Published Jul 16, 2021
Pure Energy: The Ultimate Star Trek Mixtape
Press play and launch your next party into the stratosphere.
In my 25 years spent as a dance and hip-hop DJ, one thing's become very clear: Star Trek is a major influence on producers and lyricists all over the world — and has been for decades. This mixtape highlights some of the more interesting uses of samples, creative covers, and references from artists whose imagination was sparked by Star Trek. We encourage listening to this set as a continuous DJ mix, but you can also create your own playlist of these songs on Spotify. Press play at your next Star Trek-related function if you want the party to soar into space!
One year after hitting it big with “The Hustle,” the late producer and conductor Van McCoy made this effortlessly funky version of Alexander Courage’s brilliant “Theme from Star Trek” (1966). Before he died of a heart attack at the age of 39, McCoy had a prolific career that included work with Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight & the Pips and Jackie Wilson.
Information Society — “What’s On Your Mind (Pure Energy)” (1988)
The first season of the original Star Trek series provides music producers with a goldmine of sample possibilities, and a late Season 1 episode called “Errand of Mercy” in which the Enterprise visits the planet Organia and Mr. Spock describes the Organians as being composed of “pure energy” is one of the most-used. After Minneapolis synth-pop band Information Society took the catchy “What’s On Your Mind (Pure Energy)” to number three on the Billboard Hot 100, the sample cropped up on countless house, techno and drum & bass songs. The band recently performed the song for fans on Star Trek: The Cruise.
The Hacker — “Pure Energy” (2013)
French producer The Hacker nabbed that same great Spock sample as Information Society did back in the Eighties and injected it into this scorching techno track 25 years later.
Orbital — “The Moebius” (1991)
English electronic duo Orbital sampled a trippy conversation between Michael Dorn’s Worf and LeVar Burton’s Geordi La Forge from a 1989 episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation:
“There is a theory of the Möbius,” Worf said. “A twist in the fabric of space, where time becomes a loop.”
“When we reach that point, whatever happened will happen again,” added Geordi.
The dialogue fits well in a song built with a dynamic framework of loops and cycles.
Orbital — “Time Becomes” (1993)
Two years after dropping “The Moebius,” it happened again: Orbital sampled a snippet of the same dialogue for “Time Becomes!”
Eddie Griffin — “Star Trek” (1993)
A comedic moment taken from Griffin’s Message in the Hat album wonders why some people aboard the Enterprise were beamed up and never heard from ever again. Where’s LeRoy?
The Herbaliser — “Forty Winks” (1995)
In what’s perhaps the most obscure sample in this mix, the blunted beat specialists behind English act The Herbaliser took the voice of a minor character in the 1975 vinyl album Star Trek: The Crier In Emptiness and Passage to Moauv for this lovely and languid song.
Venetian Snares — “Koonut Kalifee” (2008)
Canadian drum and bass producer Venetian Snares honed in on Spock’s explanation of the passionate and combative Vulcan mating ritual known as Koonut Kalifee for his song of the same name: “Minds… locked… together!”
Sasha F — ”Kh4n” (2016)
Finnish hardstyle DJ/producer Sasha F put some extra baritone muscle behind Benedict Cumberbatch’s epic Khan reveal in Star Trek Into Darkness on this tough track you wouldn’t want to run into alone in the dark.
Five Year Mission — ”Spock’s Brain” (2018)
The mission of the Indianapolis band Five Year Mission is to write a song for every episode of the original Star Trek, and so far, one of their most popular is this hilarious tune dedicated to an episode that’s often considered one of the most questionable in the series. "Frankly, during the entire shooting of that episode, I was embarrassed,” Leonard Nimoy wrote in his 1995 memoir I Am Spock. Five Year Mission has frequently served in recent years as the house band during Star Trek Las Vegas.
Method Man — “Judgement Day” (1998)
The Wu-Tang Clan MC and the song’s co-producer 4th Disciple sampled Alexander Courage for his countdown to the 21st Century. This DJ thought it was a perfect way to end this tribute to the franchise’s vast musical influence.
Listen to the full playlist as separate tracks on Spotify:
Tamara Palmer (she/her) is a freelance writer, editor and DJ whose first exposure to electronic sounds came from Star Trek: The Original Series. She is also the publisher of a small-batch food magazine called California Eating.