January is a notoriously slow month in clubland — a time when gym memberships take priority over all-nighters and pennies are scraped together. Many top flight DJs disappear off to warmer climes (Mexico etc) for the month. Bastards.
Initially, 2015 was a big year for label anniversaries, with Kompakt turning 20, Planet Mu 25, and Tri Angle five — putting out a host of standout compilation releases. While in the US, vinyl sales reached a 26-year high, reflecting the increasing desire to own wax.
The new year kicked off with Jackmaster flying the flag on our cover, having just won Best DJ at our Best Of British awards the previous month.
February saw Aphex Twin scoop a Grammy for ‘Syro’ (in typical Aphex fashion, he neglected to collect it) and that month the elusive producer began an exhaustive dump of tracks from his personal archive onto SoundCloud for free download. RDJ geeks everywhere rejoiced.
We were stationed in Miami in March for WMC (five days of partying in tropical heat... someone’s gotta do it!) for the DJ Mag party at the Surfcomber Hotel on South Beach, where Seth Troxler delighted a sandy crowd with Phats & Small’s stone-cold classic ‘Turn Around’.
The Detroit renaissance man covered that month's issue in typical colourful fashion — plus flamingo — inviting us into his home for a chat and some fried sausage (not a euphemism). Another stop on our Miami voyage was Damian Lazarus's Get Lost, a 24-hour party that boasted a who’s-who of underground house and techno stars.
In April, our publicly-voted Top 100 Clubs poll decided that the mega venues of Ibiza were no match for Brazil’s Green Valley, a 25-year-old arena in the heart of the rainforest. While the legendary DJ-Kicks series reached its 50th edition, and lined up German techno legend DJ Koze for the task, who predictably smashed it out the park.
Our new favourite Internet phenomenon emerged in May: ‘90s Boiler Room, the YouTube channel that overlaid Vengaboys and Eurotrash songs onto clips of Richie Hawtin and Solomun — to hilarious effect. That month, Chuka Umunna hit the headlines as (presumably) the only ever Labour leader candidate to also be a part-time DJ, and we sat down for a chat with the UKG lover and ex-promoter. While The Forum played host to Fabio & Grooverider’s 25th anniversary, putting on a special show from the drum & bass heavyweights.
Dance music news took a turn for the worse in June, when February cover star Ten Walls made some unacceptable homophobic comments on his Facebook page. It was a relief to see the music industry’s reaction to this, with Creamfields, Sónar and PITCH all cancelling his appearances at their events immediately with zero attempt to defend his words.
The dance music industry shut him down, basically. Around the same time, a couple of other electronic artists experienced foot in mouth syndrome (or should that be Tweet in mouth?) with Boddika thinking that people who can’t speak English in the UK can “fuck off” and PC Music’s GFOTY making racist jibes.
Meanwhile, festival season kicked off, and The Chemical Brothers pulled out all the stops for their light show at Glastonbury, topping the bill alongside Kanye who professed to be the “greatest living rock star on the planet”, ascending a cherry-picker for ‘Touch The Sky’.
It was good news for Japan in June as the country’s “no-dancing” legislation, dating back to 1948, was scrapped. While it wasn’t such a good month for SoundCloud, as the streaming site was accused of massive copyright infringement by UMG, Sony and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and many accounts — including DJ Mag’s — were limited as a result.
July saw the launch of the DJ Mag Save Our Clubs campaign. News of the much-loved Plastic People shutting its doors came in January, and an alarming number of London spaces seemed to be joining the birthplace of dubstep.
At least ten over the last two years have shut. Then came news that Glasgow's The Arches was to close, and The Coronet announced it would be closing in 2017. And the borough of Hackney was threatened by proposed licensing changes that would hit venues hard.
We launched our campaign to bring greater awareness not only to the plight of the capital's nightlife, but to clubs all around the world too (and you can support by liking the page on Facebook!). Though it’s not all loss: the capital got two brand new clubs — Moth and Phonox — where rising DJ Jasper James was made resident.
On July 3rd electronic pioneer Charanjit Singh passed away aged 75. The cult figure has been credited with accidentally inventing acid house — the 1982 record ‘Ten Ragas To A Disco Beat’ featured the acid bass synth wobbles before the genre’s explosion.
The music world lost two other well-loved figures towards the end of the year — Kiss FM DJ and house and techno vanguard Colin Faver in September, and ‘Inner City Life’ singer Diane Charlemagne in October who sadly passed away aged 51 after a long battle with cancer. RIP.
Goldie was one of several artists pushing the orchestral-club crossover this year, premiering his landmark album ‘Timeless’ with full Heritage Orchestra backing in July.
The Metalheadz boss took to the Royal Festival Hall for the show’s first run, while 1Xtra brought a grime symphony to the Proms, Jeff Mills performed with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Juan Atkins took to XOYO with Gabriel Prokofiev, and Graeme Park announced ‘Haçienda Classical’ next year — a string of Haç classics to get live instrumentation.
As a response to Ten Wall’s hateful views, we took the opportunity to make our August issue a ‘Gay DNA Of House Music’ special, celebrating how much the scene owes to gay culture and the Lithuanian producer’s embarrassing lack of historical perspective.
We then spent much of the month cringing over the Zac Efron-starring flick We Are Your Friends, which posited the theory that all you need to be a successful DJ is “a laptop, some talent, and one track” — it (unsurprisingly) bombed at the box office. Good luck headlining Space with that one track, Efron. Other — better — music industry films to hit the big screen explored the ‘90s: Mia Hansen-Løve's Eden and Kill Your Friends, based on the John Niven novel.
Entertainment conglomerate SFX seemed to be in deep trouble when its share prices plummeted and Beatport began freezing its payments to labels (strangely enough, only independents). The issue was soon resolved, though. Meanwhile, Native Instruments was busy rolling out its new Stems format, letting DJs remix on the fly.
In the US, two teenagers died at Los Angeles’s Hard Summer festival of apparent drug overdoses, and LA government officials considered outlawing dance music festivals as a result. Around the same time, Instagram chose to ban the #EDM hashtag (for “content that violates our guidelines around nudity”, supposedly).
Faithless reunited for their first show since 2011 at a London event, releasing a remix album of their hits, and the 'Insomnia' dance stalwarts weren’t the only ones sporting a comeback this year as UK garage don Craig David started firing out some new tunes and key radio appearances. Over in Amsterdam, Dekmantel festival brought out Bas Bron, aka Fatima Yamaha, who performed a live rendition of the Dekmantel-reissued ‘What’s A Girl To Do’, arguably the hottest track of the year.
In September, Ten Walls made the headlines again by offering a written apology to DJ Mag, which we published online. Editor Carl Loben responded by writing: “While it is good that Ten Walls has apologised for his ignorant homophobic comments and seems to be showing remorse, this will not be enough for some.”
The 2015 edition of TomorrowWorld was an epic disaster, as the Georgia fest was plagued by terrible weather conditions leaving festival-goers stranded, though the organisers have promised that some would be refunded. We were at Bestival instead that month, luckily, catching bonafide superstar Missy Elliott for a rump-shaking rendition of ‘Get Ur Freak On’, brought on stage in a giant pyramid.
DJ Mag managed to (unintentionally) cause some major Twitter beef between DJ Sneak and Jackmaster after reporting on Sneak trolling Armand Van Helden on his choice of clothing. An array of DJs including Modeselektor, Roska and DJ Deeon jumped on the argument, with Jackmaster eventually blocking the House Gangster, writing 'Imagine having to block DJ Sneak he was one of my heroes shit.'
Also that month: Panasonic announced it would be relaunching its iconic Technics turntables, Disclosure kicked off their North American tour following the release of their ‘Caracal’ LP, New Order dropped a mighty fine new album, and Benga hit the news for making a concerning but important statement on Twitter about his mental health. Respect to the dubstep pioneer.
October was the time for — love it or loathe it — our Top 100 DJs results, for which we received almost a million verified votes. The results were announced at our ceremony at ADE, and Belgian brothers Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike came out on top, knocking Hardwell off the spot.
What with women being (once again) under-represented, we decided to ask each DJ why they thought this was. The replies we got ranged from the balanced, the thoughtful to the downright misogynistic: Afrojack believed they weren’t “trying hard enough” while Frontliner suggested that it’s “because maybe they spent too much time in [make-up store] Sephora and too little time on producing”. Which proves that EDM still has a long way to go to be rid of sexism.
The 20th edition of the Amsterdam Dance Event saw DJ Mag host the Top 100 party at the Amsterdam ArenA — the massive Ajax football stadium — as well as a series of live streams that brought Andrea Oliva (surrounded by an army of ants), Secondcity, Dave Clarke, Gregor Tresher and Dannic to your screens.
The year concluded with some not-so good happenings, after a gigantic blaze in a Romanian nightclub killed 45, and almost 500 people were arrested at EDM festivals in southern California over Halloween weekend for public intoxication and drug possession — a new record.
While in other news, Poland’s Unsound got accused of Satanism, PC Music signed to Columbia, Roisín Murphy and Aphex got Mercury nominations and Juan Atkins popped into our office to spin some gold by our desks.
Finally, December saw the announcement of our hotly contested Best Of British awards. DJ Mag started the Best Of British awards a few years back in order to shine a spotlight on the talent on our own doorsteps. We are a British magazine, after all — born and produced in London. You can find all the B.O.B results here.
Who knows what 2016 might have in store...
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