DJ mix: How ‘Back To Mine’ kept it personal

Tom Bishop
4 min readJan 31, 2018


As the 21st century powered up, the internet revolution launched east London into the future.

Cheap rents made this part of town magnetic for cool kids with startup funds. You can keep your Silicon Valley — Shoreditch became Silicon Ditch, a scratchy buzzing hub for visionaries and chancers.

There was a constant soundtrack beneath the coffee-house grind, the dial up tones and the tap-tap-tap on the iBook — the Back To Mine album.

Back To Mine was one of the UK’s most successful and influential compilation series, amassing 28 volumes over nine years.

It posed the question: if a superstar DJ invited you back to their place after the clubs had shut, what music would they play?

This gave DJs a welcome chance to reveal their influences and showcase some favourite tracks that were too leftfield or obscure to play out.


Following the lead of !K7’s DJ Kicks series, DMC published the first Back To Mine album in 1999, with Global Underground DJ Nick Warren inviting us over to hear a seamless mix of Moby and Coldcut, Sub Sub and Talismantra.

By the time Groove Armada (vol 4) and Faithless (5) joined in, Back To Mines were being played everywhere.

It was the intimate nature of the premise that set these albums apart.

Back at theirs, would the DJ keep the party going with some block shaking house or hip-hop? Would they slip into downtempo electronica, get spiritual and ambient, or try it on with some irresistible funk, soul or rare groove? Only one way to find out: buy the CD or vinyl.

Some Back To Miners mixed all these genres together and more (see Danny Tenaglia, New Order, Chris Lowe from Pet Shop Boys), earning the series a reputation for being as diverse and eclectic as it was cool and popular.

Back To Mine capitalised on the rise of the big name DJ but also enabled them to reveal their human form.

Describing Everything But The Girl’s instalment, a CDNow reviewer said: “Underneath it all, they’re not much different than the fans who buy their records. It’s that adoration of sound that makes Back to Mine shine.”

Subsequent volumes added the subtitle “a personal collection for after-hours grooving”. Back To Mine’s invitation showed no sign of being withdrawn.

“This coffee-table thing has obviously got legs,” said NME’s Tony Naylor admiringly, as he gave Talvin Singh’s contribution the thumbs up in 2005.

By then Back To Mine had inspired a slew of chillout compilations, some dreamy, some soporific.

These included the acclaimed Another Late Night series, and mixes by global lifestyle chain Buddha Bar — tastefully split into CD1 (“Dinner”) and CD2 (“Party”). Whoever’s chillout you stumbled into, chances are you’d hear Weather Storm by Craig Armstrong, Utopia by Goldfrapp and anything, absolutely anything, by Moby.


A Back To Mine backlash threatened to kill the groove, accusing its DJs of being self-serving bores rather than generous hosts.

Pitchfork’s Paul Cooper dismissed Danny Tenaglia’s mix as “nothing too revelatory” and the Faithless volume as “little else but Faithless tracks and the band members’ solo efforts”.

But he saved the full force of his scorn for the Groove Armada collection. “Even before you press play on your hi-fi — with one glance at the Chardonnay-quaffing track listing — you’ll yawn, collapse, and curse yourself for shelling out beer money for such meager slurry,” he wrote.


Meanwhile in Silicon Ditch, the kids seeking Utopia were instead caught in a weather storm. The net bubble burst when financial backers realised a lucrative website needed more than just a beautifully designed homepage.

Suddenly blissed out bonhomie was off the menu.

Back To Mine survived by luring us into strange new after parties hosted by Audio Bullys (vol 15), Death in Vegas (16) and Liam from The Prodigy (23), mischievous and boisterous nights that kept everyone awake.

Reviewing the Mercury Rev edition, AllMusic’s Heather Phares said: “Though Back To Mine sometimes feels like a particularly lucky streak on shuffle rather than a precisely planned mix, that’s the appeal of this freewheeling collection.”

It was left to breakbeat DJ Krafty Kuts to kick everybody out after hosting the rapturous final Back To Mine album in 2008.


DMC’s indie version Under The Influence was short-lived, despite opening with favourites by Morrissey, Ian Brown and Paul Weller.

Back To Mine was subsequently revived as a regular feature on DMC’s website, happy in a new world of listicles and curated playlists.

Nearly 20 years on, it remains a testament to musical curiosity, enduring influence and the joy of after-hours grooving.

  • After writing this I couldn’t resist making my own 100% unofficial Back To Mine collection (to fit on just one CD of course). I’d love to hear your personal Back To Mine selection. If you’re game, list your tracks here on Medium or put them up on Spotify. Then it’s all back to yours.



Tom Bishop

Hackney, east London; has written for BBC News website, Gay Times, Diva & Attitude.