Few DJs have proved to be more of a polymath than Seth Troxler over the last decade. DJ, producer, vocalist, record label owner, promoter, radio host, audio-visual artist, designer, chef, restaurateur, low rent comedian and professional party boy. His restless imagination seems to know no bounds and his workrate is the product of wanting to “leave electronic music with my legacy”, as he said to us in his latest Mixmag cover feature.
Seth recently put together a 300-hour archive of DJ mixes that reminded us of the length of his career, from booking Magda for a party in Detroit aged 15 to becoming the underground’s biggest crossover success, playing everywhere from EDM festival stages to the throbbing rooms of the world’s best clubs and, most recently, a 20-metre art installation in a train station.
Anyone who’s grown up with Seth’s DJ sets could be forgiven for thinking that this has all happened in the blink of an eye, but he’s been gigging for 20 years now and has spent the last 10 as a fully-fledged superstar DJ, with residencies around the world and documentaries on the BBC.
Known for his charisma and love of the party, he’s never lost sight of the fact that a DJ is only as good as the record bag they bring with them. We’ve chosen 12 of his best mixes and put them in chronological order to tell the story of a DJ who can bang a party but is intent on showing that there’s more to music than peak-time club sets.
2006 John Clees vs Seth Troxler - Tesh Club Island
Seth Troxler and Ryan Crosson started the Tesh Club in the basement of the house in Detroit where Troxler lived with Lee Curtiss in the 00s. The friends would do acid and embark on deep listening sessions that would eventually become a series of cult parties and also pave the way for Visionquest, the globetrotting DJ unit and record label they founded along with Shaun Reeves.
Seth was 20 when Tesh Club Island was recorded back-to-back with Redsoul Records founder John Clees. Already schooled in dance music by his mum and step-father and by a job shifting records at the Melodies And Memories record store, he’d become a disciple of Perlon and Villalobos and had just notched debut releases on Omar-S’s FXHE imprint and Berettamusic Grey, scoring his first gigs abroad at Panorama Bar and Robert Johnson as a result.
This three-hour session is the sound of Troxler and Clees weaving their way through propulsive minimalism and micro grooves when all anyone had to do was get high and burrow deep into record collecting, production (check the ‘Lost & Found’ EP for experiments from this time) and throwing damn good parties. The pair go further and further and you can practically taste the atmosphere in the room, no doubt summoned by the psychedelics and dissociatives that would make tracks like Matt John’s ‘Daktari’ remix and ‘Hot Sugar Candy Apple Taffy’ all the more stimulating. It’s Seth at his wiggliest, as yet unconstrained by the International Deejay lifestyle.
And the Tesh thing? It’s the result of an in-joke about how Germans pronounce ‘techno’.
2008 Live at Killer Robot Cape Town
Seth’s been a globetrotting DJ since the end of the 00s, when he found an audience who were hot for the deep, trippy house music that he was making and playing out. He’d been busy, adding Crosstown Rebels, Circus Company, Wolf + Lamb and Wagon Repair to his résumé, drawing raised eyebrows from the press for naming tracks ‘Crosson Likes Poo’ while mesmerising loyal followers on the dancefloor with monochrome productions like ‘Love Never Sleeps’.
Cape Town crew Killer Robot wax lyrical about how their obsession with ‘Love Bezerker’ led them to booking Seth for a party at intimate basement club Fiction and the recording is pristine evidence of why he was becoming so in-demand and how he was defining the dance music zeitgeist.
There’s funky minimalist weirdness, lashings of sleaze, party anthems, nods to the legends of Detroit, a hint at the bold, groove-fuelled tech-house that would really help him make his name and, of course, an esoteric closer to prove the boy’s got real taste. He even manages to slip in a vocal skit at around the 20-minute mark. Truly textbook Troxler.
2010 Mixmag Cover Mix: Jamie Jones vs Seth Troxler
With his status as a global tour DJ confirmed, Seth became the perfect booking for DC-10 in Ibiza where he quickly became a resident of the hallowed venue thanks to his brand of funky, lysergic minimalism and love of The Party.
His first Mixmag cover CD (he’s mixed two solo and one as part of Visionquest) saw him team up with Jamie Jones, fellow DC-10 resident and burgeoning house music star. Jamie had been playing in Ibiza for a few years prior to Seth and was busy carving out a new niche in the scene with Hot Creations and the rolling, sun-splashed sound of the label would go on to define tech-house through most of the 10s, thanks to a roster that launched the likes of Miguel Campbell, Hot Natured, Richy Ahmed, wAFF and Patrick Topping.
Friends and B2B sparring partners, Seth and Jamie became an unstoppable force as a DJ duo and as artists in their own right, with this Mixmag mix encapsulating the hype and energy around the pair. It’s one of the Mixmag office’s favourite Cover Mixes of recent history, a playful, enthusiastic session that mirrors the bubbly atmosphere of the DC-10 terrace and the colourful adventures on the White Isle that start with a visit to the club. It’s also the soundtrack that’ll always take you back to those moments, no matter how hard your holiday comedown is.
It’s a heady concoction, brewed up as the early 10s house explosion was about to shift up a gear (see also: Crosstown Rebels, Solomun and DIYnamic, Soul Clap and Wolf & Lamb, Maya Jane Coles, the rebirth of MK, Julio Bashmore et al). The iconic ‘Suicide Girl’ remix, Jamie’s superlative ‘Without You’ remix and the dub version of ‘Summertime’, a simmering 2 Bears cut, Footprintz’ ‘Utopia and, brilliantly enough, Roska and Jamie George’s crossover UK funky hit all define the sleek, sexy, melodic house that was blowing up and would make household names out of Seth and Jamie.
2011 fabric 61: Visionquest
Visionquest’s entry into the fabric mix canon is the most definitive example of Seth and the gang’s modus operandi. It sounds sublime at dusk or dawn and sees the four DJs aligning perfectly to showcase their deep, seductive, surreal style.
The tracks melt in and out of one another and a warm, strung-out atmosphere permeates the whole thing. Tin Man’s ‘Wasteland’, that Franco Cinelli ‘The Sound Of Violence’ remix, Carl Craig’s version of Catz ‘N Dog and DVS1’s ‘Polyphonic Love’ are among the many highlights, as the four DJs work through their signature of deep funk, well-timed moments of euphoria and just the right type of weirdness.
Released at the end of 2011, this mix would springboard the quartet into a residency at DC:10 and turn them into a house music tour de force alongside fellow squads/labels Hot Natured, Soul Clap, Wolf + Lamb and Culprit and peers like Maceo Plex, Tale Of Us and Benoit & Sergio. Their Mixmag cover feature from the following summer would see them discuss the pressures of tour life but also promote an upbeat, none-too-serious approach to dance music that made them firm fan favourites, a DJ unit bound by a lust for late nights and matching Visionquest tattoos.
Buy the mix via the fabric website here and stream the sampler below.
2011 Essential Mix
Getting to helm a fabric mix, an Essential Mix and contribute to a series like NRK’s The Lab in the same year is the stuff that DJ dreams are made of. While his reputation as a partyboy well and truly preceded him by this point, Seth wasted no time in turning out one of the classic Essential Mixes to remind everyone that beneath the bravado was a damn fine record collection.
Some DJs over conceptualise their Essential Mix entries and others sputter out of steam at some point during the two-hour duration but Seth’s first entry (his second came in 2015, recorded live from Output in NYC) slams from start to finish. No boring intro, no vain attempts at eclecticism, just the straight-up energy befitting of Pete Tong’s “hedonistic little radio programme situated in the middle of the night”.
It’s a peak-time survey of house music that goes down in the history of the series thanks to the way in which legends like DJ Sneak, Parris Mitchell and Larry Heard bump up against the new wave in Maya Jane Coles, Maceo Plex and Julio Bashmore. As direct as Essential Mixes come.
2014 Mixmag Cover Mix
Seth’s second Mixmag cover came shortly after the pinnacle of his Merry Prankster act, when he posed nude to promote Eastern Electrics festival. He’d been crowned DJ Of The Year by Resident Advisor in 2012 and by Mixmag in 2013 and, with the dance music world at his feet, still seemed eager to prove that he wasn’t a Serious Music Guy and that DJs could still be rockstars after all.
But the baby suit wearin’, banana totin’ side of his personality was running away with itself and Seth pivoted to sartorial gent, fronting Mixmag twiddling a groomed moustache and silk neckerchief alongside the tongue-in-cheek coverline “Seth Troxler gets serious”. It’s classic Troxler humour but he was serious about (finally) growing up: “All that crazy stuff about me means I sometimes don’t get credited with being a good artist or a deep person. My personality is certainly part of the key to my success, but I’m like a comedic actor who can switch to doing a drama - there’s lots more going on.”
At this point he was resident at fabric, DC:10, Output and Trouw and had just launched three record labels, including Tuskegee to platform music by people of colour. His Cover Mix is deep, dark and exploratory thanks to cuts by Pépé Bradock, Herbert and King Britt and the same kind of definitive mission statement that he achieved with Visionquest achieved on fabric 61.
2015 Rhythm Control & RA.156
Seth’s been keen to show off the breadth of his taste in his DJ mixes since 2009 when he put together a scrappy indie mixtape for Resident Advisor featuring Beat Happening, Marine Girls, Cat Power, Animal Collective and Chromatics as well as bits from Jimi Hendrix, Woolfy vs. Projections and Omar-S. Created as much to irk listeners who were expecting an hour of deep house and teshno as to dust off some DIY indie classics and record a Balearic mix for people who came up on Rough Trade, Blast First and Southern. It was Seth’s first public invitation into the recesses of his record collection.
“I don’t actually listen to a lot of dance music at home. I have over 12k records, many of which are like this and a real reflection of interest,” he wrote as an intro to his wide-ranging Beats In Space mix in 2013 and in an interview to promote his 2015 DJ Kicks compilation, which contains a few curveballs, he said "people don't realise I have such eclectic taste. I think people get caught up in the image of the jokes that I make and they forget that actually listening to me play, or the music that I collect is actually pretty far out there."
Rhythm Control, released as an online mix with its own cute artwork, is Seth at his warm, feel-good best, full of sumptuous records that are designed to lift the spirits. Although he hates planning mixes, the selection feels considered and is blended with a connoisseur’s touch – full proof that Seth can get the party started without his club 12”s.
2017 De School - Amsterdam
Having been a resident at Trouw, it seems only right that we include this recording from the legendary Amsterdam club’s successor, De School, a venue that already looks set to go down in nightclub history.
It begins with dark ambient, post punk and EBM before streamlining into dusky house and pumping, stripped-back tech-house. There are a bunch of long live recordings to choose from in Seth’s mix archive but this one provides excellent insight into how he goes about warming up one of Europe’s best dancefloors and then duly intensifying it.
2019 Influences 15: Lost Souls Of Saturn
Seth scored his third Mixmag cover in a decade with Lost Souls Of Saturn, his ambient project with longtime collaborator Phil Moffa that deals in metaphysical concepts and is aimed at the intersection of art and electronic music. “I want to leave electronic music with my legacy and this is the beginning of my legacy work,” he said to us late last year.
The Mixmag cover landed alongside an augmented reality experience, live shows took place inside a 20-metre high installation in Zurich’s main train station and the pair created an audio/visual installation for the Saatchi gallery’s rave exhibition, Sweet Harmony. “A lot of artists in our world are some of the best sound producers out there,” Seth told us. “What is the next step we’re going to take? We do the orchestral thing, merging classical music and dance, but with independent electronic music and experimentation you can move quite easily into the art world and we want to be among the first people truly exploring that.”
Lost Souls Of Saturn’s entry into XLR8R’s Influences mix series is Seth’s best truly experimental mix both in terms of track selection and mixing, which is layered to psychedelic perfection. Alice Coltrane, Kraftwerk, Dexter Wansel, Augustus Pablo and John Carpenter all appear, which tells you all you need to know.
2020 Circoloco After Party @ Baba Beach Club & Circoloco Radio 100
When all is said and done, Seth Troxler is now one of the biggest DJs in the world and his stock-in-trade is making people lose their mind on dancefloors every weekend. These sessions for Circoloco, the Ibiza party that tours globally and for which Seth is a figurehead, show just how easily he can turn on a belting club set.
Recorded live at Baba Beach Club in Phuket, this afterparty session is just over two-hours of upbeat party music, all rave stabs, big vocals and hypnotic tech-house rhythms. You can imagine Seth in the booth, cooly bringing the crowd to climax. His entry for Circoloco radio is less rambunctious but no less to the point, all thundering house that Seth probably picked up in his greener days (Jerome Sydenham’s remix of ‘Adrian’) right up to new anthems like ‘Burn The Witch’.