House | Page 59 | DJMag.com Skip to main content

Poll 2015: Afrojack

8
Afrojack
Up
4

If you were to accuse Afrojack of anything, it couldn't be of using a ghost producer. The Dutch DJ is in the studio when we call, prompting a load of back and forth texting to schedule the interview, and at one point accidentally starts blaring out a track he's been working on, causing our waveform to go a bit haywire.

The man born Nick Van de Wall laughs when DJ Mag asks him what he thinks about people who do. “I’ve had a lot of people saying, 'Ha ha ha, where’s your ghost producer, Afrojack?' I've been using the same programme and the same instruments for all my music for the last 17 years. It's pretty funny. I'm not gonna try to prove them wrong.”

On reflection, Afrojack has little to prove. He’s been having a pretty good year. ‘Hey Mama’, his recent track with Nicki Minaj and David Guetta, hit the Top 10 all over the world.

He’s been delivering his bouncy brand of hyperactive house to Ultra Peru, TomorrowWorld, Taiwan and Japan. He’s working on stuff for Rihanna. He’s just about to unveil the immortalised wax version of himself at the Amsterdam Madame Tussauds. It could be worse.

“I actually split up with my management this year, and it gave me more control about where I wanna go with my music,” he nods. “I've been producing a lot, outside of the EDM genre — I've been doing a lot of techno stuff with some friends.”

The Wall Recordings head, as well as being known for having dated a certain hotel heiress and crashing multiple(!) Ferraris, has become a household name for tracks like ‘Take Over Control’, and his collaborations with Bassjackers and Martin Garrix.

On the topic of women who mix, Van de Wall is all for the “feminine movement” that’s taking place. “I actually think that when a girl is DJing it makes it even cooler, because when a girl's DJing the guys can go, 'Oh that's so sexy', and the girls can be like 'Oh that's so awesome'. I'm pretty sure if Martin Garrix was a girl, he would still be as successful as he is now. But his name would be Martina.”

“DJing requires shit-loads of practice and I can imagine that a lot of girls just aren't that interested in DJing. I can't imagine another reason” he shrugs.

There’s that saying: find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. “The first thing I do when I wake up is work,” Afrojack finishes. “Because I love my work. It's more like a hobby. It's difficult for me not to work 16 hours a day. But sometimes I do it, sometimes I just chill out and watch a movie or something.” 

Questions Top100 DJs 2015 - Jon Dommett - 2015-11-10 12:25

What’s the most important skill a DJ should have?: 
“The skill of DJing to me is still reading a crowd and playing to the crowd. I have the most respect for the DJs that focus on making it a fun party rather than just giving a dope show.”
Is the future still bright for EDM?: 
“If by EDM you mean dance music then yes, for sure. Dance music will always be dance music, and it will only get bigger. It means there's an entire new generation getting into dance music, so we have a long future!”
Does the constant travelling and DJ lifestyle ever take its toll on you mentally?: 
“Not mentally. Sometimes physically. It's not really that complicated: just have a lot of sleep, drink a lot of water and rest as much as you work.”
What cause is closest to your heart?: 
“I want to educate kids around the world about the freedom that life has to offer outside of society's perspective. Me and almost every other DJ and everyone else who's out there enjoying dance festivals and parties, we are the example that you can have an amazing life outside of society's limitations.”
Which club would you like to bring back from the dead?: 
“The little club in Scotland, The Arches. I heard it recently closed down, that sucked. That was an exemplary club for dance and underground music. That was a real passionate thing.”
Why aren’t there more women in the Top 100 DJs poll?: 
“Dance music is everything but sexist, so if there aren't enough girls in the DJ Mag Top 100, that's probably because girls aren't trying hard enough.”
What do you think of DJs who use ghost producers?: 
“If you get a ghost producer and you're open about it, that's fine. But when you try and hide it and act like you do know what you're doing, that's kind of stupid.”

Poll 2015: David Guetta

6
David Guetta
Up
1

It's not easy tracking down David Guetta for his Top 100 DJs interview this year. It's not that he's fallen out of love with the poll that crowned him No.1 DJ in 2012 — we cannot imagine Mr Guetta has eaten a single sour grape his entire life — or that he's too busy or can't be bothered.

No, David currently has a far graver issue on his mind. In September of this year, his production manager (ex-Cream employee) Alan Green passed away tragically. “Respects to him and love to his family; he helped change the game and built #teamguetta which continues in his memory. RIP mate,” he eventually tells DJ Mag in an email.

 All this aside, life is still hectic for the king of EDM/pop. Since dropping his last artist album 'Listen' last November (which hit No.1 on iTunes in 75 countries) — “I try to balance the hits with club beats, so have been releasing them too,” he says —

he's done a three-month residency in Vegas (XS and Encore Beach Club), curated parties in Ibiza (Ushuaia and Pacha) and toured Europe and South America, where he sold out arenas in Germany and Brazil, before returning home for three months.

Not forgetting, of course, Ultra (Miami and Japan)... the usual, yes, then David? “OMG. Where didn’t I play?” he adds. “This year live has been the best yet.”

In 2016, we can expect more of the same from Camp Guetta — “more tours, more music,” he says — but most notable is his appointment by UEFA as official musical ambassador for Euro 2016 in France. “I will be making the anthem and playing the opening party at the Eiffel Tower,” he adds. “Another wish coming true.”  

Questions Top100 DJs 2015 - Jon Dommett - 2015-11-10 12:22

What’s the most important skill a DJ should have?: 
“Reading the crowd, playing with them and producing great records.”
Is the future still bright for EDM?: 
“Over the years, I have played funk, disco, house, hip-hop, techno, electro and EDM. It doesn’t matter what you call it, people are always going to want to dance.”
Does the constant travelling and DJ lifestyle ever take its toll on you mentally?: 
“Being a DJ is a dream; but it’s not always an easy life. I love feeling free, but any human needs roots, so sometimes it’s difficult. On an exhausted day, if I have to pack my suitcase one more time, I feel like I want to throw it out of the window. Once you get to the show and see the crowd, all that is forgotten. I chose this life, so I’m not complaining. Just being honest.”
What cause is closest to your heart?: 
“UNICEF. I’ve worked with the UN Humanitarian team and UNICEF for the past three years. It’s important and humbling for me to give back and lend my voice and social reach to people who are on the ground during natural disasters, war and famine. They know what to do; how best to help those in need. My part is just to share their message.”
Which club would you like to bring back from the dead?: 
“Turnmills! When I was new to London, I would play this sweatbox until the sun came up. So much energy, passion and hedonism. You wouldn’t know it was daylight though until you climbed the stairs and went outside. It was dark, literally underground. Like a secret society getting lost in a musical time-warp.”
Why aren’t there more women in the Top 100 DJs poll?: 
“I don’t do the voting, so I don’t know! There are some amazingly talented female DJs killing it — Maya Jane Coles... Annie Mac is an education to millions. Many more. Great to see my friends NERVO smashing it. They wrote 'When Love Takes Over' with me and put in the graft. They are super-talented DJs; not because they are girls.”
What do you think of DJs who use ghost producers?: 
“There’s a big difference between having 'ghost producers' or working as a team. It’s totally cool to work as a team and everyone should be credited. And paid. Bit like being in a band.”

Poll 2015: Major Lazer

54
Major Lazer
Major Lazer
Major Lazer
New Entry
0

While at one time Major Lazer seemed destined to be a Diplo side-project devoted to futuristic versions of Jamaican dancehall, made alongside UK producer Switch, it’s become very much the Mad Decent founder’s primary concern these days.

Three albums deep, the most recent of which ‘Peace Is The Mission’ dropped this year, Major Lazer may have lost Switch along the way but have since become a fully-fledged band, Jillionaire and Walshy Fire now permanent fixtures.

Diplo’s restless inquisitiveness has seen him explore many forms of the world’s electronic music, and similarly the sound of Major Lazer has expanded in recent times to take in fizzy EDM, more contemplative sounds as on the quietly anthemic ‘Get Free’, and the pure pop of ‘Lean On’ with DJ Snake and MØ, lifted from the new record ‘Peace Is The Mission’.

That record also has guest spots from mainstream chart-pop singers like Ellie Goulding and Ariana Grande, as well as former Clipse MC Pusha T. Clearly on a creative run, Major Lazer have already suggested that 2015 might yield a second release with the title ‘Music Is The Weapon’. 

The fact the band have hit the Top 100 in addition to separate showings from bossman Diplo and also Jack U, his duo with Skrillex, suggests that they’ve become a hugely popular entity in their own right. Diplo might generate headlines for his controversial comments, but Major Lazer have clearly got it going on. 

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

Style: 
Dancehall mixed with EDM, pop and bass music.

From: 
Los Angeles, California

Poll 2015: Alok

44
Alok
alok
alok
New Entry
0

Alok is a poster boy for Brazil's love of deep mid-tempo forms of house and techno — albeit with a pop twist. It's a subcultural penchant often outshone by the garish lights of EDM. 

Son of the founders of Universo Paralello, a huge dance festival set within the Brazilian mountains 15 years ago, electronic music exists in Alok's DNA. And in 2015, there's a sense his life-long aspirations are finally getting fulfilled. A main stage set at TomorrowWorld (US) and sets at festivals in Germany, Las Vegas and Portugal reflect a DJ taking things global, while his record label Up Club is helping to cultivate local talent. He has Alok to offer! (Sorry...)

Questions Top100 DJs 2015 - Jon Dommett - 2015-11-16 10:36

Style: 
“Techno/electro/deep.”
Best known for: 
“Brazilian mid-range bass techno (new design).”
Tune of the year: 
“Alok & Dazzo 'Winter Play feat. Ellie Ka'.”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2015: 
“Jeremy Olander.”
What’s the most important skill a DJ should have?: 
“To be able to read the dancefloor and be in sync with the crowd’s flow.”
Is the future still bright for EDM?: 
“Electronic music is full of surprises these days... it’s a very unpredictable area and the market is fed up with repetitive and tiring formulas.”
Does the constant travelling and DJ lifestyle ever take its toll on you mentally?: 
“Long flights, delays, being everywhere but never being able to be home makes me really tired and sometimes physically and mentally drained. However, all the effort becomes worth it when you’re out there doing what you love.”
What cause is closest to your heart?: 
“Giving and caring for the universe is something that not only makes us receive back and learn, but also allows us to achieve knowledge and wisdom.”
Which club would you like to bring back from the dead?: 
“There was this club called Fiction, located in Goiania, in my hometown. I played since the first days until its end. It would be great to re-live those moments.”
Why aren’t there more women in the Top 100 DJs poll?: 
“There are a lot of great and remarkable female DJs/producers out there. Every year they seem to get better at what they do. It is just a matter of time.”
What do you think of DJs who use ghost producers?: 
“I think that it is the same as lying to yourself... and one day or another the truth comes out. We should never outsource our dreams!”

Poll 2015: Steve Angello

31
Steve Angello
steve angello
steve angello
Down
5

Flying solo and loving it, former Swedish House Mafia man Steve Angello has mostly positive things to say about the state of the scene as he sees it. He’s particularly glad of the mainstream’s shift away from panel-beating big room sounds towards something more rhythmic.


“The whole movement right now is shifting in the right direction — which makes me happy,” Steve says. “Loads of new stuff is getting played, and yes, I am trying to play more groovy house stuff.”

Steve’s had a big year, crowned by the release of his three-years-in-gestation ‘WILD YOUTH’ long-player, but he’s also remixed electronic music legend Jean Michel Jarre and M83’s ‘Glory’, rinsed out Las Vegas club Omnia on a regular basis, and played everywhere from Green Valley in Brazil to Creamfields in the UK and Ultra Europe in Croatia. Leaving SHM has clearly done him no harm. 

Questions Top100 DJs 2015 - Jon Dommett - 2015-11-13 10:57

Style: 
“Dance music.”
Best known for: 
“Being the only Steve Angello out there.”
From: 
Stockholm, Sweden
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2015: 
“Kölsch.”
What’s the most important skill a DJ should have?: 
“Know the crowd, adapt, tell a story.”
Is the future still bright for EDM?: 
“It depends how you define ‘EDM’. If you mean the big room sound, I would probably say that it's moving away from that completely.”
Does the constant travelling and DJ lifestyle ever take its toll on you mentally?: 
“Not really, egos do.”
What cause is closest to your heart?: 
“Anything that has to do with kids.”
Which club would you like to bring back from the dead?: 
“Studio 54, but I’d rather bring back the era.”
Why aren’t there more women in the Top 100 DJs poll?: 
“Dudes spend more money on marketing.”
What do you think of DJs who use ghost producers?: 
“I think it's lazy, but music is not the only profession that has lazy people.”

Poll 2015: Don Diablo

30
Don Diablo
don diablo
don diablo
Up
52

The dawn of future house in 2014 heralded a new age for EDM, it seemed. It was the sound to nudge the continuum away from garish stadium noise towards the (relatively) deeper sound of classic house reimagined through EDM eyes, they said.

A slew of names such as Tchami, Oliver Heldens and Holland's Don Diablo were found carrying the torch, and it felt (at least) as if 2015 was going to be the year that the nubile, cool-cat friendly sound of future house would usurp the EDM juggernaut. 

And thus, after polling at 82 last year, Don Diablo is this year's Highest Climber. However, after remixing Rudimental, Ed Sheeran and Tiësto & KSHMR as well as teaming up with Khrebto to borrow Candi Staton's 'You've Got The Love' this year, it's not just Don's progressive approach to EDM that you kids love him for — it's his ear for an infectious pop hook! 

Questions Top100 DJs 2015 - Jon Dommett - 2015-11-13 10:55

Style: 
“Electronic music.”
Best known for: 
“Living in a HEXAGON-shaped universe.”
Tune of the year: 
“Major Lazer & DJ Snake feat. MO 'Lean On'.”
From: 
The Netherlands
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2015: 
“Galantis.”
What’s the most important skill a DJ should have?: 
“You have to be able to connect with the audience under any given circumstances.”
Is the future still bright for EDM?: 
“People are exploring other options which is a very natural development, there is a lot of great music out there.”
Does the constant travelling and DJ lifestyle ever take its toll on you mentally?: 
“It definitely does, but you have to find a way to push your boundaries and try to survive on pure adrenaline. The absence of a private life is probably the biggest struggle.”
What cause is closest to your heart?: 
“I lost my father to cancer, so I have been working closely with several cancer charities the last two years to raise money for research and education.”
Which club would you like to bring back from the dead?: 
“Fight Club.”
Why aren’t there more women in the Top 100 DJs poll?: 
“Because women are better dancers than men, they don't need to hide behind the decks.”
What do you think of DJs who use ghost producers?: 
“I think they are missing out. Rocking a big rave is an amazing experience, but there is no better feeling in the world than creating your own music in the studio.”

Poll 2015: Fedde Le Grand

35
Fedde Le Grand
fedde le grand
fedde le grand
Stay
0

“I’ve been incredibly lucky to have been able to make a career out of music,” Fedde Le Grand tells us, humbly. “It has taken me around the world and allowed me to showcase my music to thousands.” 
Best known for catchy dance track 'Put Your Hands Up 4 Detroit', Fedde Le Grand is currently in the studio crafting a brand new set of chart-toppers — his new LP is out early next year. But that's not all. “Next year I’m bringing my run of GRAND shows back, this time bigger and better,” he tells DJ Mag. “And I've got some really amazing new tracks, so couldn’t be happier!” 
Looks like it's smiles all round from Fedde then, roll on 2016! 

Questions Top100 DJs 2015 - Jon Dommett - 2015-11-13 12:15

Style: 
“House.”
Best known for: 
“'Put Your Hand Up 4 Detroit'.”
Tune of the year: 
“Fedde Le Grand 'Cinematic feat. Denny White'.”
From: 
Utrecht, Holland
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2015: 
“It’s not really a breakthrough but Chris Lake, he has totally found his sound again.”
What’s the most important skill a DJ should have?: 
“The ability to turn up to any venue, in any part of the world, day or night, and play a set that excites.”
Is the future still bright for EDM?: 
“Music is always in a constant state of flux. I don’t think EDM is any different, and will certainly go through waves of popularity.”
Does the constant travelling and DJ lifestyle ever take its toll on you mentally?: 
“Being on the road constantly can become pretty exhausting, but DJs in my position should never complain.”
What cause is closest to your heart?: 
“I have been a big supporter of Dance For Life over the years, and I also support a dyslexia foundation.”
Which club would you like to bring back from the dead?: 
“The Roxy in Amsterdam!”
Why aren’t there more women in the Top 100 DJs poll?: 
“I think DJing has historically been a very male dominated area of music, but this is perpetuated by the idea that there aren’t many female DJs — but there are! I think its up to promoters to book them, for journalists to cover them, and for people to buy their tracks.”
What do you think of DJs who use ghost producers?: 
“I think it's a weird phenomenon. If I read a book of my favourite writer, I would feel cheated to find out that someone else wrote it. You're a fan of someone's work, not of their skill to know where to hire the right people. I think it’s fine to have help or collaborate, but doing nothing or just making a remark on the final product seems weird to me.”

Poll 2015: Jack U

45
Jack U
jack u
jack u
New Entry
0

What do you get when you lock Skrillex and Diplo in a studio together? A wildly successful bass child, apparently. Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock — with a very good set of earplugs — you’ve probably heard at least one of their productions as the duo Jack Ü, whether you wanted to or not.

Their debut ten-track LP, 'Skrillex & Diplo Present Jack Ü', was a co-release between their respective OWSLA and Mad Decent labels that smashed the streams earlier this year, peaking at the #1 spot on Billboard’s US Dance/Electronic Albums chart.

Jack Ü’s second single release off the album, a hit collab with boy wonder Justin Bieber titled ‘Where Are Ü Now’, propelled them into the iPods of pre-teens and parents alike... and, predictably, launched a fair amount of fury within the electronic dance music world.

Catchy though the song may be, making nice with one of the most loathed visitors to the island of Ibiza in the past decade — after the Kardashians, obviously — is bad enough, but making music with him is a slippery slope to navigate. Unless you’re Skrillex or Diplo, of course.

Then, you can chalk it up to Jack Ü and tell the haters to jack off after your track goes platinum in the US. Which it did. It also gave both Diplo and Skrillex their first top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100… and the Biebs his seventh.

ERIN SHARONI

Poll 2015: Nervo

24
Nervo
nervo
nervo
Down
3

Australian sisters NERVO are big news. While some have questioned the lack of women in the Top 100 DJs poll, these DJ and production siblings have consistently placed in the upper reaches. Starting out as songwriters for everyone from Britney Spears to Kelly Rowland and Armin van Buuren, they’ve a natural knack for well-placed hooks, which pepper their productions.

In July 2015, they finally released their debut album ‘Collateral’, which features music royalty of the calibre of Chic’s Nile Rodgers and Kylie Minogue just for starters.

And while a clever pop sensibility is evident in their style, they’re not afraid of getting a little deeper musically, throwing in some groovier house during their DJ sets, which are clearly in high demand. They’ll play London, Las Vegas, Zurich and Sao Paulo before the year is out. 

Questions Top100 DJs 2015 - Jon Dommett - 2015-11-13 10:16

Style: 
“Big room house.”
Best known for: 
“Our singles 'Like Home', ‘Reason', 'Hold On' and ‘Revolution'. Also known for our radio show NERVONation, which airs weekly in over 70 countries.”
Tune of the year: 
“Major Lazer & DJ Snake ‘Lean On’ (feat MØ).”
From: 
“Melbourne — now based in London, LA, and Ibiza.”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2015: 
“Galantis.”
What’s the most important skill a DJ should have?: 
“To make good tunes and to read the crowd.”
Is the future still bright for EDM?: 
“Yes. We have just come off a European summer tour where all of our gigs were incredible and better than ever.”
Does the constant travelling and DJ lifestyle ever take its toll on you mentally?: 
“We always have each other, so we are never lonely. We think this is a massive bonus and keeps us enjoying life on the road.”
What cause is closest to your heart?: 
“Definitely breast cancer. Our mum was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, so it is very close to our hearts. So much so that we are working on some super-exciting fund-raising projects with Fuck Cancer, launching in October this year.”
Which club would you like to bring back from the dead?: 
“Turnmills in London… oh, and the open air Space terrace in Ibiza.”
Why aren’t there more women in the Top 100 DJs poll?: 
“There are less women DJs, so the odds are against us.”
What do you think of DJs who use ghost producers?: 
“We started off as ghostwriters and used this as a platform to launch our own careers when the time was right for us to become artists. We are all for collaborating but there has to come a point in time when the ghost producer gets their glory (if they want this).”

Poll 2015: Umek

70
Umek
umek
umek
Up
5

When he first emerged in the mid-’90s, Umek was associated with the loop techno sound. Nowadays he’s far more visible as a key resident at Carl Cox’s Space Ibiza Revolution parties, and as a headliner at countless gigs and festivals across the world.

Accordingly, there’s a house music timbre to his sets nowadays. Still, Umek remains an anomaly in the Top 100, one of the last bastions standing strong against the EDM tide.

He claims he’s returned to his techno roots this year. “I’ve really enjoyed coming back to my own 1605 label after a while, re-launching my classic aliases Zeta Reticula (electro-infused techno; check out ‘Fonon’) and Alba Patera (techno) along the way. Maybe that wasn’t so obvious but I’m really enjoying exploring electro and proper techno realms right now.”

He’s enjoyed some big back-to-back sets with Spanish selector Coyu in 2015 too, at Ultra Europe and in Ibiza at Join The Revolution, and “a never-ending world tour with approximately a hundred gigs, including some top class clubs and festivals in Europe and the USA”. 

BEN MURPHY

Questions Top100 DJs 2015 - Jon Dommett - 2015-11-16 14:27

Style: 
“Not much change there since previous years!”
Best known for: 
“Being a big sneaker addict.”
Tune of the year: 
“Kölsch feat Gregor Schwellenbach ‘Talbot’.”
From: 
Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2015: 
“Dosem.”
What’s the most important skill a DJ should have?: 
“Being capable of selecting good music and presenting it in a way that people feel excited about it.”
Is the future still bright for EDM?: 
“Absolutely!”
Does the constant travelling and DJ lifestyle ever take its toll on you mentally?: 
“Yes, especially during winter when I get less sunlight. I have quite an aerophobia that I’ve luckily learned to cope with, but it’s still very stressful for me flying around.”
What cause is closest to your heart?: 
“Right now we’re gathering money and means for refugees from Syria, the Middle East and Africa that are coming to Europe in large numbers.”
Which club would you like to bring back from the dead?: 
“I always had a good time performing at Palazzo in Bingen, Germany and the old Tresor club in Berlin.”
Why aren’t there more women in the Top 100 DJs poll?: 
“It looks like we boys are still more skilful in this business, though I would expect at least some of the ladies such as Nina Kraviz to be part of the DJ Top 100 list in future.”
What do you think of DJs who use ghost producers?: 
“This is a reflection of the fact that DJs are being booked not for their DJ skills but the ability to produce and promote hit songs.”

Pages