Weekend Mixes: Silk City and Jubilee
Photo by Nick Walker
Every weekend brings a bounty of new DJ sets. Here are three of the best.
Silk City: Essential Mix (March 6)
Just as you’d expect for a couple old pros, the rollout for Silk City—Diplo and Mark Ronson’s new team-up, named for a legendary diner in Diplo’s home city of Philadelphia—has been precisely calibrated. The alias first emerged two years ago, but in January they issued their collaboration with Ellie Goulding, “New Love.” Last weekend, they unveiled their edition of BBC Radio 1’s Essential Mix, and it’s both exactly what you’d expect and not remotely predictable.
What you’d expect are hooks, and there are a lot of them here. Many selections (a full tracklist is here) are old favorites presented in new ways The set opens with Chromatics’ cover of Neil Young’s “Into the Black,” in D.B’s edit, and later on we get remixes of Prince, Mary J. Blige, Li’l Kim feat. Biggie, and De La Soul. Close to the end, the duo busts out Todd Terry’s eternal remix of Everything But the Girl’s “Missing”—a moment that seems obvious written down but adds a jolt to the proceedings.
Or rather, another jolt—as producers, making the familiar seem new is what both Ronson and Diplo do at their best, and that principle applies here as well. Here, it’s the mixture of obvious hits like the above and deeper but still classic cuts (Oliver $’s “Doin’ Ya Thang,” for example) that makes the whole thing go. The pacing is superb—the first several tracks act as a warm-up for the sharper beats to come, so that it seems to keep building for two hours. Recent anthems, like Majestic’s “Bodywork” and Tchami’s “Buenos Aires” (whose Vocoded vocals couldn’t help but recall Daft Punk in the aftermath of that duo’s breakup), set the table for the older stuff. It’s not too deep, but it is tremendous fun, just what this cautiously optimistic spring calls for.
Jubilee and Evan Baggs: The Lot Radio (March 3)
Brooklyn’s Jubilee has been a welcome presence on Dirtybird party lineups as well as a first-rate producer of a dancehall-rooted pan-rave sound, and the first two-thirds of last week’s edition of her regular show for The Lot Radio in Brooklyn follow a winding path. But then her fellow New Yorker Evan Baggs steps up and things take a turn for the dark side—it’s a hefty session of steppers’ jungle, bass lines made of muck with snares as tough as nails. The host herself declares it her favorite set of the year. It’s certainly one of ours.
Pearsall: Accelerate Into Limbo (March 6)
Another big D&B mix came through over the weekend, again from a New Yorker. Actually, the singly-dubbed Pearsall moved to the UK as a teenager, got swept up in the burgeoning hardcore rave and then jungle sound and began collecting the 12-inches. Now in Berlin, he’s more a hobbyist mix-maker than working DJ, with an impressively (or maybe worryingly) geeky rationale behind many of his sets, explained in loving detail on his blog. (His 2018 mix of vintage Carl Cox anthems comes complete with spreadsheets.) For this one, he simply picked 50 of his D&B favorites from the past decade and went to town, reveling in the music's sheer variety.