Vinyl record sales recently hit an astonishing 30 year high, considering the rise, rise and further rise of digital in the modern DJing era, it makes for a mind-boggling sentence in a technology-dominated society. You might think that all physical sales would have followed in vinyl’s nostalgic footprints but that hasn’t been the case. In 2018, Fabric called an end to their mix series, and although the series has somewhat continued in the form of Fabric Presents, which offers a mix CD and an LP of the individual tracks, the original series curtailed with a selection of think-pieces in the music media sphere about the future of the physical mix CD.
Free-to-listen podcasts and online set recordings have famously removed much of the demand for mix-CDs, but Fabric’s series have always enabled artists to fully express themselves beyond just a selection of tracks. It’s not just an hour of music uploaded to SoundCloud and forgotten about beyond a promotional social media post, a mix-CD, as undertaken in this form, is a full-blown artistic statement, from the cover art, the track selection and any other message the artists wish to promote.
With all this in mind, it’s hard to think of better DJs to release a statement mix than American DJ/producers Eris Drew and Octo Octa. The two artists, who double up as partners, have experienced a deservedly meteoric rise in the past couple of years through some stellar releases as well as their own individual DJ sets. However, it’s their ecstacy-inducing back-to-back sets, and in particular, their T4T LUV NRG tour last year which solidified their status’ as some of underground music’s most gifted and authentic inhibition looseners with their vintage selections of breaks, techno, house and every genre from A-Z.
This makes the pairing an interesting choice for a mix CD in the current climate for a number of reasons. Both DJs are vinyl-only, and it feels only right that their appreciation of physical music is moulded into both a mix CD and LP. With 2020 being characterised for many of us by a distinct lack of partying, notorious party-starters Drew and Octa stepping up to fill the void for an illustrious mix series like Fabric’s feels nothing short of a lifeline. Not to mention, Drew and Octa, and Drew especially with her Motherbeat philosophy, have openly talked about underground music’s power to heal, congregate like-minded people and offer some temporary solace from the real world, considering 2020’s overwhelming isolation, it finally feels we’ve caught a break.
It’s hard to convey just how fresh this mix sounds and there’s an outpouring of reasons why. Layers of personality and distinction are added to the mix with their own mixing style, including scratches and doubles, underutilised techniques by most modern DJs, but the duo illustrate how it can be used to conjure up newfound energy during transitions and the record itself. Though one of the reasons it sounds so fresh is that it just feels nonchalantly authentic. It shouldn’t be such a significant thing to hear chunky speed garage like Y U QT’s Fort Wibbler in a mainstream mix for a historic club like Fabric. After all, at the core, it’s just good music, but hearing genres and sounds that exist on the periphery of electronic music makes it stand out from the usual crowd.
Fabric’s mix series has always showcased artists’ signature sounds, and it’s not that being tied down to one genre is an inherently bad thing, lots of artists thrive and play some unforgettable music that’s tied to one, singular strain of music. But when you listen to Octa and Drew, who gleefully noted that this release had no fewer than nine genres tagged on it’s discogs page, it’s difficult not to feel like a lot of good music is otherwise being missed by being pursuing a genre-tied sound.
They bounce and cut from the soulful, healing UKG of Booker T’s Everlasting Klub Remix of Everlasting Pictures, to the esoteric breaks of Alec Falconer’s New Junk City, and down to the throbbing techno of DJ Hyperactive’s Reptilian Tank. All stitched together with a slick and creative mixing style, showcasing the mind-boggling plethora of electronic music that’s out there and how, with a little bit of ingenuity, tracks which don’t feel like they would go together, meld seamlessly into one into something greater than the sum of its parts.
Beyond the music, there’s more to say. Two trans-women compiling a mix-CD in 2020 for one of the world’s most vital clubbing institutions which has a rich history of producing mix-CDs for some of the electronic’s music most defining artists. As much as we’d like it to, a mix CD won’t change the world, but Shackleton’s Fabric 55 and Marcus Intalex’s Fabriclive 35 are still spoken about to this day so it’s nowhere near impossible for a little over an hour of music to leave a big impact. This mix manages to create nostalgia for dancefloor memories which haven’t even been born yet and in a year of chaos and uncertainty, Drew and Octa may have just made a big impact which is yet to come to fruition.
Fabric presents Eris Drew and Octo Octa is available to purchase via Bandcamp.