thekeytothehousemix 2012 – Mixed by DJ Shawn Austin

It’s been a great year here at thekeytothehouse so here’s my way of sending another big thank you and a little Christmas present to all of you!

This 75 minute DJ mix features many of the tracks that have been featured in my posts and reviews here on the site including:

Happy Days – P.J., Do You Know What I Mean? – Fresh Tunes #1, I’m In Love With You – B.K.S., Music Sounds Better With You – Stardust, Lovelee Dae – Blaze

I definitely wanted to give this one a classic feel, and I hope you enjoy the trip back in time including a simply incredible house re-edit of one of my all-time favourite tunes, “Why” – Carly Simon courtesy of Redondo, a duo to watch out for in 2013.  Please be sure to check out my Soundcloud page for the full track listing and more of my tunes and remixes.

I’d like to wish everyone who visits this page warmest wishes for a happy holiday season and a prosperous 2013!  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from thekeytothehouse!

DJ Shawn Austin

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It Shall Be(Original Mix) – Shawn Austin

Well folks, things are going beautifully here at thekeytothehouse with well over 300 page views and nearly 60 page views of our Eric Prydz presents:  Pryda review alone!  I appreciate all the support and remain grateful and humbled by it.  In that regard, I hope you all will enjoy the new track I finished up this past weekend called “It Shall Be”.  It’s a funky, techy, at times minimal tune, and I hope fans and DJs alike will give it a spin and, please, let me know how you feel about it!!!

It is available for free download and so far, has been getting a great response.  Big thanks to my Twitter superfan Frank Sinop for his compliments and for consistently supporting the blog.  Please leave your comments below on on Soundcloud and you can check out all my tunes at www.soundcloud.com/shawnaustinmusic.

Again, many thanks to all of you for the love and support.  You are always welcome in this house!

Classic House Series, Episode #6 – Let Me Show You – K-Klass

One word to describe this one back in the day:  CHOON!!!

This was one of the gems that used to keep me glued to Chris Sheppard’s Pirate Radio shows during the mid-90’s.  The main reason:  THAT PIANO LINE!!!  “Piano-house”, as it is sometimes called, had its share of moments, but this was the big one for me.  “Let Me Show You” was one of those tracks that started with a burst of energy and it simply doesn’t let up over the course of the tune.

The group known as K-Klass consists of Andy Williams, Carl Thomas, Russ Morgan, and Paul Roberts.  Williams and Thomas met Morgan and Roberts at La Hacienda in Manchester during the 80’s and decided to team up to make some house tracks.  Their gear was very basic, an SH-101 and a Tandy mixer, but this didn’t stop them from making some of the best house music of the early 90s.  The group’s first hit, “Rhythm is a Mystery”, reached number three on the UK singles chart and “Let Me Show You” hit number 13 in 1993.  Since then, they have gone on to release a slew of well received singles and albums, worked with the Pet Shop Boys on their album “Bilingual” and have produced top-notch remixes for the likes of Candi Staton, Rosie Gaines and a classic remix of “I Hate That I Love You” from Rihanna and Ne-Yo.  That one is a personal fave and you should definitely check it out if you haven’t already.

“Let Me Show You” became a rave anthem and a subsequent crossover success.  It is a beautiful combination of a high-energy rhythm section, some powerful synth stabs, vocals from frequent K-Klass collaborator Bobbi Depasois, and the piano hook that sucked people in and never let go.  Many times have I seen a dancefloor scream and raise their hands to the air when the hook comes in and an explosion of madness when the drop comes.  K-Klass remixed and re-released the single in 1999 with a new club mix that has a speed-garage vibe and certainly can hold its own against the original.  However, it is still the original that I find myself reaching for when it’s time to give a party a good kick in the pants.

This is no doubt a seminal tune from the early-90s house era and one that deserves to be pulled out time and again for some pure dancefloor madness.

Classic House Series, Episode #5 – Magic Feet – The MD Connection

In the early 1990s, there was a strong underground rave culture thriving in Toronto and with it came certain records, both locally and via imp0rts, that became seminal classics in the scene and helped define the vibe of the Toronto house sound.  With a new wave of new DJs embracing the developing sounds of Toronto’s house scene, one of those records was “Magic Feet” – The MD Connection.

Back then, there was only one club in the city where you could go and hear good quality electronic music and actually want to stay until the very end of the night.  Now known as the world-renowned Guvernment Entertainment Complex, in the early nineties it was simply called R.P.M. and served for many years as Toronto’s answer to legendary clubs like Chicago’s Warehouse and New York’s The Loft in terms of breaking new music and creating hits Toronto house-heads could call their own.

“Magic Feet” had a certain attitude that made it stand out against the other jackin’ house tunes of the time.  A prime example of what could be done with basic gear and a good idea, the track is not much more than some Roland 808 and 909 drums, a single note acid line repeated throughout the track and a crushing, balls-to-the wall kick that came in twice on the last bar.  Originally released as part of the “Tracks That Move Ya” album released by veteran house producer Mike Dunn under his MD Connection pseudonym, “Magic Feet” got regular rotation from nightclub and radio legend Chris Sheppard at his weekly shows at RPM and on his groundbreaking Pirate Radio show which dominated the weekend airwaves in Toronto during this period.  Here’s an excellent interview with the man himself from the New Music:

Given Shep’s knack for knowing a good tune when he heard one, Toronto DJs would flock to Play De Record on the weekends to grab the tracks they heard him spin the night before and copies of “Magic Feet” were in constant demand, whether legally or on white label.  The repetitive one-note acid line would play an important part in another classic Toronto house anthem with Sheppard himself having a hand in the production(more on that to come).  The tune, interestingly enough, gained something of a reputation outside of the clubs in Toronto and could regularly be heard at high school dances and formals around the city (especially if you were at one of the ones I played at back then).  It was included on the second installment of Chris Sheppard’s acclaimed “Techno Trip” series which at the time was one of the few releases to feature a proper CD version of the track.

It’s difficult to explain exactly why this tune did so well; it’s a hard, heavy, nasty piece of early techno, to be exact, but whenever I’ve played it, people usually get the idea that it’s time to just lose it for a few minutes and kick up their feet to this battle-tested party weapon.  It’s simple, and it works.  What more could you ask for?

Classic House Series, Episode #3: Break 4 Love – Raze

It is my firm belief that one of the nicest things any good house DJ can do for their crowd is play “Break 4 Love” by Raze.

On paper, it really shouldn’t have worked.  For one thing, the track bucks the standard 4/4 house beat that defined the “house” sound at the time of its 1988 release and instead incorporates a relatively simple “break”-beat that serves as the foundation of the groove.  BPM-wise, it was a bit slower than other tracks of the era and a few basic piano chords, synths and subtle bassline rounded out the rest of the arrangement.

The key to this classic is that it’s not simply a house track; it’s a song,  and that is where the real magic lies.  Raze was a project of Vaughn Mason, who had previously enjoyed success with oft-sampled “Bounce, Rock, Skate, Roll” in 1979.  Teaming up with vocalist Keith Thompson, Raze had a number of charting releases including “Jack the Groove” and “Let The Music Move U” but it was “Break 4 Love” that brought them the most success, reaching #1 on the US Hot Dance Club Play Chart in 1988.

The track is quite simply a classic piece of house music with a classic love song laid over-top of it.  By using simple lyrics backed with a solid groove, Raze crafted an instantly recognizable piece of music with a sing-along quality that hadn’t really been heard before in club music.  We’re definitely not talking about a big room anthem that had the entire club screaming at the top of their lungs, but instead something far more intimate.

For me, this was a late-night record, in many cases my last tune of the night.  Not only is it the perfect track to bring the energy back down to earth, but time after time I’ve seen guys grab their significant other and pull them back on to the dancefloor for one last dance and spend the entire song looking into their partner’s eyes and mouthing the lyrics. The overall vibe of the track is just so pure and honest, but with a certain amount of sexiness to it as well.  It cools things off and heats things up all at once.

The production and the song work together so well here, that this can’t help but be considered both a great house and a great pop record at the same time.  Still one of my favourite tunes to play out to this day, it is truly amazing to think how well this one has aged over its 24 years.  Timeless.

The Evolution of Paul van Dyk – Album review and interview

Like a breath of fresh air, epic electronic dance music pioneer Paul van Dyk has released his sixth studio album “Evolution” and once again we have a great disc here with a very fitting title.

Evolution” is very much a collaboration-heavy album, but not in the sense of having a crossover R&B star featured on every track.  The collaborators van Dyk has chosen do include vocalists like Sarah Howells and Michelle Leonard, but it is his work with his peers by way of co-production that really stands out here.  Two collaborations with trance superstar Arty are featured here, including a very cool drum ‘n’ bass vibe on “The Sun After The Heartbreak”.  Ummet Ozcan brings his signature sound to “Dae Yor”, providing one of the record’s best highlights.  (If you haven’t yet heard Ozcan’s brilliant “Miami Sundown” yet, I suggest you track it down immediately.)  Most of the vocal tracks work well, including “Eternity” which features the vocals of the man behind Owl City, Adam Young.

Austin Leeds guests on the album’s fantastic opener “Symmetries” and returns a few tracks later on the lead single,  “Verano” ,which has been getting pounded in clubs throughout the world.  Fans will definitely want to check out PVD’s own Full Fire Remix of this one for a more big-room take on this anthem.  Perhaps the true gem of this disc is “Lost In Berlin” with Michelle Leonard which “evolves” from a techy, electro sound to a pure hands-in-the-air anthem over the course of its six minutes.  Album closer “Heart Stops Beating” doesn’t seem quite a strong a tune as some of the other selections here, but is preceded nicely by a fantastic collaboration with Giuseppe Ottaviani in “A Wonderful Day”.

Paul van Dyk’s sound continues to evolve with each album he releases and while he retains the familiarity of his classic sound and style throughout, he isn’t afraid to explore some more tech-heavy arrangements giving the disc an extremely well-rounded feel.  This is definitely one you’ll want to listen to from start to finish and you shouldn’t find yourself reaching for the skip button anywhere here.  With 15 cuts and bonus tracks available on the iTunes release, this one has something for fans of PVD new and old and feels like a true return to form for the acclaimed German superstar.

****/5

Check out this fantastic interview with Paul van Dyk below as he talks about the album, his Evolution World Tour and what he thinks about the state of electronic music today.

Classic House Series, Episode #1: Lovelee Dae – Blaze

Spring is officially here and what better way to kick off the new Classic House series here on thekeytothehouse than with this timeless classic.  One listen to the lyrics “It’s a lovely day, and the sun is shining” and you’re in a good mood and ready to go.

Acclaimed production duo Blaze are the minds behind this beautiful slice of classic house.  Comprised originally of Josh Milan, Kevin Hedge and Chris Herbert, Herbert introduced Milan and Hedge to each other and then ironically left the group in 1991.  Hedge and Milan “blazed” forward, creating a string of classic tunes and remixes that can still be heard in clubs around the world to this day.

Hedge and Milan shared productions duties, vocals and instrumentation and achieved worldwide success with hits including “How Deep Is Your Love”, “My Beat” featuring Palmer Brown, and also composed De’Lacy‘s global club smash “Hideaway”, which has been remixed and reissued numerous times.

I will admit to not having discovered “Lovelee Dae” until about two years ago when I heard it as part of a live mash-up by DJ Falcon at Pacha with his and Thomas Bangalter‘s original version of “Call On Me” (later re-released by Eric Prydz).  The vocal hook was so compelling that I had to track down the original and since I did, it has never left my record box.

1997’s “Lovelee Dae” is the perfect chilled, laid back house tune for a sunny afternoon and still works on the dancefloor to this day.  I love dropping it to give my crowd a little time to catch their breath and enjoy some nostalgia, but it never fails to get heads bobbing and people dancing.  The simple bass kick, hi-hat and snare beat lays the foundation and the gorgeous synths and vocals just seem to wash over the track like a wave of bliss.  Perfect for warm-up or peak time, this one is a definite winner and is a staple part of my classic house sets.

What are your thoughts on this timeless tune?  Please post your thoughts and comments below and let us know how this classic has worked for you over the years!