what DJs listen to on their days off

it might be hard to imagine that producers and DJs ever think of music outside of the thumping bass, the bleeps and bloops, and the digital-ness of electronic music. but it’s rare that dance music makers and booty shakers spend every waking minute listening to electronic music. you’d probably be surprised to learn what they listen to when the lights turn on and the headphones come off.

i wish i could take credit for this idea, truly, but it was my friend charlie [nolan brown] who came up with this concept and suggested i turn it into a blog piece. so far, i’ve had answers from dozens of different DJs, producers, labelheads, promoters, and techno lovers. although the piece focuses primarily on DJs and producers, there are a few die hard electronic music fans who play integral roles in the scene that i just couldn’t leave out. i listened to every single one of these songs as they came in, and i hope you do too!

NB: although some people bent the rules by sending songs that leaned towards downtempo, indie electronica, and trip hop, or songs that featured electronic elements, i let it slide as long as it was outside of the genre they produce or play. read on, soldiers!

michael armstrong (M4CR0)

“i’ve been decompressing to this gorgeous gem by *themusicalodyssey (aka barry kyle) a lot lately. it’s beauty absolutely blossoms and bridges my love for classical, with clouds of ambient & shades of electronica. suggested listening in the bath, before bed and behind closed doors.”

royce groom (royce & tan)

“on my days off i listen to classical music, anything with pianos in it really. it’s just so different than the music that i DJ and produce; but at the same time it is so similar. i’m listening to beethoven: symphony No 8, 1st movement at the moment. it’s quiet then it’s loud, it’s slow then it speeds up, it’s relaxed and then it’s tense. i get inspired from the chord progressions and i like to feel the emotion in the music.”

daniel diamond (dick diamonds)

“wonderful love song from a man struggling with dependence issues, talking about his steadfast wife. she actually left him in the end, unfortunately. my favourite contemporary rock track, and one of the most overlooked tunes in his career.”

billy dalessandro

“lots of my time is spent listening to stuff like this, because i know it’s good for me (and for you, too)”

stefny remillard (stefny winter)

“i listen to a lot of jazz. here is one of the greatest trumpet players of all time. also, i love reggae…rod rodigan is one of the greatest! i went to reggae parties before i went to raves and discovered dance music. i love the musicality of both jazz and reggae. there is so much soul and rawness…. they both hit me in the heart!”

daniel DZ (DVD0S)

“‘hip hop is simultaneously a new and old phenomenon; the importance of sampling to the art form means that much of the culture has revolved around the idea of updating classic recordings.’ that’s from wikipedia, but it’s true that our music (and by that i mean electronic music) is all about sampling the past, hip hop is our origins.”

andrew greville (DJ roo)

“since i am a total sucker for any moody or emotional sounds in music i would have to go with max richter’s “infra 5.” the whole album is a 25min neo-classical/ambient journey with infra 5 being my favourite section. it always takes me to a good place.”

nathan barato

“this guy is just a genius melodically and i’m sure in many other ways i cant comprehend. just enjoy having this on whenever!”

kuba kozanecki (like a tree)

“one of the most beautiful songs ever written, i love this song because not only is it incredibly soulful with a melancholic undertone (and i’m a sucka for melancholy), but you feel the struggle and emotion in her voice. it’s not over-dramatized, it’s sincere and authentic and they simply don’t record vocals in this quality anymore – this was recorded in 1964.”

danielle bundy (jackie spade)

“on my days off when i’m not listening to mellow electronic music, i listen to some conglomeration of reggae and jazz. one of my favorite groups is the kalmunity vibe collective, based in montreal. i love this track, and the group in general because they rap, sing and do spoken word about things that really matter, and things that speak to me. their lyrics make me think, and they inspire me in ways i try to carry over into my life as an electronic music artist.”

esther benoit

“in the rare moments i’m not listening to electronic music…. it’s moody, movement and emotion. i like to FEEL, be moved & be inspired.”

alicia hovinga (alicia hush)

“ultimate slick summer lounging material right here!!”

jesse morrison (ana+one)

“70’s rnb/rare groove/funk is my favourite music! the recording process and equipment was very unique during this time in music. this song is straight up creative funk…nothing else like it….electronic music before its birth.”

chrys tan (royce & tan)

“i don’t go anywhere near dance music unless i’m producing it or preparing for a show. that being said i love finding inspiration in anything then intertwining what i feel from it with what i’m producing. i’m a big country music fan, it’s all i listen to while i’m driving, as well as folk/indie styles of music. the look on peoples faces when i tell them this is usually of utter shock!”

siobhan mckeown (shibby shitegeist)

“i have been listening to akalé wubé of late. they’re based in paris but they play ethiopian inspired jazz/funk. i started listening to them after a recent visit to ethiopia and on recommendation from a few friends to check out the funk that came out of there in the 70’s. i’ve always had a soft spot for jazz (my dad is a saxophonist and it’s always been on my periphery), and for funk-infused rhythm and bass.”

martin houle (hooll)

“quand je veux relaxer, qui sort un peux de la musique 4/4 techno ou minimal, le groupe tunng (j’ai de la misere a donner juste un titre parce que j’aime beaucoup les tounes) ou atoms for peace!”

moody jones

“lately i listen to alot of kendrick lamar!”

jose arayesh

“i’m a tech house DJ but on my time off, i like to listen to something like kavinsky!”

zeina medhat (zeina)

“when i’m not listening to deep trip inducing dubby minimal and techno, i’m calming my soul with something downtempo.”

jean-patrice remillard (pheek)

“timeless inspiration for me. i love the masterful instruments and the trip this music gives me!”

charlie brown (nolan brown)

“english duo bondax is perfect for a morning commute or a post-party melt. both of these gents are under 20 and already making huge waves. i can’t wait to see where they go in the future.”

marshall destro

“i’ve been totally stuck on these guys for a while now. they are constantly pushing boundaries musically and artistically. this is apparent when you listen to their albums (which are 8-12 years old at this point) they still sound avant-garde. most critics and reviewers can’t even find a label/style for their sound.”

frank bogdanowitz (dr. nojoke)

“play ben frost and the kilimanjaro darkjazz ensemble at the same time. just so hard to find words why i like it. it’s inspiring and opening my mind and soul. it is filling space in a for me comfortable way. start with ben frost and then add the 2nd one!”

bianca neron (b ianca)

side project). rhythmic genius! especially this album, hai. it was recorded in japan with traditional percussion. they’re pushing typical musical genres beyond any boundaries!”

logan hollow

“i appreciate IAMX because their sound is simultaneously nostalgic (think sneaker pimps) and sophisticated. their music makes me think of my angsty teen years, while remaining relevant to my current experience!”

esteban de haro

“back in the year 2000 i discovered señor coconut. my fist impression was ‘those europeans always trying to make latin music’ but at the end i fell in love with his music! pne of my favorites song is el rey de las galletas (the king of cookies). and you know i love cookies.”

michael flandez (flandez)

“essentially minimal, beutiful simple harmonies and a whole lot of soul!”

colin barber

“here’s my favourite artist in the whole universe. he sounds like if all the beatles were merged into one person who was addicted to heroin. his songs are weirdly uplifting and depressing at the same time, because the chord structures are whimsical and energetic, yet he’s singing about hardcore drug abuse and failed relationships. i love it.”

etienne gour (sATNam)

“still a trip hop fan at heart. tricky is doing fine.”

pete hellyer

“when i worked back in london, “rumors” was a daily play on the office stereo. reminds me of good times and missed friends. this is the link to the full album, because it’s just that good.”

daniel nikov (nikov)

“makes me feel free in a ‘braveheart’ type of way! its pure emotion from the heart of an untouched civilization. it gives me the goosebumps no matter how long it’s been since i last heard it. forget that it’s bulgarian but the fact that it inspired so many people from different cultures and backgrounds over the years is a direct proof that indicates the power of this magical sound. if i honestly think about it, i like different genres but only a small portion of all that music is timeless, universal, genuine and real. real in a sense that is not affected by current trends, fashion and it gives you pure energy and space for your imagination to grow…rather than trying to put you in a box and make you believe that the box is the world.”

greg hunter desty

“i like this one! the artists are masters of their instruments. this music is so off the grid. my favorite kind of music, regardless of the genre.”

danielle bakhazi (dani drops)

“i make a concerted effort to stay on top of pop. radio and club top 40s, VMAs, that sort of thing, because i’m kind of obsessed with how music reflects culture (and relates to technology, production and distribution industry, economics, race and feminism, mainstream consciousness). it’s also rich, thus ultra high production standards. and i think, musically, there’s a lot to be absorbed about that intersection between an elite-y view of musical value and proven popularity/accessibility and about earworms, anthems, and (duh) dance power. if you must have a link… who’s too proud to love this??”

claire kenway (claire)

“it takes me to another place whenever i hear it.”

dominic chagnon daoust (daoust)

“it’s been almost 20 years that i’ve been listening to, singing and loving this song!”

mahdi midas

“i dunno if this qualifies but it just came out and i’m really into it. it’s this totally fuckin’ insane track that you can really get lost in, amazing percussion and drums with ambient undertones, this one’s a winner in my book!”

ben borden (solar year)

“i really like this song parallelograms by linda perhacs. it’s got some cool guitar folk polyrhythms. sort of like proto loop pedal music. her melodies are simple but haunting. solid lost classic from the 70s that feels pretty timeless.”

jaclyn wilson (studiofeed/the deep north fam)

“one of my favourite bands from the past 7 years is the rapture. the piano is so simple but catchy, such a sexy song that makes me want to dance even though it’s a slower beat than their normal tempo. ‘well there’s room in your heart now for excellence to take a stand, and there’s tears that need shedding, it’s all part of the plan.’ love it.”

thomas baz (demas)

“i love to hear jazz on my ‘days off’ and i´ve got a really good connection with matthew herbert. he’s part of the electronic scene but he also does fantastic big band concerts and is a genius not only as a producer.”

steve diabo (steve d)

“a friend of mine introduced me to anya marina a few years ago, long before anyone ever really heard of her, and sent me the album ‘slow and steady seduction phase II.’ i’ve always had a soft spot for female vocalists, and her voice is so sweet sounding and unique that i became a fan, and came to consider her one of my musical non-guilty pleasures. another friend of mine described her voice as ‘able to turn on even a potato.’ she came to notoriety after releasing this cover of the rapper TI’s track ‘whatever you like,’ taking the original into an unexpected and entirely new direction.”

felipe caceres

“because they make reggae music that white people don’t feel weird listening to!”

sarah lamb (hushlamb productions)

“goes without saying this guy is a badass producer, songwriter and performer. what i most like about him and the crews he rolled with was that they bounced his sound round genres. they kept moving music forward. the riffs of some of the most popular 90’s hip hop artist are george clinton’s! this boy was super socially aware.. his music was politics you could dance to on a whole bunch of fronts. and that, for me, is one DARN good way to affect change!!”

yarin lidor

“i love this classic jam, the groove is addictive and trippy!”


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