Putting creativity to the test, Blue Amazon and Iconic Underground teamed up to host a mix competition where 10 lucky DJs were selected to showcase their skills by submitting a 60 or 90 minute set. Looking for a DJ “who can showcase a professional produced DJ mix that not only highlights smooth beat matching and blending but also creative ideas, editing tracks, overlaying samples, FX, or others in your creative way or preference.”, the randomly selected DJs were given a pool of materials with wav masters of Blue Amazon originals and remixes along with an exclusive sample, FX and vocal snippets pack. The winner would receive a guest spot on Blue Amazon’s A Rec show on FRISKY, a two-page feature/interview in Iconic Underground magazine’s summer edition, a cash prize, and the potential for a commercially released compilation album.
After some serious listening by the four judges, Gabriel Floriani was selected as the winner, for his hypnotic and evolving content building skills and choice of selections which took advantage of the Blue Amazon catalog while adding his own touch with clever sample editing and FX.
The next edition of Iconic Underground with Gabriel’s feature (and featuring Robert Babicz on the front cover) will be out soon, and you can listen to Gabriel’s winning mix alongside Blue Amazon on his FRISKY show A Rec, premiering Wed June 24th at 6 PM EST [convert timezone]. Listen anytime after on-demand with a FRISKY Premium Subscription and on FRISKY Apps.
Learn more about Gabriel Floriani and the decisions behind the selection of his winning mix with Lee (Blue Amazon) and Mike (Iconic Underground):
What inspired the idea to do a mix competition?
Lee: Over a period of time I received a lot of requests to compile a DJ mix of purely Blue Amazon tracks and remixes. This is something I have only previously done in a live scenario for special club events. With the sadness of lockdowns and stay at home policies currently in place, it seemed like a good time to look at it and keep busy. I initially considered doing it myself in parts but thought it would be a nice idea to create an opportunity for other DJs to get involved. The competition format idea was born from a few social media posts and receiving feedback from music fans, DJs, and how it could be created with purpose. It was a public idea and needed a host to become a competition.
Iconic Underground seemed like a perfect host, its still one of the few Underground magazines that release both print and online editions. They have featured some of the biggest acts over a few years with the likes of Carl Cox, Sasha, and continue, luckily the mag was interested.
Mike: When Lee approached me with the idea I instantly jumped at it, We all know Blue Amazon has an extensive catalogue of music that stems back to the golden years of the 90’s. I knew the material would be good and lots of DJs would be interested in entering the competition. Iconic Underground has a duel focus of featuring some of the longstanding piers of our scene but we are also dedicated to highlighting new talent and artists / DJs that deserve a spotlight. This was a great opportunity to continue that support, offer a two-page feature in the next edition of the magazine, and a cash token prize.
Can you share some of your process for going through the mixes and ultimately selecting a winner?
Lee: This was very difficult, we initially thought that drawing ten names from all the competition entries to progress to the final mix entry-stage would help. However, even receiving 10 DJ mixes that were all quite different, high standard, and varied in length from 60 min to 90 min was hard. To make it ultimately fair we needed a few more judges.
Mike: Hugo McCann from Best Sets in Dublin was asked to be judge and also Ajit Sarathi from India, both these guys have extensive experience as DJs but also involved in hosting other DJ events and shows. Between the four of us, we consistently listened to all the mix entries, shared thoughts, scored them, rotated them, compiled our own top 4 entries, then top 2 and looked at who’s name was picked in the majority. It was made really difficult for us from the quality of all the entries received.
What factors were most important to you when it came to selecting a winning mix? How do you weigh energy/vibe vs technical skill?
Lee: Entries were high standard and they varied from high production skills to more stripped-down DJ mixes, some had more energy, some embraced 4 deck mixing, looping to editing the tracks and great Fx usage. We could have picked more than a few mixes, one of the mixes was close to the likes of a Sasha Involver album, seriously detailed and a lot of imagination.
Mike: The great thing about having different judges on-board is that we all have different ideas on what makes a good mix, I think ultimately the mixes were judged on the journey aspect as much as technical ability. The other judges and I are less attached to the content as Lee and we certainly viewed the sets more around building momentum, listening experience and energy which is just as important as the technical aspect.
Lee: Yes, I’m more drawn to technical detail because of my background but also for me the sets had to just work, if I could press play and listen to them without much question, that was a sign of a good mix.
What was it about Gabriel Floriani’s mix which made it stand out to you?
Lee: For me and I think I can say the same for the other judges, Gabriel mix works well based on content building, its journey based and not over-focused on one aspect or another. He’s combined a good balance between Fx/sample editing, letting the tracks breathe in parts but then more intense in other parts. It works well on a whole and again you listen more than have questions, there are also some cool tricks type stuff embedded in there that maybe I would notice more being close to the music.
Mike: I’ll echo what lee said there, Gabriel mix has a good bit of variation and evolving structure. It’s a building hypnotic experience that emphazises the content of the original work well.
Gabriel, Congrats on your winning mix! Can you tell the FRISKY audience a bit about yourself and your music?
Gabriel: I’m from Buenos Aires, Argentina but currently living in the luxury city of Dubai. I started perusing my DJing from 2004 and managed to get a bunch of guest appearances in Argentina, including Pacha Buenos Aires, Bahrein Club, Buenos Aires New, Sunset, Flowers Sessions, Imsonmia, Caix After Hours and Arena Club. I was later asked to play in Dubai and this is now where I reside and continue to DJ.
I always try to adapt my music to the venue and the event I am going to play for, with a lot of melodic and progressive sounds.
What sparked your desire to submit a mix for this competition?
Gabriel: I read an article about the competition on Iconic Underground and I thought it will be a really good challenge for me as I have never entered a competition like this. I already knew some of the artist tracks and I was really surprised to be draw as one of the last 10 entries to progress to the final mix stage.
Can you give us a glimpse inside the creative process that you went through to create this unique mix?
Gabriel: I listened about 3 or 4 times to the full selection of tracks that were provided for the competition. I picked a few that I already knew and some others to include in the mix. I started working on them with software, mixing between them looking for the best mix. Although we had a lot of flexibility to play around with the tracks, I tried not to overuse sound effects and keep the identity of the tracks. I tried to follow the way I usually always mix, which is focused on long and smooth transitions.
Did you have any favorite tracks or samples that you knew you had to include?
Gabriel: Yes, many of them are really good, but there are 2 tracks that blew my mind. Four Seasons (Hiratzka & Cheung remix) and Conversations in Earthquakes (Original Mix), awesome work.
What do you think are the most important factors when it comes to building an effective DJ set? How did you apply those concepts to this set?
Matching BPM’s and mixing in key are fundamental factors. Also energy levels and a good track selection will keep your listeners engaged.
In this set I focused on building the energy levels, increasing it slowly to a higher level by the end of the set. I always trying to keep key mixing as much as possible.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Just want to thank everyone who made this competition possible and gave us the chance to participate and express ourselves.