Russell E L Butler

What a glorious start to our 2020 mix series from the ever glowing Russell E.L.Butler who found their feet in the Bay Area underground and has now established themselves as one of the hardest working producers out here with releases on Opal Tapes, Jacktone, Spectral Sound. They're constantly not only pushing their own sound but a theme too, one of love and vulnerability. Their contemplativeness, openness and compassion shines through in their work, distinguishing them. This mix pulls you into their optimism and light, a place we can all escape to right now.

Tell us about this mix:

I just moved to Brooklyn and recently received my possessions, which includes my record collection. I wanted this to be the first mix that would ground me in my space and neighborhood. The records are a mix of purchases old and new and very indicative of the vibe I was serving in 2019, but with a lil extra sauce to show where I’m headed in 2020 and beyond. Lately, some folks have been picking up on the depth of emotion I put into my mixes and track selection and I feel like this is my sappiest mix yet. Cry, please, I have to these tracks a lot. I’ve been a Discwoman supporter from the very beginning, so I’m truly honored to kick off this year of mixes. I don’t know where I’d be without y’all. So yeah this one gets emotional haha.

When did you start DJing?

My first attempt was when I was 18 after about a year of living in the US. It was the end of 2004 and I saw this documentary called Scratch. I’d never seen or experienced music like that before. That lasted about a year and I didn’t really pick it up again until maybe 2011. I was living in SF, my friends had just started putting out records and I lived with a DJ who would let me practice on his setup. I have now been djing as my primary form of labor for 3 years.

First gig:

Oof this one is hard to remember as there are a few different ways to answer this haha. For djing, what sticks out to me was the opening party of this art space in Oakland called B4belab. They threw some pretty crazy parties early on. I helped book Ceephax Acid Crew and DJ Fettburger there, back when. I think I played on belt drive turntables and was no good at beat matching, but somehow still rocked it.

Favorite party ever played:

This one goes to Club Toilet 2018. The sweatiest I’ve been in a club. It was quite the trip. Closing De School May 2019 gets an honorable mention.

Fave DJ:

This one is hard cuz it’s not really hierarchical for me. I truly love the process of DJing and love working out how someone approaches it by listening to or experiencing a set. I can pick up on when a DJ is being their truest self and sharing their vision of life with the dancers. These are the sets that always connect with me. It takes so much strength, love, and vulnerability to dive in expose yourself in this way. That being said, I’m pretty bias and have some of the best friends in the game. For 2019, stand outs were CCL at HONCHO Campout and 8ulentina at Unsound. They are 2 of my best friends. I can really tell when they’re goin in and it makes my heart sing.

Fave producer:

Damn y’all, why the hierarchies? I thought y’all were Once again, circumstances change. London on da track really did that with the Summer Walker record. The Burrell Brothers are my current “buy on sight” producers. Huey Mnemonic has the best breakdowns. James Stinson’s vision is a focal point of my work.

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever gotten?

I’m sure there are others, but Theo Parrish just called me a strong person, so I’mma take that as my highlight of 2020.

Pet peeve when DJing:

Strangers talking to me. Don’t be rude while at I’m at work. Thanks.

Place you’d like to play:

South Africa with my SWAK fam

Something you want everyone to know about you:

I love life, I love living, and I feel blessed to still be able to do so.

1) Keytronics Ensemble - Travelling
2) Eurhythmics - Here Comes the Rain Again
3) Tasty Treats - Listen to the Music
4) TH - Untitled
5) Vandal - The Answer
6) 1 Vision - I Need Ja
7) Kenny Dixon Jr. - January
8) Soundstream - Just Around
9) Robert Glasper -Enoch's House (DJ Kemit Remix)
10) Carl Craig - Goodbye World
11) I Still Love You - Long Island Sound
12) Black Light Smoke - The Right Way
12) N.Y House'n Authority - Forty House
13) Reese & Santonio - How to Play Our Music
14) Severed Heads - Saints Dub Day
15) DAF - Brother Brother
16) Donald Byrd - Caricatures
17) John Swing - Gospel
18) Ali Berger - Keys the Door
19) Harald Mckinney - Ode to Africa
20) Sade - Paradise