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Poll 2016: Deadmau5

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2016 has been vintage Deadmau5 — he got into numerous Twitter spats with the likes of Skrillex, Diplo and Zedd, previewed some new material from his as-yet unnamed new album, unveiled a brand-new stage show, and we’re only in October. Twitter beefs aside, the outspoken producer is a trailblazer. His coffee run video series was pretty much the blueprint for James Corden’s ridiculously popular carpool karaoke, he was one of the first producers to utilise streaming service Twitch to bring his fans closer to him and his music, and his stage shows are still some of the most innovative in the business.

This month, Deadmau5 also celebrated the 100th release of his Mau5trap imprint with a remixes package for his legendary track ‘Strobe’, which featured reworks from the likes of Feed Me, Com Truise, Dimension, Lane 8, ATTLAS and from Deadmau5 himself. Elsewhere, the Canada-based producer played some one-off b2b DJ shows with Eric Prydz, with both producers hinting at possible collaborations in the near future.

2016, though, has all been about Deadmau5’s return to the stage, and that’s where he’s at his most impressive and inventive. His new Cube show — which was months in the planning and cost hundreds of thousands to create — saw the Mau5 focusing on what he can control instead of venting at others on social media. Whatever you think about Deadmau5, there’s no denying he's made an impact; whether it’s his music, the way he utilises technology, or saying what everyone is thinking — he's a hugely entertaining character, and the dance world would be a whole lot more boring without him. And with an album in the offing, we might be seeing more of the Deadmau5 we all know and love instead of his somewhat insufferable online persona. ANDREW RAFTER

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Euan McGraw - 2016-10-14 14:41

Poll 2016: Steve Angello

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After disbanding the Swedish House Mafia and going solo, Steve Angello has been too busy trying to save the world to answer his Top 100 questions this year, it appears.

At least that's what he suggested in a recent tweet. “For next year can we please use our voices to change the world rather than ask people to vote for a magazine hot list,” he quipped (without a question mark).

OK, so, DJ Mag would — not for one second — deny the sorry state of the world today, and, believe us, Steve, we share your despair and disdain at a world where Donald Trump could be considered the next leader of the so-called free and democratic world. Or, here in the UK, where 1% of the richest own as much as the poorest 55% of the population, for example. But, what we would ask, however, is: 'What on Earth does our DJ poll have to do with it?'

Indeed, the dance music world is now huge, correct, and a unified voice could do a lot to affect opinion and make a difference, but accusing the Top 100 poll of somehow interrupting or detracting from that sorta pursuit kinda misses the point — don't you think? Dance music is about escaping the bleak, darkness of the world, after all.

Anyway, as you've guessed, Angello — for the first time ever — ignored us when we asked him about the Top 100 this year... but what we can tell you is that since last year he's managed to put out a monster pop/EDM crossover hit featuring Aussie electroclash band The Presets ('Remember'), released album 'Wild Youth' on his Size imprint and toured all over the globe — all while trying to save the world. What a guy! ADAM SAVILLE

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Euan McGraw - 2016-10-14 14:24

Poll 2016: Nicky Romero

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It’s been a prolific 2016 for Nicky Romero. He’s released five singles through his Protocol imprint already, including a diversion into day-glo disco with Chic legend Nile Rodgers, ‘Future Funk’, a new sound for the erstwhile EDM guru.

“We were in a studio session together with David Guetta,” Nicky remembers. “Nile had just got his guitar back from repair and was testing it out, and I heard this riff he was doing, recorded it and built a melody around that. We had the start of ‘Future Funk’. It was a great honour and privilege to work with such a legend and something I’ll never forget.”
He’s also continued to put his studio wizardry to work in other areas, creating music production plug-ins to aid the next generation of dance music-makers, like Kick2.

“It’s something that I have done for several years and is really another way of giving back to my fans,” he tells DJ Mag. “I hope that people get the same enjoyment out of using it that I do!”
BEN MURPHY

What have been the new frontiers for you this year? 

“I’ve been working with some amazing musicians outside of the usual dance music sphere such as Nile Rodgers, The Script and Colton Avery, and it’s been great to get creative with them.”

Is electronic music taken seriously enough as an art-form?

“Electronic music is everywhere now. In some ways that means it must be being taken seriously, but on the other hand there’s also a tendency to be more critical of stuff once it becomes popular.”

If you had to switch your style to another genre, what would it be?

“Maybe I would go for something completely different and compose scores for films and television.”

As a fan, what is the top price you would pay to see yourself DJ?

“I'm priceless!”

What can be done to prevent drug-related deaths at dance music events?

“I don’t think I have enough knowledge to know what the right answer is, other than for people to continue to raise awareness and encourage fans to be responsible.”

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Euan McGraw - 2016-10-14 14:17

Poll 2016: Marshmello

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In just over a year, Marshmello has gone from bedroom unknown to worldwide star. It was only March 2015 that he uploaded his first song ‘WaVeZ’ to Soundcloud, but it soon turned heads with its popping trap production, wild sub-bass and cut-up vocal samples. More tracks followed and continued to fuse so-called future bass and future house with prog and trap, and eventually maximalist dance star Skrillex re-posted one of them on his SoundCloud page — from then on, Marshmello has been in sharp ascendency. 

January this year brought a self-released debut album, ‘Joytime’, which packed a real punch across ten tracks on his own Joytime Collective label. It immediately climbed up the iTunes charts and spawned singles ‘Keep It Mello’ with rapper Omar LinX and ‘Want U 2’. High-profile headline slots at festivals around the States ensued, with one appearance at Electric Daisy Carnival seeing Tiesto pretend to unveil himself, live on stage, as the then-unknown Marshmello. 

It was later disregarded as a publicity stunt when the two were photographed — both wearing helmets — back-stage. Only recently did the world finally work out who Marshmello really was when Skrillex unwittingly gave up his identity via a post on social media. 

We now know the project to be the work of American DJ Chris Comstock, also known as Dotcom. His preference for anonymity probably explains why “the rest of the questions aren’t really questions we’d like to answer” when asked by DJ Mag for comment on the last year. What we do know, thanks to a Twitter announcement, is that Marshmello will play the Ritual Tour and will play in several countries including the United States, China, South Korea, India and Paraguay between now and the end of January next year. KRISTAN CARYL

 

 

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Euan McGraw - 2016-10-14 13:57

Poll 2016: Swanky Tunes

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2016 was the year that Russian trio Swanky Tunes swept the airwaves and picked up platinum discs for sales in their native country. They were a near-constant presence on radio stations across Eastern Europe and stayed at No.1 for four weeks on the Shazam chart with their remix of current album hit ‘Lost On You Together’ with Going Deeper. As well as that, they also turned out some headline performances at Tomorrowland, Electrobeach and a prime slot at biggest Russian dance festival, Alfa Future People.

“The more we produce, the more songs and tracks from different genres we prefer to listen to,” says the group made up of Vadim Shpak, Dmitry Burykin and Stanislav Zaytsev. “It helps to diversify our sound and give us interesting ideas we never had before. We wouldn’t say it is a revolution, but definitely an evolution of our style.”

They first formed in 1998 and own the label Showland — they put out their own weekly podcast of the same name. When asked how they keep it together on tour, the group replies that “as much as we can, we try to keep control of what we eat and how long we sleep, and we also go to a gym or swimming pool when we can.”

Next year they are stepping it up once more by taking their Showland radio show on tour to reach more countries, and are also about to present some new remixes of “legendary material that everyone knows”. DAVE JENKINS

What have been the new frontiers for you this year? “We learned how to match the level of a popular artist in terms of production for our new tracks, studio co-writing with top vocalists and songwriters, and of course production of videos that now can compete with any top dog elsewhere in the world.”

Is electronic music taken seriously enough as an art-form?

“Some genres are definitely an art-form now.”

What’s the best new bit of DJ/production technology, and why?

“Pioneer CDJ and DJM NEXUS 2 series. It’s a higher state of DJ technologies at the moment.”

If you had to switch your style to another genre, what would it be?

“We always wanted to try ourselves in a “less dance music” setting, to create something new.”

As a fan, what is the top price you would pay to see yourself DJ?

“We’d ask to put us on a guest list and then buy a box of champagne to celebrate such an epic moment.”

What can be done to prevent drug-related deaths at dance music events?

“Drug victims is really a serious problem in the industry. First of all, parents have to take care of their kids and explain what they shouldn’t do. Problems, especially problems coming from the streets, need to be solved by family.”

How can we increase diversity in dance music?

“Firstly, It’s up to producers and their desire to change music — giving something new to people. And second, labels must have fresh thinking and open-minded teams.”

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Euan McGraw - 2016-10-14 13:53

Poll 2016: Kygo

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Norwegian wunderkind Kygo is truly a unique proposition. He’s scaled the drop-hungry electronic world over the last fours year with his heady blend of tropical house, deep house and downtempo productions instead of one-dimensional EDM bangers.

2016 saw Kyrre Gørvell-Dahll release his platinum-selling debut album, ‘Cloud Nine’, too. His debut long-play spawned some six singles. The latest — ‘Carry Me’, featuring vocals from Julia Michaels — saw Kygo perform it live during this year’s Olympics closing ceremony in Brazil to a worldwide audience in the billions. Before the ceremony, Kygo aptly described this monumental achievement as “the biggest performance of my life”.

He’s also a keen philanthropist, too — he apparently donated the entire profit ($50,000) from one of his concerts to the Rafto Foundation to support LGBT rights in Uganda. “Everyone should be allowed to live openly with their sexuality and the opinions they have,” explained the DJ/producer. After the donation he entered into a partnership with the foundation in order to support Frank Mugisha, a leading activist in Uganda, and his work. Kygo’s generous donation was used to aid activists in purchasing homes, because for many LGBT individuals living in Uganda, their leases are terminated once their sexual orientation is known. “I’m in a situation where I have the opportunity to help now,” he says, humbly, “and will therefore help as much as possible.” 

Kygo has achieved all this at the tender age of just 25. Which really puts his success and philanthropy into perspective. His ability to combine traditional songwriting with day-glo tropical flavours — whilst still drawing in crowds in their thousands for headline DJ shows — means that he is quite literally in a league of his own, with a style he can call his own. All this has propelled him to become one the world’s most successful and revered tropical house DJs. ANDREW RAFTER

 

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Euan McGraw - 2016-10-14 13:46

Poll 2016: DVBBS

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DVBBS be good to us: long-haired brothers van den Hoef make their third consecutive appearance in the Top 100 after another high-profile year in the big league they’ve called home since their breakthrough 2013 smash, ‘Tsunami’.

Studio-wise, 2016 has been one of their most interesting years so far musically. Continuing their consistently prolific output, they seem to have explored further into multi-genre territories with an even keener sense of variety and breadth than previous years. Kicking off 2016 with the big room balladry of the Dante Leon-fronted ‘Angel’, the Toronto duo proceeded to run the electronic gamut with big hits delivered by Dutch giants Spinnin’… The blissed-out beats and Shaun Frank’s delicate vocals on ‘La La Land’, the unabashed cinematic narrative and sly breakbeat twist of their MOTi collaboration ‘Switch’, the white knuckle trap dynamics, dramatic drop and boundary-blurring switches of ‘24K’, and the emotion-soaked future house cut ‘Ur On My Mind’ all join the dots between EDM, trap, electro and future house. 

 DVBBS continue to traverse the globe’s most prominent main stages — from the legendary Arcadia spider in Bangkok square to Tomorrowland to Creamfields to one of their biggest crowds to date at the Veld Festival on their own Toronto stomping ground. Not shy of a few explosive appearances in Ibiza — both Amnesia and Ushuaia — DVBBS have been a dominant force in mainstream dance music throughout the year. With a high-profile collaboration with Steve Aoki and 2 Chainz already locked in the chamber, the year certainly isn’t over for the party-loving brothers. DAVE JENKINS

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Euan McGraw - 2016-10-14 13:39

Poll 2016: Diplo

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It should be no surprise to see this superstar producer, DJ and Mad Decent head honcho (real name Thomas Wesley Pentz) in the Top 100. He’s not only graced it in the past, but 2016 has been a banner year for the tastemaker — even by Diplo standards.

By now we’re all familiar with the genre-bending artist with a spidey sense for what sounds are going to be the next big thing. Through label Mad Decent (and through his own productions), Dip has, over the years, introduced global sounds from funk carioca to dancehall to America through label Mad Decent and his own endeavors (both solo and with groups Major Lazer and Jack Ü).

It’s hard to overstate his impact on dance culture, and even harder to rifle through his resume’s highlights. After all, this is the man who not only co-produced two tracks on Beyoncé’s groundbreaking ‘Lemonade’ album, but has also collaborated with Justin Bieber on multiple occasions (including 2016’s ‘Cold Water’), brought a Major Lazer animated series to Cartoon Network and introduced NoLa bounce to the masses with church of twerk anthem ‘Express Yourself.’
Add to this the Mad Decent touring parties, radio shows on BBC Radio 1 and Apple Music and shopping a Voice-like reality show to networks… whew… when does he sleep? ERIN SHARONI

 

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Euan McGraw - 2016-10-14 13:36

Poll 2016: Alesso

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Alessandro ‘Alesso’ Lindblad continues to do no wrong. 2015 was a big year for the 25-year-old EDM golden boy as Def Jam released his debut album ‘Forever’, an LP that charted across the world hitting the top 5 in his native Sweden and the top 30 in both the UK and US. Rather than churn out hit after hit from the album, Alesso has spent this year with a much more selective range of releases and an interesting approach: he’s put out the same song twice! 

‘I Wanna Know’ was originally released in April with Norwegian pop duo Nico & Vinz, peppering the early summer with its gentle guitars and soulful vocals. It then reappeared last month with a female vocal from Jolin Tsai, one of Asia’s most celebrated pop stars who’s often compared to Madonna for her encouragement of dance music in the continent’s mainstream pop market. While there’s little difference between the tracks stylistically (besides the vocals themselves), this unique feat alone expresses how global Alesso’s reputation and fan-base are… Something which is only set to amplify since the announcement of a forthcoming single ‘Years’ with the K-pop icon Chen. 

Never one to fly too far from the peak-time signature that he made his name with, Alesso has also delivered two notable remixes: a collaborative festival hair-raiser remix of ‘All I Know’ and, last month, a steamy beat-infused take on Jolin Tsai’s ‘Play’ that will continue to cement his headline status on both sides of the Pacific.   

With this less-is-more release rate, Alesso has been able to commit to one of his busiest touring years in his short-but-ridiculously successful career so far: year-defining headline shows from Creamfields to Ultra Singapore and the coveted closing slot of the International Music Summit Asia last month are just some of the highlights of the year when Alesso took his melodic EDM fusion even further around the world than ever before. DAVE JENKINS

 

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Euan McGraw - 2016-10-14 13:24

Poll 2016: Ummet Ozcan

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Ambitious genre-blender Ummet Ozcan returns to the Top 100 for his fourth year running after another white-knuckle year of international festivals, boundary-blurring productions and premiership collaborations.

Prominence on some of this summer’s biggest festival line-ups such as Tomorrowland, Creamfields, Electric Zoo and 5tardium, and regular appearances at the likes of Amnesia Ibiza, back-up the Dutch-born Turk’s global DJ profile. But it’s his seemingly constant slew of productions that have really boosted his stock this year. 

Building on his established techno-minded trance signature, this year has seen him apply more bold, creative gestures than ever before as strong shades of electro, breakbeat, bass house and cinematic scores appear within his high-octane constructions. 

‘Wickerman’ and ‘Megatron’ are both prime examples of this ever-developing passion for fusion as the former nods deftly at the bass world while maintaining a strong party tone and the latter is a straight-up orchestral spine-melter designed for the 10,000+ crowds he regularly plays to. 

Major league collaborations have also been a consistent theme this year: ‘What You’re Waiting For’ saw him team up with Tiesto for a peak-time track laced with a unique strand of funk, while the marching euphoria-explosion ‘Melody’ saw him team up with Dimitri Vegas, Like Mike and Steve Aoki. Last year’s ‘Hum’ (which Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike re-licked last year) also went gold this summer. As more productions continue to land almost every month, Ummet is on something of a roll right now. DAVE JENKINS

What have been the new frontiers for you this year? 

Being more involved in producing my music videos.

Is electronic music taken seriously enough as an art-form?  

Yes, because it is an undeniable movement. I am pretty sure that there are many so-called established artists who will have a different opinion about electronic music, though... 

What’s the best new bit of DJ/production technology, and why? 

Nothing revolutionary this year, so I’m working on my own producers gear right now.

If you had to switch your style to another genre, what would it be? 

 I love to make soundscapes and special FX and sounds for film or games, so I guess it would be something like that.

As a fan, what is the top price you would pay to see yourself DJ? 

That would implicate that there is another me and I am cloned! That would definitely come in handy! 

What can be done to prevent drug-related deaths at dance music events? 

In The Netherlands they provide good public information to create awareness and even help you to do a safety check on the drugs. It’s a very liberal approach which prevents a lot of casualties and helps a big deal. 

How can we increase diversity in dance music? 

Dance music is already so diverse, you can get anything you like if you know where to find it. It’s all out there…

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Euan McGraw - 2016-10-14 13:18

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