Brennan Heart has enjoyed a whirlwind past few years. Yet another Dutchman on the list, Heart (real name Fabian Bohn) continues to win fans the world over courtesy of his unrelenting dedication to all things hardstyle. A true innovator and very much a poster boy for the genre he’s best renowned for, Heart’s music is always impeccably produced, with harmonious melodies and catchy vocals at the forefront of his sound. Nowhere is this more apparent than on his 2016 album, 'I AM HARDSTYLE', which quickly became the genre’s best-selling album ever.
Despite a hectic gigging schedule, Heart is also an impressively prolific producer with over 100 releases to his name. He’s also a radio DJ of some repute, with his show on Dutch station SLAM!FM considered an essential listen among hardstyle enthusiasts. Throw in the fact that he also runs a successful label, WE R Music, and it’s clear that when it comes to work ethic, few DJs in the world can hold a candle to the hardstyle maestro. With further releases and more high-profile gigs in the pipeline, Brennan Heart is sure to be a regular fixture in the Top 100 for some time yet.
Formerly a protégé selected by Hardwell to release on Revealed Recordings, this time last year Netherlands native Dannic — aka Daan Romers — had just launched his own Fonk Recordings label as an outlet for what he terms his “groovy, funky, big room” vision for the dancefloor. He says this year was a time for “building and growing” his stable, and he was looking forward to bringing it home for a showcase at Amsterdam Dance Event. However, it’s also been a year of new possibilities.
“I've been touring across Asia and holding down my Japan residency, and I'm heading back as we speak!” he tells DJ Mag. “USA was also a fun run, and I've also just designed my latest Sneaker Suit Collection with luxury Dutch brand Van Gils. Thanks to everyone that voted, let's dance together soon!”
Unlike a fair few DJs in the 2017 Top 100 DJs list, Coxy isn’t ‘too busy’ to answer a few of our questions. He knows that thousands of his fans have taken the time to vote for him, and he isn’t unofficially known as the Nicest Man In Dance Music for nothing!
Carl didn’t answer the charity question, but from talking to him before about the issue, DJ Mag knows that he already supports plenty — he just doesn’t like to talk about it.
Again scooping the Highest Techno DJ award (although he’s just as likely to drop house bangers in his sets), Carl has taken a bit of time out to do other things this year. “I’ve been running the Carl Cox Motorsport team,” he tells DJ Mag, and one look at the group’s Facebook page suggests they’ve had some great successes of late.
“I’ve also been enjoying a bit of life outside of the routine I’ve had for the last 30 years,” Carl continues, explaining how he’s been having a few weekends away from DJing for pretty much the first time since before the acid house explosion. He’s still played more than 50 shows this year — and most of these were pretty epic, of course. He helmed a couple of his mammoth Pure Carl Cox shows in Ibiza, helping to rejuvenate ‘sleeping giant’ Privilege in the process, while also guesting on the White Isle with Music On and HYTE. He played some choice festival dates too (Ultra, Mysteryland, Sonus etc), as well as shows for old buddies like Nic Fanciulli (The Social) and Yousef (Circus). Oh yes oh yes oh yes!
For proof that dance music is now a truly global affair, you need look no further than Guatemalan DJ Carl Nunes, who’s found fame and fortune — and thousands of fans — across the world with dozens of gigs in China, India and Indonesia in 2017 as part of his Limitless Tour, alongside shows in Vegas, Mexico and riotous homecoming gigs in Latin America.
“Apart from producing and collaborating with other artists, I have been learning from other cultures,” says Nunes. One look at his social media accounts confirms that, he’s a man immersed in global culture — from walking the Great Wall of China to the back streets of Bali and Hong Kong, he’s made an effort to see beyond the club scene on his travels.
But when he’s behind the decks and creating in his studio, his music speaks the universal dancefloor language. “I’ve been trying to absorb and assimilate as much as possible, creating my own mix-match of concepts and perceptions of the world,” Nunes tells DJ Mag. The results have been impressive, with Armada releasing his tropical hit ‘White Dress’ earlier in the year, a more chilled counter-point to more well-known earlier releases like ‘Out Of My Mind’.
Prolific would be one way to describe the partnership of Lucas de Wert and Steven Jansen. One of many Dutch acts in our annual poll, they’ve gone from rising hopefuls to headliners since their creative talents first aligned seven years ago, a meeting of minds that has given the world plenty of dancefloor ammunition in that time. Signing to the relentless hit-making machine Spinnin’ Records in 2014 marked the start of a string of huge releases, and this shows no sign of stopping any time soon.
This year alone has seen them deliver work like ‘Calling On You’, alongside Jake Reese, hitting the Billboard Top 40 in the process; ‘Feel Alive’ with Pep & Rash; ‘These Heights’ with fellow Top 100 DJ entrants Bassjackers; not to mention collaborations with Mike Williams, Firebeatz and Madison Mars. Oh, and the solo bomb ‘Up Till Dawn (On The Move)’ — a tried and tested summer anthem. Known for their love of future-leaning dance that has roots in electro-house and pop, high-profile shows have taken them everywhere from the main stage at Tomorrowland to Bangkok during 2017. If that’s not proof of some serious global demand, we’re not sure what is.
Having missed out on the poll last year by seven places, Dutch noise warrior Warface makes his debut against the backdrop of a world that indeed seems to be facing war. Quips (and geo-political problems) aside, with gabber seeping into the world of underground techno, Warface's sound — which mixes familiar elements from the world of EDM, high-pitched pop vocals, computer game-like melodies, with pounding, distorted hardstyle kicks — reflects a similar turn towards harder, more aggressive music on the main stage.
Check 'Welcome To The Jungle' for a trip into the bushes from which it sounds like there'll be no return, or his face-melting 160bpm set from Intents Festival 2017 (labelled on SoundCloud, we're guessing ironically, 'Warmup Mix') to hear an artist less bothered about his Spotify plays than tearing the audience a new one.
It's Youri Claessens who is the public face, but his partner Remco Prevoo (aka DJ Triax) has helped produce Warface's back catalogue, which already includes two albums, 2014's 'Art Of War' and 2015's 'The 9 Circles'. Often performing in a trademark mask that's part Darth Vader, part World War Two soldier, there's no doubting that Warface looks the part. And having mobilised his troops, this year his campaign was successful.
This Swedish duo made their Top 100 DJs poll debut in 2015, and skyrocketed from No.98 to No.39 in 2016 – a quantum leap that parallels the trajectory of their success in the charts. The delivery of smash hit ‘Runaway (U & I)’ on their debut album ‘Pharmacy’ in 2015 earned Galantis two Grammy noms (Best Dance Recording, and Best Remixed Recording by Kaskade), clinching platinum status across the globe and racking up over 400 million plays. By 2016 the two Swedes — Christian Karlsson (of Miike Snow) and Linus Eklöw (Style Of Eye) — were touring the world’s marquee venues and festivals, continuing to dominate radio airwaves with crossover dance-pop hits like ‘No Money’, their first single to debut on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
2017 saw fans welcoming the release of Galantis’ much-anticipated sophomore LP, ‘The Aviary’. The album was produced largely on the road, with the pair living out of their suitcases and composing on the fly, as opposed to their comfortable spot in a fully-equipped studio. The year has been good to them so far, with a triumphant return to the Coachella stage (their last romp in Indio was their debut in 2014) and a brand new live show being toured for an album in which they’ve finally found their own sound… clinching yet another a spot in the Top 100 is a cherry on top of Galantis’ growing list of achievements.
Mainstays of the Top 100 DJs poll, appearing annually for the last five editions, Da Tweekaz need no introduction. Just in case, though, the Norwegian hardstyle dons — aka Marcus Nordli and Kenth Kvien — began their journey to fast noise fame at a party in 2004. By 2007, their work was being stolen by internet gremlins and leaked across Russia, Poland and Germany, causing the scene to stand up and take notice, even if the artists themselves weren’t benefitting from the illegitimate exposure.
Between then and now there have been plenty of career-defining moments, not least signing to the legendary United Records, and collaborating with one of the true rave heroes, Darren Styles. A long list of bangers — the pair delivered one track a month during 2014 alone — regularly soundtrack the more intense side of the international events calendar, with a horde of these bombs based on reworked film and TV soundtracks, such as this year’s Game Of Thrones edit. Over the past 12 months, their talent has taken them to events like Tomorrowland and Insomniac, not to mention World Club Dome and Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas, dates that formed part of their landmark Tweeka Tour.
One of the things that has really blown away Jay Hardway this year is the realisation that more and more of the people that come to his shows know his music. “I've been flying all over the world again this year, and that isn't always easy,” he tells DJ Mag. “But as soon as I see people going crazy over my music at shows, it makes it all worth it!”
His positivity shines through when we reveal the news of his Top 100 entry. “It's already awesome that there are so many people who are listening to my music and enjoying my shows, and to know that they're voting for me because they want to see me higher in the list means a lot.”
By way of thanks to his fans, Jay intends to release online music videos and tutorials about the process he goes through in making tracks like this year's anthemic 'Golden Pineapple'. And there are plans to give his live shows a big ole upgrade for 2018, with exciting new visuals and exclusive tracks currently being written to be performed there. “This way, making my sets truly unique and a great experience at festivals and in clubs,” Jay beams.
This summer saw the famous masked avenger Claptone take his ‘The Masquerade’ party concept worldwide; he’s had crowds mesmerised at some of dance music’s most prolific events including Melt! Festival in Germany, Elrow in Ibiza, Tomorrowland in Belgium and Street Parade in Switzerland. Forever a firm favourite of Pete Tong, this year he stepped up for his first BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix and played to the masses alongside Danny Howard for the Radio 1 Ibiza weekend.
His hip-hop sample-heavy hits regularly top the Beatport Deep House charts; this summer saw him release the big room smash ‘The Drums’ and remix Damon Albarn’s animated superstars Gorillaz. Alongside his heavy tour schedule, the elusive hero will be unmasking some new music. “Working on my new album, which will be released in 2018 and circuiting the planet twice,” he tells DJ Mag of his studio accomplishments and astronomical touring diary.