DAREK MAZZONE (KEXP)
Current top 5 tracks:
Les Sympathics de Porto Novo, "A Min We Vo Nou We" (Analog Africa)
"Over the last few years, I’ve happily seen a slew of phenomenal labels digging deep into the histories of ridiculously funky scenes that were going on in Africa during the '70s and '80s. Analog Africa is one of the best, and the most recent edition of their African Scream Contest compilation starts with this jaw-dropping, fuzz-box, funk-god jam by Benin’s Les Sympathics de Porto Novo. I love starting my sets with this, since it can lead anywhere."
Majid Bekkas, "Mrhaba (Cervo Edit)" (Banana Hill)
"Moroccan gnawa music is as close to full on trance state as you can get, and Majid Bekkas is a master of the form and its primary instrument, the Guembri. This edit of his track Cervo allows the rawness of the music to create its magic while allowing dancers to ease their way into a nice delirium."
Evinha, "Esperar Pra Ver" (Mr Bongo)
"Evinha is one of my favorite samba soul singers. This track just does wonders with its funky guitar riffs and a horn section that just kills. It’s mastered in a particular spooky style that was popular in Brazil in the early '70s and is completely enthralling today."
Poirier, "Sowia" feat. Samito (Wonderwheel)
"Afrobeats is the genre of the moment that seems to be catching fire worldwide and Montreal-based Ghislain Poirier is a producer I’ve always paid attention to for his ability to access various global flavors, create bangers, and not water down the music a tiny bit."
Marvin Gaye, "What’s Going On (Revivra Alias Estèphe & Vulzor Edit)" (G.A.M.M.)
"Marvin Gaye’s classic is treated masterfully by this production crew. It comes in at 10:52, which gives it a lot of time to evolve and it has such blissful instrumental and vocal breaks that allow the floor to fill with joy. I played it in Brooklyn earlier in the year at Bembe and a conga player started to jam with me; we extended the track to a 30-minute lovefest. No one wanted to stop."
Crew/label affiliation: "KEXP."
Styles played: "Anything that has soul and feels like it comes from someplace you want to visit someday. Most of the styles I play in clubs are tied to countries and cities then particular genres. It's nice to see a growing interest in global sounds.
"Lately, for me, it’s been anything from raw funk and afro flavors from all over the continent. Remixes of Northern Thai Molam grooves. House and techno edits of new West African superstars like Oumou Sangare and Leila Gobi, Batida out of Lisbon has been of interest as of late. The Balkans and especially Balkan expats are creating amazing music that fills the floor. Bhangra and Bollywood continue to be strong and I was blown away by the range of electronic and ethno/electro sounds when I was in China.
"It really does have to have some swing for it to show up in my crates. I came up in some heady and fascinating times within Seattle music and club culture. My first club gig in Seattle was at the legendary Weathered Wall, where I played the Surrealist Magic Theater. Then it was Electrolush with the amazing Tasty Shows crew. That night was a phenomenal because whatever scene you were in, you showed up. Then Backdoor Lounge for everything from pure disco, first forays in jungle and dubstep, and even Italo soft-porn soundtracks with go-go dancers. La Movida at the Baltic Room. First '80s retro with Lovecats.
"But I'm in awe at how healthy the club scene is now with great clubs, promoters, and a strong crowd of Seattle newbies willing to go out on any night."
Events organized: "For years I threw JUICE Parties with DJ Rhythma and Rebecca Campeau. Each month’s party was dedicated to a charity that did international work, but was based locally. These parties became legendary and I think five marriages and many babies came out of them. Hope to get those started again."
DJing philosophy: "I want to take people on a journey. There will be familiar ports of call, but we will go into uncharted territory. That’s where you find the real magic. I love seeing people lose themselves in music and styles that they are unfamiliar with. Streaming services and the internet, in general, have opened up the dance floor to so many more ideas then we had when I began. The reaction you get from crowds now is more of a 'yeah!' than a 'huh?'”
Format: "I’ve been at this game for a while, so I remember when vinyl wasn’t the bespoke choice, it was the only choice. I’m playing vinyl more and more lately; the sound with a good analog mixer is so lush and full, it can’t really be beaten. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find a room that allows that sound to really shine. But in Seattle we are lucky to have so many clubs that take sound quality so seriously, so you can play just about any format and sound good.
"When in Seattle, I'll have a pair of turntables or CDJs and an NI Z2 if I’m running Traktor, or Allen & Heath XZONE96 if it's just vinyl. On the road I use Traktor S2 and laptop,; it's so compact it’s glorious. Native Instruments and Traktor has been a gamechanger for me. What I only imagined I could do playing vinyl I can easily do now in Traktor.
"If I have a larger corporate event or a bigger stage to play on, then I bring out my Emulator DJ Touch-Screen. It’s like Minority Report, shiny and futuristic."
Worst request: "I pride myself on playing a diverse set, but you can only stretch the dancefloor so far before it breaks. A request for classical usually makes me look askance at the person asking."
Upcoming events: "I used to DJ three nights a week, but pared that back after having kids, but will be doing more locally in the fall. I'm on the road often now, as gigs take me afar but in Seattle, you can catch me at my weekly show on KEXP, Wo’Pop, which I’ve been doing since 1993. It airs every Tuesday from 6:00 pm–9:00 pm and can be heard anytime at kexp.org.
"I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing some of my favorite artists ever and seeing some phenomenal performances. It’s been an honor to be part of the amazing growth of that station. It blows my mind that I’m recognized all over the world and people know the work I do. I’m especially awed by the interest in global music that has come out of our YouTube channel, especially the Wo’Pop Playlist.
"I’ll be at MBar on July 11 with DJ Rhythma.
I’m opening for the Legendary Tuvan Throat Singing group Huun-Huur-Tu at Nectar on July 12.
I’m at Nectar on July 20 for a Party called KEXP Takes Flight. I share the decks with Kid Hops (Positive Vibrations) and DJ Chilly (El Sonido). It’s a blast, as we play tracks from all over the world with a focus on the vibes of our shows. It’s the third one and each is better than the last.
August 8 I’m at Nectar with Ukrainian ethno-clash masters Dakhabrakha."