Since forming over a decade ago in London, the parameters Django Django set for their music have always been pretty loose: anything within the realm of dancey neo-psych was fair game, with occasional forays into surf rock and new wave embellishing their records. Across four deeply original albums, there was never much fear of the band painting themselves into a corner, yet at the beginning of the year they shared that their epic next chapter would see them leaning fully into the influence of the house music they came up with in the ’90s—and doing so over the course of four staggered releases cumulatively titled Off Planet.
While in a sense the new project (which sees the final chapter unveiled next Friday via Because Music) is the most conventional release the band has put out to date, those conventions are still an interesting turn for the band. With the help of guest vocalists including Self Esteem, Jack Peñate, and Toya Delazy, Off Planet is a stellar companion piece to the earnest house renaissance playing out in popular pop music as led by Beyoncé, with Django Django’s Dave Maclean’s deep immersion in the genre over the past 30 years competently guiding these tunes.
To help usher in the final piece of the Off Planet puzzle, and to give us a bit of a history lesson in the vintage house scenes in Detroit and beyond, we asked Maclean to curate a playlist of some of his favorite deep-cut house tracks that encouraged the band’s latest era. Find his picks and writeups below, and stream the currently available installments of Off Planet here.
Galaxy 2 Galaxy, “Jupiter Jazz”
I came across this track on the now-classic compilation LP Tresor 2 back in 1993. At the time, I was into industrial/hard-edged records, so I wasn’t sure about this track. The track I played out DJing all the time was Jeff Miles’s “Changes of Life,” which went down well in Scotland with its heavy kick and uplifting piano stabs. Anyway, I kept coming back to “Jupiter Jazz” and it’s now one of my favorite records.
K Hand, “Global Warning”
Kelli Hand made some of my favorite Detroit tracks, but I was introduced to her music via this Warp Records track from 1994. I loved Warp around this time, with its iconic purple label. This track was often played by the harder rave DJs in Scotland, but pitched up a fair bit. It’s just a very no-nonsense techno track that still does the business.
Jeff Mills, “In the Bush”
This is my favorite of the Purpose Maker tracks. It’s got a slight Chicago/Relief Records vibe like Gemini or Boo Williams, being that it’s so funky. I still love playing this out, and it’s a fantastic wee DJ tool.
“That wicked P-P-P-Plastikman.” That was the wee voice over on Coldcut’s unrivaled 70 Minutes of Madness DJ mix. Fair to say I was obsessed with that mix, and hence this track. Like Green Velvet and LA Williams, Hawtin was a master of funky drum work with futuristic mutating snares ricocheting all over the place. It’s minimal yet so fun and danceable.
Model 500, “The Chase”
Juan Atkins and his Metroplex label is the main man when it comes to Detroit music for me. This record influenced so many producers all over the world, and was loved by so many DJs—including myself. It’s actually really poppy to me and was an obvious influence on 808 State and New Order over here in the UK.
Omar S feat. John FM, “Second Life”
I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Omar recently after is brilliant show at KOKO in Camden, London. He’s prolific and I could have picked almost anything from his back catalog, but here’s a deep vocal cut that will work equally well in a sweaty basement or bumping in the car on a late-night drive.
Kenny Dixon Jr., “Emotional Content”
Kenny—a.k.a. Moodymann—much like Omar S is obviously very prolific, and I could have picked a fair few. This Detroit house track was on a mixtape I had in the ’90s, and I only recently discovered what it was! I think it samples Bruce Lee from Enter the Dragon.
Blake Baxter, “Sexuality”
From the Blake Techno EP, this is just pure, raw, crunchy, red-lining-the-mixer energy. Released in 1987 it probably blew more than a few minds and speakers in the club. The start of rave. Huge.
DJ Rolando, “Aztec Mystic”
This is just one of those Underground Resistance records that transcended genre and traveled the world in everyone’s DJ bag, from Carl Craig to Carl Cox. Massive.
Carl Craig (a.k.a. Innerzone Orchestra), “Bug in the Bass Bin”
I bought this when it came out and it melted my head. It was somewhat of an anthem at the club Beat Quest where I DJed. The Peshay remix on the Mo’ Wax release is great, too, adding a lovely baseline and ramping the tempo. I played that a lot, too.
Rich Lee, “Guerrilla Warfare”
I could have picked a few records from Direct Beat, but this is a fave and I think it’s a great representation of what the label is about—what makes it great.
GiGi Galaxy, “Shake It”
I bought this in Detroit years ago not knowing what it was and I’ve played it a lot since. I think it was obviously an influence for Daft Punk on “Oh Yeah,” and I enjoy mixing them together when I DJ. On a side note, GiGi Galaxy released a great EP on Rawax (great label) recently called The Invasion. Check it out.