Back to Where They Started From: Local Chicago DJs at SAMF

Photo courtesy of Fistintheair
Photo courtesy of Fistintheair

With Spring Awakening Music Festival (SAMF) becoming more popular each year, fans have seen the addition of many big name DJs such as Jack Ü by Skrillex and Diplo, Martin Garrix, and Paul van Dyk for 2015.

Although SAMF has paved way for EDM’s top DJs, it also holds home to several Chicago based artists whose careers all began in the Windy City, giving the commercial festival scene a more local feel while simultaneously providing audiences with a vast variety of DJs.

Here are some Chicago DJs you should get to know at SAMF:


1) Derrick Carter

Photo courtesy of derrick carter.com
Photo courtesy of derrickcarter.com

General Info: Raised in the western suburbs of Chicago, Derrick Carter’s love for music and DJ’ing began at the early age of nine when he started spinning disco records at family reunions, according to his official website. Carter is known for keeping his style and music underground and being a rather low-profile DJ, despite his gaining popularity. His career began with his first single release in 1987 called “Love Me Right.” Although he is most notably credited for being a house DJ, Carter enjoys experimenting with other non-EDM related genres such as disco, soul and jazz. He has also founded two record labels, Blue Cucaracha and Classic. Carter has become quite famous in Europe, and in an interview with Spain’s leading newspaper El País, he explains why he’s never moved abroad permanently:

I lived in London for a while. I’ve spent an extended amount of time in Paris as well. But, I’m not European and Chicago is my home. I love Chicago and am in a committed relationship with it.


Listen: Derrick Carter on SoundCloud


2) Porn and Chicken

Photo courtesy of Detroit Metro Times
Photo courtesy of Detroit Metro Times

General Info: Known for their infamous Monday night Porn and Chicken Dance Party in Wicker Park, members Dom Brown, Fei Tang, and Orville Kline have created their own unique brand under the same name that goes far beyond the limits of any DJ booth you can see at SAMF. Voted Chicago’s Best Dance Party for four consecutive years by the Chicago Reader’s Poll and Chicago’s Best Dance Party of 2014 by the Chicago Nightlife Awards, SAMF attendees can expect effervescent behavior and predestined recklessness from this group. In an interview with Chicago Music Magazine, Brown explained:

We focused on creating a brand and identifying with a brand. If you pay attention to all of our advertising or anything that we put on media, there’s never a face on it. We don’t put any DJ’s faces on there, even if you’re a huge headliner…So, when you think about Porn and Chicken you’re usually drawn back to your experience of the party.


For those who’ve never experienced a Porn and Chicken party, Brown says to expect “to lose [your] inhibitions. You’re going to feel very uncomfortable, and then we’re going to make you feel very comfortable.”

Listen: Porn and Chicken on SoundCloud


3) Dani Deahl

Photo courtesy of Zimbio
Photo courtesy of Zimbio

General Info: Chicago based house DJ Dani Deahl is a quadruple threat who continues to grow immensely as not only a DJ, but a producer, journalist, and high-profile blogger. Deahl’s DJ’ing career began while she was still in high school, and has since become a prominent journalist and blogger, along with furthering her career into music production. Deahl has written for URB Magazine, and has her own blog that you can check out below. She previously had a Billboard charted track, and performed at Lollapalooza in 2011. She has been praised by DJs such as Diplo, Smalltown DJs and Donald Glaude, and produced tracks for Sue Cho, Oh Snap! and Whiskey Pete. Deahl set the record straight about the constant questions regarding being a female DJ in an article by DJ Mag entitled “5 True Facts about Female DJs”:

We have a sense of humor to handle stupid questions like, ‘did your boyfriend teach you to mix?’ Yup…he sure did…it’s also where I learned other important DJ skills like finger hearts, air piano, and how to pretend to twist EQ knobs during long songs.


Blog: Dani Deahl

Listen: Dani Deahl on SoundCloud


4) Louis the Child

Photo courtesy of Youredm
Photo courtesy of Youredm

General Info: Catching their big break at SAMF in 2013, members Freddy Kennett and Robby Hauldren return to their Chicago roots once again. The duo have been touring extensively in the past year, and have made appearances at Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) Las Vegas and Life in Color in 2014, and most recently at DayTrip Music Festival in Chicago this past May. As part of Prep School Recordings, Louis the Child released their Dimensions EP in 2013, maintaining the label’s mission to “release sophisticated and polished dance music for the tasteful listener.” An article by Your EDM said, “These guys are on fire. Funky, experimental, and a Madeon type vibe make these guys the ones to watch.”

Listen: Louis the Child on SoundCloud


5) Light.Em.Up ft. Zebo & PHNM

Photo courtesy of White Raver Rafting
DJ Zebo. Photo courtesy of White Raver Rafting



PHNM. Photo courtesy of radsummer.com
PHNM. Photo courtesy of radsummer.com


General Info: EDM in its own entity is a conversation that indubitably revolves around new technologies that make this music possible. DJs are constantly being asked what technologies they use, and how it affects their musical progression and the future of electronic music. Besides the obvious use of technologies used to produce EDM, the Light.Em.Up project featuring Chicago DJs Zebo and PHNM have taken it a step further in an attempt that could forever change the audience experience at concerts and festivals. Light.Em.Up is an app created by duo Zebo and PHNM where every 20 minutes during their shows, the audience is told to “Light Em Up,” and must select a color on the app that corresponds with the style of music they want to hear. The color that dominates the crowd leads the direction in which style will be played next. The description for the app explains, “In an age where the producer stands out, these two remind the world on what it means to be a good DJ by adapting to the crowd, and traveling through genres seamlessly. Light.Em.Up is leading the future of DJ’ing in a unique way that provides every high-energy show experience to be completely unique, never replicated.”

App: Download Light.Em.Up

Listen: PHNM on SoundCloud

Zebo on SoundCloud



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  • Xposur


Alexandra Mahoney

Chicago native living in Madrid, Spain. Recent graduate from Indiana University with a degree in journalism and a double minor in music and Spanish. Lover of music, dance, hooping, piano and travel.

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