Like most ‘80s kids, Jacky Sommer and DatKat (aka twin sisters Jacquelyn and Kathryn Smith) grew up on a diet of MTV, in their case augmented by their father’s love of jazz. As with many of that era, the introduction to electronic music came via the likes of Herbie Hancock and Kraftwerk — but it was West Coast house hero Eddie Amador who provided the entryway into dance music proper.
By the early 2000s, the siblings had moved to NYC, where Jacky secured a job that would help to define the direction of their lives, at the iconic record shop Dance Tracks. Before long, they had themselves a slot on the much-missed East Village Radio, and they’ve been at it ever since, slinging their sound (house, acid, electro, Detroit-tinged techno and more) throughout the city and the world. Among the clubbing cognoscenti, they’re considered DJs’ DJs, and for good reason — the pair are among the best selectors around.
Read on for Jacky and DatKat’s all-time top house tracks, timeless tunes that never fail to move the crowd. Revisit Ria Hylton's interview with the duo, and their Recognise mix, here.
“I feel like I can confidently say that this is one of my favorite house tracks of all time. I remember finding this randomly when I was working at Dance Tracks back in the day, just thumbing through the bins. I love when that happens, when you stumble upon that one gem that changes your life. It’s a slammin’ style groove, with driving energy, and then the melody drops into a sort of hip-hop sample style vibe that unexpectedly flips the mood really deep. Insane!”
“Always in the bag. It’s one of those tracks where your body automatically has to move from the groove in the melody. The arrangement with the vocals is so simple, but really powerful and uplifting — it feels like there’s an energy opening up on the dancefloor. Sublime.”
“This is one of those tunes that whether I’m playing it out, I’m on the dancefloor, or just at home listening, just makes me want to cry. Happy tears. The mood he managed to create is so emotional, whether it’s the vocal or dub version. The epitome of deep! A masterpiece.”
“No matter how many times I’ve listened to or played this DJ Duke track, it always surprises me. It has a sort of cinematic quality, where he’s continually building layers into the groove through the 15 minutes. He is hands down one of the most prolific and talented producers in house music. Superb tune.”
“The best sample ever. I feel like Pal Joey made a piece of magic. It’s hard to explain, but it feels so culturally significant, not only to house and DJ culture but also to NYC and to hip-hop. It’s transcended genres and time... the definition of a timeless classic.”
“I think I heard this track sometime back in ’98 — I can’t be sure when, where or how I heard it, but it was an instant classic. Something about the simple, hypnotic rhythm and vocal gives me goosebumps. The perfect sunrise track.”
“I discovered this track on a Marquess Wyatt mix called ‘The Sound Of The Underground L.A.’ back in ’99. This track was one of the standout gems, and one of the few house vocal tunes that still moves me. The track starts with a hi-hat teaser and kick, then a clap, and once the melody and bass drop, you’re already in. It’s expertly composed, and woven with a message about finding your inner power.”
“I came across this track recently and it instantly came back to me — I knew every word, vocal, horn, and stab change, though it’d been likely 20 years since I heard it. I love the magic of reconnecting to a song you haven’t heard in ages. There’s something about this track that just punches me in the gut, still.”
“This track is an Analog Soul staple. If there was a paradigm for deep house, this would be it. It’s deeper than deep, dark and warm, sublime yet jacking, with perfect vocal cuts; a track for the dancer, the lover, the head nodder. Ludovic Navarre shows how prolific he is at production. This track is timeless.”
“I discovered this track in ’99 from a David Alvarado mix called ‘Midnight Express: A Guidance Recordings Compilation.’ This is another classic deep house track that stays in rotation to this day. The heavy stabs and vocal cuts bring the dancers and voguers to the floor. It’s just a bouncy, playful tune that never gets old.”