There's certainly an incredible amount of skill in mastering the art of DJing across one genre. It might seem easy, but keeping a dance floor locked in without switching styles isn't something just anyone can do.
That being said, we'd argue that the true art of DJing comes with the ability to mix any mood, style or flavour to suit the moment, reaching as far and wide as possible across eras, genres and energy levels to bring the audience closer together.
As Theo Parrish once said, "Fuck genres. I’m still trying to find a good country record that I can play in my set.” Amen.
Here, we celebrate 14 selectors who've mastered the art of eclectic DJing.
Image by Dustin A. Beatty, via
With more than 40 years of material in his arsenal, the veteran UK selector prefers to think about his music in terms of "facets," "moods," or "flavours," which is exactly why he can “do the sunrise on the beach in some far off tropical land” and “the S&M in Berghain, all in the same weekend,” as he told Ibiza Spotlight last year. It doesn’t get more versatile than that.
Listen to: DJ Harvey’s classic 1999 Essential Mix.
Image by Laurent Villarem, via
A true DJing original, Armenian-born François K got his start at famed clubs like Studio 54 and the Paradise Garage — an era well before dance music genres even really existed. These days he’ll hit boogie, disco, drum and bass, house, funk, techno and electro in one set with buttery-smooth ease.
Listen to: François K in the Mixmag Lab NYC
Image by Garry Jones, via
The Hessle Audio co-founder rose to fame on the back of UK bass, but has a well-earned reputation as one of today’s most gifted selectors (possibly the best alive right now), moving seamlessly through genres with imperceptible precision. It’s plain to see why he’s not a producer: his story is best told through the medium of DJing. There’s truly nothing on earth like a great Ben UFO set, and with skills like his, you’re never going to hear a bad one.
Listen to: Three hours of Ben UFO live at Twitch, Belfast
Cult hero, Kenny Dixon Jr. is one of dance music’s most prominent and shadowy figures, shunning the limelight both in the press and on stage, where he’s often seen covering his face while he plays. The first and only officially licensed mix CD in his 30-year career, Dixon’s DJ Kicks mix is a brilliantly cohesive collage of styles and selections, with a cut from Swedish indie folk singer-songwriter José González intermingling with disco, house, hip hop, funk, and soul — several of which are his own edits — over its 30-track span, and the results not only paint a clear image of the man behind the music, but do so with consummate ease.
Listen to: Moodymann live at Rex Club, Paris, 1995
Amsterdam-based Hun Choi rocketed his way into the RA Top 100 as their highest new entry this year, reaching number 26 on the reader-led poll. Though anyone who’s seen him play live knows exactly how deserved the accolade is. He’s a collector in every sense of the word, effortlessly moving through African rhythms, bargain bin gems, wobbly white labels and even the odd acid bomb. Eclectic to be sure, but it’s his ability to consistently make you feel so damn happy while you’re dancing that really sets Choi apart.
Listen to: Hunee - Live at Trouw (ADE Closing Night - October 2013)
Scottish music, arts and culture mag The Skinny probably said it best, describing Glaswegian duo Optimo as having a "special talent for mixing every genre under the sun." Their legendary night of the same name merged techno, rock and leftfield sounds aplenty, earning JD Twitch and JG Wilkes reputations far and wide as diggers to the extreme who could rock a dance floor hard to boot. Though the night is sadly no more, they’re still as prolific as ever, with JD hosting a staggeringly worldly monthly show on NTS, while both continuing to push dance floors harder than ever with their unique take on what makes clubbers move.
Listen to: Optimo Sub Club x Boiler Room Glasgow DJ Set
“The reason I like techno is because it’s so expansive,” Call Super, aka Joe Seaton told Juno Plus last year. "As soon as techno becomes linear tunnel-vision bullshit, it’s lost its art.” These sentiments can be heard in both his abstract yet rich and vivid debut LP, Suzi Ecto, hailed as the best of the year by XLR8R and Juno Plus in 2014, and in his live sets, where his delicate, focused touch and passion for diverse sounds serve him equally well. Though for a truly stunning representation of Seaton’s taste, check out his choice catalogue of shows on Berlin Community Radio — they’re an utter treat.
Listen to: Call Super Boiler Room London 3 Hour DJ Set
It should be of little surprise Kieran Hebden, aka Four Tet, made our list. A multi-talented instrumentalist able to play the piano, drums, guitar, harpsichord, horn, and the synthesizer, his pop-infused productions incorporate a spectrum of sounds, including hip hop, electronica, techno, jazz, grime — even folk music — and of course, house, all of which translates fully to his wildly enthralling DJ sets that sit somewhere between house, funk and world music. A true musician, his sets almost belie how eclectic they really are, as Hebden’s ability to paint a complete picture with a thousand colours is truly remarkable.
Listen to: Four Tet Boiler Room London DJ Set
There’s something about a DJ who can teleport you from thumping acid to hands up house, spaced out disco to groovy rock remixes, soul classics to sunny, synth-washed melodies without so much as breaking a (visible) sweat or faltering a mix that's basically life affirming. And though Palms Trax is certainly one of the younger picks on our list, it’s no surprise he’s here. A classically trained pianist whose heroes include jazz pianist legend Thelonious Monk, he’s found homes on both the Dekmantel and Lobster Theremin imprints, and is a regular at the former’s world-renowned festival.
Listen to: Live From Dekmantel '15
Very few artists nowadays are as equally adept in the studio as they are behind the decks, but like a few other artists on our list (trend, perhaps?) Omar-S’ command of both is downright legendary. Though as gifted as his studio skills are, there’s something about his sets that sets them apart from anything you’ve ever heard before, composed of multiple sub genres in both house and techno, even rap and hip hop. He simply has a sound all his own.
Listen to: Omar S Boiler Room DJ Set at DIESEL + EDUN present Studio Africa
Secretsundaze and its resident DJs and co-founders Giles Smith and James Priestley have become synonymous with eclectic and hedonistic sounds ever since the brand’s launch in 2002. Both of them equally skilled selectors and keen vinyl collectors, Smith and Priestley’s sets gallop through a daring variety of genres — from straight up techno to disco, classic house, electro, acid and breakbeat, all impeccably mixed together, creating the ultimate hands-in-the-air party vibe without ever getting cheesy. Who else would end their set with Supermax’s 1979 anthem “It Ain’t Easy” and make it work so damn well?
Listen to: Giles and James go back-to-back at Vigo, Spain
Image via Sassy J Facebook page
Like others who made our list, Sassy J will be playing the debut Dekmantel Selectors festival in Croatia this summer — an intimate 5-day party that puts the focus on “extra-ordinary DJs that turned collecting and playing music into an art form,” which Sassy J most assuredly is. The Swiss DJ and promoter has been showing Bern crowds how it’s done for more than 10 years through her own Patchwork night, with guests that cast aside genres as much as her lovingly crafted DJ sets, including Moodymann, MF Doom, Theo Parrish, Sadar Bahar and Floating Points. An expert at starting off slow and esoteric, Sassy J's real skill lies in using any and every sound to build the energy across her sets.
Listen to: Sassy J - Dimensions 2016 Mix #1
Theo once said “fuck the genres, I’m still trying to find a good country and western record that I can play in my set, seriously.” That should tell you all you need to know about this legendary human being, who cites Miles Davis, Stevie Wonder, Jimi Hendrix, Nina Simone, George Gershwin, Bob Marley, and his uncle Dexter Sims as his influences. So, it’s of little wonder Theo Parrish turned up to be one of contemporary dance music’s most eclectic selectors. Though he’s been often categorized as soul, jazz and house, describing Theo is nearly impossible, as he has a sound of his own — something that can be said about very few DJs nowadays.
Listen to: Theo Parrish - Live at Hot Mass Pittsburgh
Laurent Garnier at Time Warp, image by Elephant Studio
Last but certainly not least, the French maestro is one of the godfathers of eclectic DJing, credited over the years by many famous acts as being the one who inspired them to push outside predefined genre boundaries and mix whatever their hearts desired. Highly praised for his music selection and mixing, Laurent Garnier has made a name for himself as one of the most versatile DJs on the planet. Each of his sets is a completely new experience, which cannot be characterized by just one genre or style. When the F Communications boss steps behind the decks, you never know what to expect, which is exactly why his fans love him. Last time we saw him at Time Warp, his emotional set featured everything between Radiohead, Rolando’s “Knights Of The Jaguar,” to trance classic “Age of Love.”
Listen to: Laurent Garnier Boiler Room Lyon DJ set
Few on the list match up to Weatherall’s chops as a DJ. Not only were his early years spent playing the upstairs room at Danny Rampling’s legendary Shoom club, but his rock band remixes are considered by many to be better than the original. Put simply, the man knows music better than most know themselves, and hasn’t let BPM, genre or mood get in the way of a stellar mix in a very long time.
Listen to: Andrew Weatherall - Crack Mix 097
Anyone we missed? Let us know in the comments.