Dutch duo Blasterjaxx are currently winding down from a solid festival season that has seen them consolidate their longevity as big room favourites. They‘ve supported appearances at festivals like Tomorrowland and Dance Valley with several high-profile releases.
“Music-wise, we had a really productive year,” they tell DJ Mag. “We released lots of new music on our own Maxximize Records imprint, and the response of our fans has been great.” The label is doing really well, they add, with their next label event scheduled to take place at ADE.
It’s approaching two years since Idir Makhlaf withdrew from touring due to mental health issues, leaving Thom Jongkind to assume DJing duties while they both continue to produce together. While they say it took some getting used to, it’s been a change for the best. “In the end we can both say it works better for us personally, as well as for Blasterjaxx in total.”
Think your 2017 was pretty spesh? Well, wait until you hear what Belgium duo Wolfpack have been up to. “We explored almost every city in China, did a lot of cool stuff in the Philippines and Asia, swam in an active volcano, made a lot of new tunes, met a lot of interesting people, conquered the World Club Dome in Germany and the mainstage of Tomorrowland Belgium just to mention a few,” says Ruben Khaza from Wolfpack, breathlessly.
So, yeah, pretty ace. Then there were their releases, which sent big room shockwaves across the world. “We had a lot of success with ‘Nashville’, ‘Pointbreak’ and especially ‘Phat Bass’ which was ranked by Beatport at No.1 for a long time and has been played by David Guetta, Tiësto and Showtek,” nods the other half of Wolfpack, Steve Braet. The only way to top that DJ bucketlist is to play a sure-to-sell-out homecoming gig on NYE. Expect this Wolfpack to keep on rising to the very top.
The Australian sisters Liv and Mim have been a regular mainstay in the Top 100, and this year has proved there’s no stopping them.
DJ Mag caught up with the busy duo to ask what they’ve been up to this year: “Touring like crazy. Think we’re nudging 200 shows this year. We had our NERVONation parties in Miami, Austria and Ibiza at Ushuaia, which have all been amazing. We have been busy working on new music and recently got a major sync with iPhone 8 for a track we did with Sofi Tukker called ‘Best Friend’,” they begin.
This year has been non-stop for the charismatic Aussies. As well as their shows, they’ve had releases gracing many of the record label giants including Ultra, Spinnin’, Big Beat, Cr2 and Armada Music. Their summer smash ‘The Other Boys’ is an all-star collaboration with the legendary Nile Rodgers, pop princess Kylie Minogue and Scissor Sisters frontman Jake Shears
Considering their previous records have won Grammy Awards and regularly surf the top of the iTunes charts, there’s no doubt they’ll be continuing to ride the wave straight into 2018.
Debuting in the poll last year after a triumphant first world tour, it’s safe to say there are few artists as unique as Timothy Jude Smith. Once on course to become an alumni of the Sydney Conservatorium Of Music, until his expulsion, that classical training has informed the development of a style which is halfway between live instrumentation and a traditional DJ set — namely, combining deft skills on the trumpet with a keen ear for mixing tracks.
With labels such as Pacha, One Love and the Spinnin’ sub-label headed up by KSHMR, Dharma Worldwide, having released his work, clearly production is another forte.
Enough copies were shifted of 2015’s ‘Freaks’, a collaboration with New Zealand rapper Savage, to go platinum five times over in his homeland, hit the Top 20 in charts across Europe, and become reportedly the biggest single of all time on Ministry Of Sound. Even so, it’s in the flesh that his talent really shines, hence a sell-out UK tour this past spring, with more headline dates across the planet further evidencing what a monumental year it has been fro the Trumpet-Man.
“The greatest thing about 2017 has been playing in countries that are new to me, and to meet and connect with people that love music as much as I do,” he tells DJ Mag.
2017 was an odd year for Major Lazer as their fabled fourth studio album, 'Music Is A Weapon', never materialised, and instead the group released their 'Know No Better' EP featuring a disparate selection of collaborators from Nicki Minaj to Travis Scott — as if Diplo had scrolled through his Blackberry randomly selecting artists to work with. Some critics felt that the EP was by no means the group's finest work, falling some way short of their previous output and lacking any real cohesion.
The group's fourth album may now never see the light of day after Diplo admitted he's lost faith in the album format, and recently lambasted the commercialisation of DJ culture, which he described in a recent interview as "cheesy" and "embarrassing". Hopefully, this awakening of sorts might propel the group to new heights and deliver the album we all know they can.
Elsewhere, the group delivered an eye-opening documentary, Give Me Future, about their groundbreaking concert in Cuba, which attracted 500,000 people and saw the group become one of the first US acts to play in Cuba since diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba were reset under the Obama administration.
Sitting alongside some of EDM’s royalty, Germany’s super-producer TUJAMO has already shared the studio with the likes of Danny Avila, Jacob Plant, Laidback Luke and R&B superstar Taio Cruz. This year TUJAMO embarked on a tour of China with 10 shows across the new clubbing destination; an impressive feat making him one of the first international acts to tour the country for so long. But it doesn’t stop there, he’s played plenty more destinations from Berlin to Belgium, Liverpool to Los Angeles, Italy to Ibiza — and that’s all in the last 10 months.
DJ Mag caught up with the globetrotting DJ to talk about his 2017 so far: “I’ve been touring more than any year before. I really played a crazy amount of club and festival shows throughout the whole year, and released two singles in-between (‘Make U Love Me’ on Spinnin’ and ‘One On One’ on Universal). After playing for David Guetta at Ushuaia Ibiza he asked me to remix his single with Nicki Minaj & Lil Wayne, followed by a request for his latest single with Justin Bieber — one of my all-time highlights!”
A third consecutive year in the Top 100 DJs list, and a third time that Tom Swoon is stunned by the support. “I'm just grateful for all the love and faith I get from all the fans around the world,” he tells DJ Mag. When he first entered the list he couldn't believe that he was in the same league as some of the names that he still looks up to.
It's been a year of intense, long studio sessions, a stockpile of live performances around the globe and a handful of A-list remixes — include ones for Iggy Azalea, and the legend that is Armin Van Buuren. “With over 100 shows already done and dusted this year, I can't really wrap my head around how it all went so fast,” he gushes.
Tom's new single is out on Spinnin’ this month. But he's keeping his cards close to his chest about the single release he's involved with for the first quarter of 2018. According to Tom, it's one of the most influential pop artists of our time, but that's as much as we could get out of him.
There are also mutterings of collaborations with Steve Aoki and Showtek, and an extensive touring schedule is falling neatly in to place.
Already the highest charted Portuguese DJ of all time, Kura has now been involved in the Top 100 DJs poll for an unprecedented four times, a sure sign that the big room and electro DJ is doing something very, very right.
Highlights have come thick and fast for the Spinnin’-affiliated spinner, with sold out shows across China, Tomorrowland, private jets to Ibiza and a spine-tingling 35,000 sitting down during a sold out show in his native Portugal. “I did a lot of preparation so I could have every weapon available to respond to the crowd,” says Kura, proudly. And those weapons don’t come much bigger than ‘Police’, his frenetic collaboration with long-time inspiration Hardwell and also Anthony B.
“This year I've been concentrating on bringing quality music, tracks that I know are going to work 100% on the dancefloor,” says Kura of his success. Prime among them has been ‘Bangalore’, a seismic slice of big room energy that channels Bollywood vibes during its monumental breakdown, while the newly released ‘Sedated’ shows a more subtle, emotional side to his production.
Words: ANDY BUCHAN
It’s been a balanced year of old and new for Canada’s oft-outspoken mouseman Joel Zimmerman. Tapping into his roots and legacy, Joel dedicated time to celebrating a decade of Mau5trap, reminding us of just how much talent has passed through his label’s doors from Chris Lake to Noisia via Rezz and Excision. He also dug deep into his own vaults and gave away an entire album of old projects called ‘Stuff I Used To Do’ that featured a host of unreleased and rare Mau5 classics.
Never one to sit still or ever languish in the past, he’s been much more innovative than he has nostalgic. His eye-melting Cube has been thoroughly updated and invigorated with a 2.1 reboot and remains up there with the likes of Prydz as one of the most striking and technologically-advanced performance concepts in the game. Taking it around the world to a huge array of big festivals and solo on his Lots Of Shows In A Row tour, its sense of spectacle backs up the strong opinions he’s happy to share online.
Musically we’ve also seen a cool departure from the big anthemic tracks he’s known for as he develops his collaborative relationship with Manchester MC Shotty Horroh. Recent single ‘Legendary’ shows a much darker, grittier side to Deadmau5… And one that we’d like to hear a lot more of in the future.
Words: DAVE JENKINS
Nicky Romero has been hitting all the big notes this year across multiple touch-points. He’s been touring the festival main stages around the world as part of the Ultra Worldwide events, as well as holding down a residency both in Ibiza at Amnesia and in Las Vegas at the Wynn.
“This range of different shows gives me the chance to play a lot of different material, at clubs and festivals alike, and I love to be able to promote new talent as well as play my own records,” Nicky tells DJ Mag. “It’s also been exciting to celebrate five years of Protocol Recordings this year — the new talent coming through via my inbox has been incredible. I’m looking forward to seeing these artists develop.”
Words: ANGUS THOMAS PATERSON