
Choice Song: “The Wilhelm Scream”
The U.K.’s James Blake started crafting tracks built more as beats. But his iteration of dubstep took on different shapes throughout time. In his self-titled album, Blake took on a more organic approach and put himself out as a singer, manipulating his vocals with dubstep electronics. For this record, an elegant piano cover of Feist meets the minimalist intensities of dubstep. As a sample, fall into the repetition of “The Wilhelm Scream” and its spiraling beat for an impression.
All mixes and songs are available on SoundCloud and Spotify.