BPM Festival 2015 has finally drawn to a close, following 10 marathon days in Mexico’s Playa del Carmen, from January 9-18. In this post we want to highlight the hottest tracks of BPM Festival 2015. The festival featured performances by everyone from AC Slater to Wolf & Lamb, Carl Cox to Carl Craig, Dusky to Dixon, Marco Carola to Marcus Worgull, DJ Sneak to DJ Tennis, Lee Burridge to Lee Foss, and even a showcase pitting Cajmere vs. Green Velvet.
Celebrating its eighth anniversary, BPM 2015 boasted over 350 artists and 80 parties over ten days on the Mayan Riviera. Though it typically extends from Playa del Carmen to the beach paradise of Tulum, this year the official parties were restricted to Playa and the events in Tulum were kept quiet, private and reserved. The drive from Tulum, where we stayed, to Playa was a mission, and Playa was a bit of a clusterfuck at times, so we made any party off the beaten path or by the beach our priority.
Our crew contained a mixed gang from Miami, NYC, LA and Mexico City, and we did our best to cover as much ground as possible, passing assault rifle-armed checkpoints at sunrise and partying with Federales, wandering rock-strewn paths in the jungle, watching the sun rise on white sands and sleeping out under the stars. We were everywhere, checking for the top tracks each night, collecting selections from a wide range of DJs who played the festival, with picks from Nicole Moudaber, Jimmy Edgar, Luca Bacchetti, Alan Fitzpatrick, Frank & Tony, Harvard Bass, Sonns, Butch and Amtrac.
Welcome to the jungle, where Shazam won’t save you, where day and night reverse, and the dancefloors are strewn with sand. Here are our 12 top tracks of BPM Festival 2015.
Deetron – “Photon”
Heard at Ovum Recordings @ La Santanera Terrace, Day 1
Headlining his Ovum Recordings night at La Santanera Terrace, a multi-floor club with a neon portrait of Jesus DJing and benevolently encouraging us to imbibe, Josh Wink kicked things off in classic style. The standout moment came about an hour into his set, with the unmistakeable chords and jubilant piano house stabs of Deetron’s latest cut “Photon,” which dropped last month on Character.
Crystal Bandito – “Feel So Free”
Heard at Maya Jane Coles & Friends @ Blue Parrot, Day 1
Meanwhile, Jimmy Edgar played Maya Jane Coles & Friends, with Dusky, Heidi and Kimm Ann Foxman. We were excited to check out his set, after hearing his new Fabriclive 79 mix, which features a gang of new and forthcoming tracks from Ultramajic, his label with Machinedrum.
We spoke with Jimmy, and he named several cuts from the mix as tracks he was looking forward to playing, including his unreleased jam “Tik Tok,” and another track from the Fabriclive mix, Crystal Bandito’s “Feel So Free,” our top track of the night.
Levon Vincent – “Man or Mistress”
Heard at Life & Death @ Blue Venado, Day 2
The Life & Death party Saturday night took place at a resort frequently used for weddings, several kilometers from Playa, marked by a large blue balloon, which was virtually impossible to miss. We missed it a half dozen times, parked at an abandoned gas station and watched someone smoke something in a truck for a while, then got rolled up on by a tinted out Isuzu with no license plates and a cardboard window.
Finally, we spotted the balloon, parked in a field, and piled into the back of a rusted out truck that looked like something you’d go on a safari through a junk yard in. The truck stuttered down a rocky path and deposited us at a barricade, behind which Ben UFO peeled off dark, percussive tracks to a packed dancefloor, as the waves lapped the shore a few yards from the bar. Yellow spears of light shot into the surf, illuminating the sea, as Ben UFO faded into the opening notes of Levon Vincen’t 2011 track “Man or Mistress.” Posted up where the dancefloor met the bar, our crew was all smiles.
Frank & Tony – “Call Me Rain”
Heard at Punch Drunk Love @ Canibal Royal Beach Club, Day 3
The next day we started with NYC label Scissor and Thread’s Punch Drunk Love party, which boasted the headiest lineup of the festival, featuring Fred P, Delano Smith and Frank & Tony. The sound was top notch- no surprise, as the event was thrown in conjunction with Scissor and Thread/NYC club Output’s Shawn Schwartz. The party was on the water, and the vibe was just right.
We asked Anthony Collins of Frank & Tony to tell us something about his top track of the night, “Call Me Rain,” from Frank & Tony’s recent album You Go Girl. “It seems like a simple track at first, but it really works wonders on the floor,” Anthony explained. “It’s just deep, driving house music.”
Auden – “Lock In”
Heard at Hot Flush @ La Santanera, Day 3
Later that night, we stopped by the Hot Flush party at La Santanera for another round of Ben UFO, who played B2B with Joy Orbison. We spoke with the night’s big surprise guest Alan Fitzpatrick, who played a hair-raising set, and clued us into his top tracks of the night.
“The tracks that stood out most for me were the new Auden track on Hotflush, ‘Lock In,’ the Tom Demac remix of ‘Belly Of The Beast’ on Hype Ltd, and even though it is totally indulgent and shameless, I’ve got to include Adamski’s ‘Killer,’ because it was my last tune and the place went nuts!” Killer.
Amtrac – “Truly”
Heard at Night Bass @ Tabu, Day 4
The music at AC Slater’s Night Bass differed pretty wildly from the techno, tech house and house that mostly made up the festival. Night Bass took place at Tabu, a club in the most Spring Break corner of Playa. Pounding house, top 40 hip-hop and bottle service “beats” pulverized us at every turn, so we sought refuge in Tabu where Amtrac was playing a cut he had literally made the day before, in the spirit of the festival. “I made this track in Playa after the first night I was there,” Amtrac told us. “I was truly inspired by the festival and the vibe, so I had it ready just in time to test out at Night Bass.”
…Heard anywhere, Day 5
On Tuesday we slept, checked out Tulum, and ate our first sit down meal of the week. Lunch – highly recommended. Tulum – very beautiful, still.
Embassy Of Joy – “Addiction” (Patlac Remix)
Heard at Endless @ Fusion, Day 6
Wednesday was a big day. We stopped by Luca Bacchetti’s Endless party at Fusion, another beachside club, where Luca played Embassy Of Joy’s recent release “Addiction” (Patlac Remix) on Endless, which he also picked as his top cut of the day.
Mr. & Mrs. Dale – “It’s You” (New York, London Mix)
Heard at Making Shapes @ Tabu, Day 6
That night, we returned to Tabu, where we caught impeccable sets by LA’s Sonns and Jeniluv, at their Making Shapes party, which is not only one of LA’s most consistently excellent events, but was also one of the best at BPM. The party featured our favorite set of the festival, courtesy of NYC afterhours legend Eric Duncan, of Rub-n-Tug and Still Going fame.
Tabu was one of BPM’s smaller clubs, and the vibe was unmatched. We walked in as Sonns dropped Mr. & Mrs. Dale’s “It’s You” (New York, London Mix), which Sonns described as “an absolute classic and one of my biggest tunes of the night. The vibe was just electric – hands in the air, hugs, sing along jammy jam, packed dance floor- all love everywhere.”
Truncate – “Model 1″
Heard at Form Music @ Tabu, Day 7
Thursday was a big one, and we were back at Tabu, where German DJ and producer Butch played the Form Music party. Butch told us he was excited to play his top track of the night, a techno stormer by LA’s Truncate, “Model 1,” which dropped last month via Truncate.
Alcatraz – “Give Me Luv” (Nicole Moudaber Remix)
Heard at In The Mood @ La Santanera, Day 7
We also stopped in at Nicole Moudaber’s In The Mood party at La Santanera, for another glimpse at the neon Jesus, and an impeccable techno set by Nicole. “I don’t blow my trumpet usually but it has to be my remix of Alcatraz’s ‘Give Me Luv’ on Yoshitoshi,” she told us, of her top track of the night. “Every single DJ I know is hammering it at the moment.”
C.A.R. – “Idle Eyes” (Roman Flügel Remix)
Heard at Innervisions @ Blue Venado, Day 7
As usual, the Innervisions party was the one everyone was talking about, and we returned to the Blue Venado, which was packed to the gills. Henrik Schwarz played an incredibly vibey, typically soulful set as the sun threatened to rise and Dixon took the decks, more visibly excited to close out the night than we’d seen in the past.
The party was to be cut short at 7:30AM, due to a rumored international incident involving a missing US politician’s daughter who had wandered off and forgotten to check in with her dad, but the night was still excellent. The highlight came as the sun melted over the water, and Dixon played Roman Flugel’s revelatory remix of C.A.R.’s “Idle Eyes,” a top track from his set at Time Warp NYC as well.
Paul Johnson – “Speech Impediment”
Heard at Tuskegee @ Blue Parrot, Day 8
On what would prove to be our last night at the festival, we returned to the Blue Parrot for Seth Troxler’s Tuskegee party, where he was joined by The Martinez Brothers, Harvard Bass and Filsonik. The Martinez Brothers pulled out a monstrous set, and San Diego techno titan Harvard Bass named Paul Johnson’s “Speech Impediment,” which dropped in October on Chiwax, his top track of the evening.
“The night was crazy full ’cause we were playing,” Harvard Bass explained, with his typical humor. “As I went out to the dance floor to get my dance on, ‘Speech Impediment’ came on and took me on a whole new ride.”
We caught a whole new ride as well, as we walked out into the morning, dove into the crystal blue water one last time, and boarded a plane back home.