Deep grooves, New York-style.
Jacky Sommer and Kat Smith (AKA DatKat) moved from Oakland to New York around the turn of the millennium. Since then, they've lived and breathed the city's club scene and record store culture. In 2004, they were offered a show on East Village Radio. A friend recommended they call it Analog Soul. The name stuck.
Today, Analog Soul are reaching a wider audience than ever before, thanks in part to their show on The Lot Radio and their residency at Nowadays, where they played all night on New Year's. As a DJ duo, their sound feels as shaped as much by clubs as it is by radio. On the one hand, they know how to create the kind of steady groove that holds a dance floor. But their tastes are also totally eclectic and free-floating, taking in everything from house and techno to dub and reggae to whatever else they happen upon in their digs—when Brandon Wilner interviewed them for Art Of DJing in 2018, DatKat said vibe of the moment was "'70s Mongolian shit and Japanese stuff." They like to be completely spontaneous when they play, and this mix is no exception: DatKat says she was hearing some records for the first time as they recorded this mix. RA.712 delivers the organic vibe that have landed Analog Soul at the center of one of the world's best club scenes.
What have you been up to recently?
Jacky Sommer: The end of 2019 was awesome! Ended with a quick mini-Euro tour where we played in Naples, Groningen and Panorama Bar (for the third time)! We also played the recent Unter Acid party and officially ended the year at our residency at Nowadays for their all night/day NYE party. We also do a monthly show on the Lot Radio in NY and I've recently joined Public Records as a resident in their cafe! I get to play hip-hop, jazz, global music and weird electronics, etc... stuff I'm not able to play for a late night party crowd!
DatKat: We recently went on a small European tour end of November of last year. Played Naples, which was insane, Groningen and rounded out the tour with our third set at Panorama Bar.
How and where was the mix recorded?
JS: The recording was done at my house. All vinyl! I have a super-simple setup. Two Technics 12s and a cheap four-channel Numark M6 USB mixer that I got because it's simple to link into any DAW and easily record. Pretty basic!
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
JS: When we play together whether it's a mix or live at a party, there's never really an idea. Just a vibe. I started the first half of the mix, which is very deep old school house and Kat starts her set with a little acid and ends very downtempo. It could have easily ended up being more heavy techno, more driving house etc... but we play from a vibe. Nothing is planned. Ever! It's always the vibe we're in at that moment.
DK: Whenever we approach a mix it's usually raw and in the moment. But Jackie usually does the first half and I'll round out the second. We didn't set out to play a certain sound. We just went with the flow. It's an all-vinyl mix of mostly new records for me that I was hearing for the first time while recording. I'm more inspired when I play this way.
You two have been DJing in New York long enough to see a few different eras come and go. How do you feel about the scene right now?
JS: I feel that the NY scene is MASSIVE right now! I got to NY in 2001 and was lucky to land a job right away at the record store Dancetracks that was started by Joe Claussell and Stefan Prescott! That store was huge back in the day... was worldwide! As well as others like Eightball, Satellite, Vinylmania, A1, Breakbeat Science, Halcyon, Turntable Lab, and others. Record store culture was the epicenter of DJ culture at that time. I learned a lot then and it what was very obvious to me that the scene was very divided at that time! You had techno parties, you had house, you had drum & bass, etc... All separate! It just felt very fragmented to me. The scene was certainly different in the '90s and more inclusive, and was eventually fucked by Giuliani. I can't speak about how it fragmented from the '90s to the 2000s, cause I wasn't there, but it was obvious to me when I got to NY by then that the music scenes were separate, and I didn't want it to be that way.
I can't recall the exact time period, early mid 2000s? But I remember when CDJs, Serato and Beaport hit the scene, and the game in NYC was just completely changed! Almost instantly! All the record stores just started dropping like flies! We just didn't matter anymore. There was a lull in the scene. Things were still going on... APT, Bunker was the techno outlet, National Underground and Cielo in Manhattan, Shelter still, Black Market was doing warehouse stuff, to name a few, but it felt more lax to me around 2008 to 2013 and still fragmented. And then an interesting transition was happening where club culture started to become more focused in Brooklyn. It had always been more centrally based in Manhattan. Around 2013 when Output and Bossa Nova Club opened, there seemed to be an emergence of a unified sound happening. Where house and techno were together. So that lull period with vinyl failing and CDJs, Serato and Beatport coming up and becoming massive, there was some resurgence of new energy that was clearly poppin' off... Easier access perhaps? Events began to sonically change. When parties started to be heavily focused in Brooklyn I truly feel that certain clubs, because of the vision of club owners like Shawn Schwartz (Output) and John Barclay (Bossa Nova Civic Club) and a focus on talent, and music for music's sake, really pushed NY to a better level! I've never felt more invigorated!
This current era is what I was actually pushing for back in the in day, at Dancetracks, and was hoping for, for a long time! Where techno and house would collide. I also don't think what's happening at this point in time is particularly unique, as far as an evolution of sound in NY though! A lot of what happens, or doesn't happen in NY, is very political. NY has waves... Anyway in spite of the past or politics, currently NY is on fire!!! The talent, promoters, venues, record stores (back again now), what's been bubbling in NY the past seven years to me is epic! Right now NY is massive! It deserves the acclaim it had in the '90s, and now, def the acclaim of Berlin as an epicenter of dance music, in my opinion! There's an inclusiveness in sound that I didn't experience at my start in NY in 2001. So to be a part of what's happening now means a lot to me! NY is killin it!
DK: I think the scene in New York is on fire at the moment. Aside from tons of local and regional talent a few new venues have opened up.
You're both deep diggers. What are you favorite ways of hunting for music these days? What kind of stuff are you into at the moment?
JS: I go to record stores as often as possible. There might be one track or an artist in my head when I'm headed to a store; but I go to stores just to dig. Just to look through every record in a section and pull a record I might like. Because of the label or an artist. I like the surprise of digging. Where you don't know what you're gonna get! I also have used Beatport basically since it started! And it's the same approach for me when I'm looking for tracks digitally! There are certain tracks I know they have, that I need, I quickly find and I throw immediately in my cart! But then I'll spend hours and hours just filtering through content to find gems! Even if I only find one track! I love to dig!
If I had to say specifically what I'm into at the moment I'd say Nigerian music. Have loved Fela most of my life but there's all this amazing new Afrobeat that's been coming out! A lot is reminiscent of '90s dancehall to me. Not the sound per se. Sort of the rhythm and the vibe! Really into it! And, two, dub and reggae is my life! I'm always on a quest to find dub! Always. I'm obsessed with Jah Shaka and def have him in mind all the time when I go record shopping. Also, Aswad! I love most reggae and dub but steppahs hits me differently so I'm always searching for that sound all the time!
DK: I work at a record shop now called Boom Service. You can find us on Discogs. We have a collection of over 40K new and used records. Everything from jazz, hip-hop, dub, reggae, funk, soul, house, techno, drum & bass, house, etc. I've found a bunch of gems there. I'll also take an occasional trip to a record shop but I'm mostly in a Discogs wormhole. I find one thing, then end up somewhere else entirely. In terms of what I'm digging for right now, it's a little bit of everything. But always looking for trippy, funk and soulful world gems.
What are you up to next?
JS: Currently building my solo residency at Public Records, pushing our Residency at Nowadays as Analog Soul as well as our radio show at Lot Radio and planning to release some original music this year!!