The Essential Desert Hearts Playlist

Dec 29, 2022

Graham Berry

5 min read

When Mikey LionMarbsLee Reynolds, and Porky started throwing parties with a few dozen friends in the desert, even they couldn’t have imagined their ragtag dust-covered crew would grow to become the powerhouse of west coast house and techno music that it is today. More than ten years later, Desert Hearts Records and Desert Hearts Black musically represent two sides of the same stylish coin. Their music ranges from fun-loving, trippy, daytime house to weird, dark, and sometimes even malevolent techno. Like Enid Sinclair and Wednesday Addams, the differences between the two are night and day, but together they represent something exceptional.

Apart from sold-out tours, bookings in more than 20 different countries, a wildly successful music festival, an infectiously fashionable merch line, and an entourage of more than 30 music producers in tow, Desert Hearts is far from a flash in the pan. Emblematic anthems in their catalog, like Mikey Lion’s “Above the Clouds” and “For The Love,” flex bouncy, sunny songs. At the same time, tracks like “Helix” and “Torus” from Marbs induce a moonlit shuffling, face-melting bliss that is so irresistibly addictive that it may as well be drugs.

Whether you’re a Desert Hearts die-hard or you just want to hear what all the fuss is about, sit down next to a speaker, pump the tracks below into your ears, and join us on a journey that showcases the duality of house and techno as much as it distinguishes DH from their peers in the genre.

1. Andres Hennenberg, Mikey Lion - The Tortilla Rap

Uptempo grooves and reverberating vocals gel in this potent mix from Andres Hennenberg and Mikey Lion. The lyrics sum up the end result, saying, “I made a song about a tortilla. It actually was a wrap.” If you’re a sucker for synthy crescendos and soft highs, this one may as well be your anthem.

2. Marbs - Needed Time

Off-beat and heavy-hearted, Marbs doesn’t hold back – ever. Like his infamously creative visual designs, his decorative soundscapes will have you time-traveling back to the early warehouse days of modern techno. His magnetic seven-minute banger, “Needed Time,” is a token example.

3. Lee Reynolds - People Like You

Like a fine wine, Lee Reynolds’ music will get you lit. With braps and bloops that could only originate from the far end of known space, his club-thumping track “People Like You” is as much a journey to experience as it is a lure to the dancefloor.

4. Porky, Mitch Dodge - Chameleon

When it comes to getting weird, nobody does it like Porky. In 2020 he teamed up with Dirtybird regular Mitch Dodge for “Chameleon.” Today, the boisterously beated track, which is known for blending island drums and stripped-down hip-hop hooks, is a fixture in his sets on the road.

5. Mikey Lion, Lubelski, Jackson Englund - When I’m With You

The low-fi keys and jazz guitar that adorn the colorful builds in Mikey Lion’s hit piano house track “When I’m With You” is like a day by the pool for your earholes. Englund’s silky RÜFÜS-like vocals and Lubelski’s technical prowess take the song to a whole new level too.

6. RYBO, Lubelski - Favela Funk

If maracas were contagious, it would be easier to break down the many reasons why RYBO’s undulating track “Favela Funk” is so sick. The hest of this gritty ‘City Hearts’ styled serenade is reminiscent of Spring time block parties, but with an extra kick.

7. Rinzen, Marbs, Evan Casey - Ark

Rinzen’s cinematic repertoire shines through in the shimmery track “Ark.” Co-starring Evan Casey and Marbs, it’s a definitive Desert Hearts Black sound, shrouded in mystery with a prepossessive flair.

8. Beth Lydi - Jump the Couch

Tribal percussion, steady shifts, and raining highs distinguish Beth Lydi’s “Jump the Couch” as a walloping paean. In addition to a sweltering rhythm that intensifies through the life of the song, her sound is a colorful addition to the Desert Hearts label. It’s at home as much in the club as on “the Playa.”

9. Popof - Rubber (SHADED Thicc Body Remix)

Somehow futuristic and nostalgic at the same time, Popof’s tech house heater “Rubber” offers 8-bits with a lot of oomph. With beefed-up sways courtesy of SHADED, it’s one of the defining tracks on the artist’s 2021 EP, Hybrid.

10. Joyce Muniz, G.rizo, Lubelski - Deeper the Soul (Lubelski Remix)

Kaleidoscopic vocals and rhythmic verses bridge the world of soul-hop with tech house in Joyce Muniz’s orgastic track “Deeper the Soul.” G.rizo’s charm throughout the track is palpable, while Lubelski’s pyrophoric touch puts a mad science-flavored spin on the song.

11. Tini Gessler - Acid

Basslines and upbeat allures may as well be signatures in Tini Gessler’s persona behind the decks. The flailing harmonies of her captivating track “Acid” serve as a reminder that she’s a powerhouse who adds something unique to the Desert Hearts family, while standing strong just fine on her own.

12. Kevin Knapp, Baby Luck, RYBO - Cute (RYBO Remix)

RYBO’s booty-shaking spin on Kevin Knapp’s club catalyzer “Cute” puts the song in third gear, making it perfect for club listening. With Baby Luck’s playful vocals laid on thick, it’s also a brilliant summer anthem with attitude to spare.

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