As the musical side of our brand grows ever larger, we’ve had a lot of opportunities recently to look back at all of the projects we’ve already been a part of. It was in this recollection that we all collectively noticed: “holy shit, have we really done thirty three Keep Watch Mixes?” Started way back in 2008, this regularly released series of party mixes has been our most enduring ongoing project. Spanning literally dozens of artists and dance genres, the Keep Watch Mixes have been party fuel par excellence.
Obviously they’re all our babies and we love them all. We believe each and every one to be of truly premium quality, and still listen to each with frequency. But there have certainly been some which stick out as the most memorable of the bunch, and we’d like to give a shout out to five of those today. I wish we had an article series called The High Thirty Three. But, unfortunately, we don’t. This is the High Five.
Honorable Mentions: Jokers of The Scene - Keep Watch Vol. I & Teki Latex - Keep Watch Vol. II
I would be remiss not to include the two mixes that started the whole thing off right. After all, you’re only as good as your first step. I’m pretty sure that’s not a real saying, but for the sake of this discussion I’m going to stand by it. The first of the the first was a banger from Canadian duo Jokers of The Scene. This was back when the mixes were supposed to be tied to specific events, and theirs was to celebrate the 5th Anniversary of their club night Disorganize. Needless to say, it got the job done.
Often it can be hard to live up the the promise of a premiere, but Paris’ Teki Latex did all that and a bag o’ chips with Keep Watch Vol. II, delivering a truly deep mix that belied a skilled hand both at digging through the crate and managing the deck (in this case, the digital deck as KW Vol II was one of Teki’s first experimentations using Ableton Live). These two really got us out of the gate super strong.
5. Trouble & Bass - Keep Watch Vol. VII
If there’s one thing that’s woven into our brand’s musical DNA as much as the Keep Watch Mixes, it’s our long standing and continually fruitful partnership with the Brooklyn based (zing!) Heavy Bass Champions of The World, the one and only Trouble & Bass crew. When we brought those two things together for the 7th edition of Keep Watch, some foundation shaking magic happened.
This mix is a fantastic summation of the supremely heavy bass sound that made T&B so renowned. Featuring appearances from the entirety of the crew, Keep Watch Vol. VII was a real “best of the best” as far as NY bass music in early 2009. Listening to it today… yeah, it seemed like a pretty damn good time.
4. Congorock - Keep Watch Vol. IX
We had to include this one on the list, as when it came out it not only sounded great it also sounded so friggin’ new. At the time we wrote that “Congororck fuses together every conceivable genre in electronic music to create a sound all his own,” and little did we know that he would be one of the artists laying the groundwork for the EDM takeover that is still in full effect today.
Moving away from stratification and towards unity, this Keep Watch mix didn’t seem in the least bound in by genre, instead coming off as a joyous, delirious mish mash that you could never pin down. Even now it sounds like a whirlwind tour from dancefloor to dancefloor all over the world.
3. Royal-T - Keep Watch Vol. XXXIII
Maybe it’s just because it’s still fresh in our mind, but I highly doubt it: Royal-T’s turn on the Keep Watch is a true grime masterpiece. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, we’ve been right obsessed with UK grime label Butterz lately (check out the t-shirt we made) and when an opportunity to do a KW with one of their artists arose, we were in like Flint.
The young Royal-T more than delivered, cooking up a pulse-pounding ride full to spilling with filthy riddims and massive grime tunes that still has our office going wild. Our Badman Shark has been quoted saying that 2012 is going to see a big resurgence in grime, and Royal-T will certainly be leading that charge.
2. Skream - Keep Watch Vol. VI
I remember back before dubstep blew up, shockingly becoming one of the most popular musical genres in the world (that’s fair to say, right? Sorta?) I remember hearing Skream’s track “Midnight Request Line” and just basically having my mind blown. I wasn’t the most well versed in the UK electronic scene, and the dubstep I was familiar with was stuff like Burial, Kode9, and Pinch.
Skream’s stuff was just so heavy and dancy, but without sacrificing any of that grimy London mood of the Hyperdub artists. Listening to his Keep Watch mix makes me really nostalgic about a time when I was really getting into that kind of music and it all felt so new and cool, and as a result I just had to include Keep Watch Vol. VI on the list.
1. Shiftee - Keep Watch Vol. XXIII
At the end of the day, a mix is not just a collection of tracks, but it’s the combination of those things into a larger singular unit. Shiftee’s turn on the decks had to number one just because of the immense skill this world champion DJ displayed putting this thing together. You can practically hear him panting in the background as his hands fly lightning fast from knob to slider to scratch.
In addition to the technical aspects, Shiftee was aces on the track selection, mixing of the moment hip hop with every kind of dance music under the sun and then chopping it all into an intoxicating mixture that hits as hard today as the day it dropped. Kudos to you Shiftee, and to all the artists who have contributed a Keep Watch mix. You all killed it!
What’re some of your favorites?