DJ-Kicks Q&A: Motor City Drum Ensemble

The eclectic and personal DJ-Kicks mix from Cologne’s Danilo Plessow, a/k/a Motor City Drum Ensemble has inspired praise for its adventurous tracklist and meticulous mixing.  Primarily known as a producer, we were interested in how the process of making a mix different from his approach to his studio recording.  Motor City Drum Ensemble’s DJ-Kicks is out now.

What equipment did you use to make the DJ-Kicks mix?  Are the tools different than what you use for your live DJ gigs, or productions?

Definitely. In the beginning I started the classic way and tried to mix with turntables, but then decided to record all the tracks and try something new. It was the first time I used Abelton for a mix. A lot of the tracks I chose were really not made to be beatmatched. But that was part of what I wanted to do on this mix – make mixes that are totally not expected.

Many listeners have praised the cohesiveness of the mix given the eclectic track list.  Did keeping the transitions smooth limit your selection at all?  Were there tracks you would have liked to include, but passed on due to difficulty in mixing them?

No. A large part of this comes down to hours spent on moving tiny little bits around in Ableton. Without the help of my good friend Jennifer Cardini, who already had some years’ experience with Ableton, this would have been a nightmare for me. I cant thank her enough!

Were there tracks which you would have liked to include (or did include in early versions of the mix) which proved difficult to license?

This was the hardest part. I think there are 5 different versions of this DJ mix, all with different tracks which we couldn’t license. I’m very happy about the final one though, a lot of effort was taken to include some stuff that was really hard to get a hold of.

Did the exclusive track L.O.V.E. develop once the mix had started to take shape, or was it produced independently of the mix?

I knew in which direction I wanted to go. I definitely didn’t want to do a 4 to the floor classic house thing, but something more song-orientated. The track itself was done in some night sessions around the same time as the first few versions of the mix were created, but as usual not finished until some hours before the final deadline haha.

Do you have a favorite DJ mix of all time?

One mix I always return to, whether I feel sad or full of joy, a mix that is guaranteed to move me is one of Theo Parrish`s first demo mixes I think.  It’s called “Methods of Movement” and I’ve probably heard it more than any other mix.