“What goes around, will come around and come back and get ya!” prophesised Haze back in 2011 on the release of his and Noir’s underground House hit ‘Around’. Three years later and, in the context of house music’s place in popular culture, they were accurate in their prediction. In terms of the quality of the music currently being produced, house is undoubtedly in its rudest health in years and this is what Azuli has set out to capture.
With a heritage stretching back to 1991, Azuli thoroughly earned its reputation for releasing house music of genuine quality and the popularity of its compilation albums was built on the label’s ability to capture the music of the moment – be it the biggest records on the scene or evidence of a willingness to dig a little deeper. With Deep House Anthems, Azuli continues this fine tradition.
It’s fair to say the terms ‘deep house’ and ‘anthems’ make awkward bedfellows but in this case it’s not an oxymoron. The idea comes from a desire to produce a compendium of absolutely no-nonsense tracks, underlining the scene’s strength in depth whilst avoiding the obvious phoneys or cash-ins, and where unashamed big bassline party-starters can happily rub shoulders with trackier tech-influenced numbers.
Here, Azuli has compiled its very own A-list of deep house with all the key movers and shakers that define this new era in dance music’s popularity fully represented. Nu-school house hits such as Breach’s ‘Jack’, Hot Natured’s ‘Benediction’, the Dennis Ferrer mix of Nick Curly’s ‘Underground’, Flashmob’s ‘Need In Me’ and Disclosure’s ‘My Intention Is War (Fig ii)’ sit alongside established records in the deep house scene - some of the building blocks that form the foundations of the current resurgence - such as Dennis Ferrer ‘Hey Hey’, Metro Area ‘Miura’, Chicken Lips ‘He Not In’ and Ame ‘Rej’ in capturing the essence of an underground scene that has built astonishing success over the last three years or so.
Here’s Azuli’s guide to Deep House in 22 anthemic moments that have stood the test of time, all of which are included on this new collection.
Noir & Haze - Around (Solomun Vox) The breakout record that arguably defines both Noir and Solomun’s careers to date. Solomun’s remix was undoubtedly one of the biggest records of 2011, getting played everywhere from the warehouses of Hackney to Pacha Ibiza. Its creeping, building, almost sinister riff was perfectly offset by that unforgettably enticing hook and the Haze vocal gave made it one of deep house’s biggest ‘hits’.
Osunlade - Envision (Argy Vocal Mix) Some might say the Dixon or Ame mixes were the standouts from this release, but Argy’s vocal takes things into classic mid 90’s new York-esque territory with its garage bassline, and looped vocal intro… the essence of a big deep house record of the last few years.
4th Measure Men - 4 You (Maya Jane Coles Remix) Again there’s no doubting how the scene has been inspired by the productions of earlier generations. The re-release of ‘4 You’ was a milestone in the Marc Kinchen renaissance and a highlight in the production career Maya Jane Coles. When toying with a classic track, you always run the risk of doing the original a disservice but one of the factors behind house music’s success of late is how quality producers have managed to revisit a track and bring it back to a whole new audience.
Chez Damier - Can You Feel It (New York Dub) A legendary figure in electronic music, Detroit’s Chez Damier has played close witness to many of the pivotal moments in the history of house and techno. ‘Can You Feel It’ stands up against every house record ever made – as you would expect coming from the Underground Resistance production camp. Here MK’s, hard-hitting New York Dub is without a doubt a stone cold classic that still sounds as fresh as ever.
me - Rej German imprint Innervisions has grown from strength to strength throughout the years but one of the tracks instrumental in its birth was ‘Rej’. Ame’s track was the second release on the label, its tantalising strings and brooding minimalism grew to become timeless and omnipresent in clubs for years to come.
Yousef - Beg (Hot Since 82 Future Remix) A Beatport chart topper, Hot Since 82 unleashed a hefty dose of low-end thump on his effortlessly chic reinterpretation of Yousef’s driving, groove-led ‘Beg’, in the process forging a reputation as one of house music’s hottest contemporary producers. Since then the Leeds based producer has only grown in stature by releasing his debut album ‘Little Black Book’ on Moda Black and the Beatport #1 remix of Green Velvet’s ‘Bigger Than Prince’ as well putting together a well-received BBC1 Essential Mix.
Tube & Berger - Imprint Of Pleasure Released on Suara, ‘Imprint Of Pleasure’ was a monumental anthem last year for German duo Tube & Berger. It stormed the tech house charts where it snatched the #1 position and proceeded to hold on to it for longer than any other track in 2013.
Roy Davis Jr. feat. Peven Everett ‘Gabriel’ (Live Garage Mix) Roy Davis Jr., the mind behind legendary production company Phuture, has been a stalwart of the house genre ever since the late-80s. Responsible for a series titled ‘Archangel’, which dedicated each track to a particular angel, Davis Jr. released an early house-garage hybrid named ‘Gabriel’ in 1997 which emits soulful vibes and jazzy themes throughout.
Jamie Jones - Summertime Jamie Jones is an artist who more than most has been responsible for the rise of the Deep House underground. Described by Resident Advisor as the “trippy, hypnotic anthem” of Miami WMC 2009, ‘Summertime’ was released on Crosstown Rebels shortly before the producer teamed up with Lee Foss to forge popular Deep House imprint Hot Creations. The track won the title of DJ Mag’s Best of British Best Dance Single and therefore marked the turning point in Jones’ career as he evolved from rising star to superstar.
Breach - Jack Released on Dirtybird, ‘Jack’ was one of 2013’s most phenomenal house tracks as it shot into the UK Charts at #9 displaying its tremendous crossover appeal complete with and an unforgettable music video. Ben Westbeech employs his own (heavily FX’d) vocals to the track to create a catchy hook which was instrumental in the tracks commercial success.
Green Velvet - Bigger Than Prince (Hot Since 82 Remix) Following on from ‘Beg’, Daley Padley’s rendition of ‘Bigger Than Prince’ was such a seminal hit it led to festivals and raves becoming swamped with T-shirts sporting the vocals. Its bouncy nature and fat bassline companied with edited, off pitched vocals saw the track sit comfortably at the top of the Beatport Top 100 and become an integral ingredient to many a house DJs set.
Ten Walls - Gotham The Innervisions camp has gone from strength to strength this year but a particular milestone was ‘Gotham’ which was released mid-summer and was soon heard everywhere on the White Isle. Many refer to ‘Gotham’ as the soundtrack of 2013’s Movement Festival in Detroit and Sónar in Barcelona, and its immense popularity has seen it easily become the labels biggest hit of the year.
Huxley - Let It Go With Huxley making an illustrious mark in the house scene in 2011, it was 2012 which saw him truly take off. The likes of his ‘Out Of The Box EP’ on 2020Vision and ‘No Matter What EP’ on Tsuba were all highly praised pieces of work, but it was the British producers Hypercolour release in February titled ‘Let It Go’ which started the ball rolling. The track features soulful vocals and prominent hats in a demonstration of Huxley’s garage-led musical upbringing, a sound which became huge in the deep house movement.
Nick Curly - Underground (Dennis Ferrer Remix) Dennis Ferrer isn’t known as a prolific remixer – he’s never really needed to be one – but his mix of Underground represented a magnificent achievement in 2012. Developing the chords of the original with a devastatingly infectious organ lead-line, Ferrer built and built the tension before unleashing huge, pounding keys for a truly breathless finale.
Flashmob - Need In Me An enormous hit from the Italian duo, its beautifully swung hats make way for an anthemic hook and one of the most soulful vocal climaxes heard in a house production in recent years. Danny and Alessandro are two of the most enthusiastic artists when it comes to quality house productions and this one was released perfectly in time for the summer where it was heard in every Ibizan club worth going to.
Maceo Plex & Jon DaSilva feat. Joi Cardwell - Love Somebody Based on a Colourblind cover of a Jones Girls disco staple, ‘Love Somebody’ is the result of Maceo Plex and legendary hacienda DJ Jon DaSilva teaming up to reproduce the entire song whilst providing a more melodic interpretation. With the assistance of sensational house singer Joi Cardwell, the track successfully merges disco hedonism and modern house groove in beautifully euphoric synergy.
Route 94 - Tell You Why Mysteriously emerging in 2012 with the support of Skream, Benga and New York Transit Authority, Route 94 has since grown to become an in-demand artist whose future success seems to be set in stone. His inaugural 4-track EP ‘Fly 4 Life’ was released on the producer’s self-titled label and features ‘Tell You Why’, a track driven by a fuzzy bassline and Jess Glyne’s catchy vocals which was featured on ‘Annie Mac presents 2013’.
Larse - So Long Dortmund –based DJ/ producer Larse is no stranger to soulful vocal cuts and this release on Noir Music is exemplary of just that. ‘So Long’ was released back in 2011, its catchy straight-forward vocals making the track more accessible to a widespread audience much like many other releases at the time and this was demonstrated in how it made its way into the Beatport Top 10.
Finnebassen - Touching Me Finnebassen has long been praised for his poignant house productions upon starting his career producing the genre in 2008, with tracks such as ‘If You Only Knew’ and ‘You’re Not Cool Enough’ all reflective of his imaginative production talents. ‘Touching Me’ contains that overpowering emotional vibe signature to the Norwegian house producer and its success saw it top Beatport’s Deep House chart as well as see support from the likes of industry tastemaker Pete Tong who played it on his Radio 1 ‘Wonderments’ section.
Metro Area - Miura Metro Area is the pseudonym of Darshan Jesrani and Morgan Geist, two renowned producers in their own right, but whose collaborative minds make for a force to be reckoned with. Released back in 2001, ‘Miura’ was so sought after that it achieved sales of close to 20,000 vinyl copies and was voted #1 in Resident Advisor’s Top 100 tracks of 2000-2009.
Bicep - Vision Of Love Starting out with Feel My Bicep, a blog run by two fanatic who live and breathe house music, the duo went on to become a highly regarded DJs and 2012 saw them initiate their record imprint of the same name with ‘Vision Of Love’ kick starting it into action. Originally only released on vinyl, the track soon became a seminal release for Bicep who have since grown to become a promising production team in their own right.
Dennis Ferrer - Hey Hey (DF’s Attention Vocal Mix) Ferrer’s longstanding history within the house scene since the late-80s means his eclectic array of production techniques are unrivalled by his peers. One of the biggest dance tracks of 2010 and a favourite of many a self-respecting house DJ.
Azuli Records returns after an extended hiatus with a brand new compilation of quality house music.
Azuli presents Deep House Anthems collects the defining records from the house music resurgence, selecting only the biggest records that have defined this new era in the history of dance music.
Nu-school house hits such as Breach’s ‘Jack’, Hot Natured’s ‘Benediction’, Flashmob ‘Need In Me’ and Disclosure’s ‘My Intention Is War’ sit alongside established records in the deep house scene such as Dennis Ferrer ‘Hey Hey’, Metro Area ‘Miura’, Chicken Lips ‘He Not In’ and Ame ‘Rej’ in this 60 track collection which also includes three bonus DJ mixes.
Azuli Records interview Daddy's Groove ahead of ADE
Daddy’s Groove, formed back in 2006, immediately struck a chord with the dance music fraternity keen to employ their unique production aesthetic. Projects on indies like Axtone, Defected Records and Strictly Rhythm were quickly followed by interest from the majors and remixes for the likes of Kylie Minogue, James Blunt and the legendary Whitney Houston.
Ahead of the release of their latest project – Azuli Amsterdam mixed by Daddy’s Groove – we caught up with the trio to talk about the success of their Test Pressings imprint, working with David Guetta and remixing pop royalty.
How has your summer been? Any particular highlights?
Summer has gone really fast and it has been great! We had a monthly residency at the F*** Me I’m Famous Ibiza, which was a lot of fun and an unforgettable experience! We’d definitely say that the opening party was one of the best parties we’ve ever been to; We also had a couple of back to back sets with David Guetta and a night playing with Afrojack. We also had our first gig at Ushuaia, again with F*** Me I’m Famous. These parties took things to the next level for us for sure!
Where did the Daddy’s Groove moniker come from? One might think it implied something retrospective… were your Dads into house and techno?
No nothing like that. Back in 2006, when we started the Daddy’s Groove project, our main goal was to get back to the roots of house music and pay homage to the legends that inspired us – Cerrone and Todd Terry for example. We love to sample the grooves of these ‘Godfathers’ of house hence ‘Daddy’s Groove’.
Your label, Test Pressing Records, began in 2001. What do you believe is the secret to running a label with longevity and stability? What’s the latest news from the label?
We think one of the most important things is to always be on the look-out for fresh young talent; to sign artists who we think will make a big impact on the market with their innovative sound. For example Test Pressing released one of the first remixes (Steve Angello’s) of DJ Rooster and Sammy Peeralta’s “Shake It” and we signed Gadjo’s “So Many times” just before it became a worldwide hit. Similarly, we were quick to work with Chris Lake when he first made waves on the Italian market. So timing as well as quality is really important. Now our attention is more focussed on nurturing home-grown talent. We’ve just signed Cryogenix a very talented Italian trio, and DJ Valexx and Rayven who are definitely ones to watch!
There is a real range of music on the comp - older techno records rubbing shoulders with modern club bangers – what did you want to achieve with the compilation?
It was really enjoyable to compile that kind of track list actually. What we wanted to achieve with this compilation is directly linked back to the Daddy’s Groove ethos. We are recognising those artists who inspired us to make music in the first place – where we came from – whilst celebrating the exciting new influences of the genre – so where we see ourselves and our label going. It is really important for us to keep in touch with the younger generation, but equally important to show them where it all began.
What’s your take on the current rise of dance music internationally – especially in the USA? How do you see it evolving and in turn, how do you see Daddy’s Groove evolving with it?
It’s a really new and exciting thing for us really. Up until now, Europe has always been invaded by American artists. Very rarely did we see any dance music artist make any real lasting impression in the States. But now, it seems there has been a complete turnaround. European artists are having a huge impact on the dance music scene internationally. It is really interesting and exciting to see the States become very receptive to the electro sound, even if it does seems to be solely based on Swedish House Mafia’s sound at the moment. Of course we hope that they will become more interested in a wider range of house music – artistically we wouldn’t want stray too far from our roots. But at the moment we can’t say how long it will last but we are happy that there is now a lot of business and opportunities for us over there.
Your remix work includes prolific pop acts such as The Wanted, Whitney Houston and James Blunt – due, in part, to the acceptance and rise popularity of dance music worldwide. How do you find remixing these tracks that weren’t necessarily destined for club treatment? Is it a challenge?
Yes of course. It is very challenging because of just how different the tracks are. In fact we often have to do a completely new production if we want the end result to be a proper club track. It often means stripping the tracks down to their bare bones, keeping just a few of the original elements, mainly the vocals. We’re really proud of the work we did on Whitney’s track. A great voice like that is a gift to work with! And also the remix we did for Louie Vega’s and Julie McKnight’s ‘Diamond Life’ is really special for us. Even if these tracks weren’t destined for club treatment they are part of our history and we love doing them. Ultimately we make sure we like all of the work we do.
You were residents at Fuck Me I’m Famous this year – what’s special about playing Pacha, and specifically, David’s FMIF night.
There was the amazing new DJ booth at Pacha this year and so we all found it fantastic to play there. The club has such a great atmosphere and history that we feel privileged to have had a residency there. We are even more proud to have been residents at David’s night because he is one of our all time DJ heroes. He has done so much to help our career which meant that every single night was special. We have had such a great time!
P.I.M.P. is the name of the track you created for Azuli. Was this an idea Daddy’s Groove were already working on or did you start from the beginning? How would you describe it?
No we weren’t already working on this –We started from the beginning, and to be honest, it was really easy to create because we did it throughout August during our summer tour at a time when we were surrounded by sources of inspiration! We would describe it in much the same way Beatport does: ‘a cut that builds you to the highest heights of euphoria, then throws you in a washing machine full of razor blades to finish you off!’
How does it work in the studio? Do you rely on experimentation? Do any of you have any specific musical talents you bring to the group?
It’s interesting really. Despite what some people may think, being a trio is really helpful in the studio. We all have different musical tastes which we think complement each other which makes it fun to experiment with. And it’s a balancing act really. Depending on the track we are working on at that moment determines whose style has the most influence on its production. And we always have some stuff ready to be developed according to what we are working on.
How has the close affinity with David Guetta come about? What do you feel each side brings to the collaboration?
Our partnership with David began over two years ago now when we first received a phone call from him. He really liked what we had been working on with Axtone Records and was really feeling some of our remixes so he said “ok guys let’s do something together!” And the rest is history! We learn so much from him day to day. He is such an iconic figure with so much experience and we feel very lucky to be able to learn from him on both an artistic and business level. And, from our side, we give aim to deliver the best quality we possibly can when working on his productions and playing at his nights
You’re playing Nicky Romero’s ADE party at Jimmy Woo – tell us 5 massive records for ADE?
Calvin Harris & Nicky Romero – Iron
Daddy’s Groove – P.I.M.P.
Swedish House Mafia – Don’t You Worry Child
David Guetta & Daddy’s Groove ft. Nervo – In My Head
Daddy’s Groove – Stellar
How important in the business end of the conference for you considering you run a label, what will your main aims be whilst you are there?
ADE is the most important conference in our industry at the moment. Everyone who’s anyone in the dance music world will be there and so it’s really important that we get expert feedback on any new developments in the scene as well as insight into what is working and what isn’t. We have a lot of meetings scheduled there where we hope to get some feedback on our new material.
How is the clubbing scene in your native Naples?
As always it’s really good! There is so much raw talent there that the scene is constantly evolving and this is really exciting for us. We were lucky having Angels of Love bringing down the best DJs in the world, it has been a great inspiration and it’s also good to do some promotion.
1 Starkillers - Azuli Ibiza ’12 mixed by Starkillers Bonus Mix 1 2 Starkillers - Azuli Ibiza ’12 mixed by Starkillers Bonus Mix 2 3 Nadia Ali, Starkillers & Alex Kenji - Pressure (Alesso Extended Remix) 4 Dada Life - Happy Violence (Swanky Tunes Remix) 5 Tommy Trash - Cascade (Original Mix) 6 Starkillers featuring Natalie Peris - Shut It Down 7 Alesso - Raise Your Head 8 Dragonette - Let It Go (Laidback Luke Remix) 9 Sidney Samson - Get Low (Original Mix) 10 Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano - Lethal Industry (Original Mix) 11 Third Party vs. Cicada Feel 12 Juan Kidd & Felix Baumgartner featuring Lisa Millett - Now You’re Gone (Starkillers & Dmitry KO Remix) 13 Nari & Milani - Atom 14 Starkillers & Nadia Ali - Keep It Coming (Starkillers & Richard Beynon Epic Mix) 15 Starkillers & Dmitry KO - Do U Love (Original Mix) 16 M-3ox featuring Heidrun - Beating Of My Heart (Matisse & Sadko Remix) 17 Chris Kaeser featuring Redd Nose & Max’C - She’s Playing On U ! (Sven Kirchhof Remix) 18 Robbie Rivera, Tommy Lee, Sue Cho & DJ Aero - Ding Dong (BASSJACKERS Remix) 19 Richard Beynon Close To You (Starkillers Butterfly Terrace Mix) 20 Pascal & Pearce Featuring Juliet Harding - Disco Sun (Starkillers Mix) 21 Melleefresh N’ Dirty 30 - Beautiful, Rich & Horny (Starkillers Butterfly Terrace Vocal Mix) 22 Olav Basoski - The Rain (Starkillers Remix Edit) 23 Doman & Gooding - Hit Me With The Lights (Ton!c Remix) 24 Andrew Bennett - Cocoon (Original Mix) 25 Dmitry KO - I NEED THAT (Original Mix) 26 Angger Dimas & Bassjackers - RIA 27 Starkillers & Dmitry KO - Light It Up (Original Mix) 28 Starkillers & Dmitry KO - Don’t Hold Back (Original Mix) 29 Seamus Haji & Nelski - Hey Boy, Hey Girl (Original Mix) 30 Paul Thomas & Alex Di Stefano - Shining (Michael Woods Re-Edit) 31 Dmitry KO & Richard Dinsdale - Aviator (Original Mix) 32 Cryogenix - We Rock (Daddy’s Groove Re-Beats) 33 Firebeatz - Miniman (Original Mix)