Some of the world’s best DJs about life in the DJ booth

What makes a party memorable? Which sound system is the heaviest in the world? Which track is sure to get the crowds going? What is the planet’s best club? We put these questions, and others, to some of the world’s best DJs, getting a firsthand account of what life in the DJ lane feels like.

Jimmy Edgar

The Detroit-bred, Berlin-based futuristic funk expert has just released a new video for his track “Let Yrself Be” and is set to release a John Talabot & Scuba remix of his single “Sex Drive/Let Yrself Be”. Pitchfork called his “Majenta” “insatiable”, while Resident Advisor go further, naming him a “nomadic sex fiend”.

The craziest party I ever played at took place in Russia. I went there illegally through Belarus on a night train because I couldn’t get a visa. Russia has its own style, grey and dreary but with red lipstick and beautiful women. The party was at one of the biggest Moscow clubs and at one point the police showed up. This tiny promoter girl grabbed my hand and ran with me right past the police to get into a secret hidden room where DJ Sprinkles, Carsten Nicoli and about 10 Russian women were drinking vodka. In the end the police left and I put on a great show. For a good party the absolutely most important condition is to have a crowd of excited people – if they’re your friends, that’s even better. Friends will make any party a good one, even if it’s in the worst location. Good music is important too of course. A track that gets every crowd on its feet is obviously “Head” from Prince. Adonis’ “No Way Back” is a good one too. Lately, I’ve been hearing DJ’s dropping Darryl Pandy with “Love Can’t Turn Around”. One of my best experiences was DJing on a roof on a hot summer day – it was so surreal and beautiful. Very memorable was also a show that we did out of my Cadillac in Detroit. I had about 500 people playing out of my sound system and hooked up to a larger PA. If I had to organise the last party on earth I would put Lil Louie, Aphex Twin and T Pain behind the decks.

soundcloud.com/jimmyedgar

Fur Coat

The acclaimed duo from Caracas, Venezuela, who’ve been making waves with their “psychedelic tech-funk grooves” and “live sets of “brooding intensity”, have just moved to Barcelona. Their debut album “Mind Over Matter” on Crosstown Rebels was released this September.

The most insane party we’ve ever played at was probably the one in Warung, Brazil. The place is just amazing and the crowd was incredible. Imagine more than 5000 people going crazy at night on the beach. The weather, the location, this whole Latin vibe – it was a crazy atmosphere. A venue that we really liked was this underground place in Torino, Italy. It had the feeling of an old bunker, but with a very modern bar. Plus, people showed up with fur coats and crazy costumes. We don ́t want to point at anybody in particular, but the worst party you can be at is when the booth is not comfortable for the DJ, with bad equipment and bad monitoring. Under these conditions you cannot work properly and cannot have a good time. For a good show it’s also important to have a good rest before, a good dinner, connect with the promoter and have a full house – the rest is magic. If we had to organise the last party on earth? Well we’d definitely get Damian Lazarus, Ricardo Villalobos and DJ Harvey to play.

soundcloud.com/furcoatmusic

Boys Noize

German producer Alexander Ridha, a.k.a. Boys Noize has come out of nowhere to dominate the electro scene. He runs his own label, Boys Noize Records, which counts Spank Rock and acclaimed New York rapper Le1f on its roster. Mixmag has called his third album “a reliable journey into thrashing, powerful and industrial electro and techno”, while the BBC refer to Ridha’s style as “chameleonic”. More recently, he has teamed up with American post-dub sensation Skrillex under the moniker “Dog Blood”. Their first single will be released shortly.

The craziest party we ever played at was in a private loft in New York that belonged to my friend Jake Shears from the Scissors Sisters. It was his birthday party for which he removed all of his furniture, put up a DJ booth, strobe lights, lasers, and even a fog machine! This party just got super intense with the craziest people and freaks I’ve ever seen together in one room. Unfortunately everything got shut down by the police around 3h30 am. In Berlin we did my 2007 “Oi Oi Oi” album release party in a super run-down house. The funny thing was that you could only reach the entrance through a small turkish Kebab place. You had to go through the toilet which led you to a long dark corridor until you ended up in this fucked up house. I didn’t do any promo or flyers and just by word of mouth 750 people came and totally packed the place. It was awesome! Another great location was the Sasquatch Festival, three hours away from Seattle. The drive there was so beautiful, we went through all types of landscapes until we arrived on top of a mountain range, where the stage was set up at the edge of a cliff. It is such a beautiful view and the feeling you get when you’re surrounded by this kind of scenery is amazing. The worst party I ever played at was maybe in Miami, I think it was last year. I played in a pretty posh club where the people are used to big room mainstream music. The Black Eyed Peas had a concert that day in Miami and will.i.am came to that party and he wanted to DJ. Of course the promoter was happy about it. So I started to play after Mr.i.am and because he had already played a pretty mainstream set, I wanted to start the party big and put my track “Lemonade” which is always guaranteed to get the people go wild. But there was no reaction, nothing. I tried some other tracks that always get the crowd on its feet and after there was still no reaction I decided to play only ghetto Chicago house stuff, you know, these “suck it suck it, fuck fuck it” or “bitch bitch bitch” tracks. I did a short 70 minutes set and after me the “BEP crew” played again. Their first song was Rihanna… I hated it. For the last party on this planet I’d pick Xavier from † (he always drops some good unexpected fun), 2manyDjs (they’ ve got the biggest collection and the best taste, I’m sure they’d pick the coolest songs), Jarvis Cocker (I heard him once and I started to dance) and some random friend who is not a DJ but just plays music from his iPod.

boysnoize.com

Nosedrip

Hailing from Ostende but based in Ghent, Nosedrip is one of Belgium’s most celebrated up-and-coming DJs. His approach is described as “multifaceted”, a blend of future dub, lazy psyche, broken house, obscure pop and warm retro electronica earning him quite a reputation as oddball-in-chief.

A party is good when there is an equal amount of girls and boys. The craziest one I’ve ever played at took place in an abandoned school. My favorite venue though is definitely the Muziekgebouw t’IJ Amsterdam. If I want to make the crowd go insane I play Michael Jackson’s “Off The Wall” – that track just always works. But once even that was not enough: When I played at some bridal party at Box 68 in Ostend the bride was shouting “You’re ruining my wedding!!!” and in the end I got kicked out by her dad-in-law. For the last party on earth I would hire Floating Points, Cosmin TRG & Caribou/Four Tet.

nosedrip.tumblr.com

 The Magician

The former Aeroplane member has been busy on the remix tip of late with his remix of Lykke Li’s “I Follow Rivers” clocking up serious airplay. He’s also collaborating with French producer Yuksek, with whom he recently released “Memory” on cult label Kitsuné. Commenting on the hype surrounding Stephen Fasano a.k.a The Magician, the Independent quote blogger Uh Oh Disco who called the then-new track – “I Don’t Know What to Do” – “pure nu-disco bouncy goodness.”

The craziest party I’ve ever played at was probably in that club in Los Angeles called “Rhonda”. The temperature was around 40 degrees with strictly no air and no space to move! Everybody was disguised or weirdly dressed up… I had just arrived from Europe, the jetlag was really strong and everything seemed unreal… When it comes to locations, the Ageha Club in Tokyo was the most insane one so far. They had the craziest sound system I ever played. Forty speakers with equal distance between each other, all in light red color and they looked like robots. Before and after you play, you get a mini towel to wash your hands before and after your set. I can’t remember a real bad party… but there was quite a horrible incident that happened at a party in Switzerland. Someone threw some chemical liquid to my face whilst I was playing. I finished the night in the emergency room. Fortunately, after many tests, my eyes weren’t injured… But that night was definitely a changing moment in my DJ career. To be able to have a good party I need a flight without delay, a warm welcome, a nice hotel, a good restaurant, a “Moscow Mule” cocktail and a good DJ for the warming up. And my remix of Sam Sparro’s “Happiness” always get the crowd on its feet. For my very last party on earth I’d let Daniele Baldelli, Larry Levan (if he was still alive) and 2ManyDJs play.

the-magician.be

Lefto

Lefto is one of Belgium’s better-known DJs, with, CMJ note, a “preference for soul-inflected cuts”. He tours relentlessly worldwide, co-programming festivals, putting on his own hip-hop radio show on Studio Brussel and co-running the B9000 label. We caught up with him at Dour a few hours before he was set to take to the stage.

Every party where people are 100 percent with you is a good party. The best parties are the ones where people are really in it from the beginning to the end, that’s just beautiful. The most important condition is the DJ. In the end the party is always in the hands of the DJ, he’s the one who puts people in a certain condition. That is what our job is about. If it’s not going well we have to try something else and make it work. There are many different DJs. Some just play what they want to play and don’t care about the crowd. Then there are DJs who change to commercial stuff when they have problems, but that’s no solution either. I basically play what I like. I am very lucky that I have a crowd who comes especially to hear my stuff. That’s why it doesn’t happen very often that I play in front of a crowd who doesn’t like my sound. When someone tries to book me, I find out what it is about. If it doesn’t fit I don’t accept it. I’ve played in so many beautiful locations, for example in South Korea, on beaches… I really love Asia and Japan. The atmosphere in Manila is great too. And some of my favorite parties are in LA. But at the end of the day Northern Europe is still the best place to party. I think we are more open to different styles. In some places here you can play house then Cumbia right after and people will love it. For the last party on earth I’d choose Four Tet. I saw his last set and really enjoyed it. And Gilles Peterson because he’s been a big inspiration.

lefto.be