Premiere: Nick Minieri of Zakim drops Boston producer dance mix ‘Hometown II’

By now most media outlets have filed their annual Year-End coverage, a content wave of lists and picks and treats and tricks, wrapping up the Year That Was with grand hyperbole and subjective selections. Nick Minieri of Boston’s Zakim Recordings has no such Top 10 to offer up to the dance floor gods, but instead an 80-minute of fresh New England sounds that dominated the clubs and bunkers in 2015.

Minieri’s Hometown II (2015 Boston Producer Showcase Mix) follows up the success of last year’s inaugural collection, and culls together nearly 30 artists and producers from Boston’s vibrant local electronic music community, from the global presence of house master John Barera to the fresh-faced disco revivalism of Camino. There’s a lot to take in here, so it’s best to allow Minieri to break it all down after you hit “play” and let it unfold in your eardrums. Earlier this week, Vanyaland asked him about how the mix came together, how to combine Boston’s diverse dance music landscape into one coherent mix, and what’s next for his always on-point Zakim label.

Michael Marotta: How do you select artists for this mix?

Nick Minieri: The only real criteria for these Hometown mixes is the artists are based in Boston, the tracks have been made within the past year, and that they’re solid. I generally include a mix of veterans, friends I’ve worked with, Zakim artists, and a few really talented people I’ve never met or even connected with online before. It’s definitely not just restricted to artists I would consider signing on Zakim. I like including people from different social circles because ideally it’s a great way to cross-promote and expose everyone to bits that may have gotten lost in the shuffle.

Do you try to make it reflective of the electronic music community or is it more based on your tastes and styles?

It’s a little bit of both to be honest. Getting a good snapshot of any music community within a limited frame of reference (in this case, 80 minutes) is always a challenge. There’s at least a hundred different dance/electronic artists in this city I follow religiously, and for this mix I built a short list of roughly half that for consideration. From there I have to whittle it down to around 25 to fit within 80 minutes. The part where the latter comes into play is I have to make sure the mix flows properly so people will want to listen to it, meaning certain sounds end up getting omitted if I can’t get them to work contextually (like in this case, electro and dubstep). However I always encourage producers to send me demos for constructive feedback, label consideration or future compilations I do like this!

Will this now be a yearly thing after the reception of last year’s?

Definitely. There’s a lot of great music being made in Boston, but the hard part is much of it gets digested and forgotten about as people publish and consume information faster than ever before online. Artists who are still trying to break through locally need all the help they can get exposure-wise, and I am always willing to help as long as they make solid tracks and have a good attitude.

What’s ahead for Zakim in 2016?

I have two separate releases I recently had mastered and am about to put into production. The first is a two-track 7-inch from Alt-OK, an up-and-comer who dabbles quite heavily in house and garage and works with lots of micro-edits and change-ups to make every single bar a massive trip to listen to. The second will be another John Barera and Friends compilation, the third he has done with us. All four tracks on this one are incredible and will be worth the wait; I’m very lucky to have people like John make stuff this good for such a small label. These will likely release in the spring, and tracks from both releases can be heard publicly for the first time in this mix. Following that I hope to put out at least one more thing in the back half of 2016… only time will tell!