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DJ Encounter’s techno gets progressive and playful in this week’s recommended mix

DJ Encounter

DJ Encounter Brady Hill

“Grrrr.”

This is what I was thinking when DJ Encounter (Brady Hill) messaged to ask if I’d consider switching out the mix he’d sent me a couple weeks before—the mix I’d already planned on including in this column—for a brand new one he’d just done that, he insisted, was so much better than the first.

So I agreed to listen—and it was pretty quickly apparent that he was right, it was a better mix. And I did, indeed, switch it at the last minute. (I recount all of this by way of explaining that this is never going to happen again. Ever. Got it? Now let’s proceed.)

Hill is a Wisconsin native—grew up in La Crosse, early adulthood in Madison—who moved to the Twin Cities in 2006; he lives in Saint Paul’s Hillcrest Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood. He currently plays a monthly residency at The Down Low, at St. Cloud’s Keller Bar, and another at Ground-Under, which Playback Shows puts on at the Conga Latin Bistro on East Hennepin Avenue. “I have also been regularly playing ecstatic dance sets for a weekly event in Minneapolis called Dance Church for the past two years or so,” he adds.

Hill began DJing in 2000, playing a wide range of styles—house, trance, breaks, drum & bass, trap, dubstep, and the wide umbrella of “future bass” (Wikipedia can help). But, he says, “I primarily play various sub-genres of techno music, including minimal, dark, hard, progressive, and tech-house.” He also clearly thrives on playing live, as the DJ Encounter Mixcloud page demonstrates—the four more recent sets are all from area appearances.

Well, not totally in the case of Deep After Dark S:2 Ep:9 (January 11, 2018)—“The set was recorded in my studio afterwards from the playlist created at the event,” he explains—but close enough. He usually plays harder and darker, but dark and draped as the Kitty Cat Klub might be (it’s the venue for the Deep After Dark series), the DJ decided to shift focus to “something progressive. My intention was to create something more versatile with lighter energy that fit with the style of the venue and the audience.” From there, he built into a darker finish.

He gets points for adaptability—it’s easier to imagine this set going over well at the Kitty Cat, whose dance floor’s darkness is mitigated by lighting, however low, from the stage, the bar to the left, and the balcony to the right, than something more mean-faced. In fact, a lot of these tracks are downright playful: the quicksilver funk guitar lick of Sam Paganini’s “Polyester,” the bouncing percussion and smeared horns of DJ Lion & Ash Roy’s “Bubka Taka Ti.”

DJ Encounter plays the Spektrum Progressive monthly tomorrow night at Bar Fly, and on Feb. 2 he opens for Sacha Robotti in the basement of Conga Latin Bistro, which is quickly becoming one of the prime techno nights in the Cities. Chances are good that each one might be better than the last.

Are you a Twin Cities dance-music DJ? Michaelangelo Matos wants to hear your latest set. He writes about recent mixes by local DJs (and DJs making local appearances) every Thursday for City Pages. Tweet to his attention: @matoswk75.