Monthly mix roundup: amapiano, UKG and freaky club bangers

Chal Ravens’ column includes sweet sounds from the Scorpion Kings alongside sets by LSDXOXO, Leon Vynehall and more.

As summer finally gets its shit together, the world of online mixes seems to have picked up the scent. The month of May was blessed with sassy, moody and straight-up nasty sets, with highlights coming from Berlin superstar LSDXOXO, rainy-day dreamer Leon Vynehall and amapiano ambassadors Scorpion Kings. DJ Plead delivered slow-motion dancehall, Berlin’s Moodrich gave us fiery ghettotech, Eden Samsara took pop into whole new realms, and LA newcomer Introspekt announced herself as our new favourite DJ.

But before we dig in, a few bonus mixes to save for later: first, deep house ledge Kai Alcé has done a tribute to Larry Heard, the ultimate deep house ledge, which is as gorgeous as it should be. Second, Anz has recorded a new volume of A Letter To Eko, her brilliant radio homage to Nigerian music past and present. And third, Moroccan artist Guedra Guedra showed why he’s a one-of-a-kind talent on a bootleg-stuffed mix spanning multiple continents and genres.

LSDXOXO for Mixmag

Sassy, moody, nasty pleasures from a rising star

One of lockdown’s masochistic pleasures has been dreaming up a Fantasy DJ League and imagining ourselves at some future party captained by the best in the game. If LSDXOXO isn’t near the top of your own must-see-after-Covid list, now is the time to get educated – because the Philly-born, Berlin-based artist is about to blow up. Along with their frighteningly good new record on XL Recordings, this Mixmag session is a glittering example of what makes LSDXOXO such a special DJ. On one hand, the former GHE20G0TH1K regular is totally at home at the freakier edges of the club – X‑rated call-and-response tunes, samples ripped from trash TV, cunty Ha” crashes – but precious few DJs can wire that energy into a wig-lifting wind tunnel of pummelling techno. This session for Mixmag lays out the evidence, with freaky EBM and dirty-talking club finding their spot between fast and furious tracks by Detroit’s own Floorplan, Dublin upstart Aero and speedracer DJ Disrespect.

Introspekt on Threads Radio

UKG via LA, AKA your new favourite DJ

Sometimes your new favourite DJ arrives out of nowhere with a dozen slamming mixes to their name and an apparently unstoppable work rate. After keeping an eye on her SoundCloud for a couple of months, it’s become obvious that we need to talk about Introspekt. This young DJ from South Central LA has been popping up on London stations Rinse, Balamii and most recently Threads, where she launched a new monthly residency in May with a show that lays out her somewhat unlikely specialism: UK garage. On top of her excellent selections, from 98 classics (Ray Hurley) to new wave steppers (Anz), the self-described dubplate doll” is seriously skilful in the mix, navigating with ease between cheeky 4x4, cut-up 2‑step, dub sirens and smiley hardcore. (Also: a bit of Instagram stalking reveals her to be a righteous babe, interspersing hot pics and mixes with political essays and activism.) Prepare to be hearing much more from Introspekt.

Leon Vynehall for DJ Mag

A Michelin-starred menu from a shape-shifting artist

Now and then you discover a mix that’s a complete tasting menu, taking you from minimal amuse-bouche to ambient digestif with half a dozen courses in between. Leon Vynehall’s On Cue set for DJ Mag is precisely this kind of journey mix, reflecting his own shape-shifting production style ahead of his new album, Rare, Forever. The overall mood, as befits the sad little bumblebee” of UK dance music (his words!) is one of rainy day introspection, with haunting acapellas and dusty dub techno transmuting into the reassuring melancholy of deep house, from 90s New Jersey duo Blaze to Cabin Fever’s Rainy Dayz (see?). Some bold blends in the second half then get us into a harder, techier zone (DJ Plead, Tygapaw) before he disappears in a puff of smoky chamber music with Alichea Vella Amor from his new album. We’re stuffed.

Scorpion Kings’ Face Mix

Blissful amapiano from two kings of the scene

We’ve now reached June, which means you are rapidly running out of time to bone up on the sound of the summer: amapiano. For the unfamiliar, amapiano is a house iteration from South Africa, a descendant of the groovy, slow-mo kwaito that emerged from SA in the 90s, and the fresh-faced cousin of the heavy and percussive gqom style from Durban. Scorpion Kings is the duo of DJ Maphorisa and Kabza de Small, two leading lights of the amapiano scene, and their mix for THE FACE is a perfect intro to this smooth n’ irresistible sound. The mood is poised and relaxed all at once, with basslines gently bumping, vibraphone drifting by and soulful vocals surrounded by space and air – think Cafe Del Mar on the Cape of Good Hope.

Pop Patrol with Eden Samara on NTS

Pristine pop freestyles over dreamy rave and D&B

Guesting on Peach’s NTS Radio slot this month was her fellow Canadian-in-London, Eden Samara, a singer and producer with an experimental attitude to pop and R&B. You know how Kelela used to freestyle her songs over grime instrumentals? Or how Yaeji sings along to her tracks while she DJs? OK, imagine something like that – but this time it’s dreamy rave, liquid D&B and – if not mistaken – the smooth saxomophone of Kenny G. Samara uses her sky-high harmonies and soft spoken-word to deliver angelic interpretations of Ciara, Charli and Britney over kooky samples and mood music by DJ Koze, Ikonika and Barker. From concept to execution, this weird idea just works.

Moodrich for Raiders

A juicy showcase of next-gen club producers

Moodrich is a prolific Berlin producer with an irreverent, E‑ed up take on electro, breaks and ghettotech, as heard on his ace releases for International Chrome, Childsplay and his own Emotional Voyage Records. This mix for fellow #fastmusic fiends Raiders (the Berlin party crew that includes Young Lychee and is a juicy homage to the US club sounds that have taken deep root in Europe over the last decade, featuring tracks from Rotterdam’s Kessler, Hamburg’s DJ Mell G and plenty of top drawer and unreleased cuts from Moodrich himself. Aside from the mix – which is pure belter, front to back – there’s an opportunity for reflection on the ways in which hyperlocal and culturally specific genres make their way across the ocean, and what may be gained and lost along the way.

DJ Plead for Movement Radio

Slow-motion grooves from the drum maestro

Movement Radio in Athens has produced some excellent shows recently, including this slow-motion sesh from Melbourne’s DJ Plead (it’s fair to say that radio stations have now totally given up on the idea of localism. Fine, whatever, welcome to the future). The percussion maestro drops the pace for an hour of sludgy reggaeton, dancehall, dub and ambient, an idea that seems to be spun out of his recent Relentless Trills tape (check out RT3’, about 12 minutes in, for a flavour of that remarkable release). Blurry grooves and heavy atmosphere are provided by Florentino, DJ Python and 8Ball, whose recent album Eleusis is also worth checking out if you’re feeling this mood. Another quick tip from Movement Radio: Sensual Club is a must-hear monthly show from NAAFI artist Tayhana.

Revisit April’s best mixes roundup here.

More like this

00:00 / 00:00