Alongside curating an Essential Mix, being asked to produce a mix for the DJ-Kicks series on prestigious label !K7 is a clear indicator that you are at the top of your game, that you've 'made it' and that as a DJ and a producer you're worth your salt.
Seth Troxler has a reputation as both a musician and a personality. Often, the music press lets his personality take centre stage to the detriment of the appreciation of his music. In a scene that lacks notable poster boys and girls, Troxler fulfils the role of controversial, eccentric trendsetter. Full of divisive notions about authenticity, Troxler appears to be a willing ambassador of the underground scene. But by putting himself in the spotlight, he has left it to others to give a fair representation of his personality.
It makes sense, then, that Seth's aim in his DJ-Kicks mix is to give a true representation of himself and his fervent eclecticism. Dare I say it; you might view this compilation as an attempt by Troxler to exhibit his serious side: "I think people get caught up in the image of the jokes I make and they forget that actually listening to me play, or the music that I collect is actually pretty far out there", he's said.
Far out indeed. On this mix, Troxler dispels his association with run-off-the-mill tech house in favour of roots Detroit, Chicago and minimal house. Troxler grew up between Detroit and Chicago and unlike some Detroit-based artists who tend towards exclusivity; he's an outspoken promoter of dance music's history of inclusivity. The mix really encapsulates that idea. It spans many genres, incorporating jazz from Sun Ra, piano-led avant-garde from cult figure Herbert and more dance orientated cuts from Tom Trago and Ricardo Villalobos.
The mix functions much like one of Troxler's DJ sets. It perfectly captures the propulsive nature of his performance and the way his selections border on the experimental without putting off the casual listener. In fact, this balance between populism and exclusivity may be the reason that Troxler has become so popular over the years.
The issue with this tactic is that, while the mix gains and maintains a slick momentum, it contains no moments of genuine emotional climax. Troxler's DJ-Kicks is firmly focused on the functional, funky brand of electronic music that fulfils dance music's original premise – to make people dance.
Seth Troxler's DJ Kicks is nothing groundbreaking but it a clear indication of why he remains so popular: experimental enough to remain educational, technical enough to remain exciting and honest enough to let his personality shine through in his music.
Words: Alex Green
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