Sampling other artists’ music is at the heart of popular electronic music, from the funk backdrop of hip-hop to the pop mashups that blare across Gongti’s dance floors.
It’s rare, however, that Beijing hosts a spectacular producer with a singular approach to sampling and, for me, this makes Daniel Bortz’s China debut at Haze on Sunday, September 30, an event that no one in the capital’s party scene should miss.
Signed to Germany’s prestigious Suol label (also home to Fritz Kalkbrenner and Chopstick), Bortz’s deep house and minimal techno sounds have become dance floor fodder across Europe. His recent EP, Heal the World, takes advantage of slower tempos to build deeper grooves, suffused with samples from rare tracks.
With sampling, Bortz takes a subtle approach. His samples never sound like they’re resting on top of the tune. Instead, Bortz alters the original samples until they play like an instrument that was custom built for the track. “I look for a sample that fits,” says Bortz, “then I analyze it and extract harmonies from the sample, then tune the sample to the track, or the track to the sample.”
This technique can be heard in Bortz’s spellbinding re-working of James Blake’s Feist cover, “Limit to Your Love.” Bortz’s success with the track came at a price, of course—€10,000 for the Blake sample, which is far more than the rare B sides from classic Chicago house acts Bortz usually works with. For another taste of Bortz’s sample sorcery, tune into his “Can’t Sleep at Night” on Beatport, in which a finely tuned and chopped-up sample works in some places like a vocal lead and in others like a mesmeric rhythm, deeply embedded in the mix.
Bortz’s sampling inspiration largely draws from Chicago house. When I ask him to name an artist whose use of samples he likes, he first mentions DJ Sneak, a star of the second wave of Chicago house in the ‘90s. Next, he gives a shout out to the deep house of New York’s up-and-coming Nicolas Jaar, who like Bortz often works in low tempos around 100 bpms.
While Bortz is drawn to slower tempos, his tracks and samples are engineered to rally dance floors. His DJ sets also are known to cross far beyond the boundaries of deep house and minimal, mixing in hooks from old-school hip-hop, disco and new wave.
“I will definitely have some new bangers in my record case, and I’ll be creating a new mix that night,” says Bortz about his China debut. “Get excited.”
What: Daniel Bortz
When: Sunday, September 30, 10pm-4am, RMB100 (door) RMB60 (advance)