To say that Dave Seaman knows a thing or two about programming a DJ set would be a considerable understatement.
The pioneering British DJ-producer's had over two decades to hone his craft at countless arenas around the globe. He's also behind a hefty catalog of mix compilation albums, including several installments for the prestigious Global Underground and Renaissance series.
So what what makes a master class selector like Seaman tick? "Obviously I'm looking for well-produced music -- it must be of a certain quality," he tells Crossfade. "But apart from that, there are no hard and fast rules."
"I'm just looking for something that makes a dance floor move or that gets a reaction. It may be a particular synth melody, or a vocal, or the way the bass kicks in. Anything really as long as it catches my ear. I always think if it catches my ear then it's likely it will do the same on the dance floor."
Of course, these days, DJs have to dig harder and deeper than ever for the gold in an oversaturated digital music market.
"There's new music arriving literally by the thousands on a weekly basis, which is a double-edged sword," says Seaman. "It only takes a handful of exciting new tracks to get me pumped for the weekend -- but then on the opposite side of the coin, if I go through hundreds of new tracks and don't find anything inspiring, it can leave you feeling negative. I just try to keep going until I find the really good stuff."
Now there's the good stuff and then there's the good stuff -- the timeless classic gems which the best DJs keep in their arsenal of dance floor weapons. So when we asked a veteran like Mr. Seaman to name his top ten all-time essential weapons ahead of Saturday's headlining performance at Vagabond, it's no surprise we got a rundown of some major milestones in electronic dance music history.
10. M/A/R/R/S's "Pump Up The Volume"
"When this was released in 1987, it felt like the world changed. A record from outer space. The birth of the DJ revolution in the UK. From here on in, DJs were never looked at in the same way again."
9. Aphex Twin's "Windowlicker"
"Mind-bending music sent from the future to addle our minds and corrupt our children. And an amazing video to boot from Christopher Cunningham. What more could you want? Richard James is a genius."
8. Chemical Brothers' "Star Guitar"
"There's quite a few Chems' tracks I could have chosen, but this is the one I still play regularly at my gigs today. Feel what I feel. Take what I take."
7. Joe Smooth's "Promised Land"
"Lyrically as poignant today as it was back in 1988. The official hymn of the acid house dream laid down on vinyl. The sentiment still remains: brothers, sisters, take me to the promised land."
6. Donna Summer's "I Feel Love"
"The track that really started it all. And 36 years later, it can still whip a dance floor into a frenzy. That bassline. That arrangement. Truly groundbreaking stuff from Giorgio Moroder."
5. Leftfield's "Not Forgotten"
"No all-time classic top ten is complete without a Leftfield track, and my favorite varies from time to time. At the moment. I'm plumping for their debut breakout track which still sounds as relevant today as it ever did."
4. Kenny "Jammin" Jason & Fast Eddie Smith's "Can U Dance"
"Another of my all time favorites from those magical halcyon days of the early acid house movement that still sounds as fearsome now as the day it was made. So much of that early Chicago house sound is sounding as fresh as ever. We really have come full circle."
3. Massive Attack's "Unfinished Sympathy"
"The most beautiful, emotive piece of music ever to come out of our beloved scene. Will Malone's string arrangement is the stuff of legend. This should be in everyone's top 10."
2. New Order's "Blue Monday"
"Produced by the legendary Arthur Baker, this was the track that really turned me on to dance music pre-acid house. Incredible to believe it's now 30 years old. A stone-cold classic by anyone's reckoning and a guaranteed floor filler for any generation."
1. The Night Writers' "Let the Music Use You"
"I had the pleasure of hearing Frankie Knuckles play this at The World on the Lower East Side of New York in 1988, just as this was released, and it was one of the most magical experiences I've ever had on a dance floor. A spiritual feeling that has stayed with me forever. The moment the penny dropped."
Dave Seaman. Presented by Analog. Saturday, February 22. Vagabond, 30 NE 14th St., Miami. The party starts at 10 p.m. Call
305-379-0508 or visit thevagabondmiami.com.
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