The overwhelming popularity of electronic dance music continued its exponential growth over the last 12 months, both nationwide and here in the Valley of the Sun. Beats were bumping nearly nonstop across the local music landscape in 2012 as new dance clubs (such as the Monarch Theatre and EPIQ) debuted in grand fashion and Phoenix DJs and EDM producers got love via the blogosphere and worked big-time gigs across the globe.
We've spent plenty of the past year listening to the efforts of local turntable fiends and producers and have compiled a rundown of a dozen of our favorite tracks and mixes that grabbed our attention.
See also: - Top 10 Phoenix Albums of 2012 - Top 10 Reissues and Compilations of 2012 - Jason Woodbury's 10 Best Things I Heard in 2012 - Top 20 Phoenix Concerts of 2012 - Top 12 Biggest Musical Letdowns of 2012
DJ Kyko: "Releasing The Sound Waves, Vol.1" If you've hit up either the Monarch on a Friday night or the neighboring Sky Lounge during a typical Sabado gigante, no doubt you witnessed Miguel "Kyko" Morales blending hot Latin dance tracks with aplomb for crowds of hundreds who jam into either Washington Street club. Thing is, he's also pretty adroit at transforming uptempo elements of house and electro into enthralling, ass-shaking pastiches, as evidenced by his newest mix. It offers all the hallmarks of an epic orgy of electro, from jags of screaming sirens, heart-pounding four-on-the-floor rhythms, and tight remixes of big hits (ranging from Calvin Harris' "Sweet Nothing" to Dada Life's "So Young So High.")
Juheun, "Zebrah" Although most local selectors or producers are content with being known by only one nickname or alter ego, Scottsdale club scene veteran Steven Chung possess two distinct monikers, each of which rocks a completely different sound. While the 32-year-old has spent most of his DJ career performing as high-energy house guru Tranzit, in recent years he's also performed as the brooding beat-juggler Juheun. As "Zebrah" demonstrates, the mood is much more murky and subdued as Juheun favors darker and more minimal ingredients suffused into tech-house hooks and tribal bumps.
Edward Navarro, "Rebel Disco Podcast #001" As we documented in a recent DJ Dossier that focused on Rebel Disco, the mission of the six-member dance music cabal is "having fun playing music for party people." And those sounds include plenty of disco, house music, acid, and techno, which are the exact same genres permeating this 72-minute mix by the collective's Edward Navarro, who dipped into his ample music collection to create pure audio intoxication that's guaranteed to get rumps shaking or heads bobbing.
Prince$$, "TH3 F1R$T" As his DJ alter ego Prince$$ (pronounced "Prince Money Money"), artist Thomy Hoefer assembled this epic, 59-minute selection of electro-house hits, club banger blockbusters, and dubstep-laced tracks that hits your ears with relentless waves of dance floor favorites like Tonite Only's "We Run the Night," Zedd's "Slam the Door," Hardwell's "Spaceman," and the Knife Party/ Swedish House Mafia collaboration "Antitode."
Mastamonk: Afrojack, "Rock the House" Scottsdale remix king Anthony "Mastamonk" Biggers says he put a helluva lotta work into his stellar reworking of the Dutch producer's bombastic banger "Rock the House," which he dropped over the summer. "Almost every single instrument and noise in that [track] was played or programmed by me," he says. That includes a "whole new feel" by taking the drops and amping 'em up ("The drop is where it all counts on these type of tracks and you cant come up short") and blending in dollops of trap, the current EDM flavor of the moment. The result: An addictive track that Biggers claims has gotten a huge response online.
Turner & Heit, "Block Mix" A word of warning: The house music laid down by Thomas Turner and Timothy Heit isn't necessarily for everyone. Like, if you're a typically ADD-ridden club kid who impatiently expects the DJ to bump a new song into the mix every minute, that just ain't Turner and Heit's bag. Instead, they craft epic and sophisticated soundscapes by expertly blending together just the right amount of house, electro, and trance tracks with mixing wizardry and beat-matching prowess. For instance, the stuff that's packed into this ear-pleasingly dope downtempo joint the duo debuted in April.
HavocNdeeD, "Exclusive for Mixify" While the producer duo of Phoenix's Jared "J.Paul" Jackson and Sin City's OB-one cut their teeth with ultra-heavy dubstep/glitch material before switching things up to a more pop-laced electronica sound this year (and bringing aboard vocalist Skaught Parry) on their Distoria EP , this 41-minute creation made for EDM site Mixify isn't limited to those genres. As you'll hear, J.Paul and OB-one fold in heaping helpings of hip-hop, reggae, metal, and even some IDM, as well as the work of the Valley's legendary Z-Trip.
LuJan, "Summer Sessions" Many a local DJ jammed out special seasonal mixes once temperatures started rising around the Metro Phoenix area and pool parties became an almost daily occurrence. Few, however, were as spectacular as this 78-minute stunner by Wild Knight's DJ LuJan. Much like during his weekly residency at the club's Sound Kitchen, the house music maestro serves up dance floor epics with his signature flourishes, including Armin Van Buuren's "We Are Here to Make Some Noise," Simon Patterson's "Northern Lights," and Gareth Emery, "The Saga."
Mark "Ellery" Leach, "Juke Beast" One of EDM albums that definitely got some heavy rotation this past year was the critically lauded local moombahton comp AZ Gunslingaz: Volume 1. In addition to phenomenal work by the likes of Pickster One and Frank Mendez was this juke hybrid from LayLow czar Mark "Ellery" Leach, which weaved brain-bending beats with relentless rhythms and clips of DJ Kool from the Beastie Boys hit "The New Style" into two minutes and 46 seconds of pure audio dynamite.
Bigie MeanMugg, "Illuminati Shawty" When he hasn't been busy taking care of his infant daughter or working different gigs at both Bar Smith and The Monarch Theatre - including Friday's Foul Play and Saturday's Solstice affair - Bigie (known to his mama and papa as Shaun Cheney) put together this electro-infused "New World Order mix." Besides containing a wealth of hip-hop joints, rock anthems, and old school hits, it also features a few jams by Valley expats like Silver Medallion and DJ Fashen.
Riot Earp & DJ Melo, "Carnavalito" If there was one genre that really blossomed in the Valley scene in 2012, it was moombahton. While the dembow-heavy dance musical style was seemingly coming out of sound systems from Tempe to Tolleson, two of the more talented practitioners of the Latin-inspired hybrid of house and reggaeton was Erik "Riot Earp" King and Jorge Melo, both of whom contributed to the aforementioned AZ Gunslingaz comp and collaborated on this bouncing beatfest that was uploaded to Soundcloud back in the spring.
Sluggo, "Engineered to Destroy" Speaking of things that blew up big this past year in Phoenix, the career of Phoenix dubstep producer Nick Suddarth shot into the stratosphere over the last 12 months. He not only got to open for Korn during the West Coast portion of its "Path of Totality" Tour, where the nu-metal band showed of its recent flirtation with the bass-heavy genre, but he also teamed with frontman Jonathan Davis on this EDM collaborative KILLBOT.
In between all this (as well as dabblings with local moombahton label El Cuco Recordings and East Coast brostepper Nerd Rage), Suddarth also crunched out plenty of his signature, gore-filled audio assaults, including this two-minute face-melter that boasts murderous grinds and demonic-sounding vocals.
Pickster One: "Pickster Live at Electric Kingdom" The mixer mensch known as Pickster One must either have an inexhaustible supply of those five-hour energy shots or has learned the art of sleeping with his eyes open while working the record decks. Por que? It's because the prominent local turntable wizard seemingly works hundreds of gigs across the Valley, crafts dozens of top-shelf solo mixes and epic collaborations, tours the world, and maintains a semi-regular residency at Thursday night hip-hop fest The Blunt Club.
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And somehow Pickster's talents never get spread too thin as he brings it every time, which you can hear for yourself in this recording of his performance at last month's Electric Kingdom at Flagstaff's Green Room. Close to 30 different tracks from an exhaustive amount of EDM genres encompass the gig, which is undoubtedly our favorite mix of 2012.