New Compilation from Julia Govor Connects DJs and Producers Despite Cancelled Tours

Photo Credit: Yuliya Skya

In a year without dance clubs or music festivals, New York-based DJ and producer Julia Govor wanted to do something to bring together her colleagues. Indefinite Uncertainty, which dropped November 27, is the result of that mission. A 10-track compilation from Govor’s own label, Jujuka, Indefinite Uncertainty is a broadly techno collection with a diverse roster of producers, from Detroit-based experimental collective Pure Rave to Paraguayan dance music pioneer Victoria Mussi.

Some of the artists are people Govor has known for quite a while through DJ circles. Others, she found through avenues like Bandcamp. They all have something in common. “I trust what they do,” Govor says on a recent video call from her home. Plus, she adds, “They are extremely good people with a big heart and care about others.”

For a touring DJ, being on the road is also an opportunity to hear new music, to meet people who may become collaborators and to get feedback on their own work. “When everything is shut down the part of connecting with each other through music basically disappeared, because there’s no shows,” she says. “I decided I have to do something to stay in touch with all of these brilliant musicians.”

In any other year, all these artists might have met up with each other at a gig somewhere in the world, but, without those, Govor is fostering a different kind of connection, one that’s driven by her own love of curation. “I could be connected with them through their music because music is extremely personal expression,” she says. 

Govor herself was set to play Los Angeles the night before the city shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the gig was canceled. It was a disappointment, but, she says, it also showed that the promoters cared about the safety of others. She adds, “It’s very important for me to work with people like this.” 

Originally from Russia, Govor moved to New York six years ago. She’s played clubs from Germany to Brazil and festivals like EDC in Las Vegas. During this time at home, she’s worked on music that had been sitting around unfinished – and that’s led to a big breakthrough. “Quarantine actually helped me to clear my vision on the music that I wanted to do,” she says. She adds that while others in the dance music world may have focused on tracks for at-home listening, that wasn’t what she wanted to make. “I decided I am going to just clear my vision of how dance music could be,” she says. That led to some ideas for what will be her fist proper album; while Govor has been making music for a decade and released plenty of tracks and EPs, she’s yet to put out a full-length. “It was good to understand how can I be who I was before, to learn and understand how can I place myself to the new normals,” she says. “I was just looking and listening and trying to find myself.” 

The year also brought a few other breakthroughs for Govor. She recently earned a residency for New York’s online radio station The Lot. Her show, called Cosmonaut, debuted late last summer. It’s an opportunity to play unreleased tracks and promos and to give people some of the background on artists making techno.

In October, her track “Shelter 909” appeared on the compilation Hot Steel: Round 2 from Trip Recordings, the label helmed by DJ Nina Kraviz. Govor had produced “Shelter 909” back in 2016 and the track was previously set for release on another label, but, that deal fell through. “I was very upset and frustrated,” she says about the situation. On a run, though, she stumbled upon a solution. Govor noticed a key on the asphalt, then looked at her phone and saw that Kraviz had sent her a message on Instagram. That’s when she realized that there was a metaphorical key to her dilemma. She asked Kraviz, who Govor knew from back when both were living in Moscow, if she’d be interested in the track. The lesson, Govor says, “If one door is closed another will open for sure.”

As for her own label, that’s been undergoing an evolution, too. Govor launched Jujuka back in 2018 to release her own music. Initially, she worked with artists to include comics within the releases, but she’s since shifted away from that model. “It’s hard to do it  the proper way,” she says of fusing together the two media; Govor wanted to focus on the music. Additionally, she has expanded to release music made by other producers as well. 

Curation for the label is imperative. She likes to find artists on her own and understand who they are beyond a single track. “I have to see this full vision of their artistic direction,” she says. She also wants get a feel for how they might develop as artists and if she can see herself and the artists growing alongside each other.  

“It’s just so amazing to be in touch with the producers and talk about how we can make the track, or how it can be promoted,” she says. “It’s my favorite part and also the most difficult part.”

Follow Julia Govor on Facebook and Instagram for ongoing updates.

L.A. DJ Francesca Harding Spins Sam Cooke’s Legacy

Photo Credit: Sarah Taylor

Los Angeles-based DJ and music supervisor Francesca Harding had been wanting to dive deep into her favorite artists’ discographies. “This is a perfect time,” she says on a recent phone call; while clubs and bars in L.A. have closed and the people who frequent them are staying at home, Harding went to work, digging into the catalog of her favorite singer, Sam Cooke.

“I’ve been falling down this Sam Cooke rabbit hole,” Harding says. “He’s always been this large figure for me in terms of what it means to be authentic, what it means to hold space,” she says. “I really feel that what he did is still an example that we can all look to, even today.” That’s something we can all appreciate thanks to Harding’s latest mix, “Francesca Presents: Sam Cooke,” premiering today on Audiofemme. She intends this to be the first in a series of listening sessions dedicated to specific artists.

In the 1950s and early ’60s, Cooke wrote and recorded hit singles like “You Send Me,” “Wonderful World,” and “Twistin’ the Night Away.” He was an innovator, often considered to be one of pioneers of ’60s soul music, and even started a record label focused on releasing other artists’ music. Cooke was also a civil rights activist; his song “A Change Is Gonna Come” became an anthem of the era. Although his life was tragically cut short in 1964, his music has endured in the decades that followed. His songs have been frequently covered and his recordings sampled. All of that presented Harding with a challenge: “How do you do a best of mix when someone has shifted culture with their music in such significant ways?”

Harding, who wrote an artist statement about the mix that describes her personal connections to Cooke’s music, recalls hearing the singer as a child, when her mom would listen to his music. “It stays with us,” she says. “It forms us and we end up returning to it and loving it.”

As a DJ, Harding became known for playing Afro-Latin music and global bass with parties like Bodega and CULos Angeles. About two years ago, she began working in music supervision for film and television. “Luckily, for me, I have to sit down and go a little bit deeper in music just for the job description,” she says. But, through this mix, Harding gives listeners a chance to dive into Cooke’s repertoire with her.

Initially, Harding thought about organizing the mix like a more traditional club mix, starting with slower tempo songs, building up and then slowing down again. When she first recorded it that way, though, it didn’t work for her. “In doing this Sam Cooke deep dive, I kept coming across audio with him speaking and I’m like, this is perfect,” says Harding. “I was able to use Logic to chop up that audio to break up some of the segues of the mix.” She adds, “I like listening to him chit-chat and talk about soul music or what it means to be an artist.”

Harding cleverly follows various threads of Cooke’s career in a way that makes it easier for listeners to pick up. While it began as research project for herself, she’s hopeful that others might hear it and want to dig into Cooke’s work on their own, especially now that traditional in-person channels for experiencing music are on hold for an indefinite period of time.

“There is so much music to ingest and digest. If there’s ever a time for us to do that, I think it’s right now,” Harding says. “We’re in our homes. A lot of us aren’t working and we want the music. We’re hungry for the music. There’s so much music and so many genres out there.”

She’s curious to see how this extended period of listening to music at home will impact nightlife when it reopens. “I’m kind of excited about what will come out of this in terms of listeners, audiences, shaping their tastes because they’ve had more time to consume different types of music. What will it look like after this?” she says. “If I play Sam Cooke at midnight, maybe people will be more receptive to it because of this time. It will be really interesting to see how this all translates to the dance floor, for sure.”

It’s a mix made for anyone, but also one that comes from a very personal passion. “He’s such a gift and has been since I was young,” she says. “I just wanted to honor that gift.”

Follow Francesca Harding on Instagram for ongoing updates.

PLAYING THE BAY: Ray Reck Brings the Bounce

A little over seven years ago, Ray Reck accepted an invitation on a whim to DJ a gig in San Francisco, and since then has been swinging beats and moving hips from Venice Beach, to San Jose, to Oakland and San Francisco. Representing the spirit of Oakland Bounce, a femme collective of bounce enthusiasts, Ray has found a seat at the table mixing all types of genres – but above all, Jersey Club. Her remix EP P. Posse pays homage to all the women who have blazed trails in influencing hip hop.

You can catch Ray Reck at Hiero Day Festival 2018 in Oakland on September 3rd, and check out our interview below.

PLAYING THE BAY: MahaWam is Taking Names and Snatching Wigs

MahaWam has become a staple among many establishments in San Francisco and Oakland, weaving house beats with his influence of tech metal and progressive rock to usher in a new era of queer freedom and expression. On any given night you can find MahaWam hosting and organizing club nights and events with notable Bay Area DJs and drag queens like the House of Towers.

In this interview, MahaWam explains how they create and share beauty in a world that can oftentimes feel isolating. 


ONLY NOISE: Leave The Party

Think about the last party you threw. Think about the beer bought and balloons inflated. Remember the quiche you labored over, only to realize no one wants to eat quiche at a party. Now consider the playlist you made. Don’t deny it – we all know you spent three lunch breaks compiling a shindig score entitled “Fiesta Mix.”

Now tell me – was your party (despite irrelevant quiche) a hit? Did “Fiesta Mix” incite a collective boogie? Did hips swing and booties shake, rattling the room with merriment? Well congratulations, my friend; you have accomplished something far beyond my abilities. You’re allowed to pick the music for the party.

“But, don’t you write about music…for a living?“ you ask.

I know. It doesn’t make any sense. You might assume that all these years of music fanaticism, self-dedicated mixtapes, and belabored op-eds would prime me for the simple task of DJing a party – and somehow, the opposite is true.

Proof of such failure lies in every birthday party I’ve thrown since 2012. Each year I, like you, spend hours crafting a party soundtrack featuring all of my favorite “happy” songs. As you can imagine, this is a fairly difficult task for someone whose self-described musical tastes are that of a 45-year-old divorced man. Nevertheless, I press on – crafting my little playlist for my little party with utmost care.

And yet each year like clockwork, usually smack in the middle of “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick” by Ian Dury and The Blockheads, someone pulls the plug on my tunes. Someone (usually my roommate) decides that a grubby punk with polio shouting “Two fat persons, click, click, click/Hit me, hit me, hit me!” is not party-worthy. I beg to differ, but that does no good. Within minutes my entire playlist is cast aside like an empty PBR can, and the bump n’ buzz of Top 40 hits crashes my b-day bash. I’ve gotten used to it, as well as the badge of honor I’ve earned in recent years: World’s Worst Party DJ. If I only had a sash embroidered with the accolade.

Fine then. If I can’t play my music at my own birthday party, I might as well take my talents to other soirees – clearing them out with the most un-danceable sounds. Embrace your strengths, am I right? Sure it takes some skill and intuition to boost the party the mood with music – but what about killing the mood? Doesn’t that take a certain aptitude for emotional sensitivity, too?

If you can’t join ‘em, beat ‘em. Trying to break up a party? Want to ruin a perfectly good game of beer pong? Looking to cock block Steve? Here are some tracks that will ensure record-scratching fun-terruption.

“Rhesus Negative” by Blanck Mass

Nine minutes of unrelenting, furious noise. Employ when the new Justin Bieber hit has begun its rotation, and everyone is dancing in unison. The room should begin to vacate around minute 4:35, when Blanck Mass’s Benjamin John Power starts screaming like a demon.

The entire Colors album by Ken Nordine

Nothing could be less conducive to partying than this 1966 spoken word jazz album by the eccentric Ken Nordine. Each song is dedicated to a color, to the point that it is supposed to sound like the color. Favorite cuts include, “Olive,” “Mauve” and “Fuchsia,” the latter of which contains the line, “we don’t wanna lose ya, Fuchsia.” It will derail any and all sexiness.

“Between The Bars” by Elliott Smith

If angry and awkward approaches don’t work, go with depressing. Who better to aid your mope attack than Mr. Misery himself, Elliott Smith? It will definitely kill the party vibe, but at least that guy slouching alone in the corner will appreciate it.

“Dear God, I Hate Myself” by Xiu Xiu

Pro tip: project the band’s music video (which is three minutes of Angela Seo making herself vomit while Jamie Stewart eats a chocolate bar) onto a nearby wall. Party over.

“Imagining My Man” by Aldous Harding

What says “party” more than a woeful folk singer? Just about anything. Funnily enough, this track comes from Harding’s most recent record, which is entitled Party.

“Japanese Banana” by Alvin & The Chipmunks

Think of this one as a little party favor – something to stick with the fleeing guests. There’s a reason my friend refers to this cut as “mind herpes;” it will be remembered long after it has ruined the festivities.

Pretty much anything by Tom Waits.

I personally like “What’s He Building In There” or “God’s Away On Business,” but let’s face it – no one’s going to be happy with gravelly voiced, vaudeville-inspired rock and if anyone is, marry that person immediately.

“Waking The Witch” by Kate Bush

From the dark side of Hounds Of Love, this number features chopper-like percussion and male vocals that literally sound like Satan. It’s impossible to dance to and sure to terrify everyone.

Whale Songs (various whales)

Any whale will do.

“Leave the Party” by Happyness

If all of your subtle sonic hints to GET THE FUCK OUT are for naught, perhaps a bit of direct lyric-messaging will do the trick. Happyness’ drowsy pop number literally says, “Leave the party, head right home” in the chorus. If guests refuse to hear that, then maybe the words, “kill everyone at the party” will be more audible.

PLAYING DETROIT: DJ Duo Haute to Death


It was the day of my grandmother’s funeral. Having spent the better portion of my day mourning the loss with my father and chain smoking while driving familiar streets of my hometown where the old bars had new signs, I was unnerved with realizing not everything was as I left it when I moved out and to Detroit two years ago. By the end of the day, I was disheveled and still dressed sullenly in  black. My face was puffy from crying and both my body and mind were fevered with exhaustion. David Bowie’s “Changes” came on the radio as my boyfriend at the time asked what I wanted to do. It was late. It was Saturday. I was tired. But without hesitation I stared out of the passenger side window at a sky that threatened snow and said, “I have to go to Temple.” This was not some prolific religious sentiment, although looking back maybe in some ways it was. Temple is “Temple Bar,” one of Detroit’s most unassuming vestiges and my salvation was (and still is) Haute to Death; a monthly dance party thrown by Ash Nowak and Jon Dones.

Creators, curators, and collaborators in life, love, and the dance floor, Nowak and Dones are more than DJ’s, they are partners and hosts to what will undoubtedly be your favorite night (if you’re lucky enough to remember it). Emotional electricians, they are instigators of catharsis with a killer record collection and an undeniably thoughtful approach to weaving a tapestry of people, environment, and sound. What started as a search to throw the best dance party for friends is now celebrating it’s eight year residency this month. “We’ve developed a family of people here,” says Dones.  “Ash and I don’t have a lot of family. We feel so connected to the people that show up that I don’t necessarily have to know where they came from, or what they do for a living because we’re all here together. What we do isn’t about us, it’s about you.”

For eight years, Haute to Death has called Temple Bar its home base and in some ways its birth place. A pock marked parking lot surrounds an institution colored building with the name painted crudely above the door, Temple Bar is the last place you would expect to find the city’s most welcoming and unapologetic dance party. The DJ booth sits high above the dance floor where Nowak and Dones are glassed in and silhouetted by neon genitalia (one of many idiosyncratic details of Temple Bar’s landscape). The aforementioned dance floor is contained by a half wall and is no bigger than a few handicap accessible bathroom stalls side by side. The intimacy is the most intimidating quality of a Haute to Death event and paradoxically is what invites you in to stay. Since it falls on the third Saturday of each  month, the T.V. sets are tuned to SNL (which seems meta in context) and the awkward pool table wedged between the bathrooms is always strangely occupied as people aim their pool sticks into the air because rarely is there room to make a real shot (hell, you’re lucky if can stand with your feet apart). Sometimes a dog shows up, and no one has ever seen anyone actually play the Sopranos pinball machine near the entrance. Skin will touch skin, sweat will converge with other spilled fluids, and your hair will refuse to hold whatever product or styling you came in with. The air is promised to be thick and salty and each party is not without its share of playful dance offs, fits of cinematic twirling and even the occasional new wave twerk-a-thon. Without fail there will be at least one tangible moment where the music finds temporary shelter within you and shakes something loose (or perhaps pieces something back together). You can be yourself, someone else, or no one at all.


“Jon and I like a lot of the same things. We ultimately have the same end goal but have extraordinarily different ways of getting there,” explains Nowak on their ability to collaborate. “You can’t play candy all night long. It’s fun and tempting, but it’s not sustainable.” Even under the shimmering lights and the waves of glistening skin, there are periodic points in the set where things go from moody, to dark all the way back to desert-like electro pop. “We focus on thoughtful sets with emotional arches,” Dones adds.

Over a bottle of wine, I tell Nowak and Dones (now considered my friends and creative cohorts) what I love most about their monthly sweaty soiree. “What is the more interesting story is your experience,” Dones says. “We’ve never been to Haute to Death. We don’t know what it’s like.” I walk them through the first time I showed up. I felt like a squad-less orphan until they spun a New Order mix that I would have never heard anywhere near my hometown suburb and how when I stand under the disco ball and Kraftwerk’s “Telephone Call” bleeds into Azealia Banks “212” (one of Nowak’s staple mixes) I feel like I’m being transported to another planet (yet feel completely grounded). I remind them of the time the speakers blew during their annual “Bosses and Secretaries Edition” and a resident babe and H2D’er dressed in an all white suit, booted up the jukebox to save the party with Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” and how everyone felt this shared emotional rush of relief, gratitude and well, praise to this unworldly little slice of party heaven that we all feel has been gifted to us. These magical moments are exclusive to what Nowak and Dones do which is far more than spin records or craft playlists. They provide a setting, a mood, and a warmth that encourages each person in attendance (whether they are actively participating or not) to formulate their own memory and to use the floor as their own therapy. (Nowak even adds that they’ve only had ‘one fight in eight years’, which is pretty impressive.) I recollect all the times I danced with a broken heart, physical injury, and creative malaise and how by the end of the night, even though I end up with my lipstick kissed off, my eye makeup running down my cheeks and my clothes adhered to my skin, Haute to Death never fails to stir me back to life. A confectionary and visceral collision, Nowak and Dones are artists of experience and Haute to Death is their torrid and glittered canvas. “It’s a mess,” Nowak says, “and it’s really fantastic.”

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VIDEO REVIEW: The Jane Doze “Lights Go Down”

The Jane Doze

When music’s spun by women, it just sounds better. The Jane Doze is not one, but two beautiful – and more importantly, stupidly talented DJs. The duo has shared the stage with legends such as Calvin Harris and Diplo, although we think the real stunners here are Jane Doze. These heart-breakers also have a heart of gold, their new video for “Lights Go Down (feat. Curtains)” shares the story of their fan and friend Kirby who was diagnosed with cancer. After connecting with her through Twitter the two traveled to meet her in her hometown of Houston, Texas. Thankfully they were also able to recently celebrate her cancer remission.

Watch the video for “Lights Go Down” below. It will not only get you dancing, but give you the warm fuzzies. A portion of the song’s proceeds will be donated to First Descents, an organization that provides outdoor adventures for young adults affected by cancer. Cheers to hope and healing through music and nature.

ALBUM REVIEW: Alex Banks “Illuminated”

By the end of 2011, Brighton-based Alex Banks had already distinguished himself as a DJ and producer with distinctively complex and spacey live sets as well as a smattering of gorgeous remixes (Bonobo, Husky Rescue). His debut full-length, out June 2nd, has been two years in the making, and it shows: Illuminated is a meticulously crafted record, with beats that escalate and mellow, moods that warm and cool, and subtle textural intricacies that demand an immersive listen.

At twenty seconds shy of an hour, it’s a pretty hefty collection, with a full spectrum of instrumentals. Some of the loveliest moments on  Illuminated come when Banks juxtaposes a pulsing beat against a string section, or highlights an instrumental melody with featured vocalist Elizabeth Bernholz’s pristine soprano. These revelations usually come from the combination of opposite effects. Conversely, when the album is at its most interior–in the middle section of Illuminated, somewhere around “Initiate,” “Lights,” and “Phosphorus”– its playfulness dials way down, and the music is too clean and rigid, too controlled. The album’s early tracks have great surprise twists, like the spot in “All You Could Do” wherin Banks layers his Bach-ish acoustic guitar arpeggios over Bernholz’s whispery vocal line as the rhythm builds to a sparkly crescendo. It’s awesome. Which makes it all the more disappointing when other parts of the album don’t live up to it.

In what’s perhaps a skill learned from his DJ career, Banks knows the importance of letting music absorb you. His process of recording the album consumed him, just as playing it will consume a listener. When Illuminated feels restrictive, it’s because its inwardness becomes too single-minded to know when to stop grooming the music and allow for coincidence and experimentation.

Illuminated will drop on June 2nd, and will be preceded by the All You Could Do EP, which will be available digitally and on 12″ vinyl next month. Check out “All You Could Do,” my favorite track off Illuminated, below!

TRACK REVIEW: Todd Terje and Bryan Ferry “Johnny and Mary”


DJ and songwriter Todd Terje is a huge figure in the Norwegian dance scene. He’s messed around with classic disco, collaborated with the likes Franz Ferdinand, and created a great deal of upbeat originals. “Johnny and Mary”, a cover of Robert Palmer’s 1980 hit, is a feature from his upcoming album. Bryan Ferry, of Roxy Music, joins him for a second time in this collaboration. Together they’ve made a lasting recreation.

The downtempo complements Bryan Ferry’s hoarse narration of a couple falling apart. There’s a strong sense of atmosphere with a kind of constant fluttering that makes the story play out with a dreamy distance. The beat, the bass is mild, in no way overwhelming the way it can be in so many dance song. It’s refreshing. Somehow it seems that this classic melody should be heard through synth and electro mist.


Ferry’s voice sounds a bit strained, doesn’t have the punch of a Roxy Music song, but works really well for this song, especially considering the subject matter.  He’s the channel between the audience and the distant melancholy created by the synth waves. When he repeats “Running around” the strain sounds right. This is an emotional song, but mostly in a tired, apathetic way. That Johnny and Mary are close to giving up is evident in Ferry’s tone. It’s pretty incredible.

Check out Todd Terje and Bryan Ferry’s cover of “Johnny and Mary” below:

TRACK PREMIER: LongArms “Following Me”


Youthful DJ and producer LongArms hails from Miami, but has centered himself in New York. He’s worked with B-Tips for the past two years as the co-founder of Famous NYC and CROCMODE, a series of parties held throughout the city, from the Lower East Side to Bushwick. With influences like Boys Noize, Bloody Beetroots, Justice, and Daft Punk, LongArms hopes to take Electro Funk to the next level. There’s not much funkiness to his new single “Following Me,” but it’s a great dance song nonetheless.

The listener can easily fall into the rhythm of the quick and catchy opening beat of this track thanks to a very recognizable play off of the Daft Punk/Justice sound–evident, but in a subtle automated, sci-fi vibe (squiggling, shapeless noises, spacey synth), while the Justice influence shows itself in the incredible danceability (namely, the beat and shifts in melody). A robotic “yeah” is repeated in rising and falling tones. There’s a swirling mechanical noise that circles over and over for a minute about halfway through the song. Then, real dance tones come in, almost what you’d expect from an 80s hit – the kind of beat you can really roll your arms and bob your head to.

The track is fun without the bashing you over the head with the hypnotic haze of most club music, and the rhythm throughout keeps the energy level high. Justice and Daft Punk have been building success off of this for years: something repetitive, but dynamic, and fresh enough to keep you awake and involved.

Here’s “Following Me” on soundcloud: