16 of the best uplifting DJ mixes - Features - Mixmag

16 of the best uplifting DJ mixes

These mixes make us feel good, wonderful good

  • Mixmag Crew
  • 20 March 2020

Strange times we live in. The mood-elevating power of music has rarely been so vital. Being trapped inside isn't good for anyone's mental health, but while it's our social responsibility to combat the spread of COVID-19, we have to find ways to keep our self-isolating spirits up. The list of mixes below is tailored to do just that. From pumping house to rowdy grime, we hope these help you crack a grin.

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Radio Cómeme - Sweet Surrender mixtape

Music's endless hype cycle is a rush and the thrill of the new is something we all, as journalists, dancers and DJs alike, search for on the daily. But it can take its toll and distract us from one of dance music's essential truths: that all the raw, spontaneous, naive talent should be counterbalanced with heads who have an encyclopedic knowledge of music and an ability to cross genres with ease, unearthing rare gems and presenting them to the world with sparkling beauty. DEBONAIR should be prescribed to everyone looking to expand their minds, a selector who loves Mazzy Star as much as she does rampant, MDMA-fuelled body music made for dark basements. Her session for Radio Cómeme is one of her best, a string of triumphant outsider jams that have been hustled from the deepest recesses of dusty record racks and 3am YouTube wormholes. Your Shazam ain't got a chance. Seb Wheeler

Carl Cox
Sound Of Ibiza 2004

A breakneck snapshot of a transitional Ibiza - the millennial trance boom over and the minimal wave yet to really crest. Coxy set the controls for full vibes from the off with the peerless drama of Octave One's 'Black Water', nodded to the burgeoning Ibiza underground with DC10 residents Tania Vulcano and Jose De Divina's 'Criminal Groove' (also feat. Evanz D) and then ups the intensity through a tracklist that takes in Royksopp, Joris Voorn and even a promising young Swedish producer called Steve Angello. It's a testament to the big man's instincts, musical generosity and open-mindedness, but most importantly, it's great fun throughout. Duncan Dick

Octo Octa
'I Wanna Tell You A Little Story About House' cover mix

This is one of the most unashamedly feel-good mixes you'll ever hear. Octo Octa, who embodies everything dance music should stand for, unleashes just over an hour of happy, spanky house music that zips along, chucking out finger-pointing melodies, screw-face stabs and entrancing vocal hooks with glee. It'll pick you up when you feel down or, on the flip, make you self-combust when you need something to take you even higher. This is what I want every rave to sound like when COVID-19 finally fucks off. Superlative. SW

80s DJ Set in The Lab at Smirnoff House

Mixmag's collaboration with The Smirnoff House at Creamfields in 2015 was full of highlights. DJs from across the festival were invited to wander along with their USBs and just get stuck in to the decks and the cocktails in a house party style setting that seemed to free them from expectations. Claude vonStroke's low-slung house set was incredible, Kurupt FM filled the DJ booth and the dancefloor and blew the place away, but my personal highlight was this 80s set from German duo Andhim. Totally unexpected, totally uplifting, and once again, just a lot of fun. DD

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Project Pablo
Rinse FM, August 2017

More than two years on since broadcasting, this one from Project Pablo (now going by his real name Patrick Holland) still bangs. The Canadian passed through the London radio station one lunchtime in August 2017 to deliver a masterclass in woozy, breakbeat-leaning house and, in true Rinse style, a handful of classy UK garage cuts. A fairly chilled opening 20 minutes soon turns into an uptempo four to the floor session full of - to put bluntly - ripe dancefloor pumpers. I'm a sucka for garage so the final 15 minutes, featuring 'Making Love' by U.S.L, aka Jeremy Sylvester, is a right treat. Dave Turner

Ash Lauryn
Underground & Black on NTS Radio, February 2020

Ash Lauryn just keeps coming through with DJ sets, mixes and radio shows packed full of joyous house vibes; house music made by the originators like Larry Heard and Ron Trent and exactly the kinda tunes you want when spirits need lifting. The Atlanta-based DJ uses her Underground & Black show on London's NTS Radio to empower black culture, whether that be the house and techno that enlightened Chicago and Detroit in the '80 and '90s, jazz, soul, r'n'b or anything else she sees fit to inject some morale into your day. This show in particular came through, starting with the Martin Luther King Mix of Mr. Fingers' 'Can You Feel It?', featuring MLK's I Have A Dream speech, then going onto to drop in sultry tunes by the likes of John Beltran, Delano Smith, Osunlade, Kai Alcé and Atlanta up-and-comer Stefan Ringer. If you're dealing with any sort of anxiety or stress right now, the soothing house pads and inspiring vocals in this will suppress that, if only for a while. DT

This Is Not

The ultimate relaxation device courtesy of the man with many names. Whether it's Traumprinz, Prince Of Denmark or in this case, DJ Metatron, the super elusive artist always does a bloody good job of sending us to cloud nine. The sparse, ambient dreamscapes presented in his 'This Is Not' mix for Giegling are unmatched and the range of emotions served up in audio form are frankly, beautiful. There's the Traumprinz remix of Efdemin's 'Parallaxis' that's just sheer bliss (once heard in Panorama Bar and a moment etched in my mind forever) and then there's his rave blinder 'There Will Be XTC', a track that somehow conveys a tender freneticism, a style that Metatron has shown time after time he's very capable of producing. More than anything, the mix floats along and whether it's 140 bpm or no bpm, the power it holds to uplift can't be understated. Funster

Kerri Chandler
Cover Mix

There aren't many that do it as well as Kerri Chandler. The long-standing figure in electronic music has been a beacon of soul, hope and wisdom since he started out, so much so that his affectionately given nickname King Kerri, shows you just how much he's revered. A house music titan, his productions span decades and he's gifted us with some of the most instantly recognizable gems ever made. Quite often, we'll be in a club and before we know what the track is, we hear the drums and go, they must be Kerri's drums. Nine times out of ten, a quick Shazam reveals it is of course, King Kerri. When he graced our cover in 2017, it was long-overdue but that didn't make it any less sweet and his cover mix is, to put it simply, a golden slice of Chandler. God bless you King Kerri. F

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Beautiful Swimmers
The Lab NYC

Ok this one holds a special place in our hearts. We wanted to do a Beautiful Swimmers Lab for years but it never happened. They don't really do many streams so when we finally managed to lock them in, we were over the moon. In our Lab NYC, one of dance music's most fun loving pairs came in and schooled us with uplifting house, bumping riddims and sassy techno. It's a great session but in these uncertain times, it's not just the music that can be uplifting. Just look at them dance, they're moving around in time with the music as if it's coursing through their veins and most of all, they're happy, they're glowing. Music has a special healing quality and right now, we could all do with a bit of that Beautiful Swimmers energy in our lives. F

Dman & Friends
KMAH, 5th Aug 2019

Dman & Friends are a Leeds-based collective. Set up by Dman, they put on fundraising parties for Sunshine & Smiles, a charity that supports Leeds families living with Down syndrome. At a regular Dman & Friends night, residents are unafraid to mix in classic 90s hip hop and hardcore remixes of ‘Toxic’ with stonking d'n'b and techno. Their August 2019 KMAH mix has been put together in the same spirit, featuring Rihanna’s ‘Pon De Replay’ mixed into a heavy techno rework of ‘Pump Up The Jam’ then straight into ’212’. It’s pure silliness that’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Jemima Skala

Call Super & Shanti Celeste
Lente Kabinet Festival 2019

If you’re currently staring out of the window remembering the privilege of breathing fresh air, this mix is the one for you. It’s a perfect time portal back to a sunnier time pre-physical distancing. Call Super and Shanti Celeste are renowned in any case for bringing adding a touch of sunshine to swampier techno beats, and this mix sees them seamlessly riffing off each other to weave a set that exudes pure good vibes. Swinging in and out of high-paced, energetic techno, dancehall, and darker cuts, it’s perfect if you’re looking for an alternative to the gym. Simply stick this on and by the end of the nearly three-hour-long set, you’ll have sweated all your worries away. JS

Neptunes special on NTS

By 2003, it’s said a whopping 43 per cent of all music on US radio was produced by The Neptunes. Which begs the question, what the fuck were they playing the rest of the time? Alongside fellow noughties super-producer Timbaland, The Neptunes dominated the pop music landscape of the early 2000s in an all-encompassing manner not really seen since Motown’s 60s heyday. Childhood friends Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo brought their forward-facing off-kilter funk inspired production style to bear on music for everyone from Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake to Britney Spears and Clipse. The phrase ‘All killer no filler’ could have been invented for Martelo’s expertly paced NTS Neptunes Special, initially broadcast on the station all the way back in 2013. It's a sure-fire way to blow away those self-isolation blues. Sean Griffiths

Fauzia & Sherelle

Sherelle and Fauzia, aka one third of 6 Figure Gang, aka NTS dubbed ‘speed demons’, aka ultimate legends, launched a show on the Gillett Square station last April titled XTC that is all kinds of mood-lifting goodness. With a focus, as you probably expect from the pair by now, on ‘scream if you wanna go faster’ kind of material from producers emerging, established and veteran in status, any one of their shows are packed to the brim with all the jungle and d’n’b you could ever desire, all mixed by a pair of soon-to-be Hall of Famers. Jasmine Kent-Smith

Elijah & Skilliam
Grime's second wave

Last year Crack released a string of mixes to celebrate the end of the decade and the genres and trends that reigned supreme during the 2010s. For those, like myself, with an affinity for 140BPM rocket fuel and nostalgia-inducers aplenty, then Elijah & Skilliam’s journey through ‘Grime’s second wave’ is sure to be up your street. Everyone from Sir Spyro, Stormzy and Jme to Terror Danjah, Joker, Commodo, Novelist and Mumdance are included of course (the pair know their stuff!), so sit back, soak into your sofa or your awkward, ill-equipped WFH set-up, and enjoy an excellent, ‘fuck, remember this!’-evoking trip down memory lane. JKS

Mall Grab

This mix was accompanied with the first feature Mixmag ran on Mall Grab, and it remains my favourite thing he’s done. The mixing is flawless throughout, as rousing selections slide seamlessly into one another with energising flair. It’s my go-to mix when I’m handed the aux and want something fun, and it’s going to be getting some serious airtime during this peculiar period we find ourselves in. Patrick Hinton

Pearson Sound
UKG Set @ London Underground, Glastonbury 2017

We’ve waxed lyrical about this set before in our write-up of Glastonbury 2017, and to be honest we’ve barely come down from the hype that this freight train of good vibes provided. It was one of those perfect festival moments: strong crew, everyone on cracking form, a perfect soundtrack of flawless UKG anthems. The sadness around there being no Glastonbury in 2020 is real, but listening to this on loop will help get us through it. You can listen to it on The NYC Downlow's website. PH

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