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Still Mixing It Up While Clubs Are Closed: SAINt JHN, Nora En Pure, CamelPhat & More Stay-at-Home DJ Picks

With clubs closed across the country and Billboard’s Dance Club Songs chart on hiatus, we’re asking reporting club DJs what they’ve been listening to lately, while at home, of course.

This week, we spoke with San Francisco’s DJ Kue; Atlantic City, New Jersey’s Manolo; and Chicago’s Spin.

Kue (real name Michael Morales) has been enjoying the latest from Taiki Nulight and LO’99, “Dr Sbaitso” (extended mix), calling it a “massive tech house banger. I love the energy behind this record.”

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Additionally, the DJ, whose album Destination, featuring his personal favorite “Give You Up,” was released on March 3, has an appetite for Nora En Pure and Lika Morgan’s version of “In the Air Tonight” (Sons of Maria remix). Kue praises it as the “best Phil Collins cover I’ve heard, and this remix makes it super funky.”

The Collins classic reached No. 2 on the Mainstream Rock Songs chart and No. 19 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1981.

DJ Kue, who would normally be playing weekly at such clubs as 1015 and The Endup in San Francisco, and is instead broadcasting livestreams during the pandemic, has also been liking “We Found Love,” from Laidback Luke and Steff Da Campo. “I love the contrast between the piano house break into a nice club drop,” he says. “Such a fun track.”

Manolo (real name Manny Ferreiros) has been grooving to Grum’s “Afterglow” (Kryder remix), with vocals by Natalie Shay. The track was originally released last fall on Grum’s Deep State set, which hit No. 4 on Dance/Electronic Album Sales in November.

“Natalie’s vocals are lush, but have a melancholic tone to them, giving this track a lot of emotion,” Manolo muses. “Kryder created a beautiful music bed, complementing the vocals and matching the emotion. The rolling bassline really drives this track, while the synths and melodic lines Kryder used after each verse and coming out of the break will have hands reaching for the sky!”

The resident DJ at Ocean Casino Resort’s HQ2 Nightclub and Beach Club has also been chomping on the latest from Chocolate Puma and Mike Cervello, “You Are My Life” (extended mix). “It starts off with a filtered melody that grows until the first drop, where we get to hear the main vocal sample, ‘you are my life,’ ” Manolo says. “The track chugs along nicely with a driving baseline until some dark, analog synth sound is introduced, giving it a whole new meaning. Coming out of the main drop, the combination of all these elements finds the perfect balance for a peak-time banger.”

Manolo also shares an affinity for a newly-released collaboration between UK DJ duo CamelPhat (Dave Whelan and Mike Di Scala) and Ukranian DJ duo ARTBAT (Artur and Batish), “For a Feeling,” featuring Rhodes (extended mix). “Feeling” follows CamelPhat’s “Rabbit Hole” (featuring Jem Cooke), which became the act’s second Dance Club Songs leader leader in February.

Manolo tells Billboard, “This track is a slow builder, taking its time to get where it’s going, which I love. It starts off with an underlying string line, building some tension until the rolling baseline comes thundering in. The vocals have a sad tone to them until the main break, when the tone changes and the emotion in the vocals and the melodies erupt.”

DJ-SPIN says that he’s dialed into Graham Bell’s “Pam Pam (Phat Bass).” “I would love to be playing this track in some of the big room clubs in Chicago, and suburbs, right now,” he says. “The crowd would lose its mind to the tempo change and build-up. This one is nice and bouncy, just how I like it.”

The DJ, who plays regularly at Drink Nightclub, Sound-Bar, Tailgaters and more in and around Chicago, also extols the virtues of SAINt JHN’s smash “Roses (Imanbek Remix),” which holds at No. 1 on the Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart. “People are still loving this track,” he says. “The original came out in 2016, but the Imanbek remix put this song on the map earlier this year. I’ve been playing this since winter, and I still get asked what it is each week.” In addition to his club play, Spin assumes weekend mix show duties on WBBM-FM Chicago’s B96 Street Mix.

Spin has also been savoring “Sing It,” by producer Pickle, calling it “my current favorite song. All of Pickle’s house tracks are dope and were getting played nightly in clubs big and small until The Rona changed everything …”