An underrated portion of FYF Fest has been its selections on dance music. While the headlining rock bands get higher in tier and more populist, the festival has chosen more and more underground stars when it comes to the DJs and live electronic acts. Just last year, the time slots were filled by synthesizer wizard Oneohtrix Point Never, monochrome techno eccentric Andy Stott and Chicago house ambassador The Black Madonna — who returns this year for a DJ set on day two.
This year once again features a lot of exciting names from house and techno, some new, some longtime icons. Here’s a guide to five of them who you should check out.
Avalon Emerson (Saturday)
Recommended: Grooves Podcast 52, 2016
The Arizona desert played a big part to raise Avalon Emerson’s name as one of last year’s best in techno. Her hit single “The Frontier” took inspiration from the rich, desolate expanse of her past home; its B-side “2000 Species of Cacti” leans into the more enchanting corners. Her mix for Groove, meanwhile, taps the sounds of her new place in Berlin. The tracks she culls move rough around the edges but also playful and loose — a duality that’s become somewhat of Emerson’s signature.
Fatima Yamaha (Saturday)
Recommended: Dekmantel x Boiler Room, 2015
Bas Bron’s “What’s a Girl to Do” from 2004 quietly had a second life as the anthem of 2015 after a re-issue of the single from Dekmantel, a long-trusted label for technicolor synth jams such as the producer’s as Fatima Yamaha. His hot year concluded with the release of the great techno playhouse in the Imaginary Lines album. The producer’s latest single “Araya” and its B-sides from this year continue to find him flex a signature synth magic that make right of techno’s impression of Kraftwerk jamming with George Clinton.
Helena Hauff (Friday)
Recommended: Essential Mix, 2017
Helena Hauff holds up Germany’s rep as the industrial corner of European techno. She keeps an ear for dance-floor movers that feel gritty and steely on the surface, and her tastes are all on show on her incredible Essential Mix from earlier this year on BBC Radio 1. The two-hour mix is full of squelching bass and clanking drums that pays respect to the Underground Resistance, the Detroit crew responsible for birthing techno. The anthems might be dark but never dull.
Motor City Drum Ensemble (Saturday)
Recommended: Dimensions Festival, 2015
For a decade or so now, Danilo Plessow has filled his DJ sets as Motor City Drum Ensemble with classic house in between riches of disco, soul and funk records— the root of modern-day electronic dance music. But don’t let the traditionalism deter you: he plays loose with the selections, his priority less on giving a history lecture than showing just how fun dance music can be. Take his set at the Dimensions Festival in 2015 where he starts his all-night-of-funk set with Karen Jones’ “Under the Influence of Love” where she sings, “I’m gonna make you in dance all night under the influence…”
Omar S (Sunday)
Recommended: RA 500, 2016
Omar S’s music is a pure reflection of the legend’s own public persona. Moving at its own pace, his take on classic Detroit techno shifts freely from smooth to brash depending on the man’s mood. His smooth mode of funk, as heard in the title track to the great Thank You for Letting Me Be Myself, opens sincere but he’s not afraid to flex and preach: he named his latest album The Best! for one. The mix he handed in for Resident Advisor’s 500th podcast sums up his always self-motivated work ethic with the artist including all his selections from his own FXHE label.