One of the highest honors a DJ can receive is an invitation to join the esteemed Pete Tong on BBC Radio 1 for an Essential Mix. Delivering a stunning debut artist album and playing festivals around the world are all huge achievements for a DJ, and attest to the hard work needed to succeed in dance music, but many of these achievements pale in comparison to the honor of spinning an uninterrupted, two-hour set with the world listening with baited breath. An Essential Mix is an opportunity for an artist to show their true skills, as the mixes are typically full of unreleased IDs, special bootlegs, and come together to create an aural journey.
To celebrate the iconic, long-standing radio show, EDM.com has curated a list of 5 Essential Mixes that every dance music fan must hear. On this list you’ll find mixes that dabble in every genre, from the deeper, more underground arenas of dance music, to fan-favorite, crossover acts like Swedish House Mafia.
1. Daft Punk - 1997
Daft Punk joined Pete Tong on the Essential Mix in 1997, just a month after the release of their debut album, Homework. This two hour Essential Mix highlights the illustrious French producers’ early influences, as Chicago music culture, represented by producers like Paul Johnson and Cajmere, meshes with Daft Punk’s Parisian influences, as seen in producers like Cassius. There’s no denying that Daft Punk shaped electronic dance music and its culture with their music, and this Essential Mix is a two-hour journey through the history of EDM.
2. Swedish House Mafia - 2010
Swedish House Mafia’s set at Creamfields was the winner of Essential Mix of the year in 2010, and reinforced Axwell, Ingrosso, and Steve Angello’s claim to the throne in the dance music scene. The three immensely talented DJs effortlessly move between SHM classics like “One” and “Miami 2 Ibiza,” while including fan-favorites like Steve Angello’s remix of “The Island.”
3. Eric Prydz - 2013
There’s no denying that Eric Prydz is the king of progressive house, and his 2013 Essential Mix is the perfect example of his tremendous mastery of the genre. The Swedish DJ expertly moves between his three aliases - Eric Prydz, Pryda, his progressive counterpart, and Cirez D, his techno identity, with ease. This Essential Mix was so massive that it was trending on Twitter on both sides of the Atlantic as it was being aired. Take a listen for yourself below.
4. DJ Snake - 2014
DJ Snake exploded onto the scene in 2013 with huge tracks like “Turn Down For What” and his collaboration with Dillon Francis, “Get Low,” which earned him an invitation for a spot on the Essential Mix, and he did not disappoint. While the Parisian producer has made his money in the trap and electro arenas, his Essential Mix showcased Snake’s true musical talent, as he opens the mix with an hour of deep house and future house that was unexpected, to say the least. Take a listen to the Essential Mix for yourself below.
5, Above & Beyond - 2011
No Top 5 Essential Mix list is complete without Above & Beyond, as they delivered a stunning emotion-laden set in 2011. The winner of Essential Mix of the Year in 2011, the UK-based trio’s Essential Mix showcased the entire anjunabeats family, as Paavo, Jono, and Tony crafted a two-hour mix, nothing short of beautiful.