2022 was a year of paradox. Many aspects of life returned to something that resembled normality following the uncertainty that had shaped the two years preceding. But many aspects felt different, too. New bouts of change and unsettledness triggered new worries and dilemmas.
We revelled in live music – festivals, gigs and parties – with a renewed appreciation of just how valuable these experiences are, and how different our lives can feel in their absence. Yet despite being back in the rave for real, our appetite for the humble DJ mix was undiminished; a point of connection between artists and fans, or fans and fans.
Here, we look back at some of the most memorable sets the year had to offer. Presented in vaguely chronological order, think of it as a recap – a digital record, of sorts – of all kinds of mixes from across the year, capturing a cultural event, perhaps, the changing of a season, an artist at their prime or something else entirely.
Swipe or use the arrows to get started.
Juanita’s Mix 061: Akua
For its first mix of the year, Juanita’s NYC called upon a hometown hero: Akua. The Ghanaian-American artist and Discwoman affiliate turned in a housey, high-energy set that brought some much needed warmth to our homes – and speakers. “I've been trying to focus more on channelling and being immersed in joy this year,” said Akua at the time. “I think this mix captures that vibe.”
Don’t Be Afraid with iona & quest?onmarq
Rinse FM (14/02/22)
And then it was February. On the day of love, we locked into a Valentine’s edition of the Don’t Be Afraid Recordings show on Rinse FM, hosted by London-based selector iona and New York favourite quest?onmarq. With these two in the studio, there were more blends than a smoothie bar at breakfast time. Expect outrageous edits, sing-along selections and enough club bangers to get you working up a sweat. Love at first listen.
Black History Month: Ambient Special by A Space for Sound
That same month, to mark Black History Month in the US, we shared a selection of mixes highlighting genres that are historically seen – and treated – as white, despite having Black origins. Our ambient special came courtesy of Rena Anakwe – an artist, performer, poet and healer also known as A Space for Sound. Calm and meditative, Anakwe’s 90-minute mix was a soothing salve for the midwinter blues, one that featured music by L’Rain, KMRU and Laraaji.
International Women’s Day: SOPHIE by Abyss X
Here’s another offering from our specialist mix series. This time, an International Women’s Day set celebrating the life and works of the late SOPHIE, who died in 2021. Mixed by Abyss X, the Crete-born interdisciplinary artist and producer behind intimate European festival Nature Loves Courage, it’s an emotional homage to a musical visionary. “Music is an eternal force that gets humanity through its darkest times,” Abyss X told us. “SOPHIE knew her music held that power – the power to uplift so many people, and that was SOPHIE’s purpose.”
Truancy Volume 289: Bruce
Bruce is only the third artist to have an entire album released by Hessle Audio, and his March mix for Truants is evidence of the Bristol dweller’s razor-sharp ear. He effortlessly combines dusty drum loops with metallic percussion and whirring synths, moving across genres, moods and speeds deftly. A generous and unpredictable two hours of music that had us asking ‘ID?’ more times than we could possibly count.
B2B Day: Wayne Snow & Richard Akingbehin
Refuge Worldwide (15/04/22)
Richard Akingbehin and soul artist Wayne Snow take cues from the condiment cupboard across this b2b radio show shared as part of an extended session on Refuge Worldwide – the Berlin-based community radio station and fundraising platform co-founded by the the former – this past April. Drawing for smooth-as-butter selections and “steamy jams” from Jamaican reggae band The In Crowd, jazz icon Nina Simone, Nigerian Afro-rock group the Funkees, highlife crooner and Afrobeat pioneer Orlando Julius and so many more, it’s as much a celebration of the creative collaborations forged through the station as it is a slew of musical giants.
Fact Mix 854: Authentically Plastic
Authentically Plastic was behind one of the year’s best albums: Raw Space. The multidisciplinary artist and performer – a co-founder of vital Kampala queer party and collective ANTI-MASS – was also at the helm of this standout mix for Fact Magazine, which moves through shades of hard dancey hues at breakneck speed, creating tension with a combination of throbbing acid bass, hectic drum patterns and genge-tone vocals. The constant undercurrent of energy flowing through the mix is no doubt intentional, and communicates the urgency and raw power that drives Authentically Plastic’s work.
Philip Jeck: Mixed by more eaze
The March equinox – which marks the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere – is often a joyous time. This year, however, a pair of unexpected deaths left us feeling reflective amidst all the uplifting seasonal changes. First there was the passing of turntablist, multimedia artist and composer Philip Jeck, and then the death of Warp Records mainstay Mira Calix. Here, Austin artist more eaze pays tribute to Jeck – one of eaze's long-time inspirations.
Mixtape Club 009: Avoiding Bad Thoughts by DJ Voices
Any mix entitled Avoiding Bad Thoughts is going to garner our attention. Likewise, so will any mix by consistently on point DJ, producer and radio host DJ Voices – making this one a must. Stitched together for the Mixtape Club series, the set takes its name from a track dropped near the start of the recording, and inspiration from Voices’ formative years, during which she – like many – would indulge in music while moseying about in the car. The mix really is a mood-shifter; an hour-and-a-half of transportive club sounds that don’t quite pummel, but also don’t let up, either.
Cxemcast 91: Oleg Patselya
When Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Kyiv-based DJ and producer Oleg Patselya stayed in his home country and co-founded the Kyiv Angels volunteer initiative – a project helping civilians and the Ukrainian military. While he hasn’t been as focused on music in light of the ongoing war (in the Q&A accompanying this mix, Patselya explained that “for the first three months, [he] couldn’t listen to music at all) here – via relentless mutoid beats and melodic techno – he documents a rekindling with electronic music through a recording imbued with urgency, vitality and a sense of release. These are all traits that also underpin the work of Cxema – the Kyiv party series, conceived amidst the political and social upheaval of the country’s 2014 revolution, that plays host to this set.
Mantissa Mix 250: Powder
How would you describe that feeling you get upon waking up on a long-overdue day off? A warm and fuzzy blissfulness, perhaps, or maybe even just joy in its purest form. Whatever that feeling is, it’s evoked in abundance across this mix from beloved Japanese artist Powder, who sprinkles some of her transcendent magic over London-based series Mantissa for its 250th mix outing.
Dee Diggs & Suze Ijó at The Lot Radio Juneteenth Block Party
The Lot Radio
On Juneteenth, the annual commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States, a block party took place on the street next to New York’s The Lot Radio. A joint effort between Coloring Lessons – the party, radio show, mix series and label conceived by duo musclecars – and the radio station, on which they broadcast their show, it was billed as a gathering of friends and family on a holiday that “emphasises community and togetherness”. This set from powerhouse pair Dee Diggs and Suze Ijó was a highlight; a two-hour voyage through infectious grooves and oodles of sun-soaked house.
Nag Nag Nag: Mixed by Jonny Slut
Pride season on crackaud.io commenced with a feature on London club night Nag Nag Nag, which first emerged from the burgeoning electroclash movement in the barely begun 00s and swiftly evolved into one of the city’s most revered hotspots for alternative dance music. Its founder Jonny Slut whipped us up a mix filled with the sorts of sounds that would permeate the party: dark, throbbing beats, techno, mash-ups and plenty of electroclash. A time machine in mix form.
The Cover Mix: Lil Silva
What comes to mind when you think of Lil Silva? It could be longevity, due to the London artist’s decade-plus commitment not to genre or style, but to mood and feeling. It may be his evergreen banger Seasons – but that’s just a given – or perhaps it's collaboration, thanks to his work with some of this generation’s brightest talents, from Kano to Adele via serpentwithfeet. It’s the latter who’s nestled amongst a who’s-who of contributors on Silva’s long-awaited debut album, shared in July. Years-in-the-making, he jumped on a Mixmag cover to further celebrate the landmark release before topping it off with this suitably soulful and wide-roaming set.
Untitled 909 Podcast 123: Coffintexts
The artwork for this one may be a icy shade of blue but don’t get it twisted: this mix from Coffintexts is chock-full of heaters. Based out in Miami, where a talented crop of DJs and producers have been making enough waves this year to rival the Drake Passage, Coffintexts turned in a hour of trippy club ammo – recorded live at a Miami party – for the Untitled 909 series slam-bang in the midst of a UK heatwave. A match made in delirium-inducing heaven.
Lychee & Aaron J at Nowadays NYC
Lychee & Aaron J
Boston-based Aaron J – founder of Sure Thing, reliable providers of mixes, music and events – linked with Spontaneous Affinity’s Lychee (who we’re sure we’ll be hearing lots more about in 2023) in the spring to open the May edition of Nowadays Nonstop. The two describe the mix as “building steadily toward a euphoria of [their] own”. And build it does; their set lurches forward from a bassy hiss into a chorus of nippy drums and sparse synth lines, and forward once again into expansive techno that bursts at the seams. Three-plus hours of sonic exploration, just dreamy.
Physical Therapy: Ultimate UK Summer Megamix
NTS Radio (15/07/22)
“Prescribe yourself a genre-free, highly emotional course of Physical Therapy” reads the description of New York DJ Physical Therapy’s NTS Radio show. So that’s exactly what we did. Whether we were zoning out to a trip-hop special, getting in our feels to a “Big Sad UK” special or dipping our toes in the water to a liquid special, it was the Allergy Season boss holding our hand through it all. We could only pick one to spotlight, so here’s his take on a UK summer soundtrack. We all know BST and UKG go together like bread and butter, so expect lashing of the latter in this summertime set.
Mumdance at Primavera Sound 2022
This summer also saw the comeback of London producer Mumdance. And what a comeback it was. No intricate PR campaigns or provocative social media teases here; just everything we’d been missing, and all at once. Soon after releasing a hefty archive compiling 316 hours of mixes among other delights, Mumdance’s name began to appear on bills around the world. To continue in the spirit of maximalism, a frenetic, four-deck mix landed on our SoundCloud feeds – originally recorded at Primavera Sound, and serving as his first online mix in almost four years. Dubs and classics aplenty.
Latin Heritage Month: Lys Ventura
DJ, vocalist and researcher Lys Ventura’s Latin Heritage Month set slowly unravels itself, working its way up from sultry, dubby tunes to thumping reggaeton and baile funk as gorgeous vocals melt into thudding basslines and sparkling piano stabs. Dropped midway through the annual commemoration, Ventura’s mix was a riotous celebration of Latin American rhythms from her native Brazil, with a focus on regional productions, voices and culture.
NTS Radio (08/09/22)
Do you remember where you were when you heard the news that the Queen had died? If you happened to be tuned into NTS Radio, then it was certainly memorable. For the September instalment of her monthly show, the Scottish DJ and visual artist paused to announce the British monarch’s passing, saying “I’ve been waiting to do this for about an hour” before launching into Scott Brown and DJ Rab S’ Now Is The Time followed by the DJ Funk remix of Justice’s Let There Be Light – an unforgettable pairing of tracks for a truly historic moment.
Issue 136 Cover Mix: Hessle Audio
October may be the 10th month of the year, but that wasn’t the number we were focused on when the season of crunchy leaves and all things spooky rolled around. Instead, we turned our attention to a special 15th anniversary celebrated by beloved dance music label Hessle Audio. Founders Ben UFO, Pangaea and Pearson Sound – legends, the lot of them – graced our October cover, and treated us to a first-of-its-kind label mix featuring music from every artist single the label has represented. One for the heads, and most definitely one for the books.
Haseeb Iqbal: Pharoah Sanders tribute
Pharoah Sanders was one of a kind. So it’s no wonder, then, that the music world was rocked by the death of the trailblazing saxophonist and composer – who helped to pioneer the spiritual jazz movement – back in late September. His last ever performance took place in the summer, with Sanders taking to the stage at the third edition of Gilles Peterson’s We Out Here Festival alongside his child, Tomoki, and his band. Here, radio host, DJ and spoken word poet Haseeb Iqbal pays tribute to a late great on Peterson’s Worldwide FM station.
Jyoty at HÖR Berlin
It wouldn’t be a year in mixes without a trip to that German bathroom, and what better companion than the undisputed queen of vibes, Jyoty. In this set for HÖR, she takes us through one of her signature high-energy excursions through global club music and styles including (but not limited to) UKG, grime and Jersey club – with rewind-worthy blends, such as Hamdi’s Skanka into an unreleased Skrillex and Randomer collab, folded in for some added panache. It has certainly felt like, in 2022, it’s been the Homegrown founder’s world that we’re all been living in.
Dekmantel Podcast 413: livwutang
When livwutang makes a mix, it’s a signifier as to where she was in life – emotionally and geographically – when piecing the recording together. That’s what the rising Denver-born, New York-based DJ said, at least, when she shared her Dekmantel Podcast with followers late last month. Created with the “anticipation of the impending winter in mind”, the mix offers a clear image of what makes the selector so compelling; dubby soundscapes give way to more propulsive inclinations and lurching rhythms in a set saturated by the sentimental.
Crack Mix 477: Moktar
From Toshiki Ohta’s whistlestop tour through breakbeat, ragga and hip-house to an all-originals set from rising producer LUXE – via spring specials from Club Fitness and Kedr Livanskiy, rare outings from Commodo, Kuedo and Marie Davidson, and heady summer sessions from Sansibar and Kamma & Masalo – we’ve been thrilled to host Crack Mixes from so many of our favourite artists this year. While we’re not quite at the finishing line, rounding off this recap with a recent instalment from Egyptian-Australian club producer Moktar, who’s had a banner year himself in 2022, feels like a fitting final feature. Try saying that five times fast.
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