Few radio mixes hold the clout and prestige of BBC Radio 1’s weekly Essential Mix. Hosted by Pete Tong, the two hour mix has turned into the pinnacle of musical showcases since its inception in 1993. The BBC Essential Mix has acted as a launching pad for many artists’ careers and always receives a whole-hearted effort by the show’s guest because that’s what it demands. For an iconic show with a massive audience, the Essential Mix provides producers a medium to preview new music, play older tracks, give the listeners insight on their musical inspirations, or all of the above. 2014 witnessed a couple superb Essential Mixes. DJ Snake, Porter Robinson and Green Velvet all blessed the decks to deliver fantastic and diverse sets. However, this year was more of a down year for BBC Essential Mixes, as they have been a bit inconsistent in terms of stand-out mixes. Fortunately for us dance music fans, BBC featured London-based Jon Hopkins to provide what could likely be 2014’s Essential Mix of the Year.
Jon Hopkins’ career presents an extensive and incredibly underrated body of work. The producer got his start as a keyboardist for Imogen Heap before pursuing a solo career in 1999. Since then, Jon has released four albums, produced a film score, and collaborated with the likes of Coldplay for 2014’s Midnight and Purity Ring for 2013’s Breathe this Air. Jon Hopkins’ unique style provided a noteworthy platform, resulting in an astronomic rise as a revered producer. Over the years, Jon has transcended genres, transitioning from ambient trance to downtempo techno, to pleasantly offbeat electro. His organic sound is bolstered by Jon’s ability to act as a composer and pepper his songs with piano solos, organs and harmoniums. Jon Hopkins’ latest album Immunity, released in 2013, was universally acclaimed and is an absolute must hear. It is Jon Hopkins at his best.
Jon Hopkins’ Essential Mix is a work of art. Comprised in a studio on Ableton, the mix is meticulously put together to create a ambient body of work that encapsulates the listener in a pleasantly entrancing space. The mix is so extraordinarily cohesive and fluid that it listens as one continuous piece. It’s difficult to even recognize transitions. You could tell the mix was going to be good solely based off of Pete Tong’s introduction. He tends to be even more hyperbolic when he is featuring an artist he is really in to. Early in the mix, Jon shows us an unreleased track called Interlude that for some odd reason missed the cut of the Immunity album. Also featured were two incredible remixes of Immunity tracks, in Moderat’s remix of Abandon Window and Pangea’s remix of Collider. Jon Hopkins’ Essential Mix is a joyous and adventurous journey that shows where Jon draws his information from. It is always extremely satisfying to receive a glimpse of what inspires someone as talented as Jon Hopkins.
Unfortunately, Jon recently played an unparalleled performance in July at the Crocodile, so he might not return to the Pacific Northwest soon enough. Dance Music Northwest will be sure to let you know the minute he is booked again for another local show. Jon also did an AMA on Reddit just yesterday. It is not live anymore, so he is not still taking questions, but it is an intriguing read. Check out this legendary performance Jon Hopkins did for Seattle-based radio station KEXP as well. The preparation Jon did for that performance is hard to fathom, but not surprising given his prowess.
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