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Poll 2015: Danny Avila

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Danny Avila
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Danny Avila is a DJ who proves that age really is just a number. Having first whet his appetite for dance music in Marbella, at the club his father's friends owned, it wasn't until he suffered a wakeboarding accident aged 14 that he truly had time to sit down and learn his craft.

Now, having racked up close to 80k Instagram followers, he treks relentlessly round the world’s biggest clubs, and the 20-year old explains he's had “a year of innovations and lots of moments of joy! I feel blessed to have had the chance to visit so many countries.”

It was sneaking into a Fedde Le Grande show in ‘09 that made him understand how to really ‘kill it’ in a club, and at that point Danny upped sticks to Madrid.

One of the plaudits he’s earned since is the title of Hakkasan's youngest-ever resident, as well as gaining residencies in Las Vegas and Pacha Barcelona, and this is Danny’s first entry into the Top 100.

“Nothing is more nourishing than to celebrate along with your fans and to feel the rush that comes back from their energy onto the stage,” he gushes. “It’s been the most diverse year of my career so far, with my whole MORE concept coming to life where I take people on a journey through a vast variety of electronic music.”

Questions Top100 DJs 2015 - Jon Dommett - 2015-11-16 12:23

Style: 
“Electro house, deep and tech house.”
Best known for: 
“High-energy DJing in many genres.”
Tune of the year: 
“Eric Prydz ‘Opus’.”
From: 
Madrid
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2015: 
“Tujamo.”
What’s the most important skill a DJ should have?: 
“To be able to read the crowd and lead them to the best time they can imagine.”
Is the future still bright for EDM?: 
“I’ve never liked the word ‘EDM’. Electronic music is bigger than ever before, and it’s a great time to try out new stuff that might have been too experimental for crowds in the past.”
Does the constant travelling and DJ lifestyle ever take its toll on you mentally?: 
“Not really. I have been touring since I was 15. You can get used to it if you know how to spend your time efficiently while travelling.”
What cause is closest to your heart?: 
“There are a lot of homeless people in Madrid. When I’m there, I try to bring them food and something to cheer them up, though I always feel pretty helpless seeing so many of them.”
Which club would you like to bring back from the dead?: 
“Dreamers, Marbella. I had some of the best nights of my life there when I was 14.”
Why aren’t there more women in the Top 100 DJs poll?: 
“I think the profession of being a DJ is still led by men. So, in relation to the amount of female DJs in the world, there are much fewer DJanes in the Top 100.”
What do you think of DJs who use ghost producers?: 
“I think the original idea has to come from the artist himself. He has to be involved in the creative process. But there are great sound engineers that can help bring the track to the next level, which is a great thing.”

Poll 2015: Porter Robinson

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Inspired as much by video games as he is the sounds of Wolfgang Gartner, it's delightful how Porter Robinson has captured the imagination of the EDM community. Unlike the hoards of mindless big room-baiting pretenders jumping on the bandwagon, his attempt to genuinely craft something creative within the mainstream electronic world, for many at least, is a sound for sore ears.

Bursting onto the electro-house scene in 2010, he later became poster boy for a progressive wave of EDM with a series of huge electro hits, coining the term 'complextro' to describe an intricate approach to constructing tunes layered with multiple hooks and melodies. 

However, it wasn't until his second artist album, 'Worlds', last year that Porter Robinson really found his unique selling point. Veering away from the dancefloor in favour of a fluorescent, textured approach closer to left-of-field pop artists like Flume and Odesza, he found himself experimenting with syncopated beats and over-saturated soundscapes washed with a saccharine, artificial sheen, in a way that was not only accessible but utterly addictive.

'Flicker' — with its video depicting an 8-bit enhanced natural world — for instance, saw him playfully chopping up a J-Pop sample though scrambled frequencies, and the result was catchy enough to storm charts, while remaining edgy enough to win over hipsters.

Robinson wears his Daft Punk influences on his sleeve, and his music is as much a digital discovery as it is a representation of the computerized world we live in — hence his magnetism to the starry-eyed youth of today. Despite largely turning his back on clubland — he's now focusing on a live show rather than DJing — his continued appearance in the poll is a reminder of the continually expanding remit of EDM culture... which can only be a good thing.

ADAM SAVILLE 

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

Style: 
Electro
From: 
Chapel Hill, US

Poll 2015: Nicky Romero

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For Nicky Romero, 2015 was another typically hectic year. Playing at all the biggest festivals across the world, including Ultra Miami, Europe and Japan, at EDC Las Vegas and Tomorrowland in Brazil and Belgium, the DJ/producer still found time to drop the first installment in his new ‘Lighthouse’ trilogy of productions.

Nicky also knuckled down to get his Protocol label bubbling more than ever before.

“We’ve got some seriously great talent on our roster,” he says, “and we had our 50th release at the beginning of the summer. We’re also taking our Protocol nights around the world, and they’re always great fun. I’m so proud of everything that is coming out there.”

Questions Top100 DJs 2015 - Jon Dommett - 2015-10-20 16:34

Style: 
"Full-on energy.”
Best known for: 
“Lately, ‘Lighthouse’.”
Tune of the year: 
“Had a blast collaborating with Volt & State on ‘Warriors’.”
From: 
Amerongen, Holland
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2015: 
“Volt & State — they are mixing the official Protocol x ADE compilation. If you haven’t heard of them, you’re missing out!”
What’s the most important skill a DJ should have?: 
"The ability to connect with their crowd. The fans are more important than anything else, so it’s crucial that you can read what they want and give them the best time.”
Is the future still bright for EDM?: 
"Of course, but I think we are going to see a change. The dance music landscape is already changing and evolving, which is all part of the process.”
Does the constant travelling and DJ lifestyle ever take its toll on you mentally?: 
"Yes, absolutely. It can be hard switching time-zones and going from one gig to the next with next to no sleep. As a DJ, you want to be the very best you can be for each and every fan you play for.”
What cause is closest to your heart?: 
“I’m actually a worldwide ambassador for [voluntary work organization] 10,000 Hours and really admire what they do. One of the best aspects is that rather than just donate money, people are fully involved as they are contributing themselves and their time.”
Which club would you like to bring back from the dead?: 
“I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in saying I would love to bring back The Guvernment, Toronto. It was an amazing venue and it was a sad day when it closed just over a year ago.”
Why aren’t there more women in the Top 100 DJs poll?: 
No answer
What do you think of DJs who use ghost producers?: 
No answer

Poll 2015: Quintino

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The Dutch DJ, real name Quinten van den Berg, has climbed a further six places in the Top 100 DJs poll this year. “It really made me happy when I heard the news that I was in the Top 100 again,” he tells DJ Mag when we contact him for his interview. “Even though music speaks for itself, it’s great when it gets recognized.”

Signed to giant Dutch behemoth Spinnin', his latest release is a huge EDM update of the Nomad house classic 'Devotion', while earlier in the year he again teamed with his 'Epic' cohort Sandro Silva for 'Aftermath', a release supported by DV&LM, Hardwell, Garrix, Showtek et al.

“We always make sure that there is time enough in my schedule to be in the studio,” Quintino tells us. “And on the planes I sleep like a baby, so that is a good perk.”

He also says that he's had some great shows this year such as EDC and Ultra Korea, and is heading back Stateside for EDC Orlando in early November before returning for Electrowave in France later in the month. 

KIM O'CONNOR

Questions Top100 DJs 2015 - Jon Dommett - 2015-11-16 15:04

Style: 
“Dutch dance music.”
Best known for: 
“'Go Hard' and 'Epic'.”
Tune of the year: 
“Martin Solveig 'Intoxicated'.”
From: 
Holland
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2015: 
“MOTi — he’s definitely killing it!”
What’s the most important skill a DJ should have?: 
“Being able to read the crowd for optimal performance, and the combination of own music with a strong connection with the crowd is a winner!”
Is the future still bright for EDM?: 
“I don’t like to think about EDM, trap or deep house and I never did. It’s dance music that makes people wanna go out to festivals, party and listen on their phones. It can be everything.”
Does the constant travelling and DJ lifestyle ever take its toll on you mentally?: 
“No not really, we control our tours with management and agency and make sure everything is proper.”
What cause is closest to your heart?: 
“Karma! I believe if you do good, it comes back.”
Which club would you like to bring back from the dead?: 
“That’s a club in Glasgow called The Arches. I had the honour to play there before it closed. The energy in that venue was out of this world.”
Why aren’t there more women in the Top 100 DJs poll?: 
“No idea. There is a lot of talent, so I think it’s a matter of time. I think it also has to do with the fact that women are less likely to be interested in technology; basically, DJs are nerds who are figuring out software when they’re starting out. That’s more of a boys thing to do.”
What do you think of DJs who use ghost producers?: 
“I’m personally sort of against it. I mean, basically, you’re lying to the entire world about your work.”

Poll 2015: Da Tweekaz

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Da Tweekaz have had quite a year. The Norwegian duo, made up of Kenth Kvien and Marcus Nordli, have long wanted to DJ in the US and, after many years on the hardstyle circuit in Europe, they finally got their wish in June, playing at Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas. 

Back home, the size and stature of their bookings have also been growing. In the past year, the pair have appeared at Kings Of Hardstyle and Defqon.1 Festival. The latter was a dream come true for Kvien and Nordli, who tell us

After a prolific 2014, in which the pair released a song every month, Da Tweekaz have focused on honing and developing their sound. ‘Wodka’, released in August, comes after a period of bunkering down in their studio and has been Kvien and Nordli’s most successful single to date.

Back in 2008, the two were releasing music on internet forums for a small but dedicated following. In the years since, they’ve cemented their place as one of Europe’s most loved hardstyle acts. 

Questions Top100 DJs 2015 - Jon Dommett - 2015-11-16 14:59

Style: 
Hardstyle
Best known for: 
“'Frozen', 'Tweekay14', 'Bad Habit'.”
Tune of the year: 
“'Wodka'!”
From: 
Norway
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2015: 
“Cyber — watch out for this kid, because he's hitting the hardstyle scene by storm!”
What’s the most important skill a DJ should have?: 
“Interaction with the crowd. The worst thing is to see DJs who are just staring down at the decks for an hour straight.”
Is the future still bright for EDM?: 
“Seeing as how EDM has gone back to a more melodic era now (as opposed to the whole big room thing), it seems that it's more ‘likeable’ to the common man.”
Does the constant travelling and DJ lifestyle ever take its toll on you mentally?: 
“Flying and driving for many hours every weekend definitely does something to a person, no matter how comfortable it might be at times.”
What cause is closest to your heart?: 
“Not being able to hear anything must be one of the worst things that can happen to a person. We are in contact with an organisation which is working hard at spreading the word for use of ear protection at festivals and clubs.”
Which club would you like to bring back from the dead?: 
“If there's one club we truly miss, it’s Le Spirit in France. The connection we had with that club, its owners and the crowd was beyond anything we've ever experienced elsewhere.”
Why aren’t there more women in the Top 100 DJs poll?: 
“Let's be honest, 90% of all DJs are geeks. There are a lot more guy-geeks than girl-geeks in the world, which makes this calculation rather easy.”
What do you think of DJs who use ghost producers?: 
“As long as they are open about it and don't deny it, it's not hurting anyone at all.”

Poll 2015: Chuckie

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Dutch house titan and last month’s DJ Mag cover star Chuckie is going through something of a reinvention. The Dirty Dutch superstar, real name Clyde Sergio Narain, has recently been dabbling in ‘traphall’, aka trap x dancehall — the genre he’s now spearheading.

Speaking about the last 12 months, Chuckie reveals he’s had an amazing year. “I travelled around the world many times and played some of the biggest festivals in the world,” he says.

Having always embraced a multitude of genres, he has this year debuted his Metamorphosism world tour — a mega showcase of floor-fillers spanning between five and nine hours, and an antidote to the (allegedly sometimes) pre-recorded 45-minute festival set. 

Despite having encountered many corners of the globe in 2015, Chuckie’s only lament is that he wishes he “could have had more time in the studio. It was almost impossible to combine it with my hectic tour schedule.”

In our cover story, over a cup of builder’s tea, he admitted to flying 452 times last year, and he explains how “all flight attendants and pilots are allowed to fly only a certain amount of time because of safety measures. We all know that DJs fly way more than whatever is healthy”, the chameleonic producer finishes. FELICITY MARTIN

Questions Top100 DJs 2015 - Jon Dommett - 2015-11-16 14:44

Style: 
“Dirty funkin' Dutch music.”
Best known for: 
“Mixing whatever with whatever.”
Tune of the year: 
“DJs From Mars 'Phatt Ass Drop 2'.”
From: 
The Lowlands
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2015: 
“Ape Drums!”
What’s the most important skill a DJ should have?: 
“The ability to read the crowd, the ability to open and close a room, and all points in-between!”
Is the future still bright for EDM?: 
“The future of electronic dance music has always been bright. But when you're talking about EDM as a particular sound, I would say it is evolving into a more relevant sound.”
Does the constant travelling and DJ lifestyle ever take its toll on you mentally?: 
“The constant travelling doesn't take a toll on me mentally. But physically it does.”
What cause is closest to your heart?: 
“I support different charity projects, so it's hard to say which one is closest to my heart. I feel blessed to be able to give back. If I retire some day, I will dedicate most of my time to help the less fortunate.”
Which club would you like to bring back from the dead?: 
“Club Voltage in The Hague, The Netherlands. That's the club where I started back in 1994.”
Why aren’t there more women in the Top 100 DJs poll?: 
“I have no clue, but maybe there should be a separate Top 100 DJs poll for women. Not to discriminate against women but there are some talented ladies out there, especially in the underground.”
What do you think of DJs who use ghost producers?: 
“If a DJ needs help producing his music and he needs a specialist to help him out, be my guest. As long as his heart and soul is all over that track.”

Poll 2015: Netsky

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Apparently Netsky, or Boris Daenen, was too busy for DJ Mag’s interview. He’s certainly been keeping active in 2015, with gigs at Amnesia, Ibiza (for Together), at UMF in Miami and Tomorrowland Brazil just for starters. He’s also had the honour of remixing Jack Ü’s mega hit ‘Take Ü There’, and recently unleashed new single ‘Rio’ featuring the improbably named Digital Farm Animals.

His glossy, ultra-clean take on drum & bass has made him an unlikely regular appearance in the Top 100 DJs poll. Netsky’s got a pop sensibility that chimes with the youthful EDM audience.

Already two albums deep into his career, both appearing on accessible d&b label Hospital, he’s recorded with Beth Ditto and rising producer Metrik, and now finds himself playing the sort of stadium affairs normally reserved for the EDM big dogs. Those Stateside gigs for Mad Decent and Ultra are obviously paying off.

Questions Top100 DJs 2015 - Jon Dommett - 2015-11-16 14:40

Style: 
Drum & bass.
From: 
Edegem, Belgium

Poll 2015: Borgeous

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By now you’ll know the singular synth strokes of ‘Tsunami’, a UK No.1 and the reason its producer shot to fame in 2013. The Miami-born, now LA-based John Borger (or Borgeous as he’s known to his two million and counting Facebook fans) made his debut mark on the Top 100 last year and could well be here to stay.

The American producer's proved he’s not a one-hit wonder since that worldwide chart smasher, with tracks like ‘They Don’t Know Us’, ‘Wildfire’ and ‘Voodoo’ (another collaboration with DVBBS) granted major airtime by key tastemakers.

The Spinnin’ Records signee even teamed up this year with Waka Flocka Flame and Wiz Khalifa on ‘Toast’, showcasing the versatility of his productions. Having remixed the likes of Afrojack and Canadian singer-songwriter Lights, he’s shown to have a dab hand at reworking tunes into crowd pleasers.

The 'Borgeous Army' (his fans) are always out in full force at his shows, keenly awaiting those big room house drops and heavily clad in custom garms. While on those rare days he’s not catering to EDM-hungry crowds, he’s busy cooking up mixes for his ‘House Of Borgeous’ podcast on Sirius XM. 2016 looks set to be just as big a year for the chart-hitter.

FELICITY MARTIN

Questions Top100 DJs 2015 - Jon Dommett - 2015-11-16 14:39

Style: 
Big room house, EDM
Best known for: 
DVBBS & Borgeous 'Tsunami'
From: 
Miami

Poll 2015: Daft Punk

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Every year Daft Punk are voted into the Top 100 DJs poll, and every year we have to write a profile for a duo that haven't DJ'd properly since 2001 at London's Fabric.

But rather than trundle through the endless rumours of their imminent return, we thought we’d share with you a story from Eats Everything who recalls when he saw Thomas Bangalter DJ at Space, Ibiza. 

“I saw Thomas Bangalter play the best DJ set I’d ever seen in my life on the Terrazza at Space,” explains the Bristol-based producer. “He was playing two copies of the same record, reversing the other backwards in sync, throwing massive 909 kick-drums into the mix... and then began cradling the mixer in his arms.

We were like, 'What the fuck is he doing?' He yanked the phono leads out the back of the mixer and started playing a bassline with the feedback. He was creating this enormous roaring sound with nothing but his clammy hands — and this curly-haired, terrified-looking Frenchman didn’t look up once for four hours, I swear to God.”

Quite literally the stuff of legends, and let's not forget the duo haven’t ruled out a return to the stage. When last album 'Random Access Memories' was released, the duo said if they did return for a new live show it would be an “all-encompassing set list”.

ANDREW RAFTER

Questions Top100 DJs 2015 - Jon Dommett - 2015-11-16 14:25

Style: 
Robotic disco
Best known for: 
'Discovery', 'Homework', 'Get Lucky' etc
From: 
Paris, France

Poll 2015: Dillon Francis

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Dillon Francis chooses not to talk to us when we try and get in touch, something we can only attribute to him being too busy (ie. uploading pictures of Dillon Francis-branded tampons to Facebook, and getting up to general mischief with Zedd and Steve Aoki on tour).

Credited with bringing moombahton to the masses, the Mad Decent, Dim Mak and Fool’s Gold affiliate got crowds feeling the effects of excess gravity last year with his DJ Snake collaboration, ‘Get Low’.

When he’s not operating under one of his aliases (DJ Hanzel, DJ RichAF, Becky, Rave Dad, Greg, Fetty Hat) or dressing up as a giant iced doughnut, he’s in the studio working on new productions, often with other EDM heavyweights. His ‘Money Sucks, Friends Rule’ album of last year — and his debut full-length — gathered together the unlikely crew that was Twista, Panic! At The Disco's Brendon Urie, and Martin Garrix.

Dillon has just dropped a new ‘This Mixtape Is Fire’ EP (which he advises people to throw onto their hearth for instant flames), and is a return to his reggaeton-inspired roots, with sautéed latin beats featuring collaborations from Skrillex, Calvin Harris and Kygo. For evidence of its heat potential, the release shot to No.1 on the iTunes dance charts within the first hour.

Not limiting himself to music, he’s also starring in a film, ‘Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse’, where (spoiler alert) his head explodes. So that’s nice. 

FELICITY MARTIN

Questions Top100 DJs 2015 - Jon Dommett - 2015-11-16 14:20

Style: 
Moombahton, electro-house
Best known for: 
Dillon Francis & DJ Snake ‘Get Low’
From: 
LA

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