Among those DJs who have truly stepped up a level in 2017, perhaps the foremost is Berlin-based San Franciscan Avalon Emerson. Highlights of a year that has seen her ascend to the underground A-list are not hard to come by. “Closing out Panorama Bar, on a Klubnacht, was so much fun,” she says of her near nine-hour marathon set at the Berlin institution in September. “It was just so special. I hit up a bunch of DJ friends and developed a list of DJ tips for playing nine hours: pack a little lunch, wear sensible shoes – Jacob from Honey Soundsystem suggested making a playlist of songs my friends had made so that after they’d gone home I could still pretend like they were there with me!”
Other DJ highlights include a transcendent set on the main stage at Sónar that was streamed live from the festival and a show-stopping set at Optimo (Espacio)’s 20th birthday festival at Glasgow’s SWG3 in August.
Also close to Avalon’s heart this year was her experience at the low-key, DIY-style Sustain-Release festival in upstate New York and her continuing close relationship with the wonderful DeSchool in Amsterdam. Her ascent has been all the more remarkable given that until May 2016 she was still combining her DJ career with a full-time job as a software engineer (“doing both was turning me into a crazy person”, she admits).
While her sets will often feature her own unreleased demos and works-in-progress, alongside remixes for the likes of Slowdive, Octa Octa, Lena Platonos and Bwana this year centred around the stunning ‘Whities 013’. While Avalon describes B-side ‘Finally Some Common Ground’ as ‘The most labour-intensive production I’ve ever done”, the epic arpeggiating A-side ‘One More Fluorescent Rush’ was the work of a few hours and a last-minute addition to the release after Avalon played it to Whities boss Nic Tasker, bumping out an already mastered track that was ready to go.
The incredible video for ‘...Fluorescent’, featuring shots of waterfalls and Avalon surrounded by foliage (it was shot in a botanical garden in London), overlaid with hyperkinetic catalogues of frogs and insects and plants like some kind of extraterrestrial survey, was her first collaboration with a professional film-making team, and she says it won’t be her last. Perhaps that’s a clue to what she has planned for next year: “I’m stepping outside the club records production zone to work on some other projects,” she says, remaining typically enigmatic (for now) on the details. Expect it to be something pretty special.
Duncan Dick is the Editor of Mixmag, follow him on Twitter here