2015 -The year of the Essential Mix
For over 2 decades, BBC Radio 1 has had an iconic role in the development of dance music in the UK and throughout the world and one show has spearheaded this development. What is definitely considered one of the most prestigious broadcasts in dance music culture-the legendary essential mix, presented by who many consider to be the voice of dance music-the hero Pete Tong. Over 20 years of weekly 2 hour broadcasts from the worlds best DJs has made this one of the most popular shows in dance music and also one in which artists bring their A-game. The essential mix is not a normal DJ set. It is broadcast at a captive time for the audience (4-6am Saturday morning) and allows DJs to go out of their comfort zone a bit and play a set they normally wouldn’t play. Most EMs consist of very little of the artist or groups original works, and focus a lot more on their influences, what tunes they love and what they’re currently playing in their sets. If you are just getting into dance music, or even have been a fan for years it’s always good fun to scroll through the archives and listen to a classic set from years ago, (I recommend the timeless “Goa mix” as a decent starting point ) many EMs have been crucial in the development of entire genres such as the aforementioned Goa mix which kickstarted goa trance and even the recently iconic 2010 EM of the year from the Swedish House Mafia recorded at Creamfields which could be seen as the turning point for the new “EDM” era. For artists, being invited to produce an Essential Mix is a total honour and a sign of how far they have come in the dance industry.
I could go through some classic essential mixes all day, but for now I’d like to focus on the Essential Mix for this year alone because it has been a completely monumental year for all the team at Radio 1 and for the new concepts they’ve tried as well as all the brand new artists they have brought in.
To start the year off we were absolutely spoilt by a cracking progressive powerhouse from Eric Prydz (Winner of the 2013 mix of the year) X Jeremy Olander in what Radio 1 are calling the new “X” series which involves 2 or more artists going B2B for 2 hours of juicy goodness. From the start it was obvious this was going to be a fantastic year for all EM fans and since then we’ve only been treated time and time again by the guys at Radio 1 for bringing in some fantastic DJs to provide awesome mixes. From there we were gifted with techno treats from the likes of Tale of Us and Joris Voorn.
In their second new concept of the year, the EM brought in house legend Erik Morillo for what they’ve dubbed the “Masters” series featuring mixes from legends of the dance genre. Moving further into the year debut caps were handed out to the likes of Max Cooper, Spor and Kryder who dished out stomping mixes for us to feast our ears on. The second X mix of the year came in the form of the unforgettable Jamie XX X Four Tet mix which was followed my a special commemorative mix by the one and only father of house music- Frankie Knuckles.
David Guetta surprised practically everyone in the dance community by putting out a special “influences” EM full of classic 80s and 90s house tracks completely different from his usual pop crossover stuff. It gave listeners that bit of hope in Guetta and showed he hasn’t forgotten where he came from. Following on from Guetta, we had a few great mixes from the likes of andhim and Hannah Wants providing some pumping house beats to keep us ticking over. In the second entry of the masters series, we had a very very special entry from the one and only Papa of techno-Sven Vath. A masterclass in track selection and mixing, this was a phenomenal mix and one that will be remembered for a long time to come.
Later in the year however we have really been treated so far with some of the best mixes of the year coming from the likes of MK and Steve Angello from Ibiza, and most importantly, two which are definitely near the top of my favourite EMs of the year-the return of Nero whos’s 2010 mix is considered by many to be one of the best mixes ever recorded on the show. They put in an astonishing mix full of superb track choices while still keeping that signature Nero touch in a blend of genres and styles spanning decades of music. A mix that’s not just a showcase of dance music, but that’s a showcase of music as a whole. Following this, Australian superstar Flume was given the honour of providing us with an immense mix of electronic brilliance debuting 3 brand new exclusives while blending in a number of other cracking selections in what was a mix for the ages. At parts of that mix there was moment of transcendence, when it felt as though the music was bringing us to a higher state of consciousness such as Flumes edit of Beyonce-Ghost or the last track: Mica Levi-Love. As well as these two electronic masterclasses, we were lucky enough to get a rare mix from Berghain resident Ben Klock who put out a storming techno mix full of bangers. Special indeed.
While it’s only the middle of October, it’s an exciting time to be a fan of the essential mix with 2 months left on the calender it’s a wonder what the guys over at Radio 1 can provide us with yet, but I’m sure there’s a few surprises up their sleeve in what has definitely been the best year for the Essential Mix. Here’s to another 20 years of electronic magic.
Below is one of our favorite essential mixes of the year, the first of the year, actually – Eric Prydz x Jeremy Olander: