I visited Manchester back in January and even though I don’t own a record player, I just had to go check out the many vinyl shops tucked away in the city’s Northern Quarter. I came across a few tracks that sounded pretty sweet when I played them on the shop’s sound system, so when I got back to Glasgow I searched where I could purchase them online. I ended up on Discogs and as I was sifting through the website, I stumbled across this absolute belter. It is my new go-to when I just want to get up and dance. I love the old school vibe, upbeat vocals and the fact that I can actually sing along to this track whilst DJing. I’ve played it in my DJ sets a few times now, usually as the night begins to heat up. It’s a perfect track to play alongside some disco and really creates a vibrant atmosphere.
Daniel Caesar, his music feels nostalgic yet fresh, it takes me on a complete journey and I feel calm, collected, selected, sexy and cool, all at once. His lyrics and melody choices are unique and interesting, influenced by classic r&b and neo-soul.
Ruthanne wrote Too Little Too Late for Jojo aged only 17, and has been writing massive fuckoff hits laced with soul ever since. She’s also recently launched a solo career, you can see that neo-soul influence on this track.
I was introduced to bahamadia by a wealthy white man and its weird. I got flewed out to Australia and ended up catching feelings for the guy. After I left he sent me a USB stick filled of 90s hip hop like naughty by nature and ll cool j and so I discovered Bahamadia. I heard the song spontaneity and really fell in love with it. I just felt like those guys were really amazing writers and since then my music and the way I write songs started getting closer and closer to hip-hop.
Savage Animal Sounds
All I’ve ever wanted to do is play other people’s music. I guess I was originally inspired by having brothers who invested a lot of time and money into expensive records collections and turntables that I wasn’t supposed to touch (but would do so as soon as they went out anyway). I never really saw myself as the coolest DJ in town and even now I sometimes think I manage to straddle the void between what’s too cool for some and not quite cool enough for others*. That’s fine, as there’s always going to be someone with a different view to your own, but I’m happy that the music is generally well received and it’s cool to keep things varied and fresh.
*you could argue that I’m pretty underground though: so underground, in fact, you’ve never heard of me!
Certain genres haven’t resonated so well with me, because I always found myself steering away from anything that’s a bit too generic “HOUSE-IS-A-FEELIIIIIIIIIIIING!!!!!” sounding or anything that’s a bit too “hands-in-the-air euphoric-breakdown-y followed by an klaxon air horn” . That’s probably as a result of me trying to steer clear of the mainstream, which I suppose in itself is an indicator of what sounds cool to me. That’s not to suggest I’ll only play underground sounds, because a) that sounds insanely wanky and b) there’s plenty of records which have hit the mainstream that I still love today, pretty much all of my selections in this list, for example.
Anyway, what’s sounded cool to me over the years? Well, I remember first discovering Sylvester’s Menergy, which I found on a B side to Do You Wanna Funk, whilst being completely naïve about the subject matter in the vocal. I do love my hometown, but it would be fair to say it’s a world away from New York loft parties. I’m not sure why it was one of the first records I thought of when I started writing this, maybe because I’m now better educated on its universe or maybe because it was one of the first records I actually had the pleasure now of trying to mix with others. Whatever it is, you can’t help but love the high energy spirit, regardless of your background.
Sadly, I was just a bit too young to be a fully-fledged acid house raver, but my limited credibility went up a notch in the school corridors when the bigger boys and girls recognised me not for being someone’s fat wee brother but from my dancing at the under 18’s nights I used to frequent. Acting like you’ve got something chewy stuck between your hands and pulling it apart at various angles always worked well, alongside the squelchy 303 sounds of Baby Ford, Jolly Roger or Roxanne Shante. Sweet moves indeed.
L’il Louis’ French Kiss was also then (and always will be) one of my top ten favourites (and is, in fact, the only 12” that still lives with me, other than the odd bit of tracker vinyl I used prior to embracing the Pioneer revolution), but Blackout also got played on repeat a lot for a period. For someone who’s basically a massive shitebag when it comes to anything remotely scary, I still really enjoy the dark and sinister nature of the vocal.
It got darker though, but everyone goes through a Dutch hardcore phase, right? Although I thought it was pretty cool at the time, it’s also cool to admit your mistakes.
Fortunately, I came out the other side pretty quickly and found myself going through a lengthy progressive house phase. It’s a fairly obvious choice but Xpander sums up that genre for me. It still manages to make the hairs stand up on the back of my arm. And everywhere else. It’s got everything a progressive track should have. There’s a fine line between certain elements of progressive house (which I still enjoy) and trance music (which I’ve never really got) but Sasha will always be on the right side of cool for me.
These days, the BPMs may have slowed down quite a bit but it wouldn’t be uncool to say you can hear plenty of nods to the influences I’ve picked up over the years in my mixes. Whether that’s through slow build ups, pianos, squelches, bleeps, basslines or breaks, or music born in Chicago, Rotterdam, New York, or Falkirk. It’s really just whatever sounds cool to me at the time and the place.
I’d be surprised if there has ever been a time in my life when Fern Kinney’s voice has come through my headphones and I haven’t felt immutably cool. It’s the type of song that puts a rhythm in your step and lyrics on your tongue. Immediately singable and nearly impossible to get out of your head once it’s there, I’m Ready For Your Love is a track I can see myself revisiting in months, years, and even decades to come.
Haig Binnie is often over at Will Soer’s place.
‘Michael Jackson said that ‘Usher is the new me’
I remember a sporty kid telling me this in Religious Studies class, after telling me the music they liked was R’n’B, solidifying my grumpy distaste for the music played on phones in the bus, screens in the gym and – according to the lyrics – the glittering speakers of some heavenly club (‘I wanna make love in this club’, ‘DJ got us falling in love’, I really caught Usher at a bad time).
My pubescent music taste came from my post-punk Mum, the NME, and how different their ‘authentic’ rock music was to the self-assured X Factor-esque trash that I associated with ‘cool’ people. My gradual development into someone who listens religiously to R’n’B, Hip Hop and dance music began when I was finally invited to my first house party, and soonafter swapped memory sticks with a different, smirkless sporty kid. My iPod had already been given a little groove by blackclad introverts like Kid Cudi and the xx, but that memory stick – centred around JME – forever redirected my tastes. Sharing in this kind of music when you live anywhere near London is like knowing about/being good at football (I assume…), you immediately have something in common with a mass of your neighbours. Finding that other oddballs such as JME (a sober vegan pokemon geek) are cool here too was a really big deal to me, I can’t overemphasise how deeply I wished I could be cool.
One of my absolute favourite DJs, Shanti Celeste used to do a Friday afternoon, partystarting NTS radio show, before changing to Thursday. I played the first Thursday show at work, and her selections caught the ears of a couple of my coworkers, guiding me into our first proper conversation like the older sister I never had. The first ten minutes is abstract ambient, but after that it’s nonstop high fives. Actually that sounds noisy and painful, it’s nonstop head bops, but like really comfortable ‘I’m feeling this’ head bops. Like ‘if you don’t like this, whooo are you, this is just obviously good’ headbops.
It’s funny, not many people played music at work. Maybe it was because of the diversity, how can you know what people are going to like? I remember this guy who apparently used to be sick at rugby coming in and playing an admittedly great AJ Tracey track, followed by a track featuring a serious, genuinely problematic trigger-warning lyric from Eminem. It was one of those moments when you remember how enormously naive some people are, like when he told me ‘yeah I actually went to private school’, as if it wasn’t obvious from his total lack of filter.
Of course ‘cool’ is an enormously subjective quality, and you could be forgiven for thinking that the most successful recording artist of the 00s would be safe to play in a workplace, that people
Will Soer is Deep Cut’s Mommy