Essential Mix Review: The Juan MacLean mixes live, represents the carefree ethos of DFA Records
The Juan MacLean is a punk rock guitarist turned life-long DFA Records devotee. In the introduction to his Essential Mix from last week, he explains how he linked up with friend, DFA label head and former LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy — he was still in live music, in a band named 6 Finger Satellite and Murphy was their sound engineer. MacLean quit his band and through a bit of lucky happenstance, began making dance music. Along with the encouragement of his friend Murphy, he was responsible for the label’s 2nd release, a 12″ named By The Time I Get To Venus back in 2002. The Juan MacLean has been with DFA Records ever since its inception, and its the high standards and meticulous release schedule that’s kept him there for so long.
His Essential Mix was done live — on two turntables and two CDJs — and much like the overall ethos of DFA, his goal was really in “not taking it too seriously.” He includes some of his own unreleased material, as well as stuff from his friends like Bicep and PBR Streetgang, and compares the flow and sound of the mix pretty directly to one of his current DJ sets. It’s a snapshot in time for The Juan MacLean, rather than an attempt to make history. If some people take the opportunity to create an Essential Mix very seriously, he approached it more simply. This is not to say that trying hard does not produce great results, but it’s in this DJ’s nonchalance that we see his skills shine.
When you listen to this mix you’ll hear hi-hats and bellowing drums. The tracks are dark, light, punchy, bouncy, creepy and dancey. He shows some of his label allegiances — featuring work from Mood Music, Ovum, Saved, FutureBoogie, and Moda Black. There are contributions from recognizable underground names like Waze & Odyssey, Simian Mobile Disco, Murk, and the Martinez Brothers, and relative unknowns like Arc 88, MANIK, Burnski, Sasse, MightyHor, and Mat.Joe.
If I was expecting this mix to sound like The Juan MacLean releases with which I was already familiar, he strayed instead far more into the 2-step and 90s house revival territory. It was refreshing — a lot of the time when I preview a mix’s tracklist, it’s almost as overwhelming as it is exciting, but at one glance it was a relief to see a more concise tracklisting. Some might be disappointed there aren’t a handful of new edits, bootlegs, and ten more Nancy Whang guest spots, but it’s still a finely crafted and curated tapestry of Juan’s musical mindset.
Hawkwind – Space Ritual – EMI
Jimmy Edgar – Shout – HOT INSIDE, HOTFLUSH
Arc 88 & Craig Chino – Ardent – TERRAIN
Murk – Be Mine (Murk Remix) – MURK
The Juan MacLean – You Are My Destiny – DFA
Burnski – Lost In The Zoo (Martinez Brothers’ Bronx Zoo Mix) – SAVED
Sasse – Treat Me – MOODMUSIC
MightyHor – Walk In Stomp – SKRUFIX
MANIK – House Cut 1 – OVUM
Mat.Joe – Showtime – OFF
PBR Streetgang – C. With No Name (feat. Danielle Moore) – FUTUREBOOGIE
Walker & Royce – Trippin’ (feat. Javi) – MODA BLACK
Shiny Objects – Higher Ground (Maxxi Soundsystem Remix) (feat. Michael Marshall) – SMOKE N MIRRORS
Bicep & Simian Mobile Disco – Sacrifice – DELICACIES
Disclosure – You And Me (Bicep Remix) – UNIVERSAL ISLAND RECORDS
Sand People – Brandy Station – SAND PEOPLE
Vanilla Ace – Hypnotic – TOOLROOM
LaRosa – Something Strange (Filsonik Remix) – NOT BAD
Simon Baker – Stop Gap – LAST NIGHT ON EARTH
Leftwing & Kody – Let Go – ALIVE RECORDINGS
John Dimas – State Of Mind – DAME
The Juan Maclean – Feel Like Movin’ – DFA
Waze & Odyssey – I Want You – THRONE OF BLOOD
Urulu – Reason With Me – EXPLOITED
Cale Parks – N1 (Paradis Contours Mix) – HAKT