Cosmin TRG marvels at Levon Vincent's ability to work a crowd
Whenever I'm quizzed about my favourite DJs or producers I pause awkwardly, gasp for air like I'm trying to find the meaning of life. It's an easy question to some, and the bane of interviews to others. It's also a ubiquitous question so you'd think I'd be prepared, but I'm always torn on the matter. You cannot help being savagely subjective. There is no definite criteria. I like artists who take chances, who play across the board to deliver the message. But I also love "specialist" DJs, the ones who are able to nail that illusive combination of funk and groove. In that sense, some of the names doing it for me are as different as Marcel Dettmann, Surgeon, Steffi, Prins Thomas and Andrew Weatherall. I love about 300 others for various reasons.
Under these circumstances it's criminal to pick just one, but the name I spontaneously come up with would be Levon Vincent. His incredible taste in music and wonderful personality aside, it's his ability to work a crowd and build that "tunnel vision" vibe I admire. It's a paradox that when you've been constantly subjected to music for a long time, your desire to move is getting numbed. In my case, it only takes Levon's first four records into his set to make me lose control.
nd_baumecker's inspiration is his old friend D-Man
Naming your favorite DJ is one of the most difficult tasks, especially when you haven't heard all the DJs that you would have liked to because you didn't have the time and/or possibility to do so. The most important attribute for me is that the DJ inspires me. He should have the courage to take risks, even including losing the audience for a moment. He should play records never heard before, he should not play one specific style, he should have an idea about volume and sound and not take everything too seriously. (Looking serious and being concentrated is fine though!) He should basically blow my mind! These days I am missing a lot of these things in many DJ sets I hear. The person I can name who did and does all the stuff mentioned above, though, is D-Man, AKA Dirk Mantei from Heidelberg/Mannheim. He is an inspiration.
Julius Steinhoff is still surprised by Lawrence after all these years
Hamburg might be not very famous for its hospitality. But when I was stranded in Hamburg in 2000, the Golden Pudel Club made me feel at home instantly. Especially the Changing Weather nights with Lawrence and Carsten Jost, going on about every two weeks. I had never heard the music they played in that way. It was a time for sucking in good music that inspired and led a way for me.
When the Click opened in 2003, now a club and nightlife institution in Hamburg, I always had the best nights when Lawrence warmed up and also ended the nights. For me, he understands like no other DJ how to build up magic moments. And even though we have sold records together in our Smallville store for 6 years and played a lot of gigs together, Lawrence still surprises me in his DJ sets. He'll play old tracks I've never heard or even ones that I know very well, all combined as if they were made for each other.
Iron Curtis felt like Edit Piafra had hijacked his record collection
I don't know if this is too close, but my favourite DJ is my production partner Edit Piafra. I got to know him through a DJ because I was going out in Nürnberg and he was DJing in several venues. He was playing at a weekly indie rock party called Go Guitar Go. One night I think me plus two of my friends and three guys at the bar were the only people there. But that night it felt like he was DJing with my records. This is only something that has happened to me twice in my life. At the time, the first Ada album on Areal had just come out. And he mixed one of the tracks from there into this '80s New Wave track. I don't know what it was, but it totally got me because it was this combination of genres that might fit, even if you wouldn't normally think so.
Recondite loves RNDM's understatement
RNDM is my favourite DJ. I got in touch with him a little bit so I was invited a couple of times when he played somewhere and I always took the opportunity to see him and I was always assured that I would get the sound I like. He's been DJing for many years, so he's very good technically. But it's also the stuff he plays, the track selection. He has a diverse style but he always has an understatement in his records. He never tries to push it. The whole thing pushes by itself. He has a very good way of being unexcited, but building tension.
I remember seeing him at Watergate on the Water Floor, downstairs, and he tried out "Kamm," a track he did with Efdemin. It was at seven o'clock in the morning, and the floor looks out on to the water so everything was bright. That was a really good moment. I am a person that has a very strong preference for that certain mood which you can hear in my tracks. And that's what I like about RNDM. There is always that understatement in his sets.
Dinky admires DJ Harvey's fearlessness
It's impossible to talk about my favourite DJ without naming Matthew Styles, but as he is my fiance I chose DJ Harvey just to be a little less obvious. What I like about Harvey is that he is able to play very musical and diverse. It's almost like listening to live musicians: tempo changes, guitars, vocals, live drums and all the wonderful stuff that comes with disco and soul. I particularly love the way he plays with the dynamics and volume, suddenly dropping a song 10 or 20 dbs and then throwing it back louder than before.
When it's done well, it can create an amazing reaction. Disco is pretty hard to mix, but he isn't a slave to the mix. Sometimes he'll stop a record and play the next one, all done very smoothly and with class. I guess not many DJs can afford to play like him. There is a lot of pressure in the dance music world, but I believe Harvey has earned the right to do so by not being afraid and by just being himself.