Logos mean a lot in dance music: they promise what’s in store. The Daisychain Podcast, a mix series founded in Chicago two years ago by Alicia Greco aka Leesh, has a great one, a brightly rendered daisy (of course) with an acid smiley in the middle and bordered by, what else, a chain, over a bright background that rotates colours. It signifies the series’ aim: “From upbeat disco to dark dungeon techno, and everything in between, the voice is inherently positive,” says Leesh.
The range, she suggests, is deliberate. The series sets out to celebrate diversity, with every set from a woman or non-binary DJ. Daisychain isn’t the first podcast to do this, but it’s one of the most consistent, and its focus on community building is paramount. “The daisy flower, which is actually made of two flowers, is symbolic of many things but [here] represents new beginnings and transformation,” says Leesh. “The chain has deep symbolism ranging from dark to light. It might represent the oppression placed on us by ourselves or by others. It might signify our breaking of those oppressive chains or the unity of our interlocking connections that inspire our strength. Probably both.”
One way that Leesh ensures freshness is by letting the DJs take their time. “There never really has been a backlog of mixes,” she says. “I plan the schedule far in advance, but I leave as much time as possible for the DJ to create and submit their mix. Each week I really zone in all of my attention to the DJ that week, their mix and what they have to say... what I hope is that Daisychain has an equalising effect. We deserve the chance to have our voices heard. And luckily I keep meeting and connecting with so many amazing folks who have something really great to say.” Here are eight who say a lot, in order:
JANUARY 2018 فناء (FANA'), DAISYCHAIN 004
FEBRUARY 2018 BFLO LYDIA, DAISYCHAIN 007
One especially gratifying thing about Daisychain is getting to hear a lot of local scene pillars throughout the US: people who’ve put in serious time, and know their stuff. Before moving to Chicago, Leesh had delved into dance culture while living in Buffalo, New York, upstate from the five boroughs, a city of a quarter of a million with an attentive dance scene. This one comes from there, too: Bflo Lydia is a 20-year veteran whose SoundCloud bio reads, “She is old, crotchety and plays gay Jesus disco house.” The set romps as hard as that description suggests.
AUGUST 2018 MINDY SHERMAN, DAISYCHAIN 031
Plenty of DJs say pie-in-the-sky things like, “The dynamics in jazz bands and orchestra really drives my sounds as a DJ”, as Chicagoan Mindy Sherman does in the notes to this set, but one listen leaves you in no doubt that this time it’s actually true. It goes completely left, kicking off with a heavy experimental Steve Reich piece before the set winds its way into a deep house groove.
OCTOBER 2018 CCL, DAISYCHAIN 041
DECEMBER 2018 OCTO OCTA, DAISYCHAIN 046
This is the most popular Daisychain podcast by far, with nearly 18k SoundCloud listens, and for good reason: it’s jacking deep house, 90s inspired and sourced, at its inspirational best: cut-up diva vocals, glassy keyboard hooks, surging string pads, clunky-yet-right FX, the works. One soundbite says it all: “You need some activate.”
FEBRUARY 2019 VICKI SIOLOS, DAISYCHAIN 048
MAY 2019 JUANA, DAISYCHAIN 072
SEPTEMBER 2019 NONCOMPLIANT, DAISYCHAIN 086
My favourite 2019 Daisychains have been from techno DJs. A longtime fixture on the New York party scene, Vicki Siolos has begun to play out only fairly recently, but her handful of online sets have been made with evident care and a sharp focus. This one spotlights Silent Season, a Vancouver-based label whose foggy techno is apparently inspired by the mossy rainforests and the natural surroundings of British Columbia, Canada.
The DC-based Juana goes for a more straightforwardly warehouse-ready style, with heavy hitters like Marcel Dettmann and Adam Beyer setting the pace before it begins to reach for sunlight during the last 10 minutes. That’s also the sound of Noncompliant, the Indiana native who’s been taking her hard, no-nonsense beats to the likes of Berghain. But her Daisychain hour takes a more leisurely path here: the tempos start a touch slower than usual; the build-up emphasises funk and tonal variety. Some links in the chain are louder than others.
Michaelangelo Matos is Mixmag's mixes expert, follow him on Twitter