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By night, Dexter Jeffrey is DJ ‘Nine Mile’ Decks, packing the club floors of Clapham in London as a resident DJ of Infernos Night Club. By day, DJ ‘Nine Mile’ Decks is FitPro’s very own music producer, pulling together epic tracks to make awesome music releases for all your fitness classes.

Here, we chat to DJ ‘Nine Mile’ Decks to find out how the magic happens.

FitPro: DJ ‘Nine Mile’ Decks, there are so many bangers to choose from. How do you choose the tracks to put on the releases you produce for us?

DJ ‘Nine Mile’ Decks: Good question! With The Best of 2023, for example, I had a look online to see which were the most streamed tracks that year and the 15 tracks I chose were in the Top 40 of the most streamed tracks of 2023. For releases like The Best of 2023, no one can say “I don’t remember that track”! I choose tracks that have energy and I have to make sure I can use them legally – I can’t use any mashups or bootlegs or anything like that. They’re all tracks that have actually been released and have official remixes. I choose tracks that I can hear won’t need a lot of studio magic in order for them to be used on freestyle music titles, so the tracks don’t sound too different from the original. That’s a key part of it.

FitPro: How do you decide in what order to put the tracks?

DJ ‘Nine Mile’ Decks: There are PPL rules as to how we mix tracks together, so I try to keep the tracks as close to their natural BPMs as I can but some will drift up and down. So, if a track is naturally 135 BPM, it fits perfectly with a title that blends from 132 to 138 BPM. Again, if a track is at 141 BPM or 142 BPM, just bringing it down to 138 BPM shouldn’t be too much of a problem. So, basically, I will look at BPMs of tracks to see where to position them on the title.

FitPro: What other musical studio tricks or magic might you do?

DJ ‘Nine Mile’ Decks: Being a music professional and a qualified piano teacher, I know about song production and how song structures are put together, so I can work out what key a song is in and what to modulate the next song to, or whether to keep the next song in the same key. So, I can adjust the keys of the songs to make sure they blend together nicely. I did that a lot with Club Bangers to make sure it was all keyed up nicely and we didn’t have any key clashes.

For the fitness industry, I try to get a bright sound, so I tend to modulate things in dominant keys; say the song is in E flat minor, I would want the next track to be maybe A flat minor or B flat minor, which are sub dominant and dominant modulations to get a brighter sound. As we get towards the end of the title, the last couple of tracks want to be mellowing out in the timbre, the sound and the feel, so I may do a modulation there too. It’s all quite technical and requires a lot of music theory to work out what songs go where. I make sure every song has an intro without vocals or, if the song that’s going out has got vocals at the end, I ensure it works perfectly together with the next song so they don’t clash.

FitPro: Definitely sounds technical! So how long does it take to pull together a release?

Image of Dexter Jeffrey at his desk

Dexter Jeffrey

DJ ‘Nine Mile’ Decks: I always try to get the releases to be at least an hour long to suit the average fitness class, which is around an hour. To mix a title of this length, I have to choose the tracks, master them, render them down after phrasing them out and re-eq them before I actually put them into the mix so the whole mix is at the same level with each track. So, the whole process from compiling the playlist to putting the title together, to making any changes, to signing it all off as a finished release takes three to four days, depending on how complex the title is. Club Bangers took about that time. And as with everything, there’s paperwork as well!

FitPro: What makes your fitness releases stand out?

DJ ‘Nine Mile’ Decks: I understand the vibe and energy of a fitness class and it’s really down to the music. I always choose high-energy music – music that’s a bit edgy and a bit different and full of life. Obviously, the way you mix the songs together is really crucial – if they aren’t mixed together well, it’s not fun to listen to and sounds bland. However, if I play around with it, get it in the right key, maybe add a bit of scratching here and there, and cut things in and out, it sounds more edgy and gives more energy to the class. Being creative with the titles really helps.

You have to build from track one all the way up to the final track – it’s all about energy. When I’m mixing in a club it’s different because the money is made on the door and at the bar – no money is made from the dancefloor – so you vary the energy so people leave the dancefloor to go to the bar (although not so much that they want to leave the club!), whereas in a fitness class you want them on the floor the whole time! So it’s about energy, I think, building up and then levelling off energy-wise for the last couple tracks as the class cool downs at the end. Being uplifting from start to finish.

I try to choose stuff with punchy baselines or really banging beats, something which sounds really high energy. The first track in Best of Dance 2023 is Cupid. If you find a copy of the original and listen to it and then listen to the version I’ve chosen for the title, our version is a lot punchier and more dynamic. The whole title is actually – I think it’s one of the best ones. Every track has something about it and it’s lively. So, making a release is all about track selection, positioning of the tracks on the title and making sure musically everything sounds right – having the music knowledge behind me and knowing the tracks are in the right key, when to mix in and when to mix out, modulating, all these things make a title stand out. Mixing these types of titles isn’t run of the mill – it’s a skilled art I would say.

FitPro: So the playlist really is the backbone of the class then …

DJ ‘Nine Mile’ Decks: A really good playlist does affect a class. A request on your Spotify playlist may sound good at home but it doesn’t sound good in a club, for example, so having the right playlist is absolutely crucial. If you enjoy listening to Taylor Swift and you love Rihanna and you love 1D, you can stick them on a Spotify playlist and it’s fine in the car, but you couldn’t put those together to make a title unless you’ve got particular mixes, but then you’ve got to work out if it’s in the right key etc and then create intros and outros. Yeah, a playlist is crucial. I’m not going to stick Jackson 5 next to Beyonce, or Jay Z next to Lulu. It’s about knowing where to put things and how to get from one to another. It’s very skilful to move from artist to artist. If you haven’t got the right playlist for your class, you’re in trouble.

FitPro: Have you got a favourite release?

DJ ‘Nine Mile’ Decks: (Laughs) I’ve mixed thousands of titles, so I can’t choose a favourite! Step Volume 15 was a good one, a very commercial classic house one – you should have that in your arsenal, there’s lots of great 90s stuff in there. Also, if you can get hold of Dance Mix 1 – it wasn’t released on CD but was awesome! Step 23 – one of the hottest Steps going; it starts with Whitney and has everything on it. It’s hot! If you like your ‘Old Skool Garage Music’ then I would recommend the Step Volume 27 second CD. Or check out Garage Anthems as that title is brilliant. Double CD Album Hi-Lo 12 is another hot one. Double CD Album Hi-Lo 11 has a lot of disco house stuff. These ones stick out. Some of Dean’s presenter ones are also great – you NEED to have Presenter Series 22 in your collection! Seriously, you really do need that one! Also, Ibiza Dance 2016 is another great title and, finally, Bassline Sounds was brilliantly put together – I remember mixing that title completely LIVE! Yeah, I just hooked up my decks and mixer to the DAT player, pressed record and did a live mix session and the result was amazing, so again if you can get that one in your bag I urge you to do so. If that is your style of music, you won’t be disappointed. You need ALL those ones I’ve just mentioned – trust me! Get them in your arsenal.

FitPro: You’ve been mixing for FitPro for a good while now. Share some of your history with us.

DJ ‘Nine Mile’ Decks: Yeah, I’ve been doing music all my life. I play piano up to grade 8 and violin to grade 4, grade 5 music theory, A level music and I did sound recording in college and have a uni qualification in popular music studies. I’m a qualified piano teacher up to grade 5. I’ve always been musical all my life.

I started DJing when at college and uni around 30 years ago. When I was 22, Telstar Fitness gave me my first major gig. Telstar and FitPro merged in 1997 and I’ve been mixing for FitPro ever since. I’ve had a few residences in London, done private parties such as Capital VIP (where I’ve DJ’d at the Ministry Of Sound and Pacha among many other venues in London for them), DJ’d at Henley Regatta, done many private gigs such as the wedding of the director of MTV, and, since 2002, I’ve been spearheading Project Infernos in Clapham High Street, where I’m resident DJ on Friday and Saturday nights.

FitPro: Tell us something about you that we don’t know.

DJ ‘Nine Mile’ Decks: Being a DJ/producer, I have several dance tracks out on release right now! They are called:

You can find them on all the usual streaming and/or purchasing outlets like Spotify, Deezer, Boomplay, Amazon Music, iTunes etc … or, if you purchase Club Bangers, Time To Party features there! I plan to hopefully release more tracks this year, so follow me on Spotify, Deezer or Boomplay to keep up to date with any current and new tracks I produce.

Also, not a lot of people know this but I collect computers. Back in the 70s, 80s and 90s, old computers such as commodore 64s and Ataris – I’m a collector of them. I’ve got one of each of all of those old computers. You name it, I’ll probably have it in storage! I’ve got about 60 of them.

FitPro: So, where can people find your Freestyle Fitness Music compilation releases to bring all this high energy to their classes?

DJ ‘Nine Mile’ Decks: Head over to MyGroupFit and get some edgy, high-energy playlists for your classes!

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