Jason Justice and Atlee Treasure throw a hell of a party. As skilled DJs and savvy promoters, they understand not only how to pack a dance floor, but how to keep it engaged over the course of an entire night, cultivating an intimate, ecstatic vibe along the way.
They began in 2003 as Sun Tzu Sound, a five-man DJ/percussion sound system that made international waves with a monthly dance night that encompassed a slew of styles, from broken beat to disco to hip-hop to funk. More recently, they devoted the last four years to TRUST, a monthly that’s shepherded the duo’s dedicated fans to venues around the city. And from time to time they play under their own appropriately snazzy names, Justice & Treasure.
This month they celebrate 10 years of providing good times to Seattle. To commemorate the anniversary, they’re hosting a marathon 10-hour throwdown this Sunday at Sole Repair, with Justice and Treasure playing alongside old friends and Seattle favorites DJ Mr. Supreme, Riz, Jacob London and AC Lewis.
To get you warmed up for the weekend, they put together a genre-spanning, booty-moving, 20-song mix of their favorite jams of the last 10 years. It’s a pretty special compilation—10 years of heart and a lot of soul, with a few surprising picks and old favorites. The track list is presented below, along with annotations by Justice and Treasure. Enjoy.
Horace Silver, “Song for My Father”
Jason Justice: I bought this record the weekend Atlee and I came up with the idea to work together and start Sun Tzu Sound. AC Lewis and I played with guys from Bugz in the Attic on Friday night, and the next day Jazzanova played the Baltic Room. The next day I went shopping with them and one of those guys was like, “You need to have this record if you don’t.” Being around those crews of artists was inspiring. This record always makes me think of that weekend.
Flying Lotus, “Roberta Flack”
JJ: We were the first people that booked Flying Lotus in Seattle! We brought him up to play for Sun Tzu’s five-year anniversary.
Atlee Treasure: He slept on my couch and it was all good. We had that early relationship with him before he blew up.
Steve Spacek, “Dollar”
AT: We’re both from just outside Philly. When we were young we went to the same skate spots, the same all-ages venues, shopped at the same record stores. But we didn’t know each other.
JJ: This song came out right at the same time as Red Bull Music Academy in Seattle, which boosted us a lot. J Dilla produced it for Steve Spacek, and it samples Billy Paul, a singer who put out stuff on Philly International. We had to have a Dilla-produced track on here, and it’s the only Philly reference.
AC Lewis, “Tickles (Domu Remix)”
JJ: At some point we decided we wanted Sun Tzu to also be a record label. Our first release was an original track by Aaron (AC Lewis) on the B-side and Dr.J, who was basically the fifth Beatle of Sun Tzu, made a song for the A-side.
After this, that was the end of our record label idea. We weren’t very good at it.
Donald Byrd, “Love Has Come Around”
AT: Going from the Red Bull Music Academy to playing in Miami at Winter Music Conference and being introduced to so many DJs as a result, I found out about this track.
JJ: This is how I got into digging—appreciating older records that still sound good. When we first started Sun Tzu we were branded as DJs that played broken beat, this weird new thing. As we were getting into it, we were learning about all the music that was the foundation of that sound, and we played it all—house, disco hip-hop, jazz. This is a song Atlee would’ve played seven years ago and it still sounds awesome.
Chic, "I Want Your Love (Todd Terje Edit)"
AT: This is a TRUST anthem. The bass line is by Nile Rogers, the same guy that’s playing with Daft Punk now.
JJ: We started TRUST four and a half years ago with Kid Hops. This is one of the first tracks wed play every single month and people remembered it and got excited when we brought it out. It shows that we weren’t playing just one sound.
LCD Soundsystem, “45:33 (Theo Parrish Remix)”
JJ: This is a weird track—Theo Parrish remixing LCD Soundsystem. Theo Parrish is from Detroit, and Detroit is a big influence on us. We played what was the Detroit Electronic Music Festival in 2006 and that was a great experience for us.
AT: Ever since we played that festival we've had a good relationhsips with people from that city—Waajeed, Jeremy Ellis, Moodymann.
Floating Points, “Vacuum Boogie”
JJ: This is one of my favorite songs of the last few years. This is an example of newer shit that’s just different that people are into. If I wanna bump up the energy it’s the perfect song, but I’ll only play it on a good sound system.
JJ: Flammable has been going every Sunday for over 15 years. It’s the longest running house music weekly on the West Coast. It’s hard to get booked there and when you do it’s a badge of honor. We finally got booked to play Flammable and we were all super nervous and excited. In those situations I usually go first. I put this track on and I hadn’t played it in a while—it was on a white label and I didn’t notice how dirty it was. It’s got a really long intro with strings, and I put it on and everyone was like, here we go, here we go!, just going for it. And after the intro, the needle suddenly slides all the way across the record—crrrrrrrppppp. There was a giant dust ball on the record. So I had to stop and play the whole thing over.
Moodymann, “Black Mahogani”
AT: Moodymann is another guy from Detroit.
JJ: When we first started, we got deep into the b-boy community. Two dancers from Circle of Fire started coming to our shows and liked what we played and wanted us to play for them. They wanted to dance to our music. This is a song they loved.
Bill Withers, “Who Is He (Henrik Schwarz Remix)”
AT: TRUST anthem number two! Henrick Schwartz—he’s playing Decibel this year. He’s one of our favorite producers. The first time we saw him at Winter Music Conference a few years ago, he was doing live Ableton manipulating his track on the fly. We got to be in the booth with him, looking over his shoulder. We sat there drinking free vodka and watching what he does. He’s my favorite live electronic guy to go see.
Suntzu Sound presents 1Luv, “Black Daylight (Slope Remix)”
JJ: This track is the backbone of Sun Tzu Sound. It was produced by Dr. J and was the A-side to Aaron’s track from earlier. It’s what helped catapult us into whatever recognition we received. This was an anthem in London at a party called Co-op which was put on by Bugz in the Attic. That was where they developed the broken-beat sound.
AT: This track connected us with that community of DJs—Jazzanova, Bugz in the Attic, DJ Spinna.Those guys influenced us to start our thing and we put out a song that those guys loved to play. It came full circle.
JJ: I got to over there to London for one of those parties. We’d always heard about them and we flew their DJs over to play our parties, and I got to go there at one point. I walked in and they were playing that song. No lie.
Osunlade, “Cantos A Ochun Et Oya”
AT: That last track first got us in touch with Osunlade. He’s an extremely well-respected DJ around the world and he has this label Yoruba Records and he wanted to release the track. Also, he's a medium. He's a Yoruban priest, kinda like a shaman. I don’t wanna bastardize it—it’s a sacred thing. But he’s able to connect with the spirit world.
[Ed. Note: At this point we go off-record regarding a late-night/early-morning hangout session involving Justice, Treasure, Aaron Lewis and Osunlade, who gave them all spirit readings.]
JJ: Anyway, this is Osunlade’s most famous song.
Afronaught, “Transcend Me”
AT: This song is the first broken beat anthem. And me knowing this producer was kind of what connected me and Jason.
JJ: This track had come out and Aaron had booked Afronaught, the producer, to play our party and Atlee came to the show. That was the weekend we got started.
Songs like this helped us become better DJs. We knew we couldn’t play this stuff all night long—you had to read the room and know when you could get away with playing some of these heavier songs. You knew they could work but you had to have the right time or it wouldn’t go over. It fine-tuned us.
Karizma, “The Damn Thing”
AT: This is another song I’d always play at Trust. It’s by Karizma, my favorite house producer and live DJ. He’s so technically skilled at CDJs and the Pioneer mixer. You see him live and he’s doing live looping and live track manipulation on CDJs. Seeing him do that shit, he changed the way I DJ.
4hero, “Hold It Down ft. Lady Alma (Bugz In The Attic Remix)”
JJ: This was the first big track we played as Sun Tzu. The singer is Lady Alma from Philly—another Philly connection.
AT: Jason and I found out we’re from the same place and we start making music together and then we meet King Britt, who’s also from Philly doing music that we admire and we get to become part of that world for a little bit.
JJ: The year this song came out—2008—you could use the term “dubstep” without fear or shame.
AT: This song came out just before the term “brostep” was coined.
JJ: I remember seeing Benga play Decibel and it was a moment. All I remember was all girls, and when the bass dropped the girls would lose their shit. If you’re into being an eclectic DJ you could throw some of this in your set but unfortunately we know what happened to dubstep.
Joy Orbison, “Hyph Mngo”
JJ: This track is so big and uplifting but we never got a lot of life out of it because this sound became so popular so fast. The rise of dubstep happened so fast that every DJ was playing it and it died way faster than it should’ve. It showed what was happening with electronic music. It was cool that every DJ was being more eclectic but the songs get burned out quicker. I remember after a month you couldn’t play this song anymore—you’d go to a club in Seattle and some DJ was playing it at 9:30.
Lone, “Airglow Fires”
JJ: This track is a summation of everything you’ve heard in the mix at this point. There’s a Dilla sample, it’s ravey, it’s jazzy, it’s house. This is a big track this year. Here’s new music that’s popular, and to us it sounds like broken beat, but broken beat never caught on.
AT: A lot of these newer DJs, they’re throwing in some of the original broken beat anthems into their sets. Falty DL throwing in a Bugz track.
JJ: I don’t think about it too much, but if we stared doing what we did a few years later, it would’ve been more popular. That’s just the way it works out.
Lovebirds, “Want You In My Soul ft. Stee Downes”
AT: This is a perfect end of the night track. One of the founding elements of what we do is soul music. We’ve always wanted to play soulful electronic music. And this is a great example of that.
JJ: It's weird to sit down and listen to it! It’s the perfect end of the night song: You’ve gone through six hours of expending energy and being happy and dancing around and you have this nice comedown. But listening to it now it sounds cheesy!
AT: To me it’s feel-good music. You play it at the end of the night and it’s like a big hug and a big thank you.
JJ: It brings up the question: What’s the last song we play at the party?
Photo by David Ho