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Summer Jams: Local DJs Pick Their Top Songs for Summer

In Music
Goldenchyld in the mix during Soul Therapy at Myth Taverna & Lounge. Photo by Jessica Shirley-Donnelly.

Goldenchyld in the mix during Soul Therapy at Myth Taverna & Lounge. Photo by Jessica Shirley-Donnelly.

Summer proper arrives on Saturday, and the best of the season in Silicon Valley is yet to come: backyard barbecues and pool parties, cruising with the windows down on hot nights or, perhaps, clinking a cool beverage with friends on one of the many outdoor bar patios throughout the valley.

No matter the activity, a well-curated soundtrack can only enhance the mood. We polled eight Silicon Valley DJs, including members of the BVMO and Bangerz crews, to compile a list of 24 tracks to accompany the season. Collectively, the group represents some of the most active selectors from the Silicon Valley club scene, and arguably the local music scene’s hottest exports.

The cast below has roots in Silicon Valley but on any given weekend can be found rocking parties from Seattle to Vegas and L.A., where Cutso recently made his debut at celebrated day party the Do-Over.

Whether it’s a hankering for a soul classic, a fresh dance cut or an innovative cross-genre remix, the DJs provide a spectrum of their favorite tunes. Consider this a cheat sheet to kick-start this season.

SmoovGroovs (BVMO)

Ducksauce—“Goody Two Shoes”
You can always find a perfect balance between funk, soul and dance music in many of Ducksauce’s tunes. I love the vocal sample and the driving drums on this track.

Foster the People—“Best Friend (Waveracer Remix)”
Foster the People is just a flat-out epic band. I first heard the original song live at Coachella 2014 and it has been on rotation nonstop. Wave Racer puts an electronic, bouncy, soulful and bright spin on the song, giving it a fresh new vibe while keeping it intact. Sunny day vibes here, for sure.

Pharrell—“Frontin’ (Disclosure Re-Work)”
A classic hip-hop tune reworked U.K.-house style. In addition to Pharrell’s Smokey the Bear-style ranger hat getting lots of attention these days, the young duo Disclosure from the U.K. has been making a lot of noise in underground and popular music. This re-work has the U.K. funky bassline present throughout the track, punchy percussion and, of course, the classic vocals of Pharrell.

Cutso (Bangerz)

Sade—”Smooth Operator (Star Slinger Remix)
A thumpin’ retouch of one of the coolest songs ever recorded. It’s kind of an undeniable one on the dance floor because of its bassy bounce. It’s good for both the day and night parties. And let’s face it, nothing goes with a fine whiskey and a two-step in your good clothes better than Sade.

Jaded Incorporated—”Coconut Sofa”
Mayer Hawthorne and producer 14KT get synth wavy on a Thomas Dolby kind of vibe. It’s their own personal concoction, which they fondly call “beat wave.” This joint ain’t for everybody—only the sexy, quirky people. You can bust your weird, off-the-wall dance moves to this one.

Brother In Arms—”Jamaican Gyal”
A hot retouch on Grace Jones’ ode to an island lover, “My Jamaican Guy,” Brother In Arms brings SF’s J-Boogie and Deejay Theory together for a round of dancefloor burners. Their expertise in Moombahton, dancehall, tropical bass and other genres make for the perfect mixture to get the party people ready to sweat.

SheaButter (BVMO)

Starship Connection—“We Can Go All Night”
If this isn’t the theme song for “heading home” with the baddest girl in the bar, I don’t know what is. This is one of those jams that causes arthritis in your finger due to pressing the repeat button one too many thousand times. The direct lyrics, while simplistic, might get you lucky if you sing along.

Antwon—“3rd world Grrl (produced by froskees)”
Highway 1, windows down, something that smells like a stunk being blown out the window—this song makes for the perfect combination on any summer day. Give it up for San Jose’s Biggie Smalls. No Diddy, though.

Captain Planet feat. Chico Mann—“Un Poquito Mas”
Ay Dios Mio. This uptempo, Latin-infused track will have you screaming for “a little more.” After the first 16 bars you find the rhythm taking over and you are left with no choice but to move your body to this beautifully composed track.

DJ AJ Orbit

Porter Robinson—“Sad Machine”
The Vocaloid voice synthesizer gives this song a magical feel. Porter has come a long way. I was fortunate to open for him at Motiv in Santa Cruz for the very first show of his career. I’m loving his new musical direction and I think his album Worlds will be a success.

The Knocks—“Comfortable (Awe Remix) feat. X ambassadors”
The energy in this track is amazing. The vocals and upbeat rhythm of this song will go well with hot weather and large bodies of water.  Awe is a very clever producer.

Lido—“I love You”
The intro of this song already put me in a trance, not to mention the funky melodies and a banging beat. This wonder producer will soon rise up and take center stage.

Goldenchyld (Bangerz)

Kool and the Gang—“Summer Madness”
There are so many great, different songs that have sampled the original track from Kool and the Gang. It will remain in eternal summer rotation.

Quincy Jones—“Summer In The City”
There’s never really a bad time to hear this song. To me, if you really want to capture the essence of summer, throw this on at the end of a Sunday evening barbecue while you sit with your favorite drink outside and watch the sunset.


Childish Gambino—“3005 (Louis Futon Remix)”
Since I cited two songs that have been out forever, here is a new one I really dig. I pick this track simply out of the pure vibe it gives off when you listen to it. It’s impossible to feel anything other than awesomely relaxed and ready to do whatever at the same time. To me that’s what summertime is all about.

RCADE (BVMO)

Bastille—“Bad Blood (Lido Remix)”
This actually came out a couple weeks ago and I was immediately blown away. Butter chords, heavy hits and the song develops with new elements all the way to the end. Almost like a DJ mixtape, this track will take you on an audio journey, all in under five minutes.

Bro Safari & UFO!—“The Dealer (Milo & Otis Remix)”
One of the heaviest tracks this year for me. This track is in most of my sets these days. Big summertime vibes with a quick transition into one of the illest drops, period. From moombahton to twerk to trap, it’s got it all. Milo & Otis is another group that is dropping nonstop hits.

Duke Dumont feat. Jax Jones
This track is a summertime sure shot, with feel-good house vibes mixed with deep house elements—soulful vocals, bangin’ drums and an amazing vibe all the way through. This track is guaranteed to get people moving.

DJ Remedy

Lil Jon—“Bend Ova”
This track is straight fire. The first time I heard the track I didn’t want it to end. It has the same feel as “Turn Down For What” so you know it will be a monster everywhere this summer.

Lil Wayne ft. Drake—“Believe Me”
This one right here is already creeping up in DJs’ prime-time club sets. This track takes the baton from “Started From the Bottom” and keeps it moving. The beat bumps and lyrics match to make it a perfect combination.

Zeds Dead & Twin Shadow—“Lost You (Original Mix)”
So, my other picks are straight hip-hop fire for the clubs this summer, but since I play all genres, I chose “Lost You” by Zeds Dead as my house music summer track. The vocals are clear and the production is chunky so the speakers will be thumping real nice this summer.

G-Wrex (Bangerz)

Drake—“ 0 to 100”
The song of the summer. The beat brings you back to some Wu-Tang shit you mob out to on a hot summer night. Drake’s delivery and consistent, clever lyrics keep you zoned out until you reach your destination. The slow-down portion of the beat keeps your mind lifted, if you know what I mean.

Tinashe—“2 On”
Mustard on the beat! This producer has been on a tear lately, filling the summer air waves with heat. “2 On” is no exception, an instant summer classic. This song is guaranteed to keep the dance floor packed. Tinashe’s sexy tone, catchy hook on top of a Mustard track is a recipe for you to roll down your windows, too.

Miguel—“The Thrill (Spotify Session Version)”
This live performance in my opinion is way better than the original. This song is something you play when you’re headed to the bar with the top down. Miguel’s lyrics matched with the acoustic guitar helps you imagine the thrill of the night.

Rosey Gonzales contributed to this report.

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Matt Crawford is content director for Boulevards New Media, Inc. and Metro Newspaper and managing editor of SF Station. Follow him @Metro_Matt.

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