As with our Best Tracks of the Year and Best Albums of the Year features in 2020, we’ve opened up our Best Mixes of the Year rundown to a global spread of perspectives. This time, we’ve reached out to radio stations and hosts to pick out five favourite sets broadcast in 2020.
In a year where clubs were largely shuttered and dancefloors lay vacant, radio has been vital for maintaining community, giving people a shared experience to rally around in the absence of physical spaces. There’s incredible variety in the sounds featured across these mixes, which are a testament to dance music’s ability to thrive even without the club context — while the rise of virtual raving equally showcased the club community's resolve and ability to adapt.
There’s links to follow and support the stations featured in this list alongside their selections. Many of them rely on community funding to survive, and all of them are doing essential work, so give them a follow and donation if you’re able to. Hope you enjoy exploring the mixes, dive in below.
Beats In Space
It's always hard to pick favorites from the past year but the mixes I kept going back to were these five. Canadians were taking over BIS in 2020 with D. Tiffany, Martyn Bootyspoon and Khotin in there. I like that these five mixes all show a different perspective on club/electronic music. The big difference with previous years was that only Galcher Lustwerk's mix was done live in the WNYU studio here in New York City. A month after his mix and the pandemic sent us to broadcasting from home. I missed the in person interactions at the radio station, but getting DJ's from all over the world to tell a story through their music this year was important. It was a bit of musical therapy from missing the club or being home alone for too long.
If 2019 was a fire emoji of parties and nightlife, 2020 saw that flame virtually extinguished. However, that didn’t stop DJs and producers from releasing loads of quality mixes and tracks, and even taking their live sets online for a worldwide (web) audience. All of the creative energy that artists would’ve spent performing live in clubs and festivals was channeled into creating content that us listeners happily streamed during living room dance parties, socially-distant picnics, long drives, and afternoon runs.
It was difficult to narrow down my top choices for mixes this year, as there were so many to choose from across multiple genres. While the future of our dancefloors remains uncertain, here are a few mixes that will ignite your speakers: an all-ragga garage mix from The Large; a perreo, dembow and reggaeton mix from The Saddest Angel; a world club, Baile Funk, and vogue mix from Halfqueen; a Memphis-inspired electro, house, and juke mix from Amadeezy; a grime, world club, and UK funky mix from myself.
Bianca Oblivion is a DJ, producer and host of the Club Aerobics show on NTS. She’s based in LA, follow her on Instagram here
boxout.fm is a New Delhi-based online radio station that has been in existence since April 2017. It came into being at a time when a community-run platform showcasing alternative music and its related cultures in India did not exist. As a radio station, boxout.fm presents a carefully mined perspective on India’s emergent musical and cultural scenes, one that is wholly curated by individuals rather than algorithms.
As a people-first organisation, boxout.fm transcends the online airwaves to bring communities together through regular events that celebrate music and the spirit of togetherness. These include New Delhi’s longest running weekly club night, Boxout Wednesdays, and the radio’s annual music festival, Boxout Weekender. Within boxout.fm’s deep archives, you’ll find an authentic patchwork of music programming that is both free from the constraints of genre, and representative of an incredibly diverse musical landscape.
Aided by a passionate community of radio hosts, DJs, podcasters and musical diehards, anybody tuning in or attending one of our events can get a peek into India’s rich cultural heritage and its growing, global outlook.
Tell a friend, to tell a friend. No Clique, Just Play.
Boxout.fm is an online, community radio station based in New Delhi, India. Download its mobile app here. Follow Boxout.fm on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, SoundCloud, Mixcloud and RA. Check out its record label Boxout.fm Recordings on Bandcamp. Support boxout.fm via Patreon or Ko-fi. View information on new hosts here
Chai and Chill - CymbiaN
#Ambient mix for our ongoing boxout.fm mix series - Chai and Chill. You’re back home from the grind, ready to get your feet up with a nice hot cup of chai and some time to kick back? We got you covered; tune in for the perfect soundtrack to unwind and think of nothing. This mix is by CymbiaN, a project dedicated to ambient and experimental music by Mumbai based composer and drummer Rohit Prabhu.
Through The Smog - Sleepy Insomniac [Guest Mix]
Through The Smog aims to bring you a mixed bag of classic gems, obscure releases, forthcoming tracks by friends, and just good old dancefloor bangers. Expect anything from 70s Tunisian funk, 90s electro from Michigan to ravey breaks from the UK, and more. The monthly show is hosted by SUCHI. In this episode, we have a beautifully nostalgic ravey selection by Sleepy Insomniac. "The mix is a testament to how much I miss clubbing. Full of some high-octane sounds, it touches upon dub techno, electro, trance, garage and beyond." Close your eyes, let go, and join us on the journey.
Indie as fuck - Stain [100% Indian producers]
100% Indian 140 and bass music mix, this was for a special Indian independence day broadcast titled INDIE AS FUCK with a 24 hour all Indian artists program. This mix is by Delhi based bass producer Stain who just put out a wicked six-track EP ‘Demon Child’.
Digital Dancefloors - Lush Lata
Digital Dancefloors is a strong partnership between three wholly unique players - Boxout FM, Future Female Sounds, and the Danish Cultural Institute in India, that serves to reinforce the Denmark-India musical relationship in these unprecedented times. These sessions take place live on Mixcloud during the lockdown and this mix stands out from the series.
Lush Lata is the host of Lushthetics on boxout.fm. A curious mix of old skool hip hop, beats, monologues, and trap pack a punch with Lush Lata’s set, that borrows from the notion that there is calm before a storm. Aligning this with moods that drop low only to rise high, Lush Lata places her artistic explorations in the interstices of the common shebang.
Indie As Fuck - Aniruddh Menon [Consolidate Records showcase]
Label showcase from Bangalore based Consolidat records for our Indian Independence day stream, Indie As Fuck. This mix was created by Aniruddh Menon featuring music from the label catalog and lots of unreleased bits. You can check out the label catalog on their Bandcamp page.
Read the Indie As Fuck open letter here.
Meanwhile, The Music... - Hrdvsion [ft guest mix + interview with Nathan Fake]
Hrdvsion, as a producer has explored many styles of music: everything from beatless, ambient tracks to rugged club cuts or pop bootlegs. His impressive discography, spread across labels such as Wagon Repair, Balkan Recordings, Rinse and International Deejay Gigolo, hints at a producer who has valued diversity above all. As a DJ, he’s played some of the world’s greatest clubs, toured India multiple times, and now brings his natural eclecticism as a selector and fan to his new monthly show ‘Meanwhile, The Music…’. On this episode he was joined by electronic music producer and Cambria Instruments co-founder Nathan Fake to celebrate the release of his fifth album, ‘Blizzards’.
WAXOUT - Raketka
A strictly all-vinyl show, WAXOUT aims to contribute to and bring back vinyl culture as it undergoes a worldwide resurgence. From straight-up DJ sets to laid-back selections, WAXOUT will be all about exploring the world of the physical records. Raketa was born in Belarus, where she had started to collect and play records in 2007 with mainly Detroit, acid and dub techno flavour. From 2009 till nowadays Raketka has crossed the world with a full vinyl bag. This was one of the last few mixes we recorded this year before the lockdown in our New Delhi Studio.
BS0Radio is an online radio station based in Tokyo. Follow it on SoundCloud here
'Tribute to ZamZam Sound' by Osam Green Giant
Osam Green Giant is a part of the BS0 gang. He is like a hard collector of the Zam Zam Sounds label. He completed their vinyls. This mix is a tribute to the label and his essential selection of Zam Zam Sounds.
1TA *Summer Dub Selection
A Ruler of BS0, 1TA selected cooly dubs for this summer.
BS0radio by Double Clapperz
Massive rap/hip hop/grime selection from Japanese grime producer duo Double Clapperz.
BS0RADIO by BS0XTRA
Mars89, Daddy Vada, KILLA, Null Da Sensei and OGG are joining BS0XTRA. BS0xtra is carefully curated by the original BS0 crew fusing dub, dubstep, grime, jungle, breakbeats and techno.
DJs with the “present generation of punk” mentality brings forth new styles to the dancefloor.
BS0radio by Karnage
Karnage is one of the finest of Japan’s new generation of dubstep producers. This mix is a celebration mix for the release of his album 'Facing Inner Struggle' feat. Rider Shafique.
Picking five of our favourite mixes from 2020 was tough. Club Quarantäne was started in March by a bunch of friends trying to provide some joy for the party community whilst a bonkers situation unravelled around us. Over the course of the three virtual-events we hosted 700,000+ digi-dancers from 132 countries, over 70 artists and partied together for close to 110 hours – you see now why choosing only five highlights from that is tough! Going on this journey with our community has been something we never could have imagined, but we’re glad we can provide them with some light during these dark times. Heading into 2021, we’re excited to get back on physical dancefloors, as well as build crazy new ways for virtual-ravers to get together and have fun through technology and music. You’ll be seeing a lot more of us: Records, merchandise, digital goods, virtual events, technology and anything else we create, Club Qu comin’ atcha! Below are five sets that tore up the dance. Big up everyone that played and joined.
Club Quarantäne is a URL nightclub. Check out its website here
Vocal house is huge in South Africa and the resurgence of well produced and arranged dance is on the rise again. With producers like Sun El Musician, FKA Mash, Black Motion all producing sterling hits in 2020, I put together a mix celebrating some of the best vocal house tracks both local and abroad.
The selection also features newcomers Frigid Armadillo who produced a gem called ‘Roam in A Day'. As with most DJ Loyd selections and mash ups, I threw in some old skool classics from Nick Holder and our very own DJ Mbuso.
On the show I host, The House Connect on 5FM, my passion has always been to unearth new South African artists and cutting-edge tracks from the producers you already know and this selection looked at some of the newer tracks coming out in 2020. Featuring a track from Blaq Child, a little known producer. The moment I dropped the track, my phone blew up. It made me very happy that a song sent to us has now found its way to some main playlists on some of the biggest radio stations in the country. The mix also features tracks from deep house duo Lemon & Herb, Bekzin Terris and DJ AJ.
An Afro house connoisseur, Sir Vincent checks out new releases from Ralf Gum, Toshi, Black Widow and Taolo.
On The House Connect, the goal is to bridge the gap between the artist and the listener. Every week we drop new albums that are making waves and 2020, despite all its challenges, has been no different. On this mix, resident DJ Thee Gobbs features exclusive cuts from SA producer Caiiro’s new offering, ‘Agora’.
dublab LA's non-profit radio station presents 5 of this year's mixes from new residents in 2020: Groteesk, Soltera, Bae Bae and Pacoima Techno – as well as legendary LA-based label Juke Bounce Werk who laid the groundwork in the expansion of Chicago ghetto house, juke and footwork in the city of angels. These residents are pushing dance music to new levels and building incredibly strong communities here in the US and internationally.
dublab broadcasts hundreds of radio programs hosted by some of the most talented DJs worldwide. DJs are empowered to freely play sounds they are passionate about, making each show distinct. dublab is a platform for discovery and the cultivation of next-wave music, arts and culture. The radio airwaves allow space for diverse styles, eras, genres and music cultures to co-exist. Now dublab's programming has expanded to include the production of original art exhibits, films, events record releases and educational programs related to health, youth, development, education and creative processes.
dublab is a non-profit, radio station dedicated to the growth of music, arts, and culture. Visit its website here
BAE BAE — NEGRESS w/ guests Dara Genesis and Naygod – Listen here (no embed available)
A bit about us: foundation.fm is the online community radio station, led by a diverse group of women, LGTBQI persons and talented creatives, building a community of radio and music makers that can share and help one another evolve.
We choose these mixes because they’re ones to take you back to the club and make you dance. Despite being in lockdown we have found so much fun in connecting with other platforms, DJs, producers and sharing our space. It’s led to some of our favourite moments such as our HÖR Berlin takeover where Kikelomo kicked off her mix with an incredible Craig David edit! India Jordan celebrating the release of their EP and how it’s resonated differently outside of the clubs. Heléna Star reminiscing with Saoirse of the raves in the 90s and of course finding & scouting new talent such as these mixes from DJ Mell G and Kaytseng, two DJs we’re really excited about.
Understandably this year has been difficult for so many but we have been so inspired at how our community has adapted, created and carried on. We hope these mixes bring a little bit of joy to your day and help you celebrate the amazing new connections and friendships you’ve made in this time, like we have.
See you in the dance soon.
Hipsters Don't Dance
In a year where we missed the club, the communal experience of radio helped to pick up that slack. Three of these mixes (The Large, Joey B and Foreignerrrrr ) displayed the highs of being in the club. All of these shows are hosted by charming, funny and talented MCs, 2 of them legends in their own right (Top Cat and Fox). Replicating that energy of a great club night can be tough but in their own way these shows picked up our spirits. The other two shows reminded us of the flipside of that energy. Aqwea and Charlie Bones' shows reminded us that expertly-picked music by passionate hosts can be a salve in these troubled times.
Hipsters Don’t Dance is a DJ duo who have a residency on NTS. Check their shows here
As much as it's been awful to not hear music on a dancefloor this year, at-home mixes have come into their own. It's easy to be cynical about the plethora of live streams that have been firing all over social media but for many, they've been a lifeline: I've loved Octo Octa and Eris Drew's Forest Throwdowns and house party hero D.Nice's endless Instagram Live sets, for which he should win an award for services to DJing. Internet radio has also been crucial in finding some sense of community – for me, making my Worldwide FM shows from home and interacting with listeners has helped give me hope. I've also loved seeing SHERELLE's incredible rise. I met her on the Great Wall of China when she was filming a live stream of Nina Kraviz for Mixmag; now she's now headline material in her own right.
Kate Hutchinson is on Worldwide FM on second Fridays, 12-2pm. Her podcast, The Last Bohemians, is available here
We are an online community radio streaming 24/7 from a wooden shack in the heart of Brussels’ historic Parc Royal. A meeting point for music freaks from Brussels and beyond. A tiny kiosk bar serving eclectic music and drinks. Sometimes, on sunny summer days, a safe space to dance under the trees.
Kontakt w/ Victor De Roo & Aroh @ Kiosk Radio
This genre-bending mix by our resident Aroh and his musical brother-in-arms Victor De Roo is characteristic for the musical diversity of our radio’s residents. This perfect blend of wave, indie, electro and rock demonstrates how a DJ-set can be so much more than a peak-time club set.
Weird Dust Special Tapes set @ Kiosk Radio 29.04.2020
During Belgium’s first lockdown, we were forced to close the Kiosk but we continued broadcasting from home. This Special Tapes set by Weird Dust was certainly a bright spot in this strange period. One hour of soothing ambient and experimental electronic tapes who were visually presented before the camera when played. An excellent selection by one of the most versatile Kiosk residents and a highlight in what was one of the most challenging periods of our radio.
Lefto & Zwangere Guy @ Kiosk Radio 20.09.2020
For his weekly ‘Think Outside The Kiosk’ Sunday evening residency, LeFtO brought the charismatic Brussels rapper Zwangere Guy in September to the Kiosk for a back-to-back set. This attracted a pretty big audience to the Kiosk itself, leading to a spontaneous gathering in the park of a few hundred fans. This mix of peak-time rap, house, techno and ghetto became the soundtrack of one of the most memorable moments this summer at the Kiosk.
Soumaya Phéline & Carin Kelly @ Kiosk Radio 02.10.2020
One of the leading ladies in the Brussels scene, Soumaya Phéline, brought on a rainy afternoon in October Rinse France resident Carin Kelly to the Kiosk for an obscure electronics set with bpms ranging from 80 to 160. An excellent example of how a back-to-back set can create a certain magic to mix full of surprises.
DJ Athome presents We Slowly Rot @ Kiosk Radio 20.11.2020
An experimental set by our long-time resident and master of slow burners, DJ Athome. This set is a perfect mix of heavy basslines, otherworldly percussions and mystical oriental sounds by one of Brussels’ most characteristic electronic producers/DJs.