Claude VonStroke loves The Gaslamp Killer's crazed energy
OK maybe this isn't the expected classic choice, but the one guy who blew my mind in the last five years is The Motherfucking Gaslamp Killer. There is a great energy going on with him and a mad twinge in his eye where you don't know if he is going to hug you or punch you in the face. This energy translates directly into his DJ sets. The first time I saw him it was an all-'80s/'90s hip-hop set that made Justin Martin throw his $500 sunglasses on the ground and stomp them out it was so good. Then I started seeking him out at festivals, watching him go from super weird Eprom-style future hip-hop to Jimi Hendrix to "Darth Vader's Theme" to the darkest dank beats you ever heard. But all programming aside, it's the delivery that is really the treat.
He does little live blips and stabs with his voice that fit inside the beats, almost like James Brown. He's even managing to tell inside jokes about the beats he is playing, but all in little snippets that fit with the music. I don't know how to explain that very well, but it's awesome and nothing like an MC walking all over the music. In addition to this he is always moving—either head banging his gigantic hair (and massive moustache) or shuffling side to side perfectly to the beat. All of this is going on while he is playing the most eclectic and crazy music I ever heard. He is a real performer with wild psychedelic taste and he looks like he really could match his namesake. Best part is that once I asked him the title of a track and he gave me the absolute wrong name. Whether he didn't want to tell me or not, much respect to the wild goose chase on the trainspot. (It took me almost six months to figure out what he was playing.) Now that's some classic DJ shit!
Éclair Fifi is inspired by Serge's uncompromising attitude
The easiest way for me to answer this question is to think back to when I first started to get more bookings, started more actively digging, and I was exploring different genres other than techno and hip-hop (that was mostly what I bought in the beginning). Who made me really happy and excited to watch play my favourites as well as music I'd never heard before, making me want to rush home to investigate after the show?
I'd have to choose Serge. He didn't only start one of my favourite labels (Clone), but his sets would (and still) include Italo disco, ghettotech, electro, Chicago house, Detroit techno, Drexciya, etc. I'd never thought of it before this article, but I guess to anyone who's heard me, I play a similar range. I love his attitude to playing what the hell he wants, and that logic must have rubbed off on me. I can't even remember what his style of mixing is like right now (awesome, I'm sure) because I was always too busy bouncing about to even care. I've seen him play a lot years ago, and every single time he got me dancing no matter what mood I was in.
Eddie Fowlkes leaves Robert Dietz speechless
It's got more and more difficult to listen to and discover new DJs over the last few years, as I'm constantly on the road. One DJ, though, who really caught my attention from the first time I heard him playing in London together with me is Eddie "Flashin" Fowlkes. One of Detroit's founders of techno music, who, in my opinion, is totally underrated, left all of us with open mouths on stage. He played such a warm, sexy and powerful techno set, the kind I haven't heard in ages. He was just in his element, slowly building a peak without gimmicks. He had the whole room on the hook, especially the girls.
After that I heard him in Ibiza last year at the Used + Abused party at Ushuaïa and visited him during his Boiler Room session in a record shop in Berlin two months ago—and again he left me speechless. There is a lot of soul in his sets, and so much driving energy, not to mention his flawless mixes.
FaltyDL says he's always playing catch up with Dave Q's impeccable taste
My favorite DJ is Dave Q from NYC. And the reason why he is my favorite DJ is because I hate a lot of the music he plays the first time, but I know I should be paying attention because it's what I will be listening to for the next six months non-stop after I come to my senses. Man invented the tastemaker DJ. Without trying. His first party in NYC for years was the now legendary—actually scratch that, it was legendary from day one—Dub War. I used to go early and watch him DJ while hugging the wall trying not to get into any conversations with people. He would open at around 10 PM and play from the heart straight away.
In fact I need to warm up to his aesthetic in most art forms: film, clothing and music. But then, surely enough, six months later I am literally copying him head to toe. That's a half-truth, Ruth. Often his taste hits me straight away. Anyways, when he compliments me on a new track or some new kicks it means more than just a nod. He thinks before he plays a tune, or makes a comment. Imagine that? If you knew his day job you'd understand even more about the man, the myth, the maleficent.
Sometimes in my de facto lazy nature, I purposefully don't show him tunes until I am ready for some realness. Because he will look at it from a completely different angle and reveal its true nature to me, its creator! This all comes across in his DJing. Style. Context. Fierceness.
Slackk admires Spooky's tireless work ethic and furious mixing
I think the mark of the best DJs is probably when you watch or listen to them and feel really inadequate or, depending on your mood, slightly in awe. I've played with Spooky loads of times now, whether it's at radio or in the club, and the sheer speed and ease at which he can suddenly be in a blend or race through five or six tracks in a couple of minutes—it's terrifying. I've seen people leave dance floors after some of his sets absolutely knackered, mate, it's amazing.
There's also the constant work ethic that I really admire. There's always been a fine pirate radio tradition in London, as everyone should know by now, and really I think Spooky is one of the few who really embodies that and still treats the radio set as something that's really important. The amount of times you'll see Spooky on some station doing 2 AM cover shows and lugging vinyl halfway across the city, just for the love of playing a set. Or indulging in these epic six-hour marathons on a Monday just because why not? It's great, I love that passion for it, and even with the amount of bookings he gets these days, that side of him hasn't changed one bit.
I really don't like getting booked to play after him, though, it's a really strong standard to live up to.
Ryan Elliott says that no one commands a room like Jeff Mills
My favorite DJ, without question, has always been Jeff Mills. I've seen Jeff perform across multiple decades, countries and venues and I've never walked away unimpressed. To me, the sign of a great DJ is one who as soon as they start their set, the energy and emotion of a room changes for the better.
I've never seen another DJ command a room like Jeff. I remember watching his sets and being hypnotized for hours. Jeff is a risk taker, and I think that is so important as a DJ. I also really enjoy his "outer-worldly" presence in the booth. His fascination with space is communicated so well through his sets, and he is truly unique. Whether watching him in the late '90s in a Detroit warehouse as he hammered away on three decks and a 909, or having a beer in the sun to one of his Wizard sets at Sonar By Day, Jeff Mills has always been the DJ I prefer to dance to.
Claude VonStroke and Robert Dietz play this year's South West Four in London, which runs August 23rd to 24th.