Alternative Top 100 DJs 2019, powered by Beatport
Using data from Top 100 DJs voters and house/techno Beatport purchases, we present the Alternative Top 100 DJs 2019
Last year, we launched the DJ Mag Alternative Top 100 DJs poll, in association with Beatport, generated by combining Top 100 DJs voting data with techno and house sales data from the world’s largest online electronic music shop.
With the continuing dominance of EDM, these genres have been on the periphery of the global poll in recent years, despite commanding huge audiences worldwide.
The result, as we saw last year, is a vastly different chart — with only a few artists crossing over into the flagship Top 100 DJs list. Last year, techno icon Carl Cox topped the list. Read below for 2019’s standings.
From: Horsham, UK (originally)
DJ style: Techno and beyond.
Best known for: “My attitude towards music.”
Fave tune of 2019: “Kevin Knapp & Hannah Wants ‘Call Me’.”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2019: “Anfisa Letyago. I’m gonna put her on at Ultra next year, she’s a really talented live performer.”
“Bloody hell, really? Shit!” says Coxy when we call him up to tell him he’s topped the Alternative Top 100 DJs poll — again. “Well, I must be doing something right. I’ve been trying to take my foot off the gas, and here I am. Mental.”
It’s always a pleasure to talk to Carl Cox. The big fella starts telling us how he’s been managing himself for the last two-and-a-half years, and was meant to be slowing down...
“I haven’t stopped since 1988,” he exclaims. “Can you imagine if I mapped out every single party I’ve ever done? The map would be riddled with pin-drops everywhere — it would be a complete rash of events that I’ve played. It’s been a mad journey. I’m 57 now, in three more years I’m 60, but I don’t feel like that — age is still a number, and I still do what I do to the best of my ability.”
From: Stockholm, Sweden
Best known for: Techno institution, Drumcode.
It’s been another whirlwind year for one of the biggest names in techno. Adam Beyer, the Swedish techno icon behind Drumcode, once again toured the world, playing massive performances at the world’s biggest festivals, including Connect, Creamfields, Tomorrowland, and Junction 2. He also joined Ultra’s Resistance in Ibiza at the world’s biggest club, Privilege, while touring with the brand across South America to countries like Peru, Colombia and Chile. Beyer also took Drumcode to new heights, bringing the brand and its artists back to Amsterdam’s NDSM Docklands for the Drumcode Festival, extending the event to two days this year. Drumcode is also returning to fanfavourite locations like Tobacco Dock for its annual Halloween show, with follow-on takeovers planned in Warehouse Nantes, Avant Gardner in NYC, and Depot at Mayfield in Manchester.
When Drumcode the event brand isn’t wowing spectators in-person, it’s churning out hit after hit as a label, with Layton Giordani’s ‘Chrome’, Enrico Sangiuliano’s remix of ‘Camaruge 2019’, and Luca Agnelli’s ‘Apollo’ all sitting in the Beatport Top 100 charts at the time of writing. “I’m not satisfied until it’s perfect,” Beyer told us of his A&R methods for the label when he featured on DJ Mag’s cover earlier this year.
It’s all wildly impressive for a man who’s been at the heart of the European techno movement since the 1990s. While many of Beyer’s former contemporaries have moved behind the scenes, he’s managed to take himself and his brand to the highest reaches of dance music.
DJ style: House
Best known for: “Party/mask — you choose.”
Fave tune of 2019: “Dombresky ‘Soul Sacrifice (Re-Edit)’.”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2019: “Purple Disco Machine.”
Part mythical being, part bird, part massive golden hooter, ALL DJ: the mysterious maskwearing house-weaver Claptone continues to dominate dancefloors on an international level. After charming 2018 with his highly anticipated second album ‘Fantast’, he dived beak-first into 2019 with one of the most intense and hectic schedules in his career with over 250 shows this year.
Not only did he take his party The Masquerade across the world to cities such as Melbourne, LA, London, New York, Montréal, São Paulo, Amsterdam, Lima, San Francisco and Paris, he also took it to Ibiza again this season. Renowned for its theatrical décor and playful sense of drama, The Masquerade became one of Pacha’s hottest tickets throughout the season, and yet another serious level-up for the Berlin-based anonymous artist.
Line-ups included the likes of Toddy Terry, Maya Jane Coles, MK, Kerri Chandler, Hannah Wants, Basement Jaxx and even revered techno composer Jon Hopkins and with such a wide-armed array of top-tier talent representing the full spectrum it’s no surprise that each Masquerade ball went down as an unabashed celebration of real electronic music. They didn’t just capture the essence of everything the gilded birdman has been about since he broke through in 2013 on labels such as Exploited, but they also proved why he’s enjoyed such an accelerated rise this decade full-stop: no trends, no hype, just feel-good, classically-rooted house music that’s so groove-heavy you don’t even need to know what he looks like, or who he is, you just need to focus on the music.
From: Siberia, Russia
Fave tune of 2019 “Vladimir Dubyshkin ‘Rural Woman’.”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2019: “Vladimir Dubyshkin/Texstasy.”
Best Known For: New Russian techno
Since starting her record label трип (Trip) five years ago, Russian DJ and producer Nina Kraviz has taken on the role of curator — finding new Russian artists, and reissuing once-lost rave music, from the late Icelandic artist Biogen, among others. Guided by texture rather than era or genre, her sound has become more adventurous, from her audio-visual performance at Coachella 2019, to her own releases, with tough-yet-elastic grooves and detonator kicks. She’s also DJ’d on the Great Wall of China, at dozens of global festivals, and for her own Trip parties, in an Icelandic cave and a Californian aerospace museum.
Best known for: ‘Losing It’.
With weighty bass-heavy house anthems like ‘Losing It’ and this year’s ‘You Little Beauty’ becoming such ubiquitous club and festival staples in the last two years, it almost seems shocking that this is only FISHER’s second year in the Alternative poll — he’s up a very healthy 20 places, storming into the top 10 in the process. He’s a man who’s taken to his headline status so naturally and comfortably it does feel like he’s been around much longer than he has.
In many ways he has; as he explained in our cover feature on him earlier this year, Fisher moved over from Australia to the US in the mid-2000s to pursue a surf career and had been on the surf party circuit for years, then the first half of this decade he cut his teeth as one-half of Cut Snake. It’s these years of immersion in club culture and honing his sound that are paying off right now. And they’re paying off in a staggering way. Let’s just look at his capacity as a DJ alone. Fisher has been unstoppable: he’s held his own Catch & Releasebranded parties across many major US cities and festival arenas, his Bodyworks residency in Ibiza (alongside CamelPhat and Solardo) was one of the season’s hottest tickets, and he smashed the Warehouse Project to pieces two days on the trot for its sold-out opening weekend. Meanwhile, with fellow hit-making chum Chris Lake, he not only sold out their three b2b Under Construction raves in the US, but the pair are also set to launch their own festival. Entitled NAFF (Not Another Fking Festival), 29th to 30th November will see them holding huge parties in both Rio and São Paulo. And this is just a potted recap.
After a couplet of underground wobblers on Dirtybird, last year’s monster anthem ‘Losing It’ was nominated for a Grammy at the start of 2019 and has been the most-played tune at Tomorrowland for two years running. While not quite as ubiquitous, this year’s follow-up has been just as much of a success. A super-sized juggernaut, ‘You Little Beauty’ was awarded Hottest Record In Ibiza 2019 by Ministry Of Sound and, like its predecessor, was a No.1 Billboard hit and No.1 in his native Oz. What’s more, both of these hits were delivered on his own label, Catch & Release. Another remarkable aspect of the Fisher phenomenon and his success this year; not only has he taken his new brand across the US with a string of block parties but so far it’s been three-for-three as all releases have hogged the Beatport overall No.1 spot — both of FISHER’s tracks, and his first signing, Martin Ikin’s equally massive ‘Hooked’.
Richie Hawtin has featured consistently in DJ Mag’s Top 100 since the poll’s inception, and it’s not hard to understand why. For many people, the Canadian native embodies techno’s futuristic drive, both in his sound and delivery. Inspired by innovators like Dan Bell and Robert Hood, Hawtin was one of the first techno producers to tease the sound into a reduced, minimal form. Meanwhile, as a DJ, he was an early adapter of drum machines together with the conventional turntable set-up, captured in blistering form on his 1999 mix CD, ‘Decks, EFX & 909’. Aided with greater and increasingly powerful technology, he further teased out this approach by picking apart and re-assembling tracks on the subsequent mix CDs, ‘Closer To The Edit’ and ‘DE9 Transitions’.
The fuel for much of this new approach to DJing also appeared on his label Minus, which came to define the sound of modern minimal techno and house from the late ‘90s onwards. Although minimal — or ‘mnml’ — became stale, with some of its iterations sliding into selfparody, there’s also no doubt that Hawtin’s Plus 8 and Minus labels helped to promote artists like Speedy J, Kenny Larkin and Matthew Johnson.
What’s more impressive is Hawtin’s own body of work. Ironically, for an artist so focused on the future, his back catalogue has aged remarkably well. The skeletal percussion of decades-old Plastikman tracks like ‘Spastik’ and ‘Spaz’ still sound fresh — as does the seething acid-fuelled paranoia of the ‘Sheet One’ long-player — while Hawtin’s work on Probe as Circuit Breaker is as viscerally powerful as ever.
2019 also saw the re-issue of ‘Dimension Intrusion’, the album that he recorded under the F.U.S.E name. Coinciding with the twenty-fifth anniversary of its original release, it provided another reminder that when it comes to mindblowing techno like ‘Substance Abuse’ and widescreen electronics like ‘Nitedrive’, Richie Hawtin had or has few peers.
Of course, time waits for no man and true to form, the past year has seen Richie Hawtin once again seek to re-invent his approach to techno. This time, he turned his focus on releasing an audio-visual album. Conceived in response to what he viewed as the narrowing of the definition of DJing, ‘CLOSE COMBINED’ features a fusion of video and audio recording during his CLOSE tour dates in London, Glasgow and Tokyo. In keeping with his trademark style, his set features on-the-fly edits, with video footage from each event accompanying the soundtrack.
While Hawtin’s DJ schedule continues to span continents with performances at major festivals like Primavera, Movement and Awakenings this year, it will be as fascinating as ever to hear what type of music he makes.
The rise of Belgian techno spinner Charlotte de Witte has been nothing short of meteoric. She’s only come to prominence over the past few years, but de Witte has spent over a decade working her way up. Skip back to de Witte’s first ever gig (at a bar in her hometown), and she didn’t have a clue what she was doing — literally, she’d bought her first pair of decks the same day, with some compensation she received after being hit by a car while on her way to school.
She threw herself into learning whole-heartedly, however, eventually leaving her studies to focus on DJing. Originally, de Witte DJ’d under the alias Raving George, which she picked to avoid the negative stereotyping of women DJs. In 2015, she dropped her debut techno EP via Tiga’s label, Turbo, and found the confidence to step out from behind the moniker and use her real name. The following two years saw her rise up the ranks quickly via a string of high-profile festival performances featuring her signature pulsing, acid-licked sound, and her popular KNTXT club-nights at Brussels club Fuse. In September 2017 de Witte featured on the cover of DJ Mag’s flagship UK issue, billed as techno’s next-gen superstar. The same year she dropped two slick releases on Dutch label Mary Go Wild Black, one for NovaMute, and two more via Sleaze Records, pushing a stripped-back sound built on heavy kicks, sparse squelchy stabs and vocal snippets which she performed herself. The flurry of activity sent de Witte stratospheric, and since then she’s gone on to play the Tomorrowland mainstage (a spot rarely graced by techno DJs), become a resident on BBC Radio 1, a slot which got extended this year, and most recently, start her own label, also called KNTXT. De Witte says the outlet — which launched in September with a collaborative EP of warehouse-ready stompers from her and Chris Liebing — is “one of my biggest achievements of the year, and definitely one I’m very proud of.”
At the start of October, de Witte shared a video to accompany the lead single ‘Liquid Slow’; the clip follows the story of a man who’s beaten up, and his partner who is taking part in a high-stakes sweaty rave off. And as DJ Mag goes to print, de Witte has announced the release of two more EPs on KNTXT; both four-track solo efforts, scheduled to drop on 15th November. Clearly de Witte means serious business with her new venture, and together with her rise as part of the new wave of techno talent making their way into the Top 100 DJs poll this year, and move into the top 10 of the Alternative poll, she’s marking herself as one of the genre’s biggest DJs in no uncertain terms.
In April this year Peggy Gou opened the account on her new record label Gudu, the latest chapter in the story of her astonishing rise to the top. Her ‘Moment EP’, Gudu’s first release, contained the lovely old school house of ‘Starry Night’; resplendent with grand piano chords, a bubbly bassline and her melodious reverb-soaked vocals, it provided yet more proof of her gift for crafting accessible dance music, and so far has racked up almost four and a half million views on YouTube.
The analogue-driven synth bass and twists and turns of ‘Han Pan’, the release’s flipside, showed a deeper side of her production, and like only a select few other DJs, Gou maintains underground cred even while she enjoys mainstream attention from titles like Vogue, the New York Times and business magazine Forbes.
Gou first broke through with the sublime ‘Troop’ track on Radio Slave’s Rekids label in 2016, the culmination of years DJing and honing her production style. Gigs from Ibiza to Berghain followed, along with Boiler Room appearances and releases on Ninja Tune and Phonica. This year, the former fashion student launched a clothing line, KIRIN, while she followed in the esteemed footsteps of Four Tet, Nina Kraviz and Actress by mixing the latest edition in the long running ‘DJ-Kicks’ series.
Featuring everyone from bass music futurists Pearson Sound and Kode9 to Aphex Twin, Kyle Hall and Shades Of Rhythm, it demonstrated her broad taste and skill at weaving together diverse beats. In August, The Guardian proclaimed her “the world’s hippest DJ”, and she has accumulated over a million followers on Instagram, many of whom could be found attending her gigs in such varied locations as Abu Dhabi, Zurich, Tbilisi, Lebanon and Kanto. Gou played multiple times in Ibiza, at DC-10, Ushuaia, Amnesia and Pacha, while there was no shortage of festivals either, including Croatia’s Dimensions, the UK’s Creamfields and Lost Village, Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide in France, and Barcelona’s Sonar.
In addition to releasing her own material via Gudu, Peggy Gou indicated that the label would be stylistically free-ranging and underground in focus, with the second release an EP from DMX Krew. Comprising four playful, synth-driven (mostly) house tracks, it was a curveball from the producer, better known for his electro material, but sat perfectly alongside Gou’s own multifaceted four-four records. Speaking to Aimee Cliff in The Guardian, Gou said: “With another label, I didn’t have much freedom: they decided everything. So I was like: I want to release my own music. I wanted to have freedom of genre, and I wanted to have control over when I release, artwork, everything.”
This creative freedom bodes extremely well for whatever’s next on the horizon for Gudu. Before then, there’s the matter of several high-profile gigs, including an edition of Gou Talk, her event series, taking over London’s Printworks on 2nd November. Gou will be joined by some great guests, including the aforementioned DMX Krew, Octave One, Derrick May and DJ Richard.
What a year it’s been for Boris Brejcha, the man behind the masquerade-style, jester-faced mask and the “high-tech minimal” sound, a blend of melodic techno, house and trance elements, that’s often as hypnotic as it is uplifting. On the gig side, the German DJ/producer “had a lot of fun” making his debut mainstage appearances at Belgium’s Tomorrowland and Awakenings in the Netherlands, hosted two massive shows with his FCKING SERIOUS gang at Hï Ibiza in August, went off on his first “real” US tour, and played his second eye-popping Cercle stream, this time at the Grand Palais in Paris. Brechja even featured in our Jockey Journal feature at the end of the summer, chronicling some of his most memorable times on tour over the past few years, most of which seemed to revolve around transport mishaps — his placement as the Highest New Entry in our Alternative Top 100 DJs poll suggests Brejcha’s run of bad luck has thankfully run out.
With such a busy schedule, Brejcha is also well aware of problems such as burn-out, which has contributed to the widespread mental health issues ongoing in electronic music. “I recognized more and more cases of mental and physical health crises in our scene,” he says in response to our question on what we can do to combat the problem. “I’m sure that this is relatable to the stress we all have during our intense months of touring. Most people underestimate that. One more difficulty is definitely that we all love our job and we wouldn’t recognise the stress because we like what we do. But even something you love can be bad for you.” Wise words, indeed. On the release front, Brejcha has been similarly stacked: “I am now signed to the Ultra Music label and released some new stuff there,” he says, referring to July’s moody, melancholic groover ‘Gravity feat. Laura Korinth’, hands-in-the-air anthem ‘Happinezz feat. Ginger’, and his bubbly three-track ‘Butterflies’ EP, both of which dropped in August. Added to existing fan-favourites like menacingly warped track ‘The Darkest Night’ and the hypnotic ‘Sad But True’ (both on his own FCKING SERIOUS label), and his cosmic, nineminute remix of Der Dritte Raum’s ‘Hale Bopp’ (for Harthouse), and it’s clear why Brejcha’s catalogue garners millions of plays across streaming services. “But still, there is a lot of new shit coming,” he adds. “Let’s see where this leads...”
Marco Carola rose to prominence during the mid-‘90s on the back of material for his own Design Music and One Thousand Records imprint — reflecting the times, the releases on the latter imprint were ‘limited’ to 1000 units. Thanks to a series of key EPs on both labels, he came to define the hard-edged sound of European techno at the time. In contrast to the one-dimensional, looped releases that were flooding record stores during the latter part of the ‘90s, Carola’s approach was at times abrasive and visceral, inspired by the output of earlier Italian imprints like ACV, on other occasions, deep and dubbed out, influenced by German labels like Basic Channel, and at times inflected with Detroit
stylings. What united all of Carola’s music during this time, however, was a rolling, club-primed sensibility that provided the fuel for his mindblowing three-deck sets. This combination meant that the Naples native soon became one of the world’s most in-demand underground DJs.
By the end of the ‘90s, Carola released his debut album, which saw him explore an increased range of styles, adding breakbeats and deep synths to his musical armoury. ‘Open System’, which followed in 2001, saw him further explore cerebral sounds, with a track like ‘State Of Mind’, for example, finding a path between steely electro and dreamy early ‘90s UK techno. However, the Italian DJ’s focus was never too far from the dancefloor, and with the onset of the new millennium, his love of stripped-back club music morphed towards minimal techno. This move culminated in the ‘Play It Loud!’ album, issued on Richie Hawtin’s M-nus label. Carola’s artistic shift saw his profile rise from the underground to dance music’s mainstream, and he became a regular feature at Sven Väth’s Cocoon nights in Ibiza.
Emboldened by the success of his performances on the White Isle, in 2012 Carola launched his own hugely popular Music On parties, which featured techno royalty such as Derrick May, Carl Craig and Green Velvet. After seven years at Amnesia, Carola moved Music On to Pacha on Wednesdays for this year’s Ibiza season. This decision led to Amnesia taking legal action against the Italian techno DJ and a subsequent court ruling prohibited him from playing other clubs on the island at all. This legal action prompted a fresh lawsuit by Ibiza promoter It’s All About The Music, who joined forces with Amnesia to seek a considerable sum in damages against Carola as well as petitioning for seizure of Carola’s assets and any fees he earned as a DJ. Despite this threat hanging over his head, it did not deter Carola and the Music On parties took place this year at Pacha, featuring guests like Carl Cox and Paco Osuna. Still, it’s a long way from the underground clubs of Naples.
Tech-house poster boys Solardo had a bit of a crazy 2019. The centrepiece of it was undeniably their new residency at Hï Ibiza, Bodyworks, alongside buddies CamelPhat and Aussie troubadour Fisher. “We played 12 consecutive Tuesdays there throughout the summer and couldn’t have wished for a better response,” Mark Solardo tells DJ Mag. “We had over 90,000 people through the doors in total, it was mental.”
They played quite a few big shows with northern buddies CamelPhat — including Ultra Miami and Nocturnal Wonderland in California. Then, the latter part of the year saw their ‘XTC’ track — recorded with Eli Brown — crack the UK charts, take over the radio airwaves, and be played by everybody from Carl Cox to Calvin Harris. Its old skool flava — big stabs, diva vocal — chimed sweetly with shifting dancefloor trends for the year, and bossed it for the boys at festivals — they played over 30 this year — from Creamfields to Glastonbury and beyond.
Nkosinathi Maphumolo, aka DJ/producer and entrepreneur Black Coffee, has become arguably South Africa’s biggest musical sensation. Known for his fusion of deep house and South African instrumentation and vocals, he’s at the forefront of his country’s vibrant dance scene. After years of perfecting his DJing and production craft, his prolific output of singles, such as ‘We Are One’ for Vega Records, and albums like 2015’s ‘Pieces Of Me’ for Universal, have helped secure his reputation as an artist able to balance club credibility with pop accessibility.
After first bringing his Black Coffee residency to Hï Ibiza in 2017, he returned to the Playa d’en Bossa club this season, in between playing everywhere around the world from the USA to Ukraine. Though his touring commitments precluded Maphumulo from much in the way of studio work, he found time to make the slick commercial collaboration of ‘LaLaLa’ with R&B singer Usher — the latest indication of a more mainstream direction for the star after his David Guetta hook-up, ‘Drive’, last year.
Emerging from the Berlin techno scene during the late ‘90s, Paul Kalkbrenner first became known thanks to releases on Ellen Allien’s Bpitch Control label. However, the trajectory for the German DJ changed when he landed the lead role in the 2004 cult movie Berlin Calling — a project that he was also providing the soundtrack to. This sequence of events propelled him onto the mainstream stage, where he has remained ever since.
Kalkbrenner’s energetic live show saw him selected to appear at the ceremony to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg Gate, where he performed to over 400,000 people. He also possesses a rare ability to fuse raw techno with radio-friendly melodies and vocals, audible on his 2018 album ‘Parts Of Life’. Despite this mainstream success, Kalkbrenner has not forgotten his underground roots, and most recently, Paul Woolford remixed ‘No Goodbye’, turning the German artist’s original into a piano house anthem.
MLADEN SOLOMUN has come a long way over the past decade. Emerging from the deep house scene of Hamburg, his adopted hometown — his family had moved there from the former Yugoslavia when he was a kid — Solomun founded the Diynamic label back in 2005. Initially, it served as a platform for local artists like Stimming, Kollektiv Turmstrasse and H.O.S.H, and their early, stringsoaked melodic house EPs provided a sweet alternative to the robotic minimalism of that period.
Solomun also pushed this sound in his own productions and DJ sets, and this distinctive, singular style has led him to become an increasingly popular international DJ. He has enjoyed multiple residencies in Ibiza and has performed at major European festivals like EXIT, Melt! and Tomorrowland. While his remix and production work has slowed down in recent years, Solomun recently had the honour of playing himself as the resident DJ of the video game Grand Theft Auto Online and he continues to bring his emotional house sound to clubs and festivals across Europe and the US.
SVEN VÄTH turns 55 this month, but that’s not the biggest anniversary of his year: this summer the techno troubadour’s Cocoon party celebrated two decades of madness in Ibiza. In its earlier years the iconic Monday party helped make superstars of the likes of Ricardo Villalobos and Luciano while revolutionising after-party culture. The soundtrack has always been techno, but ranges from dark and minimal to more colourful and curveball, with Sven himself never afraid of taking risks.
What makes each party so special is the atmosphere, the playful dancers, the vivid production and the so-called Cocooneros — regulars who are hardcore devotees that light up every event. There were many highlights in this 20th season, including a spectacular live show from Kraftwerk, all night long sessions from Papa Sven himself, plus the usual high-class guests ranging from Bicep to Âme to DJ Koze. As eccentric and dedicated to vinyl as ever, techno would look and sound very different if it weren’t for the continued stewardship of Sven, so for that we must salute him.
MACEO PLEX (real name Eric Estornel) is the rare kind of artist who is able to signify different things to different people. On the one hand, he can draw huge crowds at events thrown by bigticket tech-house labels like Drumcode, light up Ultra festival in Miami, or play the opening party at Hi for Tale Of Us’ Afterlife, all of which he’s done this year. On the other, he’s known for his roots in the Dallas electro scene, and he continues to release underground electro material via his Lone Romantic label, which put out tracks from legends like Freddy Fresh as well as new names such as Galaxy Lane and Sharp Felon in recent months.
Meanwhile, his four-four focused label Ellum has put out new tracks by Maceo Plex himself, including the massive Ibiza anthem ‘When The Lights Are Out’, plus an EP by Raxon, an artist he’s tipping for big things. “I believe he’s had big releases on all the top labels and everyone wants to work with him,” Maceo Plex says. “He is now doing a remix of a new track of mine called ‘Nightmare’, soon to come out.” Before the year is over, you can catch him play all day at Fabric, with more gigs at Warung in Brazil, Funkhaus Berlin and Sub Club Glasgow locked in.
FATBOY SLIM, the long-standing alias of DJ/producer Norman Cook, began 2019 with spiritual allies Elrow in Brazil at Green Valley before embarking on an arena tour of the UK, with assorted guests joining him in the round. One of his busiest years for quite some time took him to assorted festivals in Europe over the summer, as well as the likes of Glastonbury in the UK where he played a triumphant set on the Glade Stage. Glastonbury also hosted the premiere of Ibiza - The Silent Movie, the excellent Julien Temple film that had Norm as Music Supervisor.
Another milestone was curating his own art exhibition at the Underdogs Gallery in Lisbon, Portugal. Smile High Club saw many of Norm’s acid house smileys on display, in many shapes and forms (he’s been collecting them since 1989), as well as a dozen artists exhibiting work on the theme of the yellow smiley and its creator, the late American artist Harvey Ball. As happy doing his audio-visual big room shows as more underground b2b slots with the likes of Eats Everything or Carl Cox, Fatboy ended the year reworking his ‘Right Here, Right Now’ by layering the recent powerful speech to the UN by teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg over the top, where she coincidentally uses the song’s title to hammer home a message. Unstoppable.
GREEN VELVET turned 52 this year but seems to be in the form of his life. The proudly religious character continued to preach his unadulterated house gospel to crowds all over the world from Chile to Belgium, Argentina to Switzerland and all across North America. This year, the Cajual label boss also continued to tour his own La La Land Experience party concept around the world. Each event is a chance for him to curate the whole shebang from the line-up to the production to the venue. The parties find him bringing friends like Patrick Topping, Skream and Mason Maynard to play alongside him and often find him at his best.
Musically he has been as active as ever in 2019, working with the likes of Shamonique, Mihalis Safras and Gene Farris on his own Relief Records as well as Material Series. Raw, hard-hitting house loops and strobe-lit synths still define his sound, and still see crowds going off in the same way they always have when this man is at the helm.
Amelie Lens has become a force to be reckoned within the past couple of years. 2018 saw the launch of the Belgian’s label, Lenske Records, with EPs from Farrago, Milo Spykers and Lens herself. 2019 has pushed the outlet even further, with five drops — one each from the previously mentioned producers and two from Parisian AIROD. This year, Lens has brought her obsidian techno to festivals like Awakenings, EXIT, Kappa FuturFestival, Time Warp and Sónar, along with regular slots for Circoloco and Afterlife in Ibiza. Her penchant for a good ol’ fashioned slamming drop has meant clips of her sets consistently go viral, only adding to the well-deserved hype she’s cultivated. Rounding off the year, Lens becomes the latest contributor to Fabric London’s new ‘Fabric presents’ mix series this month. Packed with murky, warehouse-ready tracks from Nur Jaber, Setaoc Mass and Anetha (to name just a few), it’s a fine example of the kind of heavyweight, floor-filling sounds that have made Lens a giant of techno’s new wave.
Since his 2013 ‘1977’ album on Kompakt, Rune Reilly Kölsch has carved out a specific niche in electronic music: rich, cinematic techno, house and electronica, pristinely produced but always infused with musicality, emotion and high drama. The last 12 months have been as busy as ever for Kölsch; he released his Fabric DJ mix — an ode to the London club’s Room One made up of new Kölsch material — and has since been holed up in the studio writing the follow-up to his 2017 third album ‘1989’. This year he also turned in a remix of Jam & Spoon’s epic classic ‘Stella’ and put out a soaring collaboration with Sasha in the shape of ‘The Lights’, both on his IPSO label. And if that wasn’t enough, Kölsch has been out on the road a fair bit this year too: “I’ve been pushing my IPSO label parties all over the world, and playing a lot of festivals and Ibiza shows. I’ve been playing a lot of all-night-longs, and asking for longer sets in general, as I just don’t think 90 minutes is enough”.
“Exhausted,” says Dave Whelan, one half of CamelPhat when asked how he is. He’s speaking from his own bed after a crazy summer touring with partner Mike Di Scala and cementing the pair’s reputation as one of house music’s most visible acts. They have taken their sound, which is a mix of deep, vocal, tech and uplifting house, to monstrous stages at gigs like Coachella, Glastonbury, Park Life and Elrow London, which saw them play in front of 27,000 people. Whelan cites a highlight of the summer as their own, first ever White Isle residency at Hï Ibiza. Called Bodyworks, it saw them play the huge main room every Tuesday from June until the end of September. Despite the demands of that, the pair also put out ‘Be Someone’ featuring Jake Bugg, a moody track which slowly uplifts with its melancholic melody lines. Next up, they are working on a new album for 2020 with guests like Tom Demac, Paul Woolford and Jem Cooke, amongst others. “We are probably a lot more progressive now, which is what we’ve always loved,” says Dave, and we’re certainly fans of their newest direction.
FOR Tunisian-born, Düsseldorf-raised DJ, producer and all-round kingpin Loco Dice — born Yassine Ben Achour — 2019 was another epic year among many. A jack-of-all-trades, Achour took his clothing line to new heights, launching a collection based around his ‘Love Letters Remix Edition’ EP — which itself featured remixes by DJ Tennis, Truncate, Bambounou, Ellen Allien, and fashion don-turned DJ and producer, Virgil Abloh, who Dice often plays with. The clothing line and EP (and the album it was spawned from) is another in a long string of successes for Dice, who this year returned to his home-away-from-home, Ibiza, for a round of events at Circoloco, Dance Or Die, Black Coffee’s party at Hï Ibiza, ANTS, and Music On at Pacha. The man is clearly in demand, which is why 2019 also took him to Sonus Festival, Oasis in Morocco, The BPM Festival, and Romania’s Untold. And he still has a set at Time Warp in New York City this November, before he heads to HYTE’s NYE bash at Funkhaus in Berlin. Long live Loco Dice.
Seth Troxler is one of dance music’s most recognisable figures. His part African-American, part Egyptian, part Cherokee Indian heritage mean his mid-Western upbringing gave him a global outlook, rich in culture. He told DJ Mag Ibiza earlier this year: “My mom invested a lot of time making sure I went to cultural experiences. It gave me a real globalised view of what the arts, music and culture is.”
That amalgamation of tastes led him to become a DJ and producer with a rich investment in his selections and collections, buying up Hacienda legend Dave Haslam’s entire record collection in 2015. During an off-year for DC-10, he was asked to take the reins at Circoloco, a dancefloor he’s been proudly rocking every summer since. His recent Lost Souls Of Saturn project with Phil Moffa saw his more experimental, conceptual side emerge again, culminating in a Saatchi Gallery exhibition in 2019. From working at legendary Detroit record store Melodies & Memories at 16, to highlyrespected techno DJ and conceptual art exhibitionist at 34, Troxler’s already achieved a career’s worth of accolades, and he’s only just begun.
While Jamie Jones has been a player on the global house and techno scene since launching his label Hot Creations in 2010 — the same year he scored a residency at famed Ibiza day-party Circoloco — it was arguably launching his Paradise party at DC-10 in 2012 that truly took him to new heights. The weekly Ibiza event has since become a worldwide phenomenon, with showcases in the UK, Amsterdam, New York City, Miami, and Mexico — and that’s just 2019. To say his events are popular is an understatement; the party packs in ravers like few others in Ibiza, all vying to see a glimpse of the many powerhouse artists who join Jones each week, and of course Jones himself, a man who, despite his incredible rise in fame over the years, has remained keenly dedicated to his craft as a DJ. Not bad for a guy who got his start throwing warehouse raves in London in the early 2000s. But there’s no signs of him slowing down just yet.
2019 has been the year Daley Padley closed a difficult chapter in his life. The year before, his best friend, confidante and best man-to-be committed suicide. It hit Padley hard and sent him into something of an introverted and downward spiral for nine months. What helped get him out the other side was writing his first long form record, ‘8-Track’. It’s a more tender, vulnerable sound than the tech-house titan has been known for in the past. It has plenty of emotive synths and pensive lyrics from the likes of Alex Mills, and he told us earlier in the year he hopes it will be a comfort for anyone going through the same issues as he or his late best friend endured.
As well as the release of that on his own Knee Deep In Sound label, the Barnsley boy has continued to host his own parties around the world. He sees them as a chance to curate the whole night and play longer sets than he can elsewhere. This summer he was also a resident for Resistance at Privilege Ibiza where he helped down vast crowds with his big, high-impact selections.
26. Tale Of Us
27. Mark Knight
29. Kerri Chandler
30. Ellen Alien
31. Joris Voorn
32. The Black Madonna
33. John Digweed
34. Erick Morillo
35. James Zabiela
36. Jeff Mills
37. Dave Clarke
38. Chris Liebing
39. Guy Gerber
41. Nicole Moudaber
42. Eats Everything
43. Jay Lumen
45. Deborah De Luca
46. Len Faki
48. Maya Jane Coles
49. The Martinez Brothers
50. Guy J
53. Claude VonStroke
54. Danny Tenaglia
55. Purple Disco Machine
56. David Penn
57. Ricardo Villalobos
58. Patrick Topping
59. Gui Boratto
60. Joseph Capriati
61. Stephan Bodzin
62. Dax J
63. Enrico Sangiuliano
64. Danny Howells
66. Radio Slave
67. Carl Craig
68. Steve Lawler
70. Michael Bibi
71. Laurent Garnier
72. Gorgon City
73. Sam Paganini
74. Paula Temple
75. Chris Lorenzo
76. Nic Fanciulli
77. Hernan Cattaneo
78. La Fleur
80. Ilario Alicante
81. Billy Kenny
82. Roger Sanchez
84. Dennis Ferrer
86. Alan Fitzpatrick
87. Paco Osuna
89. Denis Sulta
90. Helena Hauff
91. Andres Campo
93. Monika Kruse
94. Jack Back
95. Fatima Hajji
96. Pete Tong
97. Andrea Oliva
99. David Morales