Headhunterz has won the highest hard award in DJ Mag Top 100 DJs 2017 poll, marking his return to the genre by landing 33rd overall in the rankings.
Walking a fine line between creative freedom and success, the Dutch DJ and producer (real name: Willem Rebergen) has struggled to find the right balance in recent years.
From 2014 to 2016, Rebergen — like many producers — turned towards the more popular sound of EDM. This two-year period had a profound impact on Rebergen, who broke down during a performance at hardstyle mecca Defqon.1 and soon realised that EDM wasn’t for him, something he’s wrestled with articulately via his popular vlog series, Vlogs From Without.
As a result, the last 12 months has seen Rebergen trying to reconnect with the hard community, and like any family, they’ve welcomed him back with open arms.
The veteran Dutch producer is now back to his hardstyle best with his latest track ‘Taking It Back’, a massive nod to his roots.
And his hardstyle homecoming was most evident when he and Wildstylez’s Joram Metekohy brought their iconic Project One alias back for a special one-off performance in Amsterdam in late 2016.
The duo has only ever released one album and played a handful of shows together, but their album is arguably the genre’s most iconic and proved Rebergen’s desire to be at the centre of the scene he had helped create once again.
Martin Garrix has been revealed as the winner of the DJ Mag Top 100 DJs Poll 2017, with the 21-year-old Dutch superstar retaining his title after becoming the youngest ever No.1 DJ last year.
There were over a million legitimate votes cast for the DJ Mag Top 100 DJs Poll this year — a marginal increase on 2016’s million-smashing achievement — with the standings seeing 15 new entries, seven re-entries and 5 non-movers.
The rise was undoubtedly due in part to further opening up the voting process to China this year via a fully updated and translated validation mechanism.
The influence of the White Isle is still strong. Solomun has had another massive year in Ibiza with his +1 residency at Pacha, and this has paid off with a debut chart placing for the DIYnamic man at No.81.
Similarly, Maceo Plex has also had another successful year at Pacha and charts 10 places lower, while South African hero Black Coffee debuts at No.85 — almost certainly due to his hugely successful residency at Hï Ibiza, the new superclub that occupies the same space in Playa d’en Bossa as the fabled Space.
Bridging the gap between the underground and the mainstream, Eric Prydz has also had a good year. The ‘Pjanoo’ man took on his fi rst weekly Ibiza residency — also at Hï Ibiza — and is up 32 places to No.34.
Melodic masked marauder Claptone is also a new entry, as is Australian trap n’ bass DJ Alison Wonderland, while several stalwarts have reversed back into the Top 100 — as befi ts their stature.
Richie Hawtin is back in the poll at No.80 after slipping out last year, but he’s not the Highest Techno DJ as the one and only Carl Cox has once again taken that accolade — Coxy is up 12 places to No.62, without so much as a sniff of a vote-for-me campaign.
Also representing main stage techno, Paul Kalkbrenner is back in the 100 for the fi rst time since 2012, while in the next 50 Loco Dice, Marco Carola, Adam Beyer, Jamie Jones, Green Velvet, Seth Troxler, Nina Kraviz and Kolsch have all made an appearance.
Meanwhile, Disclosure have popped their toes back into the Top 100, and Andy C — once again the Highest Drum & Bass DJ in the poll — has reaped the rewards of a hectic year by double-dropping himself back in at No.77.
The Top 100 DJs poll used to be swamped by trance spinners until the rise of EDM a few years back, but it seems like the sound is having a resurgence. Not only is trance figurehead Armin van Buuren up, but former winner Paul van Dyk is up nine places and the Above & Beyond trio are up 20 places off the back of their huge arena shows. ATB is also up to No.54, while Ferry Corsten jumps up nine places in the wake of his ‘Blueprint’ album.
There’s still a smattering of hardstyle DJs in the hallowed hundred, and Angerfi st has had to surrender his Highest Hard hat to Headhunterz, who has returned to the hardstyle scene after a spell exploring more mainstream music.
Check out the full DJ Mag Top 100 DJs poll results here.