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Poll 2015: Coone

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Koen Bauweraerts, better known as Belgian producer Coone, is one of the elder statesmen of hardstyle. It’s been over a decade since Bauweraerts put out his first single, ‘Protect The Innocent’ on Hardball Records, making him one of the longest-running DJs in the scene.

In 2006, Bauweraerts launched label Dirty Workz, which has since become one of the foremost outlets for jumpstyle and hardstyle in Europe. By the age of 24, he was already commanding a devoted following in his home country, drawing a crowd of several thousand fans to his Coone & The Gang events.

He’s since become an evangelist for hardstyle, helping to spread the genre around the globe — his last album, released in 2013, was aptly titled ‘Global Dedication’.

“Every year I’m trying to convince more people of my style. And it’s working, I’m playing at the world’s best clubs and festivals this year,” he tells DJ Mag. Recent collaborations with Steve Aoki and remixes of Linkin Park have no doubt exposed new audiences to hardstyle and won him new fans in the US and further abroad.

ADAM BYCHAWSKI

Questions Top100 DJs 2015 - Jon Dommett - 2015-11-16 10:58

Style: 
“Euphoric hardstyle with catchy vocals.”
Best known for: 
“Globalizing hardstyle.”
Tune of the year: 
“Coone ‘Love For The Game’.”
From: 
Belgium
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2015: 
“Cesqeaux.”
What’s the most important skill a DJ should have?: 
“I gotta feel the crowd, every country is different. So pre-recorded sets are never gonna do the trick.”
Is the future still bright for EDM?: 
“I hear lots of evolution and fresh talents in each style. Yes, the future is still bright.”
Does the constant travelling and DJ lifestyle ever take its toll on you mentally?: 
“I must say, if you don’t take a break now and then, it can definitely affect your private life.”
What cause is closest to your heart?: 
“My girlfriend, my daughter, my passion for music, my family, my friends, my fans.”
Which club would you like to bring back from the dead?: 
“’Club Bizarre (Headhunterz & Noisecontrollers Remix)’ - Brooklyn Bounce, ha ha (hardstyle in-joke – Ed).
Why aren’t there more women in the Top 100 DJs poll?: 
“I’m getting the idea that a lot of girls are not in it for the love of the music. That does not work.”
What do you think of DJs who use ghost producers?: 
“If you’re a good businessman, a good entertainer, up to date with the latest trends in music and most of all a good DJ, then I don’t have a problem with it, although it would not work for me.”

Poll 2015: Aly & Fila

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In September, Aly & Fila made history. They performed a show within the grounds of one of the last-standing wonders of the ancient world, The Pyramids of Giza, Egypt. Only a small list of select names, including Sting and Kyle Minogue, had previously had the honour.

And what a fitting venue it was! The Egyptian duo who created a sub-genre of trance dedicated to their homeland have had another storming year. They've celebrated 400 episodes of their Future Sound Of Egypt (FSOE) radio show with eight big gigs — including that one in Giza — and played everywhere from Canada to China. 

As ever, the tracks and remixes have come thick and fast and they've released two compilations ('FSOE Vol.3' and 'FSOE 400') all in 2015, so it's no surprise that their loyal fanbase have voted in full force once again.

ADAM SAVILLE

Questions Top100 DJs 2015 - Jon Dommett - 2015-11-16 10:27

Style: 
“Uplifting, melodic trance.”
Best known for: 
“Future Sound of Egypt.”
Tune of the year: 
“Matt Darey 'See The Sun (Dan Stone Rework)'.”
From: 
Cairo, Egypt
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2015: 
“Standerwick/Ferry Tayle and Dan Stone.”
What’s the most important skill a DJ should have?: 
“As a DJ you should always be able to read the crowd, judge what they are feeling on the dancefloor, and also the interaction with the crowd is extremely important.”
Is the future still bright for EDM?: 
“For dance music as a whole, 100%, each country you can see all the genres growing and growing.”
Does the constant travelling and DJ lifestyle ever take its toll on you mentally?: 
“Yes, it is very very tiring. But it's great when you meet so many amazing people, and the reaction to our music from the crowd is such a great feeling to have.”
What cause is closest to your heart?: 
“Peace on earth (which we don't think will happen anytime soon, unfortunately).”
Which club would you like to bring back from the dead?: 
“The Republic in Sheffield.”
Why aren’t there more women in the Top 100 DJs poll?: 
“That is a very good point, if there are any female producers out there, please send us your demos to [email protected] We will be happy to help.”
What do you think of DJs who use ghost producers?: 
“They know themselves and they should be ashamed.”

Poll 2015: Paul van Dyk

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This year, Paul van Dyk released the third in his popular 'Politics Of Dancing' LP series. A risky move, considering number two came out way back in '05, but van Dyk is actually stronger than ever over a decade later. “A great number of things had changed,” says Paul, about the gap between then and now. “The way we make and produce music, how we promote and release music and, of course, how we consume it,” he says.

The producer/DJ also staged his fourth We Are One Festival in Berlin earlier this year — a day and night party that kicks off on Rummelsburg Beach on the banks of the River Spree.

Finally, van Dyk tips his 2016 set at Aquanario as one of his best ever, saying, “I performed new versions of many of my tracks choreographed to a water, light, laser and firework show — backed by singers and an orchestra.” Impressive!

CHARLOTTE LUCY CIJFFERS

Questions Top100 DJs 2015 - Jon Dommett - 2015-11-13 16:05

Style: 
“Electronic music.”
Best known for: 
“'The Politics Of Dancing 1, 2 and now 3'.”
Tune of the year: 
“Paul van Dyk & Sue McLaren ‘Lights’.”
From: 
Berlin
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2015: 
“Sender.”
What’s the most important skill a DJ should have?: 
“To be able to keep their mind on the music, rather than the money.”
Is the future still bright for EDM?: 
“If EDM’s still an acronym for Electronic Dance Music, then yes... It’s looking more positive than any year in the last five years. If it refers to pop-dressed-as-electronic-music, then considerably less so.”
Does the constant travelling and DJ lifestyle ever take its toll on you mentally?: 
“Happily, I broke through that barrier 15-years or so back.”
What cause is closest to your heart?: 
“Professionally, entertaining my fans. Personally, social justice and a more peaceful, fairer world.”
Which club would you like to bring back from the dead?: 
“The Loft and the Paradise Garage, mainly as I never got to go; Twilo, as I miss playing there; and Dorian Gray, as I just miss it.”
Why aren’t there more women in the Top 100 DJs poll?: 
“You never stop wondering that. It’s modern day mystery. The one thing you can say about DJing is there are no obvious preventative barriers, as there are in other professions.”
What do you think of DJs who use ghost producers?: 
“If you’re not making your own music, chances are it’s not coming from the heart. If it’s not coming from the heart, then likely, there’s a problem.”

Poll 2015: Andrew Rayel

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Trance might have lost its grip on the top-end of the poll to EDM, but nobody can deny the ongoing tenacity of its following. This enthusiasm, of course, is helped in no small part by the DJs and producers who've also stayed loyal to the sound — and Andrew Rayel is one of those leaders. 

Speaking of (and at) Armin van Buuren's label and festival in Utrecht earlier this year, he said, “A State Of Trance, to me, is like my second family.” And while his music — as witnessed on his recent collaboration with Jonny Rose ('Daylight') — is increasingly taking on a harder, EDM-influenced “progressive” edge with pop vocals, there's no escaping the classic trance backbone running through its core. 

2015 has seen him have another busy year, with gigs at both Tomorrowland and TomorrowWorld as well Ushuaia, Amnesia and Creamfields. However, it's one event in particular that sticks out in his mind. “EDC Las Vegas weekend with my whole team,” he remembers.

“It was truly an unbelievable experience, from event production to crowd, everything was superb.” And what about the year ahead?  “For sure, more music, bigger shows and something very special for next year! Stay tuned.”

ADAM SAVILLE

Questions Top100 DJs 2015 - Jon Dommett - 2015-11-13 16:01

Style: 
“Trance and progressive.”
Best known for: 
“'Find Your Harmony'.”
Tune of the year: 
“Andrew Rayel & Mark Sixma 'Chased'.”
From: 
Moldova
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2015: 
“Mark Sixma.”
Is the future still bright for EDM?: 
“Absolutely, I think this is just the beginning for electronic music and you can see how much attention it gets from the entire world.”
Does the constant travelling and DJ lifestyle ever take its toll on you mentally?: 
“Maybe at the beginning, but you get used to it in time and how to balance out the DJ tour life with personal life.”
What cause is closest to your heart?: 
“Raising money for charity with the power of music.”
Which club would you like to bring back from the dead?: 
“Guvernment in Toronto, Canada.”
Why aren’t there more women in the Top 100 DJs poll?: 
“There should be! It’s kinda weird. Probably because women like more to enjoy the music and have fun in the crowd, or prefer to take the path of a vocalist or something else.”
What do you think of DJs who use ghost producers?: 
“I'm honestly not a fan of it. It's not something to be proud of — being a big artist and using someone else's art isn't something I have respect for.”

Poll 2015: Ummet Ozcan

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Ummet Ozcan's techno-influenced trance made something of a seamless transition to gain huge popularity amongst EDM fans, but that's come as no surprise to the man himself. “I am not bound to any musical conventions, I just produce whatever I like. People tend to put things in boxes. I personally don’t do that,” Ummet tells DJ Mag.

Of course, not every DJ or producer actually has a hand in creating the things that make the actual noises that are used to create tracks either, but Ummet is famous for providing softsynth and soundbank designs for some of the biggest music software houses too.

When it comes to making your own music, Ummet has a tip or two for aspiring producers: “There are certain elements that work better for your song than others, but the magic appears only with the right parts that fit the puzzle… but let’s say it helps to have a festival mindset before you start producing,” he advises.

Citing Tomorrowland 2015 in Belgium as one of the highlights of his past year of playing out, plans for 2016 look likely to see Ummet spending more time in the studio. “Producing is sometimes hard to combine with tour life,” he explains, before quickly adding: “My records are equally important. So that is one of my aims for 2016.”

DAVID McCARTHY

Questions Top100 DJs 2015 - Jon Dommett - 2015-11-13 15:50

Style: 
“Electronic music.”
Best known for: 
“My releases on Spinnin’ Records, my sound design and my DJ sets.”
Tune of the year: 
“‘The Hum’.”
From: 
Turkish descent but born and raised in The Netherlands
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2015: 
“Robin Schulz.”
What’s the most important skill a DJ should have?: 
“He should smile a lot!”
Is the future still bright for EDM?: 
“It couldn’t be any brighter.”
Does the constant travelling and DJ lifestyle ever take its toll on you mentally?: 
“I can cope with it pretty well, tour life is heavy but I get a lot of happy faces from my fans in return. And that keeps me going!”
What cause is closest to your heart?: 
I feel strongly for animals and compassion for every life form on earth.”
Which club would you like to bring back from the dead?: 
“The infamous Studio 54 in New York.”
Why aren’t there more women in the Top 100 DJs poll?: 
“It seems to be a man’s world… but great DJs like Nervo and Krewella should trigger more female talent to step up.”
What do you think of DJs who use ghost producers?: 
“It is inevitable, but it doesn’t really bother me.”

Poll 2015: Yves V

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A Belgium EDM hitmaker with a close link to newly crowned Top 100 kings Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike and their Smash The House label, Yves V kept the hits coming in 2015.

In addition to the turbo-charged main stage thrills of ‘Memories Will Fade’ earlier this year and his new single ‘Octagon’, he’s penned collaborations with the likes of Sidney Samson and Don Diablo.

He’s continued his residency at his country’s goliath Tomorrowland Festival, with his V Sessions Sound brand regularly hosting arenas at the three-day party in addition to his main stage performances, and he also took the brand to SupermartXe in Ibiza this year.

“My year has been amazing, I’ve been very lucky to return to some of my favourite places in the world,” Yves tells DJ Mag. “We went to Brazil for our first Tomorrowland event in Sao Paulo, visiting Thailand again was a lot of fun, and playing to sold out crowds at Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike’s House Of Madness night at Amnesia was crazy!

I’ve pushed my releases this year more as well with more original tracks, but I have a feeling 2016 is going to be bigger and better!”

ANGUS PATERSON

Questions Top100 DJs 2015 - Jon Dommett - 2015-11-13 12:01

Style: 
Progressive house, electro-house
Best known for: 
“Tomorrowland, V Sessions.”
Tune of the year: 
“'Octagon'.”
From: 
Antwerp, Belgium
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2015: 
“KSHMR, I love his sound and style.”
What’s the most important skill a DJ should have?: 
“It’s a combination of the DJ’s interaction with the crowd, having an understanding of music and trying to create a musical journey.”
Is the future still bright for EDM?: 
“Yes of course, it’s evolving.”
Does the constant travelling and DJ lifestyle ever take its toll on you mentally?: 
“Yeah definitely, life on the road can be tough at times, but it’s a life we all choose so you can’t complain. You just need to be smart, take care of yourself and don’t push yourself too much.”
What cause is closest to your heart?: 
“Improving the welfare and future of animals.”
Which club would you like to bring back from the dead?: 
“Illusion in Belgium, it pioneered trance music and was the start of my passion for music overall.”
Why aren’t there more women in the Top 100 DJs poll?: 
“I think nowadays there are more and more women coming through like Nervo, Krewella etc. It’s really good to see, and I hope we continue to see this growth in our scene.”
What do you think of DJs who use ghost producers?: 
“I actually work with a studio partner, and that works really well for me with my schedule. The first records I released were made entirely by myself, but since I’ve worked with a partner and I really feel we can go to that next level.”

Poll 2015: DJ Snake

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For a new entrant into the Top 100 last year, DJ Snake’s had a pretty wild year. Which is presumably why he was otherwise engaged when being hit up for interview (probably, y’know, in Chile or Japan or something).

Born William Grigahcine in Paris, the viral hitmaker cites arty French film La Haine as an influence on his sound as well as Cypress Hill and KRS-One, and earned the name 'Snake' due to his effectiveness at hiding from the police after graffiting the Parisian ghetto.

Nominated for a Grammy as part of his productions on Lady Gaga’s album, the producer’s name blasted into the minds of the public after his 2014 track with Lil Jon, ‘Turn Down For What’, meant that you could barely step onto a dancefloor without hearing it.

But this year the DJ/producer proved to have even greater success, with the Major Lazer and MØ collab ‘Lean On’ raking in the plays (it scooped Best Dance/Electronic Song at the Billboard Awards and, more importantly, is a Top Tune of 2015 among a fair few of these Top 100 DJs...).

With recent appearances at TomorrowWorld, EDC, and an India tour scheduled for November, it’s fair to say that this Snake will soon be on another plane.

FELICITY MARTIN

Questions Top100 DJs 2015 - Jon Dommett - 2015-11-13 11:00

Style: 
Trap, dance
Best known for: 
Major Lazer, MØ and DJ Snake 'Lean On'.
From: 
Paris

Poll 2015: Dannic

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Dannic is an artist who needs little introduction. One of the Dutch crop of EDM stadium-fillers, the DJ/producer has been playing out for over a decade now, and just recently collaborated with 2014's No.1 DJ, Hardwell, on ‘Survivors’.

His saccharine synth-filled tunes have been scaling the lofty heights of the Beatport charts, girls are getting his lyrics tattooed on their backs, and the producer seems to be constantly hanging out by a pool. “My year has been amazing!” he nods.

“I released my ‘Dear Life’ documentary, played the Tomorrowland main stage and now I’m back in the Top 100 list! 2016 looks set to be bigger and better as I’m getting ready to launch my very own imprint, I can’t wait.”

That label is looking to be a place for his own work as well as other fresh faces. “That’s exactly why I wanted to launch my own label,” he explains. “So that I had a platform for my own sounds that I could fill with the grooves I wanted, but also support new talent that doesn’t have a specific home yet but a sound that would fit.”

Though he’s riding high on the waves of the industry, he’s aware that it would benefit from some feminine input. “I think there is definitely a space for more female DJs and producers to step up and equal it out!” he concludes.

FELICITY MARTIN

Questions Top100 DJs 2015 - Jon Dommett - 2015-11-13 10:31

Style: 
“Grooving, progressive house.”
Best known for: 
“'Clobber', 'Zenith', 'Dear Life'.”
Tune of the year: 
“My collaboration with Hardwell feat Haris ‘Survivors’!”
From: 
Breda, Netherlands
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2015: 
“Tom & Jame.”
What’s the most important skill a DJ should have?: 
“As well as the obvious technical skills and learning your craft, it’s important to have knowledge of the scene and industry, and stay true to your own sound.”
Is the future still bright for EDM?: 
“Of course! The industry is worth almost $7bn and dance music across the board has gone more mainstream than ever, from progressive to trance and house over to techno.”
Does the constant travelling and DJ lifestyle ever take its toll on you mentally?: 
“It can do, but I’ve learnt after years on the road that it’s up to yourself to be surrounded with amazing family, friends you trust and good natured, honest people.”
What cause is closest to your heart?: 
“I have a big love of animals. I think what WWF do is amazing, especially with endangered species such as rhinos and tigers and pandas.”
Which club would you like to bring back from the dead?: 
“The Arches in Glasgow. I was sad to hear that the venue would be closing earlier this summer — I have such great memories of playing there back in 2013 with my buddy Hardwell.”
Why aren’t there more women in the Top 100 DJs poll?: 
“Dance music seems very male-dominated right now, as it has been for many years, but it’s great to see acts like Nervo and Krewella doing well, as well as up and coming artists like Mija.”
What do you think of DJs who use ghost producers?: 
“I produce all my tracks in my own studio but I don’t see anything wrong with it. If working with a partner helps you to truly make the best tracks you can, then you can only go with your gut to produce the best music at that time.”

Poll 2015: Carnage

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Over the past few years, the world of EDM and hip-hop have grown ever closer. Waka Flocka Flame and Lil John have featured on singles produced by Steve Aoki, Borgore and DJ Snake; while duo TNGHT, a collaboration between producers Hudson Mohawke and Lunice, inspired a whole sub-genre with their super-charged hip-hop productions.

But few have enjoyed the fruits of this cross-over more than Diamante Blackmon, better known as DJ Carnage. Blackmon, who was inspired to start producing EDM after being introduced to hardstyle by a friend, has bridged the gap between hip-hop and dance music by introducing elements of trance and EDM into hip-hop instrumentals, creating a festival-ready hybrid that picks up where TNGHT left off and runs with it.

Carnage has made beats for Theophilus London, A$AP Mob and Riff Raff but it was a trap remix of Hardwell’s ‘Spaceman’ that propelled him to EDM superstardom in 2012. He’s since become a staple of the festival circuit, despite occasionally landing himself into trouble for overrunning his sets. Blackmon drops his debut album, ‘Papi Gordo’, this month with a headline tour to follow in 2016.

Questions Top100 DJs 2015 - Jon Dommett - 2015-11-16 16:11

Style: 
Trap
Best known for: 
Hardwell 'Spaceman (Carnage Festival Trap Remix)'
From: 
Central America

Poll 2015: Robin Schulz

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German crowd-pleaser Robin Schulz enjoyed an absolutely huge 2015 that’s catapulted him into the Top 100 DJs poll and transformed him into a genuine crossover house music star, with the rich vocal house appeal of both ‘Sugar’ and ‘Headlights’ translating into highly-addictive pop hits that were propelled into the charts of more than 30 countries around the world. 

“They even reached #1 in some countries,” Schulz says of the hits, which came off the back of a Grammy nomination earlier in the year for his breakthrough remix of Mr Probz ‘Waves’. It all drew together with the release of his sophomore artist album ‘Sugar’ shortly before the Top 100 announcement, which saw his knack for pop collaborations extending to further guest appearances from Akon, Disciples, Moby, Moguai and beyond. 

“It was a long journey,” he says of the album. “It took nearly a year, but now I'm more than happy. And the feedback is more than great, I'm happy, as I was able to produce with a lot of talented people. Some of them I was following for a long time, and some are newcomers.”
On top of that, Schulz grew his profile as a DJ significantly in 2105, joining an impressive number of festival bills as well as his first Ibiza appearances, DJing at flashy hotspots like Ushuaia alongside Axwell v Ingrosso and David Guetta (who are also both artists he lent his remix skills to this year, naturally).

 ANGUS PATERSON

Questions Top100 DJs 2015 - Jon Dommett - 2015-11-16 16:08

Style: 
Melodic deep house
Best known for: 
Hits like the remix for ‘Waves’, ‘Prayer in C’, ‘Sugar’ etc.
Tune of the year: 
Sam Feldt ‘Show Me Love (EDX remix)’
From: 
Osnabrück, Germany
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2015: 
Henri PFR, HEYHEY.
What’s the most important skill a DJ should have?: 
“To make the crowd dance.”
Is the future still bright for EDM?: 
Yes, why not! There is enough space for every genre.
Does the constant travelling and DJ lifestyle ever take its toll on you mentally?: 
Ha ha, hopefully not! It makes you very tired, for sure.
What cause is closest to your heart?: 
My family and my hometown.
Which club would you like to bring back from the dead?: 
I’d like to bring back all the classic German techno clubs, which I could never see as I was too young when they had their golden times.
Why aren’t there more women in the Top 100 DJs poll?: 
That's a good question! There are some great female DJs out there.”
What do you think of DJs who use ghost producers?: 
Not my cup of tea, but it’s OK for me. Nobody gives a fuck if a pop star or band is produced by someone else!

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