Front left since 2001.
Toronto's Cindy Li, AKA Ciel, has a knack for balancing warmth and pressure. Her productions and mixes often feel coated in an iridescent gloss, evoking the trippy stylings of '90s UK tech house and the swung drums of classic New York house. In between that, though, there's lots of vigor via sleek electro, rippling trance, barrelling techno and big, bad breakbeats. Her style may lean towards the atmospheric but it's loaded with moxie, giving her the versatility to close out a main room or kick off the afters.
Her fluid movements between bouncy basslines, spiraling synth patterns and weightless house grooves are just one facet of her impressive rise as a DJ and producer. When she's not behind the decks, presenting radio shows or working on the excellent Parallel Minds label she runs alongside other Toronto acts Yohei S and Daniel 58, Li throws herself into community work. Committed to diverse dance floors, affordable housing and overall equality in the music industry, she's a hard worker in the realest sense of the phrase.
Li's RA mix is a treat. Rolling through scintillating drum work, wonky rhythms and dreamy pads, it feels like quintessential Ciel. In her interview below, she described how she enjoys "the challenge of trying to combine and make cohesive all the diverse styles of music I loved in a DJ set." Judging by this mix alone, it's safe to say that Li succeeded.
Read more: http://ra.co/podcast/832
RA.831 Madam X
Read more: http://ra.co/podcast/831
RA.830 Roy Davis Jr
The decade-spanning career of Roy Davis Jr. is intrinsically intertwined with the history of house music. As one of the defining voices of Chicago's underground, he's worked both behind the decks and behind-the-scenes. From handling Strictly Rhythm's A&R sector in the '90s to joining seminal production crew Phuture to launching his own Undaground Therapy Muzik label, Davis Jr. isn't just a veteran but a compendium of dance music knowledge. Daft Punk cites him as an influence while the likes of Disclosure, Zed Bias and Waajeed have sought him out for collaborations.
He may be best known for his 1998 single Gabriel with Peven Everett—now a garage anthem on both sides of the Atlantic—but his discography and DJ sets go well beyond club hits. Weaving in soul, gospel, disco, techno and acid into a deep house framework, he marries raw funk, plush melodies, hypnotic synths and stripped-down arrangements. All these elements are beautifully captured on his RA Podcast. Moving from a state of eyes-closed bliss to body-moving grooves, the near two-hour session is as grounding as it is free-floating. Spiritual, sensual and tightly mixed, it's a lesson in multifaceted house music.
There's a track on HAAi's upcoming debut album, Baby, We're Ascending, called "Louder Always Better." That kind of sums up her approach right there. (See also: "Biggest Mood Ever.") Since her first record, 2017's "Be Good" her approach to dance music has been to make as dense, overwhelming and uplifting as possible. Much has been made of her background in psychedelic rock, which definitely informs records like the muggy, intense Motorik Voodoo Bush Doof Musik, but it's not the whole story. A better point of reference might be DJ Harvey lost in the Australian desert, but comparisons are beside the point. At this point, HAAi is completely unique.
The Australian producer has made quite a name for herself as a DJ in her adopted hometown of London, and while her album shoots off in all directions—from ecstatic rave-pop to sultry stunners—her RA Podcast captures the spark that makes her such a beloved force behind the decks. Weaving powerful techno from artists like Atrip and Piska Power with weirder, adventurous music courtesy of Cocktail Party Effect and Sha Sha Kimbo—plus a few tastes of HAAi's new album—it's an eclectic mix that's as windy and unpredictable as her records. Plus, it ends with classic track by The Cure. That's just good taste.
RA.828 Louie Vega
Louie Vega shouldn't need an introduction, but we'll do it anyways. The Bronx-born Puerto Rican artist embodies the soulful sound of New York house music, and he's been doing it since the '80s. His history features a litany of legendary names and clubs, from the Devil's Nest to his much-vaunted residency at The Sound Factory in Manhattan, and he's made music with the likes of Todd Terry, Mood II Swing and Barbara Tucker. But it's with Kenny "Dope" Gonzalez that Vega made his most cherished and influential work as the duo Masters Of Work, putting out huge singles and making house remixes for some of the most iconic names in '90s pop music.
To listen Vega's discography, especially as part of Masters At Work, is to hear the evolution of house music and garage (yes, both US and UK). It's difficult to overstate the impact those '90s records had on New York and beyond, and they're still some of the most swinging, undeniable house records ever made. Just try playing a MAW Dub for a newbie and see their reaction.
House music has been Vega's lifelong mission, and almost four decades in, he's still refining his craft, moving towards ever-jazzier, ever more soulful sounds. His RA Podcast shows off some of his favorite tracks from contemporaries like Mood II Swing, as well as his band Elements Of Life and a handful of new tracks from his forthcoming album, Expansions In The NYC, which aims to capture the sound of his club night of the same name. You'll hear lush live instrumentation, powerful vocals and, of course, those addictive, sometimes skippy house beats—the sound of a master at work.
Read more: http://ra.co/podcast/828
To an international audience, NIKS might be best known as one of the cofounders of Black Artist Database, but she's also an incredible DJ. And public speaker. Over the past few years, through a mix of activism, thought and DJing, the London selector has created an all-encompassing approach to her artistry that centers dance music, social justice and an endless desire to uplift those around her, especially Black artists.
Through Black Artist Database, NIKS has created a resource to support Black artists from around the world. What started as a spreadsheet called Black Bandcamp has become a fully-fledged platform with editorial, mixes and, of course, the powerful directory of artists that started it all to begin with.
Outside of that, NIKS curates panels, hosts and gives talks and DJs. Her RA Podcast is inspired by a specific night she played in Manchester, but it's also a wonderful snapshot of her style, connecting the dots between Drexciya and Octave One, Nicola Cruz and Seth Troxler, Lyric Hood and James Bangura, and an electrifying section that weaves between tracks from X-Coast and X-Press 2. It's as thoughtful and intentional as everything else she does, an hour-and-a-half in the world of one of London's brightest stars.
Read more: http://ra.co/podcast/827
Stop deleting podcasts that I save
Pretty simple here, if I’m saving something it means that i like it enough to hold on to. I don’t know if it’s RA or Apple but whoever, stop. I know there is not infinite space on ‘the podcast server’ or whatever but now that apple allows you to download and store files this is especially egregious. You know that amazing part on RA 5 Bazillion, the one you remembered how great it was and wanted to listen to again? No? Me neither, because they deleted it. Allow us to save the episodes we want to save. Stop deleting them. Stop.
edit: it appears they have listened and am overjoyed to see this. 2 star changed to 5 star for sick tunes
Consistently boundary-pushing tunes
This is one of the best mix series around, full stop. Always inventive, spanning every genre imaginable, and with a super diverse set of DJs. Even when a certain mix isn’t my style, I’m glad to tun in every week and get exposed to runes I might not have ever heard otherwise.
Yup! Much Needed
This is great!!! One wish… Track listing. Would love to throw my support not just to DJs but artists that are used in these mixes.