The invitation to do an Essential Mix on BBC Radio is one of the highest forms of validation and flattery that exists in the DJ and production world. Hosted by dance music personality and DJ Pete Tong, the Essential Mix tradition stretches back to 1993, and cream-of-the-crop DJs like RJD2, Paul Oakenfold, Flying Lotus and Swedish House Mafia populate its pantheon. 22-year-old electronic dance producer Nicolas Jaar was a guest this past weekend, producing one of the most eclectic two-hour mixes ever featured.
More of a sound collage than a DJ mix proper, some of Jaar’s selections for his first-ever Essential Mix depart completely from preconceptions of “electronic” or “dance” or even “music.” He opens, for example, with an intoxicating monologue from musician Angelo Badalamenti. In the found sound clip, Badalamenti plays the keyboard and explains the creative process of scoring Twin Peaks with David Lynch. It’s a perfectly unexpected segue into Jaar and company’s work, because, as he explains during his ‘In My Room’ session, he often finds his best musical moments in improvised, ephemeral, emotionally charged dialogue. Of course, Jaar also plays many of the reverberating minimalist dance symphonies that he and his Clown and Sunset collaborators are known for, mixed with drifting dips into percussionless classical music, blues cuts from Charles Mingus and Marvin Gaye, and a completely flipped version of *NSYNC’s “It Makes Me Ill.” Smoothly blended together, it all makes for a sound adventure that is both malleable and meaningful. [Listen to Nico Jaar's Essential Mix at the BBC Radio One website]