Justin Martin was inspired by the sounds of Solar
My pick is Solar, a Bay Area local DJ and part of the Sunset crew. They have been doing parties around the San Francisco Bay Area almost 20 years. The party that they do is what we loosely based our Dirtybird BBQ's around. They brought a soundsystem outdoors, and did it renegade style in various locations. The last party I went to was their Sunset Seasonal Opening and there was close to 5000 people there.
I would go to his Sunday night residency religiously to see him play, because he was always one step ahead. It was almost like he had this radar to seek out what the next big sounds was going to be but the crazy thing about him is that he's not this total music nerd where he's sitting around and talking about it all the time. I'm sure he does his homework and his research but he's not boastful about it in anyway, he's not trying, it's so natural the way that it comes to him. There's almost a sense of magic to it. He was playing things when I was going to see him that I didn't even know I liked yet! Sometimes I'd say, "I don't know how I felt about his set tonight," and then six months later, I would be searching for all the same tracks. To this day, he never ceases to blow my mind.
Monty Luke goes hip-hop with DJ Premier
It really could've been Derrick May or Theo Parrish or even Stretch Armstrong. But I have to say that DJ Premier wins in a close contest here for me. The studio producer who is also a great DJ is a rare breed these days, and in hip-hop it's practically extinct. But Premier has proven his studio chops. With Gang Starr being the jumping off point, he's gone on to produce everyone from Jay-Z, Christina Aguilera to Mobb Deep and the late Big L. And on the decks, his precision cuts and scratches are on another level. What I really like is his ability to mix eclectically. I’ve heard him mix '60s soul and R&B, '70s jazz and hip-hop seamlessly, while cutting and scratching in his distinctive style. Very impressive.
Eric Cloutier admires the calculated patience and impeccable taste of Daniel Bell
Narrowing down a favourite was, and still is, exceptionally hard for me to do. I equate different emotions and status levels to all of the people that have inspired me throughout the years, but after careful deliberation, I can definitely say the most important DJ to me throughout the years has been Daniel Bell.
Years of me seeing him perform countless times, from warehouses in Detroit, to afternoons at Club Der Visionaere, to a blissful sunset set at Labyrinth Festival, Dan has, and always will, control a room with calculated patience and impeccable taste. I've never once seen him fail to move a crowd, and I'm sure he's grown tired of me trainspotting record after record from him throughout his sets. I still listen to both of his Tresor mixes on the regular, and never once don't find myself dancing and loving it. Unless I have a good reason, I never fail to see him play, knowing that, from start to finish, I will be mesmerized. The man is a legend, both in performance and production, and without his unsolicited guidance I learned more about DJing from one man than I have from many.
Lee Curtiss is always impressed by DJ Three's musical knowledge
In the years I've known Chris Milo, AKA DJ Three, there has never been a night I've watched him play or a mix that I've heard him botch. Chris always has a way of turning any room into his party. Whether he's early doors or closing the main room, he always has the perfect mix of what's current seamlessly alongside my favorite records from memory past. He's the epitome of the DJ's DJ, and a fun dude to hang out with in general, something a lot of Djs don't put enough stock in at times. Chris has survived through several blurry generations of electronic music—from the rave days to the most cutting-edge of parties being thrown right now.
His appreciation for music runs deeper than almost anyone I've met and it's nearly impossible to stump him with music knowledge. From the back stories on Led Zeppelin album covers, to the greatest indie or shoegaze bands that time forgot, to the first dub productions ever recorded, Mr. Milo will describe at length the most minuscule details of the who, what, where and when of nearly any genre of music and recording. In a world of one-dimensional DJs and producers, there's no other person I would trust to play completely appropriately at both the main room of fabric or my wedding reception. To me, a great DJ is a true music enthusiast and connoisseur with the arsenal, knowledge and ability to know what to play (and when to play it). Chris hasn't let me down yet.
DVS1 can stop overthinking things when Mike Huckaby plays
As a DJ/producer, I sometimes find it hard to actually just sit and enjoy music because I always break things down or overthink what I’m listening to. But listening to Mike DJ, I’m transported back to a time when I didn’t do that... when I could just put my head down on the dancefloor and give in. He’s able to take me to a place where I can enjoy things again from a pure perspective. Also, his responses to interviews and constant positivity as a person are truly inspiring. His taste in music is untouchable! Although he’s been around since the early days in Detroit, in the last few years he’s been getting due respect globally. I’m sure I speak for a lot of people when I say, "Keep doing your thing Mike!"
A notable 2nd mention is my guy, Daniel Paul aka Ghetto, from Minneapolis. This is my musical soul mate! He can play house, techno, disco, soul…anything. He always plays the right music at the right moment. He’s unknown outside of our city, but ask any DJ from Minneapolis and they will tell you: Ghetto is the real deal!
Function's favorite will always be Jeff Mills
I've always only had one favorite DJ. Jeff Mills. I feel like I'm always telling this story but rightfully so because I have yet to come across anything that has matched it since. Along with DJ Repete, he had a residency at Limelight in New York at Lord Michael's Future Shock in 1991. He had just moved away from Detroit and was sort of leaving Underground Resistance and really defining himself as an individual artist. It was during the time he was recording, Waveforms Transmissions Vol. 1, and starting Axis. What was so cool was that he was playing there pretty much every weekend, sometimes multiple times a week. So I was able to hear him play often. There was an intense magic to what he was doing.
It was the first time I ever experienced a techno or house DJ really manipulating records. I remember standing on the dance floor thinking, "I have these records but they don't sound like this!" I would go up to the DJ booth and stand behind him and records were literally flying all over the place. He wasn't putting anything back in their sleeves, he was just piling them up at his feet. He was throwing caution to the wind and really taking chances. Sometimes it didn't hit right but it was all about those moments when it did. And when it did, sonically, it was the most intense thing I've ever experienced. There was a new record on every 20 to 30 seconds. He was playing on three turntables using one for the lows, one for the mids and the other for the highs. Sometimes he would even play without headphones. He was cutting doubles of tracks like, "Up Tempo" and "Dominator". It was the most energetic and revolutionary kind of DJing I experienced at that time and can't believe it was over 20 years ago now because it still sounds like the future.