You'd be hard-pressed to find a more encyclopedic guru of house and techno than Chistopher Milo AKA DJ Three. And it's no surprise, given he's one of the most highly regarded tastemakers on the underground American EDM scene.
The Florida native has been commanding dancefloors since the early '90s, holding down residencies at NYC hotpots like Twilo and Cielo, not to mention regular stints at dance meccas in London, Berlin and Ibiza. Plus, Milo's Hallucination Limited imprint has also been instrumental in pushing quality underground sounds by the likes of Terry Francis, Reverse Commuter, and his own productions as Second-Hand Satellites with Sean Cusick.
Needless to say, when we asked Milo to name ten of his DJ weapons, he came back with nothing short of a crate-digger's manifesto on the legacy of classic house and techno, the state of contemporary EDM, and just how passionate he is about his record collection.
"There's fewer and fewer secrets left in house and techno anymore. So the idea of posting up some of my nearest and dearest has me feeling a little precious, and I still play all of these!" he says. "They're not dated, nostalgic oldies to my ears. But like you've asked for, these are very much a handful of 'weapons' of mine to be played in the magic hours. Yeah, it can be few and far between when I play them, but they're magic every time.
"The timing of this is interesting, because the last year or two, I witnessed nostalgia nearly to a fault around the globe in house and techno. But I also realized how much music I have in my record collection that will likely never be available digitally -- most of the tracks listed here fit that mold.
"I want to be clear that dropping vintage sounds or old records, for me, is not about throwback nostalgia. I mean, dropping a beloved classic now and again is, of course, a wonderful thing to do. But with the type of tracks I've listed here, it's about working them in the middle of the newest and most contemporary music in a way that's symbiotic. That makes it all about the present moment at hand."
1. Master C&J's "Dub Love"/"When You Hold Me"
The YouTube quality was pretty bad for "Dub Love." So here's the flip-side's "When You Hold Me," which is simply another live take with all the same elements. This is absolutely my favorite Chicago record ever. Believe it or not, this used to get played in between industrial stuff like Skinny Puppy and Revolting Cocks when I was first going to alternative clubs.
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This record drips with an urgent, sexed-up house groove. Some of the best dancefloor moments I've had have been when this gets dropped, 'cause it's never casually played -- there's some shade involved!
It was impossible to get a playable copy of it. Every time I ordered it, the pressing had paper or dirt within the pressing, or was pressed on re-used vinyl ... Thanks a lot Trax Records!
It took me so long to get this and it ended up being from a kid who moved to Florida, who couldn't believe anyone would be interested in the crates of house he had. House was simply what was on the radio when he was living there through the late '80s!
2. Marvin Sasha's "Heavenly Trance" (Night Dubbing)
Another record I chased forever in the '90s. It was bootlegged a few times but just impossible to find, probably 'cause they're all at Doc Martin's house and quite a few hidden away in Ibiza, I'm told.
It was produced by Marvin Sasha (AKA Mr. Marvin), who along with Joe T Vanelli and Kama Sutra, to name a few, produced so much amazing Italian house music. There was always an amazing dub version or superdeep underground mix to be found. The Fathers of Sound remixes, especially Pacha's "One Kiss" are still pure house class.
I would have to say this is one of my favorite records ever. It never gets old to me. The history of Italian dance music is something I never feel I know enough about -- there are serious gems yet to be found, I'm sure.
3. Placebo's "Bruise Pristine" (Justin Robertson's Lionrock Mix)
Often when a hot record comes on, there's extra excitement in the room because people know who made the record.
What's most exciting for me is when nobody has any idea what the record is. And more so, when it's stylistically the exception rather than the rule. The most innocent magic moments on the dance floor come down to how and when something is played.
This record is very rare and it has that raw, early-DFA type of thing, like say Pixeltan's "Get Up Say What." But this is from 1997. Seems it hardly reached anyone as a promo-only UK 12-inch distributed through an L.A. office.
Its YouTube clip has only 73 views and 1 dislike, but it always works for me! Hmm ... Maybe I should try and license this for the label!
4. Gideon & Rob H's "Don't Hold Back"
Gideon Jackson is one of my favorites of the Swag/South London tech-house scene. I love when I'm able to play for five or more hours, running from 118 to 130 BPMs and back again. And this is a record that's mind-blowing to play when things get into fast-paced, moody tech territory.
There's also an amazing DJ Q mix that's more in the Purpose Maker, sample loop-heavy style of house/techno that I like to play as well. Terry Francis gave me this on a one-sided white label which I hold dearly to this day.
5. Cajmere's "I'm Nasty" (Bootleg)
This is a Green Velvet remix of Nuttin' Nyce's "Nasty Girl" on Zomba UK from '96, of which I have never seen a finished copy in real life. It started showing up mostly on the white label bootleg in this clip.
But then there is another bootleg, called "Lookin' For a Man," that is the same track with a bit more going on in it -- more "I'm Nasty" vocals, and it doesn't have the Plastikman's "Spastik"-sounding outro, so it works on a clubbier level. And it also has his remix of Alcatraz's "Give Me Love" on the other side.
Curtis [Jones] has a great way about him and he was simply amazing at the Snatch night I did down in Tampa recently. He's the genuine article and has not lost a step!
6. Convection's "Miranda"
This and the Master C&J record have arguably been the most influential to me. They're so urgent and powerful. Whether it's more uplifting house or stuff like this, that's how I want all music to sound. You know, it can make you smile one day or tear up the next -- raw and real vibes.
This known but rarely heard 12-inch came out on Sean Deason's Matrix label, along with another record I love called "Psykofuk." But this one is the alias of Gerard Hanson from Dallas, Texas. He's such an amazing producer. Getting to meet him at Labrynth Festival in Japan was awesome.
In 1995, finding this record made me realize the idea of having to be from here or there -- Detroit, Germany, or whatever -- in order to have a pure authenticity in your sound was a fanatical kind of idea I couldn't subscribe to. Home -- or in this context, imagination -- is where the heart is.
7. Morganistic's "In The Shadows"
I hold this in the same regard league as Teste's "The Wipe" -- as far as MDMA-zing hypnotic techno records go. This is [a] super-rare [selection] from the once-famed Irdial Discs, which was a wild imprint.
Irdial were the self-proclaimed "leaders of the leftfield" and they put out some wacky shit like Aqua Regia, alongside timeless slabs of bliss like this track by Luke Slater under his Morganistic guise.
I honestly have not played this in years. But after working it into the soundtrack of a Thakoon fashion show in NYC recently, I have an edit nearly put together and it's gonna start seeing some dance floor, probably starting on NYE in the wee hours of the morning. Pure class.
8. Trip Commando's "Energy Tanks"
A secret techno weapon, if for no other reason than nobody ever seems to know what this is and always freak out over it. It's just amazing. Everyone always asks if it's Plastikman. I usually play it much slower.
This and the Morganistic record are special because they were given to me by Harry "The Mad Bastard" Russell, who was a musical mentor to me in my years as a buyer at a record store in Tampa, Florida, as he handled the imports for the late, great Watts Music Distribution in New York. He was always pulling the "OK, if you like that, then check this out" -- and he was always right.
I had the honor of playing the closing set of Labrynth Festival in Japan a few years ago. And if you've heard anything about it, you'll understand how amazing it felt to play this there.
9. Stoop Kid's "Forward" (The Strap-On Jack Mix)
Not the best audio in this clip, but this is a record and label I love. Auto Records only released about five or six records in the mid to late '90s, and they are not available digitally.
The biggest one was Extended Family's "Ulysses" which has to be one of my favorite Harvey mixes ever. This was the second release. The production is bright and powerful on these records and full of dub-wise technique. Timeless, really. This record always seems to call my name when I play in San Francisco or parties like Slowpoke in London.
10. Ramjac's "Massif," Featuring Mixmaster Morris
I heard this first at the Beacham Theater in Orlando, Florida, in the early rave days. Back then, Kimball Collins was a really unique house DJ who unabashedly championed a mostly UK sound.
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In the grand scheme of American dance music stories, this place doesn't usually get mentioned outside of those who were there or tied in somehow. But in hindsight (having been to Junior's Sound Factory more than a few times), I can tell you first-hand what Kimball and partner Dave Cannalte had at the Beacham was the American rave culture equivalent. Without getting into details, the Beacham was all about right place and right time as far how, when, where and why it happened the way it did.
And wow ... The first Murk records, Gat Decor's "Passion," Coco Steel & Lovebomb's "Feel It," and so many others I witnessed do things to dancefloors I could not have previously imagined. It should go without saying this record would blow minds at 10 a.m., and it still does. What a breakdown!
DJ Three, Ryan Elliott and Heartthrob as part of Electric Pickle and Blkmarket Membership's Miami Residency Launch. Saturday, December 17. Electric Pickle, 2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The show starts at 10 p.m and tickets cost $10 plus fees via wantickets.com. Call 305-456-5613 or visit electricpicklemiami.com.