For the fourth year in a row, DJ Santa gifts us an Observer mixtape filled with his latest and greatest Christmas jams.
In the offseason, Santa travels the world playing his unique brand of “elf house." This year, he has been part of of the rising tide of Christmas electro. It turns out Santa used to be a b-boy and decided to get back to his roots.
In this week's Q&A, Santa reveals details about his life as a globe-trotting DJ and his take on Christmas music.
What is new in the life of DJ Santa?
I decided to skip the Ibiza season this year and travel Europe — mostly basing myself out of Berlin, but I made rounds on the circuit, hitting hot spots like Rex Club in Paris, Berghain and Arena in Berlin, Cocoon in Frankfurt and a few wild parties thrown deep in the Black Forest that were put on by the elves. The elves really go all out when they throw their late-night raves.
How was this mix made? Is there a theme?
I’m kicking it old school this year. I decided to go all vinyl for the mix. Did you know that music sounds better on vinyl? Pardon me while I roll my eyes. It really does not sound better unless you have a much more expensive audiophile turntable with a $1,000 stylus, but I'm telling folks I did this on vinyl so they will think more of me as a DJ. To be honest, I have more vinyl than 99 percent of the collections out there, but records are heavy. I generally prefer [mp3s].
Where do you dig for tracks for your sets?
I get copies of every Christmas album sent to me every year. There is a persistent train of thought that all Christmas music is bad. There is a lot of truth to that. A few years ago, I was challenged by Mrs. Claus and the elves to make a Christmas mixtape of holiday music that does not suck. I took up the challenge, and this is my fourth annual “Christmas music that does not suck” mix.
What are your thoughts on current trends in dance music?
I have a dark side that comes out every now and then; that is where the whole lump-of-coal bit comes from. I get a weird fix from giving kids expecting toys a lump of coal instead. That side of my personality is really enjoying all of the new EBM and industrial influences becoming more prevalent in modern techno. That part of the sound has always been there and has always been a part of techno's roots, but lately it seems all the techno kids are becoming watered-down goth kids with a more interesting music palate.
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What is your take on holiday music in general?
Christmas music does not have to suck, but retail shops seem to have missed out on that memo. I can totally understand why so many people hate Christmas music. Most of it is kind of one note.
Who are some of your favorite DJs?
Rudolph is still the most amazing DJ I've ever seen when he is sober. He upgraded his nose to LED, so his nose-driven light show has gotten a bit fancier. Rudolph still has a "special K" problem that holds him back as an artist. Before he got caught in the drug loop, he was building elaborate max patches and pushing the envelope in a more IDM direction. Now, he just sits around all day doing K and listening to tech house all day. He will get so wasted that he will play the same two songs for hours on end and think he has been playing different artists the whole night. Hopefully, we can sober him up so he can get back to a good place.
What are some of your upcoming gigs?
I'm still trying to get booked at It’ll Do. I've heard so many great things about that club. I'm making more trips to play in Mexico than ever before. There are amazing parties there despite some sketchy promoters.
The Pogues — "Fairytale of New York"
Was (Not Was) — "Christmas in the Motor City"
Stevie Wonder — "That's What Christmas Means to Me"
Donny Hathaway — "This Christmas"
Alison Moyet — "The Coventry Carol"
Cocteau Twins — "Winter Wonderland"
Prince — "Another Lonely Christmas"
Captain Sensible — "One Christmas Catalogue"
Madonna — "Santa Baby"
Jackson 5 — "I Saw Mom Kissing Santa Claus"
Rev. T.L. Barrett (Featuring The Youth For Christ Choir) — "Jingle Bells"
Otis Redding — "Merry Christmas, Baby"
Solomon Burke — "Presents for Christmas"
James Brown — "Let's Unite the Whole World at Christmas"
Tom Waits, Peter Murphy — "Christmas Sucks"
Sharon Jones & The Dapkings — "8 Days of Hanukkah"
Richard Cheese & Lounge Against the Machine — "Personal Jesus"