As long as we’ve had sound recordings, we’ve had summer jams. Some say there’s a science to it, a formula for crafting the perfect summer anthem. It must be “infectious, uptempo and a little bit different,” iHeartMedia’s ‘programming guru’ Tom Poleman told Billboard.
Well, not for us. As far as we’re concerned all it takes for a song to be significant, is to be, well, significant. It has to mean something, to signify a time and a vibe. You heard it at all the right moments, all the best times – and now it takes you back.
We spent the summer traveling, dancing, DJing and taking notes, from Brooklyn to Berlin, Ibiza to Mexico City and every dancefloor in between – under stars, open airs, warehouses, clubs, beaches and basements – we were there, from Sonar to EDC.
We got our crew together – with some outside help from a few heroes like Alan Fitzpatrick, Noir, Dave DK and the like – and gathered our collective top 15 tracks of summer 2015. These are the cuts that DJs couldn’t stop playing this season – everything from techno stompers and ecstasy-inspired pool jams to beefed up edits of house classics.
We first heard these chirpy synths during Jamie xx’s set at Sonar in Barcelona, where “Just” struck the perfect chord, becoming one of the week’s definite anthems. We’ve since heard “Just” everywhere, championed by Jamie xx at Glastonbury, Sasha in Ibiza and Fehrplay at Verboten in New York, thanks to one of the year’s catchiest melodies and just the right dash of rave nostalgia.
A record for stepping poolside, if there ever was one. Harvey Sutherland’s debut on MCDE Recordings is another welcome slice of the Melbourne man’s trademark cosmic boogie; a sparkling tune you’ll want to jump into and splash around in. Tensnake, Hunee and the venerable duo of Joy Orbison and Ben UFO have been playing it out, and you should too.
We caught a glow from the celestial pads and pulsing bass of Pampa boss DJ Koze’s latest dose of future euphoria, “XTC,” when we first heard Jackmaster break it out during a killer B2B set with Gerd Janson at Resident Advisor’s off-Sonar party in Barcelona, and we’ve subsequently heard it everywhere since.
“The dry vocals are fitting with the uplifting summer touch. I could feel the people packing the dancefloor, just ready for their nighttime journey,” Dave DK told us, after playing it at Kompakt’s off-Sonar night at Nitsa. “Two days later, Michael [Mayer] played it once again at the DGTL KOMPAKT Open Air, proving once more its magnificent impact.” No argument here.
Seems like a lot of people had euphoria on the mind this summer. Paul Woolford’s “MDMA” offers up a decidedly more straight-ahead take on the subject, delivering a piano-powered summer hit that was audibly enjoyed by everyone from Pete Tong and Annie Mac to Joseph Capriati and Adam Beyer.
“I’ve been genuinely excited about this track since Wooly put a clip on his SoundCloud a few months ago,” UK techno legend Alan Fitzpatrick told us, after playing the track at the Hotflush off-Sonar party. “There is always something unique about a Paul Woolford track, and I think this way he captures an ‘old school’ feel with this track is to be admired. That’s actually something that is a lot harder to achieve as a producer than you might think.”
“What’s a Girl to Do” was originally released back in 2004 by Dutch DJ and producer Bas Bron under his Fatima Yamaha alias, and has built up a mystical rep ever since. DJ Haus dropped his 4/4 edit of the “Glasgow classic” at the Clone showcase at Moog during off-Sonar and it opened up the floor, remaining one of our favorite tracks of the year – both the OG and edit – which we’ve heard everyone from Catz ‘N Dogz to George Fitzgerald playing out since.
DC label Future Times made our summer, thanks to this blissed-out record by Jack J. Its laidback groove shimmers and lilts like a cool breeze, getting rinsed by everyone this summer, from Fred Everything and Junktion to Kraak & Smaak. The perfect choice for day parties on the beach or balmy nights on the roof.
When “Acamar” first started swelling onto dancefloors, it was very clearly an Innervisions cut – or at least a diligent imitation. After months of defying Shazam in Dixon sets, Frankey & Sandrino’s handiwork had its release in June, setting it up for a summer of caning. In sets from Jamie xx, Adriatique and others outside the Innervisions family, “Acamar” was a dependable injection of drama.
The Hotflush label mastermind released his fourth full-length album Claustrophobia back in March, featuring standout cuts like the pulsing “Why You Feel So Low” and the ominously titled “All I Think About Is Death.” The one we heard most though, popping up in sets by everyone from Laidback Luke to Anthony Parasole, from Weather Festival in Paris, to the platter at our own office in Berlin, was Scuba’s grooving stormer “PCP,” an undeniable big room techno ripper.
“Just released, and already thoroughly caned. A slammer for sure,” our resident disco whiz Travis Kirschbaum – aka TK Disko of Split Secs – told us earlier this summer, when we asked him what he’s been playing out. Heard everywhere since, from TK’s Machine Limited warehouse party in LA to UK’s Farr Festival, where W&O had their own stage, this acid jam hit hard this summer, the world over.
This one’s from last December, but that hasn’t stopped it from being on of our summer favorites. Four Tet played it at Dekmantel, Sasha’s caned this typically jazzy, late night vibe journey at various parties in Ibiza – we even heard it as far back as Guy Gerber’s Rumors party at BPM festival in Mexico back in January. We’ve just heard that the UK producer’s long-awaited debut LP will be in stores November 6 – we can’t wait.
Danny Daze’s Detroit-inspired single on Ultramajic, “Ready2Go,” was another track we heard out this summer, beginning at Sonar, and thoroughly rinsed by everyone from Danish boss Noir and Pleasurekraft, to Daze himself – and of course it’s getting play in Ibiza.
“It’s a record that stands out and really doesn’t sound like all the rest,” Noir told us earlier this year. “I think it will be a grower over the summer, and many DJs will pick it up and start playing it. Instant reactions and great summer vibes, when that melody hits the dancefloor.”
Here’s another track from Scuba’s Claustrophobia album, given the remix treatment by Berghain legend Len Faki, and turned into a something far darker; a menacing, coil perfectly suited for that black techno temple from which it no doubt sprung. First heard on Scuba’s Essential Mix back in May, if you can believe that, and since heard everywhere from Concrete in Paris to Output in NY.
Roman Flügel’s majestic remix of Fort Romeau’s single “Insides” is one of those tracks that you wait for in a set, when you know things are really taking off. Perfectly exaultant and restrained, we still remember hearing this rising synth line during Dixon’s Boiler Room during Sonar – it felt like it was made for the moment.
There’s something about the murky thud of bass in the opening minute of “I Wanna Go Bang” that demands attention. Then those ominous vocals start spiraling to the surface and its hooks are in. This slab of warehouse techno from Icelandic producer Bjarki made a strong impression in the sets of трип boss Nina Kraviz, and before long everyone was playing it. Thoroughly rinsed at Dutch techno massive Awakenings, “I Wanna Go Bang” has been a summer touchstone in the sets of everyone from Dave Clarke to Maceo Plex.
It was no surprise to hear Dixon air &Me’s “Woods” in his Boiler Room session from Barcelona – it’s exactly the kind of slow-building, tension-filled record that defines his DJ sets. While the originality of “Woods” has been called into question, it hasn’t stopped those distinctive arpeggios turning up in the sets of Âme, Solomun and other Diynamic affiliates. &Me is one of the star players in Berlin’s Keinemusik collective, so we don’t think he’s done making summer anthems either.