LargeUp Mix Series: Dancehall Meets Disco on Deejay Theory’s “Dancehall By Day” Mixtape

For over seven years, Deejay Theory has held down LargeUp’s #MixtapeMondays space, sprinkling your ear drums weekly with the latest Caribbean flavors. Theory is also an accomplished selector and remix specialist in his own right, and he recently delivered his first original production on “Watch Out” featuring Anthony B, Gappy Ranks and Jahdan Blakkamoore.

For his contribution to the LargeUp Mix Series, Theory’s gone and outdone himself with a 100% dancehall meets disco mix, specifically engineered as the ultimate day party soundtrack. Dancehall By Day is the mix you never knew you needed, but won’t want to live without. In the spirit of the great Black Chiney, this is one of the most original dancehall mix treatments since Supa Dups and crew flipped the genre on its head 15 years ago. It’s not exactly dancehall as you know it (and that’s the point) but the biggest names in the genre — Kartel, Poppy, Bounty, Busy, Konshens — are all represented here.

Working largely with his own arsenal of refixes pairing contemporary dancehall vocals with classic disco, nu disco boogie and house vibes, Theory also drops in a handful of tropical favorites from the original disco era, including Carly Simon‘s Nile Rodgers-produced “Why” (a day party essential if there ever was one) and Grace Jones‘ “My Jamaican Guy,” which makes an appearance via Brother in Arms’ (Theory + J Boogie) 2014 remix. Caribbean disco king Billy Ocean makes a cameo, as does the all-West Indian London disco trio Imagination. Theory, yuh mad for this one!

Strike up the BBQ, string up the Bluetooth speakers, inflate that floatie, pop that Red Stripe, dive in the pool and press play. Read on for an interview with Deejay Theory on Dancehall By Day.

What’s the idea behind Dancehall By Day?

I’ve always had a folder in my library called “disco by day” as a go-to for day parties, and got the idea to combine that vibe with dancehall lyrics. The result is a mash-up featuring the best of both worlds.

When did you start blending dancehall with disco? Were there other people doing it? Who would you say runs this arena?

I haven’t found too much in this lane, but my bredren Kush Arora has released some amazing bits under his “China White” alias. We featured one of those on the site back in 2012. Just got some nice flips from our friend Brukkout too, one of which is on the mix. I did some eight-track blends around 2005  — but the first real dancehall-meets-disco refix I released was probably the Busy Signal “Caan Buy We Out” remix in 2009, followed by the Laza Morgan and Mavado “One By One” blend in 2011. Both of those still vibe today, so I guess the formula works.. Those two tunes in particular later inspired me to do official dancehall disco projects for most recently Mavado (“Shatta Girl”) and Jahdan Blakkamoore.

It feels like you might be giving away some secret weapons here, as many of these mixes are unfamiliar. What tracks were you particularly hyped to include here and share with people?

I had some tracks I was planning to include and then experimented with which vocals could ride over them. It’s pretty clear that Mavado and Sean Paul ride disco riddims with ease. Classic songs seem to work super well, and of course there’s some Faction Sound dubplate business in there as well.

Arguably the baddest gal of all time Grace Jones dabbled with reggae elements in her music throughout the disco era, Carly Simon too. Carly’s “Why” is on the mix, and laid the backbone for a ton of modern tunes with it’s digital drum patterns and reggae guitar licks. I was reminded of that one last year when Major Lazer ran it in their sunset reggae set in the desert at Burning Man. That would be a bucket list DJ set for me…

Describe the ideal environment to listen to this mix.

Either a private beach party, cool ruler style, or a homie’s backyard with a grill and a pool. Be sure to keep it extra wavy.

In the Bay Area? The Dancehall By Day release party is (ironically) tomorrow night July 8th @ Tormenta Tropical (every Second Saturday) at The Elbo Room, 647 Valencia St., San Francisco with Deejay Theory and Oro11.