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The 34 best DJ mixes of 2020 so far

DJs are still thriving outside of the context of physical dancefloors

  • DAVE TURNER, PATRICK HINTON + SEB WHEELER
  • 19 August 2020

Radio shows, podcasts, mix CDs and other forms of online and physical DJ sets have taken on an increased importance this year as the only ways to consume sets since clubs closed and festival season was cancelled. We're grateful more than ever that so many options to listen to our favourite DJs in the mix exist and that we can still gain insight into how tastes and trends are developing outside the context of dancefloors.

In no particular order, check out some our favourite mixes from 2020 so far below.

Read this next: The free online mix is a staple of electronic music culture

1
SHERELLE 'Dekmantel podcast 285'

SHERELLE recorded her Dekmantel podcast during the most recent wave of Black Lives Matter protests and in the middle of a global pandemic that has brought the music industry to its knees, including the postponement of all parties and festivals such as the Dutch event where the London DJ was due to play this summer. In her words, the mix is “80 mins of pure angst” and “a massive fuck you to the people who didn't want to see me on their fave 'techno' festival.”

“As a Black queer woman, there is barely any visibility on major festivals inc. Dekmantel which is one of the reasons why this mix is bittersweet. Recording during the time of the first wave of protests honestly… was a lot. But I am proud that I am able to share the outcome,” she wrote on Twitter. “It’s not enough to be making promises, we actually need action. We better be seeing more Black DJs like myself and others at these festivals. Respecting the music and culture.”

Her selection here is honed and explosive, a showcase of the new-skool juke, footwork and jungle that she’s been pioneering in her sets and via her Hooversound label. Press play and you’re whipped away with the speed and precision of a bullet train as SHERELLE finds solace in ferocity/velocity. Seb Wheeler

2
A Tribute To Alex T

There’s more than one mix here - there’s four day’s worth - but we couldn’t pick out just one because this event was a full group effort of many people pulling together to celebrate a beloved friend for a good cause. The event was held in commemoration of Alex T, the Leeds-based DJ who sadly passed away in January, and it raised almost £12,000 for the charity Meningitis Now. Taking place across Leeds, Manchester and London, every set was charged with emotion and first-rate tunes.

It opened in Leeds with sets like TAÑ bringing speed garage and bassweight and Zoe Pea moving through mind-bending chug. Then Manchester moments included the gun finger raising slew of bangers from Korzi b2b Sonice and Mariiin’s perfectly crafted grooves. London showcased Moxie b2b Shanti Celeste in their element and Mike Smaczylo not holding back with leftfield selections and fraught club music. The return to Leeds finale featured Adam Pits getting cosmic and wrist-wavey and blissed-out picks from Carlos.

And there was so much more incredible music besides, check out the playback from each day via: Tribe Records, Partisan Collective, Heels & Souls and On Rotation. Patrick Hinton

3
Josey Rebelle 'Josey In Space'

Tim Sweeney's New York radio show Beats In Space has long been a staple on the electronic music airwaves, attracting the likes of Four Tet, Avalon Emerson, the great Andrew Weatherall, Carl Craig, Lena Willikens, Galcher Lustwerk, Ben UFO and more. While the radio show is still going, Tim launched the 'Beats In Space' compilation series in 2019 with a mix from Powder. Volume two landed earlier this year, courtesy of Rinse FM resident and all-round boss selector Josey Rebelle.

'Josey In Space' is frenzied whirlwind of bass flavours and electro to begin, moving through rRoxymore's 'What's The Plan?', Afrodeutsche's 'Phase Two' and the surging 'Electricity' by Automation. House stomp and soul comes in the form of Titonton Duvante's 'Avenues' and Reggie Dokes' 'Piano Seduction', before the cool down period thanks to tunes by Shy One, Andrés and Molinaro. As is often the case with Josey, a jungle tune is thrown into the mix - this time it's Nookie's remix of Rogue Unit's 'Dance Of The Sarooes - just before the dusty rap of Lex Amor's 'Praises' sees us out ahead of the outro. Dave Turner

4
Davis Galvin 'Daisychain 123'

Daisychain has become one of our favourite podcasts over the past year. This Davis Galvin mix epitomises what makes the series great: dipping into a bubbling mass of unconventional sounds and sequencing them into a captivating groove. The control of tension and restrained release makes this instalment a standout. Patrick Hinton

Read this next: The Daisychain Podcast is a positive celebration of dance music's diversity

5
Colleen ‘Cosmo’ Murphy 'In Session'

Lucky Cloud, the London party that Colleen ‘Cosmo’ Murphy co-founded and which is a direct descendent of David Mancuso’s legendary Loft events, is one of the capital’s great clubs, hosted in a school hall, with a vegan buffet, beneath a giant, shimmering disco ball, all day on just four Sundays a year. There’s darkness, euphoria and the constant moving of bodies. It’s bliss. And this In Session mix, blended instead of Lucky Cloud’s start-to-finish style of track selection, will take you there as Cosmo selects vintage house and disco workouts. It’s provided much nourishment during this lockdown and sounds particularly good as the sun makes its way into the sky on these glorious, early summer mornings. Seb Wheeler

6
Abena ‘JEROME Mixfile #602’

After setting the scene with some textural haze and pleasant distortion, reverb-soaked chords softly plunge into Abena’s JEROME Mixfile instalment and build towards increasingly energetic territory via stirring vocals and controlled percussive hits. Before you know it, the sounds are then turning to ravey breaks and acid. Every new blend in this mix ushers in an exciting new sense of dynamism. Selections such as Fever Ray and Nídia’s leftfield pop x footwork hybrid ‘IDK About You’ and Dizze Rascal’s potent grime cut ‘2 Far’ bring plenty of vigour, while a more bewitching moment comes from the instrumental of Princess Nokia’s African mysticism exploring ‘Brujas’. Perhaps the moment that best encapsulates the no-holds-barred spirit is a jungle-infused edit of DJ Jean’s 90s trance banger ‘The Launch’. Hit play and enjoy the revelations. Patrick Hinton

7
Chris Inperspective + Mr Porter MC in The Lab LDN

"Big up Chris for always representing the drum 'n' bass with actual drums and bass," reads one comment on this stream. The commenter is right. Chris Inperspective's Lab LDN set is d'n'b for the purists. One hour of rinse-out rollers to send you wild in the dance, although it's likely to be in your own living room right now. Either way, Chris, joined by Mr Porter on the mic, provide a sweat-inducing set to please the d'n'b heads. Dave Turner

8
SARRA WILD 'AS AA S أساس x FILMISHMISH'

Radio Alhara, the online radio station with a co-founder based in Palestine, recently staged a four day protest-cum-live stream against the proposed annexation of the West Bank by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The marathon featured the station’s residents as well as a slew of special guests, with Glasgow DJ/promoter Sarra Wild stepping up to provide a set of propulsive, scuzzy club music mixed stylishly and with plenty of seamless left turns. Seb Wheeler

9
Anz 'spring/summer dubs 2020'

Anz did not mess around during lockdown. On June 15 the Manchester-based artist casually logged onto Twitter to announce she’d made 74 tracks across the last few months, causing a ripple of minds blown among Producer Twitter. A bulk of those productions make up the tracklist in this ‘spring/summer dubs 2020’ mix, and the quality doesn’t let up throughout. Ravy synths, irresistible melodies, murky bassweight, shuffling percussion, spirit-raising vocal samples and more besides ensure the vibes in this mix are peaking throughout. Patrick Hinton

Read this next: Anz: "If you're in a position to make things better for other people, do it"

10
Nadia Khan 'RA.710'

Nadia Khan must have known what lockdown-induced, head-messing experiences were to come when she released this RA podcast back in January, such is the ambient warmth and comfort it radiates. Nadia's productions also come with the same relaxing atmosphere and textures, but on this she chooses to go with tracks that aren't hers. Instead we're guided through a meditative session with tracks by Lawrence, Priori, Loscil and an Ex-Terrestrial remix of Samo DJ. If your stress levels are raging, Nadia's mix will soon have you feeling relatively calm. Dave Turner

11
OK Williams 'NTS London, 21.05.20'

OK Williams’ NTS shows are consistently among the best on the station. The range of sounds they cover are broad, and whether she’s spinning relaxed slow jams or rolling through blistering jungle, you can hear the amount of care and attention behind each set’s selections. This edition from May 21 opens perfectly on the blissful sounds of Outkast and moves through the laid-back reggae of Ranking Ann’s ‘Love On A Mountain Top’, Bark Psychosis’ soothing cover of Wire’s ‘Three Girl Rhumba’, Ewan Pearson’s ecstatic remix of Slam’s ‘Visions’, and plenty more. It’s a nonstop delight. Patrick Hinton

12
MikeQ 'In Session'

MikeQ has been on New York’s ballroom scene for the best part of two decades, resident at and promoter of some of the city’s best vogue parties and founder of the Qween Beat record label, which is a launchpad for new producers and artists. We asked him to put together an In Session mix in celebration of his involvement in Legendary, HBO’s new vogue reality TV show in which he DJs and also wrote the theme tune (alongside Ash B). It’s as hot and lively as you’d expect, with MikeQ ripping through tracks for well over an hour. Seb Wheeler

13
rRoxymore 'Groove Podcast 263'

Usually with rRoxymore you're treated to off-kilter house and techno and weirdo club cuts. This Groove Podcast couldn't be further from the sound most would associate her with. Instead she goes full broken beat, giving us doses of funk and swagger. Tunes by Kaidi Tatham and 4Hero both feature as rRoxymore dishes out an hour of Sunday morning jams. Dave Turner

14
DJ Pitch 'Impact'

We waxed lyrical about the range of different music DJ Pitch has been pivotal in bringing to wider attention through the TT and All Centre labels in our Impact feature in April, and the accompanying mix was a testament to that fact. Comprising mainly of music he’s put out or plans to, it’s an engrossing mix that travels across a variety of moods and genres. With every replay you find a new favourite moment among the blend of leftfield club, body-popping edits, growling bassweight, UK rap hybrids, sublime electronica, and more. DJ Pitch keeps a low-key profile but the music speaks for itself: this mix is the sound of one of London’s most vital figures. Patrick Hinton

15
soso tharpa 'Truancy Volume 265'

What a joyous celebration of dim-lit basement bump ‘n’ grind Truancy Volume 265 is. Washington DC’s soso tharpa slinks through outsider house, percussive techno and frenetic club, making links between Rod Lee, Errorsmith & Mark Fell, Peter Britto and a vintage remix of Shortstuff & Mickey Pearce by Ramadanman. The mix is urgent and points straight toward the dancefloor, ending with a charged Black Lives Matter freestyle by LL Cool J lest anyone forget the ongoing context in which it was made. Seb Wheeler

16
FAUZIA 'Crack Magazine - Bandcamp Week'

FAUZIA's sets go hard. Screwface, jaw-clenching hard. The 6 Figure Gang member loves bass-driven weapons and it's highly likely she'll play high-tempo every single time. She put together this mix for Crack Magazine as part of Bandcamp week, describing it as “an accurate representation of the depth and versatility of Black artists - a diverse range of black art." You'll feel like you're flying on a rocket as she careers through techno, electro, juke and breaks, with r'n'b and soul vocals woven inbetween at points. Dave Turner

17
ZULI 'Unsound Podcast 66'

ZULI’s Unsound Podcast is a brilliant slice of chaos. Seismic bassweight swells as broken rhythms judder and splutter overhead, distorted rap vocals cut through to the fore as textures expand and melt into layers of fuzz, rapid drum patterns fire pneumatically under slews of experimental noise. It’s tailor-made for strobe lights and an underground bunker. Patrick Hinton

18
Shannen SP 'DJ Mag Recognise'

Bass heads will know Shannen SP as a key member of the Hyperdub crew and co-creator, alongside Kode9, of the label's party Ø. She's also a DJ and her sets will throw you left, right and back again, such are the experimental tracks she spins. This Recognise mix sees her in spectacular form, banging out club deconstructions, dancehall and more gritted teeth tunes. This ain't for the fainthearted. Dave Turner

19
Sammy Virji 'Impact'

20
Conducta 'The Kiwi Sound'

It’s tempting to say that if the pandemic hadn’t happened then UKG would be running riot at clubs and festivals all year long. But this latest wave of the sound – which includes elders and fresh faces alike – is so brilliantly, ridiculously, infectiously fun that not even lockdown can stop it soundtracking Britain in 2020. So fire up your Zoom parties, get your social bubble together for a BBQ, take your mate out for a drive or just plain put on your stereo while doing a home workout because new-skool legends like Sammy Virji and Conducta are here to put a spring in your step whatever you’re doing. And when the clubs do reopen? It’s going to be gas o’clock. Seb Wheeler

Read this next: UK Garage is the best genre ever

21
Akua 'Truancy Volume 256'

The impact that New York-based Akua has made on techno since getting started as a DJ midway through the last decade has rightfully caught a lot of attention. Her hard-hitting sets throb and drive with an unbridled sense of energy, keeping the Detroit roots of techno firmly embedded while also taking innovative turns. Her Truants mix came out in early January and through repeated listens we’re not tiring of it. An unceasing note of fuzz cuts through the opening as percussion pistons into life, but a few minutes later a change-up sees the mix drop in some off-kilter bouncy sounds. That sets the tone for the set, which is banging and surprising throughout. Patrick Hinton

22
Carista 'Essential Mix'

Carista's become a firm favourite over the last few years thanks to her joyous sets filled with soul and littered with all the ingredients to make you smile. Her United Identities sets on NTS Radio often see her combining house and broken beat with soul and r'n'b jams, while her club and festival sets are usually intense workouts taking in techno, garage and slammin' 4/4.

The Dutch DJ's ascent led to a BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix in February, giving her the platform on the iconic series to show the depth of her selections. That she did, including tunes like Theo Parrish's 'Drive', Kai Alcé's remix of vocal house delight 'Wake Up Stand Up', Mor Elian's devilish 'Clairvoyant Frog', Hard House Banton's bouncing 'Sirens' and Mala's dubstep classic 'Alicia'. There's even reworks of Sister Sledge's 'He's The Greatest Dancer' and Prince's 'Purple Music' thrown in. Dave Turner

23
diskonnected 'at Club Quarantäne'

The global pandemic of 2020 has seen virtual raving take on a new level of significance, with people being forced online to get their dance fix. Taiwanese DJ Diskonnected was among the line-up on the April 25 edition of Club Quarantäne and stole the show with his 90 minute session of infectious blends. Jaunty and uplifting melodies flow throughout, with throwback vocoder and old-skool sounds making it tons of fun to lock into. Patrick Hinton

24
Dr Rob 'Looking For The Balearic Beat June 2020'

While you can still find the original Balearic spirit of Ibiza on the island if you look hard enough, often the idea of the White Isle as one shimmering sandy dancefloor where all the drinks are free is more romantic than the real thing. Enter Ban Ban Ton Ton, the blog committed to Balearic and acid house whose monthly Balearic Beat mixes by Dr Rob will transport you to an Ibizan terrace at sunrise quicker than you can say “do you want to hold hands and listen to Art Of Noise?” The June edition is particularly delicious, like sipping hierbas in the afternoon sun. Seb Wheeler

25
TAYHANA 'Real Latinx Jotx Viciosa Pride Mix'

TAYHANA’s ‘Real Latinx Jotx Viciosa Pride Mix’ brings pumping NRG from start to finish. Insistent vocals, ravey synths and throbbing bass take centre stage. It surges like a tidal wave of good vibes, setting off at a pacey tempo and sweeping up an infectious blend of sounds for the ride. Patrick Hinton

26
Aquarian 'In Session'

We published this mix in late February, and five months and a pandemic later it feels incredibly nostalgic for The Time Before. Aquarian channels the mania of a peak-time rave in all its glory, with meticulous mixing sequencing a bunch of adrenaline-charged bangers. It’s tons of fun throughout, with edits that make you smirk and screw your face up in equal measure alongside plenty of irrepressible dancefloor fuel. Just be prepared for it to send your club-yearning pangs into the stratosphere. Patrick Hinton

27
BADSISTA 'FACT Mix 754'

I caught BADSISTA in Sâo Paulo in 2018. Then an unknown DJ to me, I was completely blown away by the energy she radiated from behind the decks. Just full-on club workouts, combining face-melting bass and choppy vocal samples. This mix for FACT is in a similar vein, with the Brazilian going full throttle through high-octane club trax, many produced by herself and South American counterparts, plus deep, banging garage (see: House Of Black Lanterns' 'Out To The Private Number'), rowdy breaks, a Kelela acapella and Lotic's anxious dread of a tune, 'Carried'. BADSISTA is someone you should have on your radar. Dave Turner

28
DJ City 'Live from Cocktail d'Amore'

The closing of Griessmuehle earlier this year marked a sad loss for Berlin’s clubbing scene, but if it had to go, the Cocktail d'Amore closing party was a suitably debauched end for the dance spot. Running nonstop across several days, this DJ City recording gives a four hour insight into the trippy bangers soundtracking the sweat-soaked hedonism inside. Patrick Hinton

29
Joy Orbison 'wooly Window Sessions Part Wun - UKG 4/4 +++'

It's no secret UK garage is a large influence on Joy Orbison. It's been a part of his life since he was a teenager, a fact confirmed in the description of this mix where he says: "Apologies for the pops & scratches, I've had some of these records since I was 15." Any worries about implications on sound quality are gone instantly, as Joy O delivers a slinky UKG mix full of tunes you probably wouldn't hear on most UKG mixes and sets. A diggers' dream. Dave Turner

30
Helena Hauff 'Kern Vol. 5'

Kern sounds like a scientific bunker where the world’s most far out DJs cook up new strains of sound and unexplored track blends: Stingray’s stood over a rack of bunsen burners, Objekt’s spilled fluorescent goo all over his lab coat and Hell’s flowing locks are tied up in a net to avoid another bunsen burner accident. Having put together this smorgasbord of alien electro for Tresor’s mix series, Hauff ends up setting the fire alarm off after sparking a celebratory fag out the fire escape. It’s pure, wonderful chaos. Laboured metaphor aside, this is predictably brilliant. Cheers Helena! Seb Wheeler

Read this next: The 20 best pre-00s electro tracks

31
Bake ‘live on c- TV’

A Bake mix is a gift to be cherished. The Glasgow-based DJ has been open about his mental struggle with completing mixes outside of his Rinse FM radio residency. When presenting his instalment to the c- series on Twitter, he wrote: “a small moment of personal happiness: after 10 years, i've finally made a mix that i feel proud of :)”. His pride is deserved: this is a superlative mix, laced with intricacies that are a trip to get lost within. Patrick Hinton

32
Foul Play 'Untitled 909 Podcast 036'

Hardcore and jungle's had a big, big resurgence in the past couple of years. Your favourite house or techno DJ has probably dropped one or two tunes in here and there, stirring up late '80s and early '90s rave nostalgia. Foul Play are legends of that era and the Untitled 909 Podcast called on them to put together mix number 36. Foul Play don't disappoint in their selections, dropping in their own tunes like the rave-stabbing 'Dubbing You', 'Ricochet' and 'Open Your Mind'. The jungle, rave and hardcore onslaught is helped along by other bangers like Andy C's 'Slip N Slide', DJ Peshay's 'Gangsta' and Manix's 'Hardcore Junglism'. I need a breather just writing about it. Dave Turner

33
Juliana Huxtable ‘Dekmantel Podcast 288’

JULIANA HUXTABLE channels serious energy and emotion into her mixes, cutting up an array of sounds and slamming them together into powerful and challenging aural experiences. Her Dekmantel podcast is a prime example, opening on a softly whispered spoken word extract and then immediately upping the ante with sub-bass weight, unhinged vocal snippets, scattershot percussive rhythms, haywire melodies and more general chaos leading the charge. Patrick Hinton

34
A.G 'DISCWOMAN 96'

Discwoman's mix series is a continuous stream of top-class sets moving through anything from house, techno and electro to breaks, jungle and bass-riddled club music. London DJ A.G took the reins in July and stepped up to the plate with a heavy-bodied ride. Jittery experimental tracks meets garage meets r'n'b meets footwork meets UK rap in the form of J Hus. Let's not forget the pitched up Janet Jackson cut to round things off, in what is a very, very fun mix. Dave Turner

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