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Mixing is something I’ve always been passionate about – not just as a DJ, but as a listener and ex-clubber. I love hearing two records sandwiched together beautifully. I really enjoy a long, drawn-out mix where you start to hear different elements joining in, bit by bit. Such was the creativeness of dance music in the past, one could instantly recognise what was gradually coming in. ‘Horny ‘98’ and ‘ Mysterious Times’ were two such tracks that I would enjoy hearing mixing in – ‘Horny’ with its ‘popping’ and ‘Mysterious Times’ with it distinctive ‘der der der der’ drum.

Sometimes it seems though, that I am a bit of a dying breed when it comes to being into mixing and I’m not quite sure why. I have, however, noticed two things and I’m not sure which is a result of which. Firstly, a lot of DJs don’t seem to mix anymore and, secondly, music – dance music especially – isn’t being released with mixable extended versions. Now, in true ‘chicken and egg’ style, I don’t know whether DJs aren’t bothering to mix anymore because new music rarely has mixable mixes, or producers aren’t producing mixable versions of their tracks because they know DJs aren’t bothering to mix anymore! Still with me?

I’m sure we’re all familiar with the concept of the 12” mix. It began in the late ‘70s, but it wasn’t until the ‘80s onwards that most dance records, at least, were produced with short and long mixes. Short for the single and radio play, long for the club DJs to mix them into their sets. This, however, didn’t always go to plan and sometimes you would encounter an extremely extended mix, yet you still couldn’t really mix with it. I for one could never work out why the lead mix of Ultra Nate’s ‘Free’, despite clocking in at over 12 minutes, didn’t have a mixable intro and outro. But on the whole, some sort of extended mix was always included, either on a vinyl 12” or compact disc.

This worked well until the latter half of the 1990s when the powers that be decided that a dance single containing seven tracks looked bad value against some sort of indie-rock release with only two or three. They felt that record buyers might go and buy ‘Run Away’ by Real McCoy and not Oasis ‘Live Forever’ for example. The industry has always been anti-dance and so, despite this assertion being absolute drivel, a rule was brought in whereby a single couldn’t last longer than 20 minutes. This infuriated me and I would often end up buying imported CDs so I could get that all important 12” mix. The reason why I couldn’t get them on the UK releases wasn’t just because they only had 20 minutes to play with, but because record labels insisted on including inferior remixes in preference to the original full length version of the track in question. You’d pick up a CD single and find a Radio Edit plus two pointless remixes with no 12” club mix in sight. I recall Multiply and Manifesto being the worst offenders for this.

Sometime after the millennium this rule was relaxed and we began to see a lot of Maxi Singles featuring a plethora of remixes including the good old original extended mix. Recently though, things seems to have gone backwards again. When looking to buy a new dance release now, I find that most of the time there are two digital choices. Choice 1: a short ‘original’ mix. Usually stupidly short (less than three minutes). Choice 2: ‘The Remixes’. Four or five remixes of the track but, of course, they do not include an extended mix of the original. Not only that, but these remixes are also less than three minutes a pop and therefore largely unsuitable for proper beat mixing. I don’t quite know where this has come from, but it really winds me up!

More recently, I have noticed that some 12” mixes are still being produced, but for some ridiculous reason aren’t being made available commercially and instead hidden away on expensive ‘DJ only’ subscription services. For starters, I don’t want to pay a lot of money for 19 tracks I don’t want to get 1 that I do. But, more importantly, it isn’t just DJs that enjoy a full extended mix, so why not make it available to buy for everyone? I’m an on-and-off fan of dance act Galantis. Sometimes they’re glorious, sometimes they’re awful. They seem to be one of the main culprits for this. Up until a few years ago they were always producing an extended or ‘club’ mix, but they’ve since stopped. I was especially annoyed when in 2019 they released the rather marvellous Dolly Parton collaboration ‘Faith’, but all they let us have was a 3:07 Edit and a collection of awful – and awfully short – remixes.
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The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 102, Pages 40-42.
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