As a walking Four Tet-encyclopedia (as Alessio has kindly put it before on FUXWITHIT), I’m having the time of my life right now. Four Tet’s career is not only one of raw experimentation and glistening synths, but also an unpretentious appreciation for popular music. He’s no stranger to crossover success, displayed by his decades-long catalog of official remixes for acts as varied as Ellie Goulding, Rihanna, Mura Masa, Explosions in the Sky, Madvillain, Radiohead, The xx, and too many more to name.
Though his work was more glitch and IDM-leaning prior (with acclaimed albums like Pause and Rounds) his collaborations with famed jazz musician Steve Reid and DJ residency at London’s now-closed The End in the late 2000s caused him to “think about rhythm and set dynamics differently.” He describes in a Tiga podcast interview that these two events taught him about restraint and taking your time. According to him, sometimes he falls flat on his face and looks like a complete fool, but when done right, he can allow the most explosive moments in a set to have even more impact.
In honor of this approach I’ve rounded up Four Tet’s Most Fringe DJ Picks, and boy, we should start with the most explosive…
HOL! – COUNTRY RIDDIM (2022)
Though he’s been long respected in electronic circles, 2023 feels different – since his now-famed team-up with Fred again.. & Skrillex (which recently closed out Coachella’s Weekend 2), Four Tet’s knack as a risk-taking DJ has been forcefully charged into the EDM consciousness. Their b2bs have been loose, unscripted – there might be a couple of bafflingly bad transitions, but how could anyone care when the three DJs on stage are laughing with each other at the ridiculousness of it all?
The first b2bs together might’ve flipped a switch in Four Tet’s brain. Although edits of Taylor Swift’s ‘Love Story’ are fringe even for EDM, he had his first truly viral moment when he shocked the world with his insistence on dropping HOL!’s ‘Country Riddim’ not once, not twice, but thrice on the normally-techno and housing-leaning Lot Radio, live streamed, and archived for the world to see and viral-y meme on.
Even to a long-time fan like me, him dropping ‘Country Riddim’ is quite ridiculous. To a newcomer, the sight of the oldest and most-“respected” member of the trio dropping the most face-tearing, abrasive track of the set while laughing his ass off still translates to one of the funniest electronic moments of 2023.
Tsuruda – Migi (2021)
Four Tet has always been one to flirt with dubstep and bass music, given by his love of tunes like The Bug’s ‘Skeng’ or Skream’s ‘2-D.’ But since he first went b2b with Skrillex in 2015, it seems that they’ve been sharing American bass music together ever since.
He added ‘Migi’ to his Spotify playlist at the end of 2021, which I thought was a bit unusual, even for him. That track released on Alix Perez’s 1985 Music label is the perfect representation of Tsuruda at his best – hip-hop swagger with pulsating, futuristic bass. I was able to personally witness Four Tet drop ‘Migi’ at San Diego’s CRSSD festival – on a stage sound system tuned specifically for tech house and techno. It sounded insane.
Although his infamous-Country Riddim drop is done with a lot of humor behind it, his love for modern bass is quite apparent with this tune, alongside other set favorites like Saka’s ‘Shaolin,’ Posij’s ‘YGT YGT YGT’ and Hydraulix & SUAHN’s ‘Brain Damage.’
Young Thug – Best Friend (2015)
Many of my friends who caught Four Tet’s B2B with Floating Points at San Francisco’s Portola Festival in 2022 came back with one conclusion, the Young Thug drop was one of the craziest moments of the weekend. Amongst a set where UK favorites by Burial, salute and Pearson Sound were dropping to a receiving American audience, Four Tet has always described the “switch” to a half-time tempo as one of his favorite moments in a set.
Previously describing the Atlanta rapper’s track as a “harp classic”, he’s been playing this one out even during his ‘headier’ DJ sets of 2016. Other rap favorites he’s dropped include Lil Uzi Vert’s ‘Futsal Shuffle 2020,’ 645AR’s ‘Yoga’ and Blac Youngsta’s ‘Booty.’
Millie B – M to the B (2020)
16-year old grime star Millie B’s diss track to Sophie Aspin went viral on TikTok a couple years ago – but listening to the track on its own merits, it’s UK bassline at its most short, digestible form. Four Tet was once again B2B with Floating Points at Manchester’s Warehouse Project, sharing the main room with acts like Overmono (Live), TSHA, I. JORDAN, DJ Seinfeld and piri & tommy.
Four Tet’s love of UK bassline (especially the pop-kind) is quite tangible, as shown for some of his collaborations with Champion and his proponent for dropping T2’s ‘Heartbroken’ (he did a SICK transition into Digital Mystikz’s ‘Anti-War Dub’ in his Lost Village 2018 set).
Ariana Grande – No Tears Left to Cry (2018)
Four Tet’s Lost Village sets are a great indicator of what he’ll do in a two hour solo DJ set. In his 2018 set, he starts with his official remix for Rihanna, plays an unreleased Burial collaboration (a rarity would be an understatement), then proceeds to custom remixes of Pearl Jam, Fela Kuti, Destiny’s Child and Nelly Furtado.
The real stunner of the set is his mashup of Ariana Grande’s ‘No Tears Left to Cry,’ overlaid with Detroit techno legend Robert Hood’s ‘Analog (Ghost).’ He’s played this mashup at a few sets like Pitch Festival, The Warehouse Project and I was able to hear it when he played an 8 hour set at Hollywood’s Palladium. The techno track’s polyrhythmic pulse and live-moment run complementary to Ariana’s insane vocal performance.
He’s no stranger to singalong moments in sets with left-of-center backbones – it’s become his calling card, with his festival-smashing edits of Nelly Furtado and 3LW becoming officially released under ‘KH’ (as ‘Only Human’ and ‘Looking At Your Pager’ respectively). His skeletal edits of Vanessa Carlton’s ‘A Thousand Miles,’ Selena Gomez’s ‘Hands to Myself’ and Taylor Swift’s ‘Love Story’ remain unreleased, but crowd-favorites.
G Jones & Eprom – On My Mind (RamonPang flip) (2022)
This is my article, so I have to include this. It’s crazy that Four Tet’s played it. I made this track in like two hours on my Airpods in a San Francisco Airbnb. I had shelved it and forgot about it until the beginning of 2023, when I was compiling some bootleg remixes and edits for a Bandcamp Friday (Pang Pack of Flips). I was surprised to see that Four Tet bought the ‘On My Mind’ remix on Bandcamp… I had forgotten that he follows me and a couple of other people on Tabula Rasa Records there. A couple weeks later, I had like 20 people texting me from New York that Four Tet had been dropping it in his b2bs with Fred again and Skrillex. That was pretty cool.
Written by Ramon Pang