hi. my name is jay simon. i'm a dj, run a record label, and occasionally fuck around producing music.
had a few things i wanted to say, beyond the scope of a twitter/facebook post. i know blogs are a bit outdated, but social media isn't the best place to talk at length about certain things, hence.
this first post is about some djs that i think are worth listening to, that, to me, don't have recognition they deserve based off the music they play. to be clear, this is purely based on the actual music these dj's play, and my own subjective taste.
1. jay simon (atlanta). some people may think it's arrogant to include yourself on a list like this, i disagree, obviously. i play my favorite music, that very few people i have seen dj play. my level of depth and selection in multiple (seemingly, to most) unrelated genres, and my ability to move a crowd without ever compromising the quality of my selection is a rare thing. i don't just copy the selections of other djs, and i'm constantly acquiring things i might not ever get to play, out of love for the discovery of music that makes me feel something. i care about the party being fun, but i also care about respecting the history of the culture of the music that i love so dearly, and i think that comes across in my dj sets.
2. specter (chicago). specter founded tetrode music with damon lamar, a label that not many newer dance music fans seem to be aware of, in part due to the fact their last new record came out in 2009, which was, a bit hilariously, before most of the current "fans" of dance music even heard of deep house or techno, let alone started to "dj" or produce music. specter's dj sets mix deep house, acid, disco & other forms of soulful dance music in the true school chicago way, in the vein of ron hardy. he's a dope producer too, has released multiple 12"s on theo parrish's sound signature as well as patrice scott's sistrum, and of course, tetrode. a guy who you always want to see djing because you know it will be good.
3. thomas cox (pittsburgh). tom is a guy known perhaps more for his controversial (usually not to me) opinions about contemporary dance music, but is also in my opinion, one of the best djs in america.
tom's been djing since the late 90's or so, and has been steeped in the deep record store culture of pittsbrugh (you can only understand this really if you've been to stores there) since then. tom ran love what you feel records, and also was 1/3 of pittsbrugh track authority, as well as 1/2 of negative hallucination with noleian reusse (of africans with mainframes). he keeps up with contemporary music to this day, and is the type of guy to show you a dope record that came out 3 years ago you may have missed, but also some obscure prelude jam you should have known. he knows how to party, and is stylistically diverse(a common theme here), but without ever compromising his taste. again, a guy you pretty much always want to check out.
4. damon lamar (chicago). as mentioned in specter's post, damon lamar co-founded tetrode music, and maintains a similar, but even more obscure status in chicago's underground among the most serious deep house and techno heads. damon produced several records in the 90s for labels like relief and metroplex, but due to them being under a wide variety of aliases such as baby pop, 8088, black noise (a group with mike grant..surprise another guy on this list) most people aren't aware of the breadth of his musical output. and it wasn't just the aliases, his music ranged from bleepy minimal techno, upbeat electro influenced stuff, disco sampled house, and later under his own name, a super deep jazzy house sound. as a dj, again..really good deep house, disco, acid. incredibly talented incredibly low key dude.
5. mike grant (detroit). mike runs moods & grooves, in my opinion, one of the most underrated detroit deep house labels period. he's released classic material from andres, glenn underground, kyle hall, moodymann, theo parrish, brian harden...you get the picture. a dope producer as well in his own right, i finally saw mike dj for the first time in detroit earlier this year at the summit party i threw with tom and specter, and he destroyed it. great jazzier and more soulful house selections, disco, even some broken beat. mike can really play, and given his pedigree really deserves much more recognition. book this guy people.
6. reggie dokes (atlanta/detroit). reggie is originally from detroit, but has lived in atlanta for a while now. i have been a fan of his music for a long time, and first heard him dj in 2009 after putting his name in the ear of some local promoters I was tight with (shouts 2 tony and patrick). other than being one of the kindest warmest people i've ever met through music, reggie played great songs. we've reconnected since i moved to altanta and have since done a few parties together. he's on the very short list of people i completely trust to dj with, and always brings it, whether it be disco, old school deep garage, detroit beatdown, or his own unique productions. one of the most unique sounding producers in house music, he's released on sound signature, clone, we play house & mostly his own psychostasia recordings.
7. nick marshall aka taelue/victor aguinaga aka chicagodeep (chicago). 2 separate dj's & producers, but they run a label together, perpetual rhythms. they're close friends with specter and damon, and represent the same commitment to the true underground chicago deep house sound. spec, vic, nick & damon all used to fuck around djing on ustream a couple of years back (not sure if they still do) and it would be better than basically any touring dj that plays house. these guys know house music, period.
8. stuart li aka basic soul unit & jason ulrich together aka lab.our (toronto). stuart has some recognition for his productions on the more techno side of things as basic soul unit, with releases on dolly and dekmantel, but also runs the label lab.our music with jason. i've seen these guys dj twice, once in buffalo & once in detroit, and they are among the best dj duo's i have ever seen. super soulful, super diverse selections, from obscure modern soul tracks, to broken beat, to deep techno, both great djs, solo or together.
9. aaron paar (los angeles). aaron is 1/2 of the teflon dons, an in my opinion, pioneering underground la deep house duo, who I released a compilation of last year. he ran worldship music from the mid to late 90's and self released several amazing 12"s, including the first release of then-unknown gregory porter. aaron continues to dj regularly, mostly in la at a variety of underground hip-hop/soul and house music events. aaron can still rip it on a deep house tip, and clearly never sold the majority of his golden era records. a guy who has more than paid his dues, made amazing music, and still is an ACTUALLY good dj. he has a show on dublab as well...please stop sleeping on this man, hes talented as hell and super humble.
10. darryn jones (chicago). probably the most unknown name on this list to most, but perhaps chicago's best kept disco/modern soul secret. there's no need to fawn over european white guys playing the music this guy has been collecting probably since it came out. i've heard a few of his mixes online, and they're all exceptional. he's only released a couple of edits, but a truly killer dj on a disco tip.
11. curt jackson (atlanta). curt is from pittsbrugh but has lived in atlanta for a few years, he runs rotating souls records, a label that specializes mostly in modern funk, but also some disco edits. as a dj, a serious collector who takes mixing very seriously. big fan of late 90s early 2000s techno and electro, but also disco/boogie and deep house. he will consistently school me on some shit whenever i hear him play out, while also playing some song i used to love from that early 2000's period i never hear anyone play. real serious dj who can flex in a wide variety of styles and still get down.
12. jwan allen (pittsburgh) super low key black man from pittsburgh who probably has one of the best techno collections in the world & actually plays it. insane record collector who can still dj his ass off. that weird drexciya alias one off album that you thought about paying 100 bucks for on discogs? he bought it when it came out and has been playing it regularly since then. will also kill it on a house tip, but an elite cat when it comes to soulful, funky techno, a style literally a handful of people will play at all these days.
13. james duncan (toronto/nyc) james is a professional trumpet player who frequently collaborated with metro area/morgan geist as well as arthur's landing, as well as numerous other dance music and jazz projects. he's on this list, however, because of his dj skills. although most of his mixes online feature deep house prominently, he's also got a love for disco/funk, and is very capable within that sound as well. dope producer also, has been making nasty sample based house since 99, mostly released on his own label le systeme.
these guys are all some of the best in the world at what they do...
will update this more as more people come to mind...
dope up & coming djs: nicole campbell aka misha (detroit), ivy barkakati (barcelona), danny fernandez aka d2t (atlanta) ashleigh teasley aka ash lauryn (atlanta)