Welcome back Remix Radar. To close out Pride Month, this week I focus on artists that identify as LGBTQI+ and their powerful influence on the genre.
The history and development of dance music have long been tied to marginalized groups, which is often forgotten and ignored by the white straight male-dominated industry that it is today. Without gay clubs and its culture, we would not have dance music. These clubs often served as a place of safety that allowed the freedom of expression for those who were ignored and seemingly unwanted by the mainstream. It was a celebration and a place of beauty, devoid of the castigating gaze of the public. Dance music became their soundtrack to acceptance and the uplifting hope for the future.
Even though we have come a long way to accepting LGBTQI+ and minority groups, there is still work to be done. Take a look at recent festival billings and you’ll notice that dance acts are dominated by white males. It is a shame considering that gay black men helped invent dance music and played a significant role in building it into the cultural force it is. Moving forward, we need to do a better job of elevating the voices of minorities and the marginalized.
This Remix Radar is only a sampling of the many great LGBTQI+ acts. I highly suggest searching for other acts because there are more out there that have incredible music.
Florence + The Machine – Spectrum (Maya Jane Coles Remix)
We begin things with the Queen of Darkness, Maya Jane Coles. Maya first broke into the scene as one half of the duo, She Is Danger and their remixes of Massive Attack and the Gorillaz. Shortly after, she released the What They Say EP on Franck Roger’s label, Real Tone Records, and sent Maya’s career to the stratosphere. The titular track was nothing short of a massive success with it still receiving DJ spins and SiriusXM plays to this day. It was also sampled in the Nicki Minaj collaboration with Drake and Lil Wayne, “Truffle Butter”. Even after a decade, the synth line and beat are still incredibly mesmerizing and creates an icy coolness that makes anyone feel like they could take on the world. After the success of “What They Say”, Maya went on to start her own label (I/AM/ME), win awards, start a second monicker (Nocturnal Sunshine), and release some of the most impressive records in the dance world. Most recently, she released the incendiary remix pack for “Gravity” featuring Ry X and performed on the He She They Pride 2020 stream.
As I went through Maya’s discography to find the right remix to feature, I came to the realization of why I love her work so much. She has a connective sound design throughout her work that comes from the force of the main synth line and its interaction with the beat. They come together to create an avenue of electricity that connects directly with the soul. Take a listen to “What They Say” or “Other Side” or the remix I am about to talk about to understand what I mean.
This brings me to her remix of Florence + The Machine’s “Spectrum”. Maya’s production work is nothing short of amazing and that synth line is enthralling. It combines wonderfully with the power of Florence’s voice to create a timeless dance record. Coincidentally, Florence often waves the Rainbow Pride flag when she performs “Spectrum”.
Slippin Into Darkness Ft. Jessica Griffiths – Lettuce (GRiZ Remix)
Everyone needs funk and soul in their lives. GRiZ brought exactly that to the youthful generations addicted to the electronic that boomed from the fist-pumping EDM era. His music is uplifting, inspiring, and all-around good-natured just like the man behind it. He first burst onto the scene with End of the World Party, which spurred his supporting runs with Bassnectar, Pretty Lights, Gramatik, and Big Gigantic. Soon followed, solo tours, albums, and a clear, unrelenting sound that would build an impressive, ravenous fanbase. In 2017, GRiZ released a beautiful, thought-provoking, and inspiring letter revealing his sexuality where he detailed his struggles and coming to terms with “his secret”. I highly suggest giving it a read as it is well-thought-out and truly inspiring.
In recent years, GRiZ has started 12 Days of Grizmas, an annual event that raise funds and awareness for non-profits doing good in local communities. He’s also continued the release of his inventive Bangers.Zip series and most recently released “Medusa“, a queer anthem intended to lift up the LGBTQIA+ Community. For remix radar, I bring his rambunctious remix of “Lettuce” from Slippin Into Darkness, which is gooey funk electronica in all the right ways.
deadmau5 – Slip (Rezz Remix)
Rezz exploded onto the scene almost half a decade ago. I still remember first hearing her and wondering if she would break out from the SoundCloud and Hypem realm. Next thing you know she’s erupted and is performing at HARD, releasing multiple EPs on Mau5trap, going on a massive sold-out headlining tour, and closing out Coachella’s Sahara Tent. It was quite the rise in a relatively short amount of time. She still continues astounding her fans and newcomers alike with her penchant for dark, metallic sound explorations. While she hasn’t released a new record since April, she’s appeared on several of the live streams that have taken place during the on-going COVID-19 lockdowns.
In lead up to her first HARD appearance, Rezz released her remix of deadmau5’s “Slip”. It’s a great beginning for an act that would soon be one of the most talked about and sought after acts.
Silk City Ft. Dua Lipa – Electricity (The Black Madonna Remix)
The Black Madonna is an inspiring artist who persevered to become a titanic figure of dance music. She rose through the underground scene at an age that a lot of acts are hitting their comfort zone or retiring altogether. She became the first female resident at Smartbar, the monolithic club in Chicago. This spawned the calling of the infamous Panorama Bar at Berghain and soon sent her across the globe playing at the pinnacle of clubs and festivals alike. It’s a testament to the genius behind the decks and her ability to mix together disco, techno, house, and even sprinkle in some DnB for good measure. In 2016, she was the first woman to be named Mixmag’s DJ of the year and landed on the list of top 10 DJ’s in the Resident Advisor poll of the same year.
In addition to her skills as a DJ and artist, she has been a champion of social justice across the globe. She’s been to Rwanda to mentor queer women DJs, she’s fought for prison and bail reform, and she’s worked on countless feminist and LGBQTI+ projects. Her commitment to change and humanitarian efforts is as strong as her desire to music and dance floors across the world.
Recently, she has released quite a few amazing remixes, including Georgia’s “About Work The Dancefloor”, which appeared in a previous Remix Radar. For this edition, I feature her spin on the massive hit from Silk City and Dua Lipa, “Electricity”. The Black Madonna creates an uplifting atmosphere with a little more dubbiness than the original, which has a classic house feel to it.
Pan-Pot – Your Attention (Nicole Moudaber Remix)
Nicole Moudaber is a master of techno and all things dark, metallic, and brooding. When speaking of techno and its scene, she is a name that can’t be forgotten. She first gained notice thanks to Carl Cox’s recognition of her impeccable talent and style. Eventually, she would go on to be one of the most respected and recognized techno acts in the world. She has her own label (MOOD Records), her own award-winning radio show (THE MOOD), and has curated events and festival stages for the likes of EDC.
Nicole is also a proud supporter and proponent of many charitable works. One organization she works with extensively is Lower Eastside Girls Club, an organization that helps disadvantaged young women pursue a career in music.
For Remix Radar, I feature her remix of Pan-Pot’s “Your Attention”. It’s an incredible piece of techno and creates a stirring mood that would energize any club or warehouse party.
Janet Jackson – If (KAYTRANADA Remix)
I wrote about KAYTRANADA for the Black Pride Edition of Remix Radar, which can be read here. To expand further, he has one of the most impressive and creative discographies of any electronic act of the past five years. There’s a timeless feel to his music that leads me to believe he has several more decades of incendiary work and relevancy to come. In 2016, he revealed that he was gay and detailed his struggles of hiding and eventually revealing his sexuality to his family. It’s quite a poignant and intimate look into his life.
For this Remix Radar, I feature his bootleg remix of Janet Jackson’s “If”, which served as a springboard to his career when it went viral back in 2012. It’s quite clear from this bootleg that he had undeniable talent that would soon tell its story.
Jessie Ware – Ooh La La (Honey Dijon Remix)
Honey Dijon is another act that I featured in the Black Pride edition of Remix Radar. As a black trans woman, she is a powerful voice for inclusion and gender rights in the club scene, as well as, in music as a whole. She’s featured several panels to discuss these issues, including Red Bull Music’s Fireside Chat. Her representation in music is truly inspiring and something that should be embrace to help youths and others that struggle with their gender identity, especially as she continues her career.
She just dropped this remix of Jessie Ware’s “Ooh La La” and is a marvelous record full of warmth and uplifting sounds. This one will definitely be a club favorite once we’re back to normal.
OMI – Cheerleader (Felix Jaehn Remix)
As I did my research for this, I was surprised to see Felix Jaehn’s name because I didn’t hear or see anything about him in relation to being an LGBQTI artist. It’s a testament to our current culture that an artist can come out as gay, trans, or bisexual, in Felix’s case, and it doesn’t spark outrage or unnecessary conversations. That’s not to say there’s still work to be done, but it’s nice to see that an artist is shamed for it.
Felix has been a massive force since he first broke onto the scene with “Shine” and then exploded in buzz with “Dance With Me” and “Ain’t Nobody”. But it was his remix of OMI’s “Cheerleader” that sent him to the stars and brought him commercial success. As we stand, his remix has over a billion streams on Spotify and is number #65 most streamed records on the DSP. It’s safe to say it was a global sensation.
Jago – I’m Going To Go (Frankie Knuckles Remix)
There isn’t enough that can be said about Frankie Knuckles. He was one of, if not the original creator of House. He DJ’d across Chicago at mostly gay clubs and was a big proponent of the early years of dance music, which would help spark the revolutionary wave that would see it become the cultural force of current days. To read more about Frankie take a gander at the last Remix Radar where I go more in-depth on his career and influence.
For this edition, I feature his remix of “I’m Going To Go”. It’s a beautiful record that is timeless and stirs the senses with glee. It definitely wouldn’t feel out of place in current DJ mixes.
Honey Dijon Ft. Cakes Da Killa – Catch The Beat (Derrick’s Black Catcher Vocal)
I was unaware of who Derrick Carter is, but after discovering him I am thoroughly happy. Derrick is another act that came from Chicago and helped influence dance music for years to come. He was a part of the 90s wave that is often referred to the second wave of Chicago House. While many of his peers grew in notoriety and worked with pop acts, Derrick stayed in the underground scene and kept a low-profile away from the spotlight. His music firmly entrenched in a darker, deeper house style and has even influenced British ambient techno. Here’s his remix of Honey Dijon’s “Catch The Beat”. A song that many will catch a vibe from.
Isaac Hayes – Can’t Turn Around ( Ron Hardy’s Edit)
Ron Hardy was a legendary act that helped to create and set Chicago House on the map. He’s another artist that I wrote extensively about in my last Remix Radar, which can be read here. I highly suggest reading about his life and giving his music a listen. He has many great tunes and there’s even a recorded set from the famed Music Box. Once you listen to his music, it’s quite obvious how he influenced House and dance music, especially the mixing and blending of sounds and differing genres. Sadly, Ron passed away in 1992 due to an AIDS-related illness.
deadmau5 – fn pig (ov) [Spencer Brown Remix]
While I was finalizing this edition of Remix Radar, I received word that Spencer Brown had come out. He detailed his struggles and pride via Billboard, which can be read here. Spencer has been a standout act with releases on Anjuna and even supporting Avicii on his 2014 True tour. He’s master at constructing emotionally charged records that blend feelings of melancholy and hope, which breathe honest connectivity to those that listen. One of my favorite records of his is his remix of deadmau5’s “fn pig (ov)”. It’s a great example of the emotive texture found in his music.