Henlo :) It's SPRING now (March is always a plot twist and just an extra winter month, right?) so we've got a warm, wavy, werqout mix from the incredible kels (Kels Davidson), founder and organizer of the Detroit-based event and mix series Maneater. Read on below to learn all about her, the mix, and more. U know the drill ;)
Davidson gave a name to this mix - an exciting new dimension and idea for our community. She's calling it “You wasn’t with me when I was shootin' in the gym,” which is an apt introduction to her music beginnings. "Growing up I had a father who was a college and pro athlete," she notes. "My family opened up a big gym in my hometown (Clio, Michigan), which is about 20 minutes north of Flint. We had two basketball courts and a workout facility. I went to school in Clio till 8th grade, and then went to a private school in Flint for high school.
"My whole childhood consisted of playing sports and living in gyms all around the U.S. But I always had a strong attachment to music. I had cases and cases of CDs, went to hundreds of concerts growing up, and would always pick up on the music my parents were playing.
This also meant hearing what Davidson calls Jock Jams. "My parents had a compilation of like 5 jock jam CDs that I definitely listened to front and back multiple times when I was younger. It was fun to make a mix where I could just be silly, share some of my favorites from my childhood, and not worry about mixing. "
When Davidson hit the end of high school, she moved her sights from sports to theater, allowing her to explore music, performance, and understanding the relationship between a crowd and an act. "I am always a little angsty when I think about how I didn’t play an instrument in high school, so I wanted to do a mix that reflected being an athlete growing up and the way music was integrated into that lifestyle.
"This mix reflects what I would listen to in my headphones to pump me up before a big event, the music that played on the speakers during a warm up, or tracks we would make dances to in the locker room. Jock jams have been on rotation for me my whole life. Quite honestly one my favorite genre of music NO SHAME."
A stellar example—Davidson's pick "We Are Family," the final track on the mix. It not only was the unofficial "themesong" of Clio, but she remembers being taught the song in music class. "The whole town would sing it at the parades they hosted in the summer."
Another one: "Pump Up The Jam." "I recently played a David Morales edit of it at a party in Los Angeles and dance circles broke out, which is my all time favorite thing to see on a dance floor. I also recently heard it played at Hot Mass and had a panic attack. EVERYONE freaks out when this song comes on. That’s the power of jock jam.
The first DJ Davidson heard—Erick Morillo—was in Chicago in 2010 with two friends. "I took the music and ran with it. I was into DJs like Boris from NYC, Anthony Attalla, Derrick Carter, Loco Dice, Carl Cox, and Martinez Brothers. Mainstream underground showed me the way, and we would travel everywhere to see them." But soon enough, Davidson began to dive on her own into more intimate spaces like house parties thrown by Detroit DJs. "I wanted to be a part of a smaller dance music community where I knew most of the people on the dance floor, and could call them friends. I was also sick of the same repetitive sounds that I would hear at the big festivals and big clubs I would hangout at, and I wanted to dive into obscure, more freaky sounds that made me feel more like myself.
2015 meant buying her first set of turntables, and November 2017 saw Davidson DJ for a crowd for the first time. "What I like about dance music is that I am constantly learning. There's an ocean of music, and my collection is only a little droplet. I feel blessed that I have a hobby where I can be a lifelong learner of and constantly sharpen my craft of digging and mixing."
Her wrap-up thoughts: "Be thankful for the dancers at a party, and make them feel appreciated. Being on the dance floor is the most important role that I play in my life, and I know that it is sometimes easy to look over. A lot of us that tell our story through bodily motions on the dance floor every weekend. The club, the DJ, and the promoter would be nothing without the dancers that walk in vulnerable to the music and connections that are about to take place."
Voice recording- kels
I Love Rock n Roll- Britney Spears
Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance- C+C Music Factory
Another One Bites the Dust- Sure Shot Kid
Rhythm is a Dancer- Snap!
Bust A Move- Young MC
Teach Me How to Dougie- Cali Swag District
Back in Black x Get ur Freak On Mashup- Workout Buddy
I Like The Way You Move- Outkast
Space Jam- Quad City DJs
Get Ready for This- 2 Unlimited
(You Gotta) Fight Your Right (To Party)- Beastie Boys (Workout Mix)
Pump Up The Jam- Technotronic
Word Up- Cameo
Safety Dance- Men Without Hats
We are Family- Sister Sledge
I teamed up Kels with a painting by Ashley Teamer, who shares a similar background on the court. Teamer's work Touch The Moon is an homage to WNBA superheroes—and the legacy of her grandmother, who founded the all-women's basketball team, the Dillard Bleu Devils, and then coached for nearly 30 years at the historically black college, Dillard University, in New Orleans. Both the artwork and the mix are bright, energetic, rooted in history, and genuinely dope.