Photo Credit Mike Victorick
Our recent series of features, discussing the state of the tech house scene, have picked up a lot of attention and created a lot of discussion.
The first asked the question 'Are we in the last days of tech house?' and, in the second, electronic legend DJ T. provided a stunningly detailed insight into the sound from its origins to the present day. To round off this collection, we wanted to end on a positive and celebrate the best of the genre. We went back to T. and asked him to dig into his record box and pull out his definitive tech house classics. Turn off your phone, make a coffee and prepare to get an education.
Morel - Let’s Groove (1993, Strictly Rhythm)
Whilst putting this list together, I spent a lot of time wondering 'What is the first tech house track I ever recall?' I finally decided for ‘Let’s Groove,’ first released in 1993 on Strictly Rhythm as part of the ‘Morel’s Grooves Part 4 EP.’ Seen from the perspective of the early 90s, this was not deep house anymore. It was way ahead of its time and anticipated a way of programming beats and bass line in such away that still defines tech house today. Probably the best instrumental house track of the 90s.
Ian Pooley - Chord Memory (Daft Punk Remix) (1996, Force Inc. Music Works)
It was no easy decision choosing to include Daft Punk’s remix for ‘Chord Memory’ over their breakthrough hit ‘Da Funk.’ I decided on the first because it pays credit to Ian Pooley being one of the longest active house artists in the history of the genre. That banging sort of filtered disco house was a genre that the French duo invented and saw the whole world become infatuated with.
The Persuader / Jesper Dahlbäck - What Is The Time, Mr. Templar? (Svek, 1997)
Probably one of the most dropped 90s classics. Everybody who went clubbing in the late 90s knows the track. It was played by DJs from almost all categories; techno, deep house you name it. Somehow even now every new generation of DJ is rediscovering this gem and using its magic to enchant the dance floors.
Steve Bug - Loverboy (1999, Pokerflat)
The years around 1999-2002 saw Steve Bug becoming one of the most relevant German producers. His label Pokerflat, (one of the longest operating labels in electronic music), started with a big bang with its debut release ‘Loverboy.’ There is also a fantastic version from DJ Koze who did a mashed up version combined with ‘Tausend Tränen Tief’ from the German pop band Blumfeld.
Blaze - My Beat (Derrick Carter’s Disco Circus Mix) (2001, 3Way Music)
Derrick Carter is a titan of house music. Around 1999 – 2000 he was releasing on his own label ‘Classic’ and the sound was a revelation. With his minimal bumping grooves, Derrick Carter had invented his own fingerprint of Chicago house. This ultimately was the next step of evolution that brought the genre into the new millennial.
DJ Buck - Make It Hot (Dub) (2001, Siesta)
I chose this track as a representative of a genre known once as West Coast house. Countless producers, DJs and labels, the majority of which were based in San Diego, San Francisco and Los Angeles were synonymous with this sound in the first half of the 2000s. DJ Buck’s own dub version of ‘Make It Hot’ is minimal, dubby and mysterious, perfect for an after hour vibe.
Green Velvet - Lalaland (2002, Relief)
A track full of superlatives. Produced by one of the most outstanding artists on the electronic circuit. With one of the funkiest bass lines and most hilarious lyrics you will ever hear.
Phil Weeks - Hypnose (2002, Robsoul)
For me the penny dropped that tech house had finally become its own genre at the beginning of the noughties. This was a time when French producers and their labels brought their super funky, minimal, hip-hop soaked house into the game. tech house could no longer be confused with deep house or techno. ‘Hypnose’ was a key sound from the french house scene.
DJ Linus - Who Stole The Soul (Phil Weeks & David Duriez Mix) (2002, Brique Rouge Traxx)
DJ Linus can look back to a career that started in the early 90s, being one of the key players and producers in his hometown Munich. He first received international recognition through his productions around the late 90s and early 00s. ‘Who Stole the Soul’ was released first on his own label Exun and then later got rereleased on David Duriez’ label Brique Rouge. The latter teamed up with his homie Phil Weeks for the most successful version of the track. I will never forget the reaction of the crowd when I played it at my first Panorama Bar set.
Ferrer & Sydenham - Timbuktu (Pan-African Electro Dub) (2004, Ibadan)
Some would argue this track would fit better under techno or progressive house than tech house, however I think it deserves to be in this list. Released on Ibadan in 2004, it became a huge hit played by DJs across the house and techno spectrum. The ululation that comes in at 2:28 is one of the most recognizable and uplifting vocals in big room house ever.
Blake Baxter & Abe Duque - Disco Nights (2006, Abe Duque Records)
My two favorite house vocalists are Mike Dunn from Chicago and Blake Baxter from Detroit. The latter gave these catchy lyrics ("Let your body free, c’mon”) to this timeless classic. Whenever I play this track and take a look in the crowd, I see countless people really digging it. I watch them getting down with bright smiling faces, with this expression in their eyes, that seems to say: “Fuck, thank you for digging out this track, I haven’t heard it in such a long time”.
Johnny D - Manipulation (2007, Oslo)
This is my favourite track from the Mannheim based Johnny D - as well as the Frankfurt label Oslo - that was operating between 2007 and 2015. ‘Manipulation’ is actually a bit untypical of the style of the label and Johnny D. The latter became mainly known for his deep, minimal, looped house while the percussion monster ‘Manipulation’ was a bit more of a technoish, hard bouncing house cut.
&Me - Bleed (2009, Souvenir)
In terms of style this track doesn’t really represent what &Me musically is known for in the first place. The Berlin artist from the Keinemusik collective has definitely been closer to minimal techno than to house in the past years, but ‘Bleed’, released in 2009 on Tiefschwarz’ Souvenir label is warm grooving Ibiza terrace (tech) house as its best.
Seth Troxler - Hurt feat. Mathew Dear (2009, Spectral Sound)
Suddenly the name on everybody’s lips: Seth Troxler. That was around 2008/9 after the ‘Panic, Stop, Repeat EP’ was released with the cover showing a young Seth with his face coloured in pink. This seemed to me like the breakthrough moment for his international career. The sexiness of his voice and his entertaining personality became two driving forces for his image. I must also applaud him, as he is one of the very rare big name DJs that is holding up the flag of classic house and disco. He still dares to play super deep and diverse DJ sets in front of big crowds. ‘Hurt’ was a defining track for contemporary minimal tech house.
Green Velvet - Flash (Jamie Jones Remix) (2010, Relief)
‘Camera’s ready, prepare the flash’ is another of these hyper-recognisable vocal lines from the Chicago-born artist Curtis Jones aka Cajmere aka Green Velvet. I could have easily chosen at least five other productions from the genius producer and remixer Jamie Jones, but I guess this one is my favourite. As a remixer whenever he is touching big tracks, he never fails to deliver original and efficient remixes. This remix I like even more than the unforgotten original.
Loco Dice - Definition (Nic Fanciulli Remix) (2010, Whitelabel)
Loco Dice original and Nic Fanciulli’s remix are both tracks that defined modern Tech House. Nic Fanciulli’s monster remix originally only circulated as a file amongst a core of DJs before it was released as a white label on vinyl. One year later it got first released digitally on Toolroom.
Nikola Gala - Dope Beat (2011, Rekids)
Nikola Gala is one of my favourite Greek producers, underrated in my eyes. The period of his work I enjoy the most was around 5-7 years ago. He was releasing timeless and unpretentious cuts, from more techno-orientated styles to deeper sounds across labels like Rekids, Claap and Clap Your Hands. ‘Dope Beat’ is just one simple dirty groove and some very sparsely inserted aha moments.
Hot Since 82 - Like You (2012, Get Physical)
In my eyes Hot Since 82’s best track ever and one of the best tracks of 2012. Killer bass line. This track doesn’t need much explanation it talks for itself.
The Martinez Brothers - H 2 Da Izzo (2012, Real Tone Records)
Two brothers raised in the Bronx. They have the looks, the style and the musical heritage of their father. When I came across their story and their first few EPs on Dennis Ferrer’s label Objectivity around 7-8 years ago, I knew they had a big future ahead of them. Interestingly their output remained comparably small to other big names in Tech House, so it must be a combination of their DJ skills and their charisma that bought them their fame. H 2 Da Izzo is just one endless monster groove and repetition of a sexy vocal.
Mr. G - Dark Thoughts? (The Afterworld) (2012, Rekids)
I have no favourite track from Mr. G. There are round 30 tracks that I love equally for the same reasons. ‘Less is more’ is a quote that expresses the secret behind the magic of his productions. They are reduced to a necessary minimum. Each element is extremely on point. Sometimes, after minutes, he finally lets the ride come in and this skill makes you want to scream and jump. This track was off the album ‘State of flux’, released on Rekids.
Catz ’n Dogz - They Frontin (2012, Get Physical)
The ingredients for a perfect club tool seem so simple: A stomping groove, vocals with Hip Hop attitude and a hypnotic rave signal. But it has rarely come together in such a tasteful and sexy way like in this track from Catz N Dogs that was released on Get Physical in 2012. One of the best tech house tracks of the decade.
Luna City Express - Magic Bazar (2013, Moon Harbour)
This is one of the best tracks ever released on Matthias Tanzmann’s label Moon Harbour. It has everything a good tech house track needs, a haunting vocal, banging beats and a tasteful, deep musical theme that sticks in the ear.
Joeski - This Is Acid (2015, Glasgow Underground)
When Joeski came out with two EPs on Suara I was sat wondering, “is this the Joeski that I know? The one from the early noughties with productions on labels like Maya, Tango and Siesta?” To this day I am wondering what was going on with him between 2008 and 2013. These were 6 years with no output from him. All the more successful his comeback has been since 2014. ‘This Is Acid’ is my number one track from him and one of the best modern Acid house tracks of the past 20 years.
Cozzy D - Rubb & Chugg (2016, Lower East)
This track has been one of my most played since it came out on Lower East in 2016. Cozzy D. is an interesting artist that draws influences from early rave music, disco, electro and classic house. The contrast of the two completely different vocal lines in the track is awesome.
Audiojack - Event Horizon (2016, Gruuv)
Another constant in my sets. I often open my sets with this track if the guy before me has been playing too fast, nervous or commercial for my taste. With its deepness and darkness and its haunting vocal and catchy sequence it takes the crowd in a new direction and creates the right atmosphere immediately.