It's rare these days that Luke Fair shops for records in a record store. Since opening for Sasha's Involver tour this past year and John Digweed's Fabric tour, the recent jet-setter has been gigging non-stop around the world. As a result, the DJ has been buying most of his music online. Amid the tour for his solo mix-compilation debut, Original Series OS_0.3 (Bedrock, 2005), Fair touches down at home in Toronto for a couple of days of housekeeping and favorite TV shows — and, finally, some in-store record shopping.
After setting his VHS deck to record the Rock Star INXS episode that he'll miss while out, Fair skips the streetcar and hails a cab to underground vinyl shop 2 the Beat in downtown T-dot, just steps away from System Soundbar, where he not only held a career-launching residency in 2000 (also the year his bootleg remix of U2's “Silver and Gold” got him signed to Bedrock) but also returns three times a year for eight-hour sets. Giddy, Fair shows up ready to get his hands on some new vinyl. “It's like I'm screwed in the head when it comes to picking records,” says the burgeoning tastemaker. “I just love grabbing a bunch of random stuff from all different genres.”
Even if Fair had more time for vinyl-shop visits, there are only a handful of stores — such as 2 the Beat and Massive Records in Oxford, England — that are organized and varied enough for him to enjoy digging for gems, which can last hours. Sipping his café latte, Fair scans the wall of progressive records and bins of back stock and carefully skims the needle through every cut.
“A lot of times, ordering online is a crapshoot,” says the 27-year-old, who also produces for Deep Dish's Yoshitoshi imprint. “Because [the site] might only play two minutes of something good and purposely leave out two minutes of a horrendous vocal.”
But Fair would edit that out anyway. Most times, he uses only a few minutes of a record, instead cutting, looping and adding new percussion using any combination of Ableton Live, Steinberg Cubase and Sony Sound Forge. “As a DJ, I feel guilty standing up there just playing all these records and getting credit for it without really doing anything other than beat matching and programming, which does take skill,” Fair says. “But as a producer, as well, I feel like I have to add something. I've become an editing addict. Once you start, you want to keep up that level of creativity.”
The “nu-wave” DJ copies all of his vinyl to CD, edited or not. It's lighter on luggage, and, besides, every club he plays sports Pioneer CDJ-1000 digital decks. Satisfied after only an hour of shopping, Fair settles on the following picks, destined for his special touch.
JEFF BENNETT AND KRIECE
1986 Davis Cup EP (Eukahouse)
I pulled this gorgeous tech-house cut out of the back stock. It reaffirms my theory that Jeff Bennett is untouchable. His sound is so smooth and unique that he's almost created his own genre of tech house. “Moral Compass” is the bouncier cut of the two and hops along with wicked melodic fills and lush sounds. “String Theory” is more late-night, with dark bass chords and his trademark washed-out melodies — music you can listen to at 10 a.m. on a Wednesday morning and not feel dirty.
“Brand New Day” (Swank)
Andy has been making some of the best deep-house records over the last five years. “Brand New Day” is another deep-house bomb with major crossover appeal. Out of the three mixes, the original is the one for me. I'm usually not one for full vocals, but this one is perfect. The flip side gives you two tougher mixes. Both the “Peak Time Mix” and “Ronan's Electro Kinky Dub” have a dirtier, late-night feel while still keeping most of the vocal and guitars intact.
“Love on My Mind (BN3 Dub, Coburn Remix)” (Loaded)
One of the summer's biggest anthems gets two huge makeovers. The “BN3 Dub” is absolutely massive and will probably be one of my biggest records for a while. It uses well-placed samples from the original and rearranges a couple of the chords to give it a completely different feel: perfectly looped-up disco house that makes you feel like it's still summer. The “Coburn Remix” is a huge breakbeat-tech fusion that seamlessly bounces between two different sounds throughout the whole mix.
“Some Kinda Freak (Sebastian Ingrosso, Tony Senghore Remixes)” (Size)
The original that came out on Whoop was easily one of my favorite records of 2004, so I was pretty excited to see a new set of remixes out. Sebastian Ingrosso is one of the biggest producers right now, and this mix shows why: absolutely massive electro tech house with supertight percussion and a fat, grinding bass line. Tony Senghore's mix is more trippy but just as good. He's the king of the quirky funk.
KRAAK & SMAAK
“Money in the Bag (Remixes)” (Jalapeno)
I always thought the original was untouchable, but now here's three wicked new mixes from a pretty eclectic trio of producers. The “Sharam Jey Remix” is the clubbiest of the three, definitely aimed at peak time. A filthy bass line has been added with some superslick percussion that will pound in a club. The “Crazy Penis Remix” reminds me of the quality deep disco-house records they released on the legendary Paper Recordings. The “K&S Remix” slows it down a bit with the chunk-a-funk and gives you a cut that even the pope would dance to.
Thorny EP (Cube)
Sébastien is easily one of my top three producers. This newest release is a departure from his recent work, going back to a more stripped-down techno. “Thorny” is the housier of the two, with big chords and looping stutter effects that give off a very groovy and hypnotic vibe. “Afro Dyzyak” is a straight-up percussive-techno cut driven by massive tribal patterns. These killer cuts might not find their way into a set of mine, but the techno crowd will be all over this. It's a great record.
LOWER EAST SIDE
“Sword Fight” (SR2 Music)
This is an absolutely massive late-night, peak-time record that should not be missed. The “Lee Cabrera Mix” is a little more stripped-down and raw, and I prefer the sequencing over the flip side. The “Trent Cantrelle Remix” is more big-room and carries a little more chunk. But the end result will be destruction no matter which side you choose.
“Moonglow”/“Morning Sun” (Cartridge)
At first listen, this record really didn't catch my ear, but after scanning through it a few more times, it really started catching on. It has two wicked deeper tech-house cuts that are funky as hell. It's a perfect record to play in the early part of the night that will really set the mood — no big riffs or breakdowns, just two fantastic grooves that are impossible not to move to.
“Crazy (Dino Lenny Mix)” (white label)
I have no idea when this was released. It seemed to be the only copy left, and it was well-worn just from store plays. I bought this purely out of self-indulgence and doubt I will ever play it in a club. That being said, it's one of those wicked bootlegs that every DJ has to have to pull out any given Sunday morning at their friend's house after a crazy night out. Cheesy, but at the same time, you know you love it.