Anjunadeep — A Retrospective (Part 1, 2009–2015)

Justin Fleming
19 min readApr 10, 2023

I have been listening to Anjunadeep compilations for ten years now.

In the hot summer of 2013 I found myself enamored with the weekly Group Therapy radio show and my friend recommended I start checking out the house music regularly released on Anjunadeep. I had already enjoyed Andrew Bayer’s You EP from 2012 thoroughly, and the Group Therapy radio show started showing off new tracks coming to Anjunadeep 05 in the weeks prior to its release. The contrast of the cooling and bubbly tracks like Lane 8’s “Be Mine” and the Andrew Bayer remix of The Preset’s “It’s Cool” were enough to sell me on this upcoming release. I grabbed the compilation and my musical preferences were changed forever. At this point, Anjunadeep is commonplace in the dance scene, as are all things Anjuna. The compilation series in particular have been a foundational inspiration to all mixing work I’ve done in my life. In fact, I have been mixing since 2013 walking in the shadow of this compilation and a few mixes that BT had done around the same timeframe for compilations. Anjunadeep is one of the best examples out there of the notion that dance music is almost universally better when mixed together, and showed me that you can have interesting musical journeys built out of music made by different artists if you stitch it all together carefully and with a lot of curation work. It’s a telling sign most people just consider these compilations as albums outright. You’re going to see me mix those terms up the more you read this because I do the same thing as I go.

Seeing that I’ve been listening to these compilations basically on scattered repeat for ten years, I thought it best to give a retrospective in anticipation of the newly announced Anjunadeep 14. The retrospective is my own experience, picking favorites and providing tier ratings because it’s just fun for me. I’ve read every booklet for the compilations I could get my hands on as even earlier compilation booklets (like for AD04) even wrote about how some of the tracks got picked or the journey the creators took to get there.

So, in historical order, presented through the lens of my own history with the compilations, here is Anjunadeep, 01–13, discussed for your preparation of the new one’s release.

The First Four Years (AD01–04)

Anjunadeep 01–04 were the early time for the compilations. The compilations came about as the label was still developing and growing, simultaneous to a shifting musical landscape. The compilations here are varied, interesting, and a little inconsistent. But they’re formative.

Anjunadeep 01 (Mixed by Above & Beyond) — 2009

Different, but same

I’ll admit this is perhaps one I’ve listened to less than others (there’s maybe 3–4 of those across the bunch). Being the only one not mixed by James Grant & company, the taste in the track selection is a bit different. But Anjunadeep 01 is simultaneously essential for long time fans. You get to see where so much of it started, you can hear the blend of deep and progressive house at the progressive house peak years (2009). Jaytech features heavily across the compilation, with a sprinkle of Above & Beyond tracks and remixes throughout (their remix of Cubicolor’s Reckoner is a must-hear), and the 16 Bit Lolitas track “Nobody Seems to Care” opens the first of two mixes with a vibe that would be followed for almost the next decade. It might not all feel like the Anjunadeep vibe that we’ve no doubt become familiar with, but it most certainly started something special.
Overall ranking: B-Tier
Personal favorites: Komytea — 9, Cubicolor — Reockoner (Above & Beyond Remix), 16 Bit Lolitas — Nobody Seems to Care

Anjunadeep 02 (Mixed by Jaytech & James Grant) — 2010

The real party begins here

For me this is much closer to where the Anjunadeep journey begins. James Grant has been at the helm of the label for so long at this point that his particular picks in the mixes have helped establish a throughline of audio aesthetics you can sense even as early as on this compilation. I first really got into the Anjunadeep comps at 04 and 05, so 01–03 were experienced in retrospect for me, a little devoid of the cultural and timely context. Anjunadeep 02 is my favorite of this “out of context bunch”. Here the luminescent deep vibes are truly established, swinging out the gate with Jaytech & James Grant defining that sound with a track of their own making in “Moth”. The fusion of their work in that track establishes everything that is to come for the next three years, deeper basslines while still maintaining a progressive house snap. Progressive house was still very much a norm in 2010 and yet this duo managed to find unique artists carving some unique sounds back then that matched this new vibe they would establish. Particularly dreamy pad and arp work sprinkle their way across the first mix while the constant kicks are brought to the table on the second mix. While Jaytech & James Grant would make something much stronger down the line, Anjunadeep 02 is the place to go if you want to know what type of sounds and styles to expect for the first era of the series.
Overall ranking: B-Tier
Personal Favorites: Jaytech & James Grant- Moth, Sunday — Oliver Smith, Paul Keeley — Disco Belle (ft. Natalie Peris) (Dub Mix), Michael Cassette — Kilimanjaro, Boom Jinx & Andrew Bayer — To the Six (Martin Roth Remix), Jaytech — Ozone

Anjunadeep 03 (Mixed by Jaytech & James Grant) — 2011

Gems hide within

Of the first era of Anjunadeep, I’d say I like Anjunadeep 03 the least. None of these compilations are bad but 03 features some of the most monotonous tracks in the bunch in those early years. Progressive house was still kicking strong in these days, but house was certainly trying to find some new ground to stand on. The result is two mixes featuring some really great tracks hard to find anywhere else with rising label standouts at the time. The first mix features a fantastic mid-section from tracks 4 through 9. Andrew Bayer has a track from his Distraction EP on here (one of his more underrated works imo), as well as an early Matt Lange sighting with his hit single “Rift”. But when AD03 is not being monotonous, it’s chasing progressive house to the feet of electro-house. Jaytech’s more progressive house influences come in strong here in 2011 on the second mix, and the track selections are all great, but not quite taking you on that deeper journey. It’s a stranger time with maybe the largest sense of contrast going from mix one to mix two. Great? Nah. Still an Anjunadeep compilation? Absolutely.
Overall ranking: C-Tier
Personal favorites: Tracks 4–9 (especially the DAVI remix of Two Months Off by Underworld), Embliss — Back to Mine, Jaytech — Djembe, Beckwith — N to Brooklyn

Anjunadeep 04 (Mixed by Jaytech & James Grant) — 2012

An incredible sendoff

The best of the early years. I listened to Anjunadeep 04 shortly after or maybe even right before Anjunadeep 05 came out. As the years have gone on, this has maintained the sensation of being an essential compilation in the bunch. Andrew Bayer collaborated with James Grant a fair deal on the first mix, creating an interesting landscape of murky waters and the label’s first real sense that they’d start exploring deep house heavily in future releases. Dusky’s debut album title track leads the way in establishing that deep house tone and Andrew Bayer & James Grant are constantly remixing tracks across the first mix. You can’t miss the throughline from Andrew Bayer’s “You” all the way to the end of Parker & Hanson’s “Afterthought”. It’s the woven connections between these tracks that demonstrate that exact type of vibe Anjunadeep would continue to maintain for multiple years after this very moment. On the flip side, Jaytech’s last compilation before moving on to bigger and better things attaches so excellently from the first mix. The more tropical and playful progressive house here might be some of the best ever curated for the compilations. Jaytech has his own flourishes of lineups, tracks 3–5 serving up hype time from Oliver Smith, Solarity, and then Suspect 44. But then Jaytech maintains that journey into a mixing climax that’s never been repeated in AD history. First there’s the grungy and poppy Dirty South remix of Kaskade’s “Sorry”, and simultaneously mixed with that track are softer pad works from Andrew Bayer’s remix of “Alquimia” by Parker & Hansen. The result are two tracks that exist side by side and never really stop moving between each other until we come out the other side in a beautiful uplifting progressive house send off by Jaytech himself with his closer “Atlantic”. Anjunadeep 04 marks the end of most progressive house for the label. But it also marks the best of it.
Overall ranking: A-Tier
Personal favorites: Dusky — Lost Highway, Andrew Bayer — Gaff’s Eulogy, the last three on mix two, all of it even

The Deeper Waters Era (AD05–07)

Anjunadeep 05–07 take place in an era of deep house, sort of. There was plenty of deep house in 2012 for the label, showcased in the Anjunadeep 04 compilation as well. However, AD05 signaled the signing of Jody Wisternoff as a co-manager of the label. Meanwhile genre trends were shifting as 2012–2014 became the years of western-popularized EDM and “progressive house” became something Avicii played at festivals and not something you hear on a neatly curated compilation album trying to create “deep vibes”. While the years were probably challenging, dynamic, and new for James and Jody, they were probably the years these two grew their craft the most. In just three compilations Anjunadeep excelled, maintained, and experimented, and at the other side awaited something very different. These albums are important for what’s to come after.

Anjunadeep 05 (Mixed by James Grant & Jody Wisternoff) — 2013

S-Tier Alert. Imminent gushing.

So now we’re caught up. It’s 2013, I listen to Anjunadeep 05, I’m forever changed, this compilation did so much by managing to do just a couple things. It’s a mostly-deep-house dominated mix album composing of a variety of artists showing up more than once. We’ve got Universal Solution, new label co-manager/A&R guy Jody Wisternoff (one half of the legendary duo Way Out West), Matt Lange, and other label mainstays. I also want to take this moment to point out just how awesome the people who have done the artwork for the Anjunadeep series have always been at their jobs. I don’t know if they pick the art after they listen to the mixes or what, but there’s not a single Anjunadeep compilation that doesn’t have a cover befitting the compilation’s audio aesthetic. Give those artists a raise. I know I’m scattered and rambling right now and that’s because this one is just too special for me to remain partial here. You don’t forget when you first fell in love with a music and the early 10’s cross section of westernized EDM acting as the diving board I could use to get into something like the Anjunadeep series is certainly something that changed my next musical decade. I love everything here because of it. The double down of the bubbly “Yukon” into “Osheen” by Universal Solution, the debut of Lane 8’s “Be Mine” and his style of music that was being coined “back rub deep house” back then that would later go on to almost universally define melodic house as the engine of the label that it is today, the contrast of the tropical and darker water vibes on mix one against the almost tech-house-but-not vibes of the second mix that are undoubtedly soulful while also being rugged are a sound that has kept me engaged with the label ever since. Alfred Taylor hasn’t made a single club track since his track “Kuza” and it’s so good-Oh Alfred Taylor is just one half of Dusky. Okay nevermind he’s doing lots of music still, just not solo.

One of the strengths of Anjunadeep 05 came from its limitations. Within a year the label had a new person at the helm of A&R and managing the label alongside James Grant. Jody and James reportedly had sort of just hit it off on a DJ and music-taste-level, which is awesome! To try and shift style as progressive house was going the way of Avicii and the mainstage while involving a new label manager was probably difficult. The landscape looked different now. So this compilation relied on featured artists being shown off multiple times. With Jody Wisternoff on the scene now he brought on several tracks and remixes quickly. I already mentioned Universal Solution twice, but there’s also DAVI, Dusky (and Alfred Taylor, separately), Andrew Bayer & James Grant spent more time together making remixes across the compilation and even a track together because wherever Andrew Bayer goes productivity just always follows. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard Tania Zygar before, but Matt Lange’s track with her called “Way You Know” could put a roaring lion to sleep, and so could his track “Only You”. It’s because of “Way You Know” that I went on to buy Tania Zygar’s electro-pop dubsteppy acoustic album “Explode”. It’s amazing. If you can’t listen to the track “Friends” and belt it in the car on the way home, then don’t sit next to me in a car going somewhere while it plays. You’ve been warned. I also think it’s entirely possible the brief return of deep house styles in 2012–2014 was an opportunity that James and Jody could quickly grab hold of as the basis for a new style for a little bit while they sorted out what type of creations they wanted to make as a team. Jody was already well versed in the genre and its closely tied cousins. And so, for AD05, necessity became the mother of invention.

Deep house experienced this wonderful ascension into relevance in dance music post-2010 and while I’d personally say it was briefly lived and overshadowed by tech house, techno, and melodic house by 2015, Anjunadeep 05 was a time and a place peaking this sensation. In the midst of everything sounding like a copycat of Martin Garrix’s “Animals” or Aviciis’ “Levels”, Anjunadeep sounded thoughtful and pensive. There’s also almost no hint of what came before or what was to come or even what was happening in music that very summer. No sign whatsoever. It’s all dark green, swimming with the fishies that you see on the album artwork, and a glowing Anjunadeep logo radiating deep house for two and a half hours. AD05 is where I go to forget other music exists or is in the process of evolving. That might be somewhere else for you and that’s okay.

I wish I could go back ten years and buy the poster Anjuna was selling for this album at the time. If only I had known what these two mixes would be for me. A fantastic chill way to start out those retail hell days at 7 AM as I worked tirelessly on computer repairs. A great way to feel a little upbeat as the store opened. An awesome thing to chill out to driving up to your friend’s farm on those summer days for a long night and a bonfire. It’s crazy to look back on such a refined, honed album these days when the later compilations are more extravagant journeys through what deep dance music can be. The flash in the pan is brief and incredible. As was Anjunadeep 05.
Overall ranking: S-Tier. An absolute must.
Personal favorites: All of them. Shoutouts to Andre Sobota who has remained a favorite over the years. There’s just so many artists I got into because of this one release, it’s insane.

Anjunadeep 06 (Mixed by James Grant & Jody Wisternoff) — 2014

A welcome progression

2014, September. Anjunadeep 06. In many ways this compilation feels like an attempt at trying to strike while the iron is still hot. Anjunadeep 06 in many ways feels like the format is finding footing. Anjunadeep 04, 05, and 06 all follow some reliable mix techniques of starting slow and beautiful, opening up the audio arena more a few tracks in, and then taking you on a strong string of sounds in the first mix’s mid-section before taking on a finish, fading gently, and starting it all over again for a second mix. This is a reliable dance mix method that feels polished to a shine in these three albums and with 06 you can even see the repetition in its track listing. Croquet Club started AD05, and here they’re starting AD06. Lane 8 shows up again (twice this time), both albums have a track called “Only You”, and there’s still a measurably strong amount of deep house taking the brunt of the interest in these two mixes. Where AD06 differentiates itself is in taking on the audio style of “an underwater explorations of grooves…in space”. “How did they do that?” you ask, and my answer is two things: Two mixers, and Cubicolor.

You see, Anjunadeep 06 isn’t actually striking while the iron is hot. And not because Anjunadeep is an always hot iron (though sometimes it feels like that) but because this compilation came out 14 months after AD05. In the world of hotly awaited sequels by yours truly, AD06 cooked in the oven a little longer for me before I was able to enjoy. James and Jody worked harder to try and sell this musical experience as a singular work of art built by a duo that they made both mixes together instead of the way AD02–05 were made. The result? A pretty good time. I’m not going to lie, I loved AD06 maybe just as equally out the gate despite a few tracks really feeling offputting at first. Steve Huerta’s “Say It Wasn’t” was playing with those high hats a little too much. The weird clucky-moans of “Quartz” by Dave Angel did not make sense to a 22 year old Justin who was too busy just enjoying deep, progressive, and electro house to understand what type of sounds were being put on my plate at the time. Personally I’ve found the tracks James and Jody use to try and serve as mix-climaxes never quite bring it the way “Mr Man”, “Way You Know”, “Feeling” and “Only You” managed to on AD05. But where AD05 is constantly entertaining you, AD06 is succeeding at pulling you new places. This is the direction house was taking in 2014, simultaneously sitting in the warmth of what had been successful up to that point and starting to take interest in some new things. While on first listen I was really taken by the guitar-EQ-work and birdsong entreating me on Vincenzo’s “If He Runs” (it’s really good!), and the return of Lane 8 with new singles that wound up being a lead-in to his album in 2015 (and here I was just expecting them to use “Be Mine”, “The One”, or “There’s Nothing You Can Say”), what I really want to do take a moment to draw attention to the true “new-path” champions of AD06 that dominate this album: Cubicolor.

Cubicolor in 2014 was built as an alias act for Ariaan Olieroock and Peter Kriek, the duo that is 16 Bit Lolitas. And suddenly we’re back again at the two that started it all in terms of artists that have been a part of these compilations regularly. In those early couple years, Cubicolor was a melodic and techno dreamscape artist that were taking the “back rub deep house” that Lane 8 seemingly just built out of thin air and taking it on a groovy trip that consistently was interesting and ecclectic. “Soul Chords” on track 3 is just plain groovy with an acidic pad. “Still Linger in My Dreams” is a layered instrumental masterpiece that lets the whole of the first mix wash away for a few minutes and just be. And “Got This Feeling” was kind of the melodic house anthem of 2014. Oh, is that not enough? Okay fine, when Cubicolor isn’t on this compilation, the same artists are showing up instead as 16 Bit Lolitas with mix-1 closer “Premium Emo”, an uplifting piece that rivals every mix closer on AD up to this point as well as repetitive deep house piece “Deep In My Soul”. These tracks scattered across AD06 signaled the change that Lane 8 had started in 2013, here in 2014, soon to take such a hold on the music that we’d see the rippling effects in 2015. Cubicolor saw it coming, and were inspired fast. Thus providing AD06 the dynamic contrast of two DJs mixing their pieces all across the two CDs, creating, again, an underwater exploration of grooves in space. This one is dynamic.

Oh you want more AD05-style-love though? Okay: Eli & Fur show up with Feel the Fire, deep and tech house champions. Beckwith’s biggest and best-est house jam takes you for a ride with “Take Me Home”. Lane 8’s “Diamonds” just rules. And Oliver Smith’s “Meramek” alias continued to grow with a more techno flair on “Only You”. I love AD06, despite it being a weird, bumpier ride this time.
Overall ranking: B-Tier
Personal favorites: Every time Cubicolor or 16BL show up. Take Me Home. Say It Wasn’t. Quartz.

Anjunadeep 07 (Mixed by James Grant & Jody Wisternoff) — 2015

My conversation around this one is going to be less specific.

(sigh) Okay. If you scroll all the way back to the second thing I ever wrote on Medium, you’ll find a piece by me from 2016 providing a critical look at Anjunadeep 07 and 08 in relation to one another on the heels of the release of AD08. This piece of writing is pretty bad. It came from a much younger person who really took a music label making some changes to its visual branding and its expansive release designs as a sign that something had changed as a result of a failure. This was me looking at things Anjunadeep was doing to change up the label as a sign they were course correcting after Anjunadeep 07 failed to live up to my (repeat: MY) expectations and ultimately became kind of a let down. I took my perspective on this compilation to be universal. But that’s simply not the truth. If you’ve learned anything about businesses in your life and look up popularity results via Google Trends for Anjunadeep across the years, AD07 was anything but a flop for everyone involved and the label grew considerably in the year following. I just didn’t like AD07 and was writing my own narrative of what the compilations should sound like. I was wrong, and I couldn’t see what James & Jody were trying to do with this release, in fact I wouldn’t for two more years.

I do stand by some points I was trying to make about AD07 being truly unsure footing for the label, resulting in this compilation using about five tracks from other labels when it is still a 30-track compilation. 30 tracks across two mixes isn’t a small number, it’s in fact pretty standard for your hour-and-twenty-minute mix CD times two. But Anjunadeep at the time had managed to be a label that wouldn’t inundate me with new music two or three times a week, releases felt heavily curated, and the compilations were this lovely mix of music looking back on the past year of releases and forward on the upcoming one. AD07 felt like it was leaving some of that behind for some reason, using short cuts here and there in the first mix and not really finding its sure footing until about a third of the way into the first mix, and the second mix almost never felt confident in where it’s going. The curated tracks across the second mix also felt like a mixed bag. Techno and tech house really gained a big foothold in 2015 and Anjunadeep didn’t seem to release music following that trend too much, but the artists of 2012–2014 were now going elsewhere musically speaking. So I thought they were unsure. I was wrong. At the end of the day, AD07 is a mix album put together by James & Jody that they were proud of and a part of what they were trying to accomplish. This is a little course correction of my own writing here about 7 years later, so in short: Anjunadeep 07 was seemingly succeeding at maintaining something good in a time when the fields were drastically changing and some artists were still figuring out what to do next. The label had succeeded massively in the past and would soon get the chance to expand and build more than ever before. I was wrong to think the label was struggling at the time, if anything James & Jody could’ve been enamored with the chance to decide where to go next. It became so much clearer two years later, but for years I’ve held this 2-CD compilation in a lot of disregard that doesn’t make sense.

The truth of the matter is that AD07 is James & Jody’s first true attempt at creating a cohesive album that feels like their own built on mix of music made by other people at points. This is why they pulled tracks from outside the label more this time, this is why it has interesting short cuts in the first five tracks or so switching genres and BPMs more. The lack of new and present direction in this year did make the compilation suffer in my opinion. I don’t like the second mix at all and the first mix, while having some incredible tracks, starts to feel boilerplate too. But there’s a really big shadow following the entire compilation I have to talk about: 2015 is also the year James Grant lost his sister. Above & Beyond and James Grant made some efforts for fundraisers in her honor, but the loss (if I recall correctly) was sudden and unexpected. The emotional strata of Anjunadeep 07 is a hodgepodge of highs and lows, with the lows particularly focusing on a melancholy unheard of before this point on the mixes. The result is effective when it’s happening. Both Solomon Grey tracks, Yotto’s “Wondering”, probably 70% of the music across mix two, it’s all sorta sad or slower than ever before. House always been the slower beat comparatively but AD07 is unique in its almost predominantly slower, melancholic time. Sad light male vocals are everywhere on this one. And I can’t listen to the two-disc album and not think James’s loss influenced these mixes in some way. I think there’s some clear weeds James & Jody were walking into in 2015 and loss only made it harder for James to figure out where to go next.

But, it was successful regardless. Lane 8’s debut album also came out this year to rave reviews, he’d go on to form his own label that’s still chugging out music. The Cubicolor /16 Bit Lolitas duo continued to define the vibes again and again, and Moon Boots were a quick add that seemingly immediately started working towards an album release. Oh and Jody returned as one half of the Way Out West duo for the first time in 5 years for a new album in the works with leading single “Tuesday Maybe”. I may not like it, but the results of AD07 and the years following speak for themselves.
Overall ranking: C-Tier
Personal favorites: The mid-section of mix 1, tracks 6–8 and maybe 12–15. Last four tracks on mix 2.

The covers the first seven years of Anjunadeep compilations. The next six are going to be covered in another release either later this week or as soon as I can get it out next week. The plan is to release the second one Thursday night on the heels of AD14’s. Thanks for reading!



Justin Fleming

Business admin graduate with a passion for games and music.