Bok Bok's brain got rearranged when he first heard DJ Slimzee
I probably sound like a broken record talking about this, but I can't stress how much DJ Slimzee and the music he's most known for representing influenced me. I didn't have a traditional way into this music. Even though I grew up with garage all around me, it wasn't really until I heard the way Slimzee put together the then-emerging new school of more industrial grimey stuff that it all finally clicked. I rinsed his Dump Valve mix CD and his Street Beatz mix CD for Ministry Of Sound and obviously his infamous Sidewinder tape with a young Wiley and an even younger Dizzee (definitely downloaded in 64k off Limewire!). At one point I was listening to nothing else besides these mix CDs and the pirate stations, like this music somehow overwrote everything that came before it.
What I now know I was hearing was a very London form of techno at its rawest—oil slick dance music for the greezy streets, brutalist arrangements and rhythms with built-in Air Max agility. And Slimzee in particular seemed to have an ear for the most devastating tracks, always bringing such energy and charisma. I haven't been the same since hearing it; my brain got rearranged like a Fruity Loops VIP.
Davide Squillace says Derrick May is still one of the best
I am not sure if I consciously chose Derrick May, it was just more a case of him being one of my childhood teachers. He was responsible for one of the first mind-blowing records I ever heard playing out of a turntable. I'm not sure if I chose him as he is an iconic figure and was one of the reasons why most of us are here doing what we are doing.
I think it might be because he's one of these people who excel technically and with the selection of records, what I would define as a perfect DJ and entertainer. With him, the actual mix is better than when the record plays by itself; he manages to mix two songs and create a third one that can be far away from the vibe of the first and second song. He manages to take you on different journeys and move through different emotive states in only few hours.
The first time I heard him was in London, at the Black Box, a long time ago. I still remember some of the mixes he did and the way he connected with the crowd. He left me with the feeling that he was playing one huge record all night long. To date he is still one of the best.
Ryan Hemsworth is in awe of Sam Tiba's disregard for tempos and genres
I didn't grow up in the club, and am still figuring it all out. I try to take advantage of that unknowingness and play whatever feels right to create a mood. DJs like Sam Tiba give me a lot of motivation to do that kind of thing, thinking first and foremost about a mood or a feeling. Genre and tempo come second, third, whatever. Genre is whatever. Tiba is a perfect blend of decision and indecision. This is why he can mix Kelly Rowland with a J-pop sample at half-speed and mix it into an Usher track at twice the speed (not tampering with the pitch at any point, just letting it flail around) and it just works.
And he's on top of shit. I love R&B; I scour for it, new and old. But he always breaks out a Twista gem that you've only just forgotten about, or a sleeper hit everyone overlooked while scanning through Digital Dripped. It's beautiful as a fan and slightly frustrating as a fellow DJ because, dammit, now I want that song he just killed everyone with. He once told me to stop caring so much about following tempos; none of the track tempos matched up in one of his most recent mixes, it should've been disastrous. But it turned out to be a miracle. My favourite DJs priorities are being weird, having fun, taking chances and fleshing out emotion. That's Tiba.
Pezzner always relies on Rub N Tug's Thomas Bullock for his disco fix
There aren't many DJs that I follow, but one of my favorites is Thomas Bullock of Rub N Tug and Wicked. In the '80s, long before my time, Thomas cut his chops playing legendary parties with the Tonka Crew alongside DJ Harvey. He later moved to San Francisco to play parties with Wicked Soundsystem before relocating to New York and starting up his famed Rub N Tug outfit with Eric Duncan.
The few times I had the pleasure of seeing him play were inspiring to say the least. Opting to leave out the parameters of tempo or genre that DJs usually adhere to, he instead draws the dance floor in with finesse and personality. Acid rock nudges up against house rarities, which share the same space with post-funk and disco—you get the picture. His classic Live At Zanzibar mix tape is still kept at arms reach for whenever I need a quick disco fix.
Paul Woolford finds Ben UFO's extreme measures inspiring
The people who have inspired me the most as DJs over the years have all used the transfer of energy through occasionally extreme measures as a component of their performance. When I think about the best moments I have ever had on dance floors, it has always been listening to someone who could at any moment take a sharp left turn and bend the whole room out of shape.
For years I've loved the sets of Derrick Carter and his method of riding roughshod over the groove and sometimes manhandling it into his own vision, equal parts flair and aggression. In different moments it's Derrick May that I connect with, for the same reason. There is one person right now who takes this tradition and pushes it into new realms, via both his fearless selections and narrative building. I'm talking about Ben UFO.
I know no other DJ who would put together the records he chooses in such a way. Soulful contrasts, even in the most banging moments, followed by counterpoints where the groove alters are key components, but to try and describe the range here is futile. You just have to listen for yourself and feel it. It's been inspiring witnessing his following grow year by year. We occasionally play back-to-back and, in these moments, I am reminded of his crate-digging being at a truffle-hound level. There's nobody quite like him.