Swedish producer Eric Prydz is a chameleon. Whether he's dipping his toes in the underground as Cirez D, or entertaining the main room masses with his Eric Prydz moniker, the Swede has captured the hearts of dance fans worldwide.
It's with his recent show EPIC that he's won the minds of the US market — the touring show featured the globe's biggest hologram, stunning stage production (including an impressive 32 lasers), plus a slew of big room tracks penned by Prydz himself.
Since he took over NYC’s Madison Square Garden with the show last September, the veteran DJ/producer hasn't stopped — next up he'll play LA's Escape festival and EDC in Orlando, before a headline set at Space in Miami.
Unlike other main room DJs, Prydz insists that he never 'plans' his sets (he spilled the beans in an interview with DJ Liquid Todd at EDC Las Vegas earlier this year), preferring to read the vibe of the room on the day.
Aside from his work as Eric Prydz, the Swede's other moniker (and imprint of the same name), Pryda, is still going strong, with his latest release 'PRYDA 10' smashing the Beatport charts with ease. It was so successful that it hit a new milestone for the influential label — 'PRYDA 10' is currently the highest selling release in the imprint's eleven-year history.
Then there's his all-new, exclusive and bi-monthly Beats 1 radio show that aired to acclaim earlier this month, and featured two hours of unreleased productions spanning his Prydz, Pryda, and Cirez D aliases.
New tracks included 'Multo' and a private edit of Adventure’s 'Rio', with fans hypothesising that these might feature on Prydz's upcoming debut LP. The as-yet-unnamed record is tipped to drop sometime before the end of the year, as well as an upcoming Cirez D release 'Vol. D' that's also in the pipeline from the producer.
CHARLOTTE LUCY CIJFFERS
Andre Tanneberger, aka ATB, has come a long way since his UK No.1, ‘9PM (Till I Come)’. In the almost 20 years since the smash hit, that additionally found fame after being featured in cult Ibiza rave flick Kevin & Perry Go Large, the German producer has repackaged himself as a big room killer, playing sets like Ultra USA and Europe, EDC and Tomorrowland.
His productions have undergone a similar metamorphosis, though he’s still staying true to the excellent studio standards that first helped garner him respect in the early noughties.
“I think I can't hide my influences from the past, but it's very important for me to get into today's culture with my sound. However, I also think that my experiences from the past have shaped my unique sound — so I am grateful for all of this,” he told Ministry Of Sound back in July.
No matter what style he's producing — ATB has also released multiple times on Armin van Buuren's A State Of Trance imprint thanks to his roots in prog and trance — the German shows no signs of slowing down.
For Markus Schulz, life imitates art. Or rather, fantasy. The self-styled unicorn-slayer of trance has found his moniker has presented some surreal encounters in recent years. “Now it’s gotten so big, I don’t know where it’s going to end. I played a show at Avalon in Los Angeles a few years ago and they had a full life-size unicorn statue at the front of the club!”
In 2015 he’s focused on his City Series project, making a track a month dedicated to his favourite worldwide clubs or festivals. He’s also excited by the ongoing success of his New World Punx project with Ferry Corsten.
“We’ve made even more strides this year, highlighted by the first-ever performance at the legendary Coachella festival. We have a few dates together before the year rounds out — in Buenos Aires, Santiago, Moscow and of course the Top 100 DJs party for DJ Mag in Minsk on 29th November.”
2015 has been a big one for Steve and Ruben, aka the notorious Wolfpack. Not only did the Belgian duo tour Asia for the first time — an experience they describe as “very cool” — but also happened to score two massive hits. Firstly, back in August, Wolfpack teamed up with Funk D and the don dada of booming vocals, Fatman Scoop, for the huge 'Drop The Smiley'.
Then the following month, 'Ocarina' — the pair's beloved Tomorrowland Anthem collaboration with fellow Antwerpians, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike — got the remix treatment from Klaas & Mazza. That track has already catapulted through the rankings to become Wolfpack's second most popular release on Beatport.
Speaking of Tomorrowland, Wolfpack also happened to play the first ever South American edition of the festival earlier this year, as São Paulo spent four days as the global epicentre of EDM. Still signed and releasing through Dimi and Mike's scene-shaping Smash The House imprint, and having now appeared in the DJ Mag Top 100 DJs poll for two years running, Wolfpack can stride confidently into 2016.
From his early UK chart success with 'Out Of The Blue' under his System F alias to creating a raft of timeless trance anthems alongside Tiesto as Gouryella, Rotterdam's Ferry Corsten has been around in one guise or another for 26 years.
During his impressively long career Corsten has released four studio albums — including the excellent 'Fire' which saw the trance DJ experiment with more hard-edged electro influences including an excellent collaboration alongside Gangstarr's Guru, for 'Junk'.
But it will always be his work as Gouryella — alongside Tiesto — that many of us will remember the producer for, and in 2015 — some 16 years after they wrote the trance rule book — Corsten decided to bring back his Gouryella alias, albeit without the help of Tiesto, for 'Anahera'; a classic cut of uplifting trance that was pure fan-service.
A permanent fixture in the Top 100 DJs poll since its inception, Corsten is the only Dutch trance heavyweight to have missed out on being crowned the world's No.1 DJ back in the day, just missing out in 2004 when he reached the No.4 spot. Since then he has been in the top ten six times, and despite slipping to No.91 in the poll last year he has rallied a bit in 2015.
From the moment Richie Hawtin crossed the river from Windsor, Ontario, to the techno heartland of Detroit, Michigan, the techno savant set in motion a journey that would see the British-born producer rise to the top of his field and become one of the most respected artists in electronic music.
Whether it’s at his ENTER. residency at Space, Ibiza that truly offers something different to the brash, bright lights of Ushuaïa et al, or bringing his love of Japanese sake to the dancefloors of the world — Hawtin has become something of a cultural vanguard in electronic music. Where he goes others tend to follow.
Hawtin — who is renowned as a performer that really embraces technological change — was the first DJ to stream tracklists live during his performances, and this year was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music Technology by the University of Huddersfield from none other than Star Trek’s Patrick Stewart.
2015 also saw Hawtin re-launch his US college tour — after the hugely successful 2012 edition — where he returned to the US with an expanded itinerary that saw him hit eight colleges for a feast of master classes and all-star parties.
The duo of Ruben Den Boer and Victor Pool, aka Vicetone,inject a strong affinity with melody into their main stage EDM productions, and describe the past year as the “biggest in our short career so far”.
While they’ve been responsible for several polished hits on goliath stables like Spinnin’, Ultra and Dim Mak, their landmark achievement since they placed in last year’s Top 100 DJs poll was producing the rather epic and emotional soundtrack for the Ultra Music Festival 2014 after-movie, the rather epic and emotive 15-minute ‘United We Dance’.
“It was the biggest project of our lives,” they say of the after-movie that dropped last November. “We worked closely with the Ultra team, and it was a challenging project since the music had to evolve over time, and change from dance music into an orchestral soundtrack.
It was a big accomplishment for us and it really pushed our creativity. It’s gotten millions of plays by now and has become one of the most requested songs in our sets. It’s definitely been a highlight.”
Otherwise, it’s also been full speed ahead for Vicetone this year. They’ve toured a whole stack of new countries and territories, including a variety of spots throughout Asia where they point to a booming dance scene, as well as beginning their own Vicetone Records imprint, which they say has opened up the possibility of experimenting outside of their normal release schedule.
Koen Bauweraerts, better known as Belgian producer Coone, is one of the elder statesmen of hardstyle. It’s been over a decade since Bauweraerts put out his first single, ‘Protect The Innocent’ on Hardball Records, making him one of the longest-running DJs in the scene.
In 2006, Bauweraerts launched label Dirty Workz, which has since become one of the foremost outlets for jumpstyle and hardstyle in Europe. By the age of 24, he was already commanding a devoted following in his home country, drawing a crowd of several thousand fans to his Coone & The Gang events.
He’s since become an evangelist for hardstyle, helping to spread the genre around the globe — his last album, released in 2013, was aptly titled ‘Global Dedication’.
“Every year I’m trying to convince more people of my style. And it’s working, I’m playing at the world’s best clubs and festivals this year,” he tells DJ Mag. Recent collaborations with Steve Aoki and remixes of Linkin Park have no doubt exposed new audiences to hardstyle and won him new fans in the US and further abroad.
In September, Aly & Fila made history. They performed a show within the grounds of one of the last-standing wonders of the ancient world, The Pyramids of Giza, Egypt. Only a small list of select names, including Sting and Kyle Minogue, had previously had the honour.
And what a fitting venue it was! The Egyptian duo who created a sub-genre of trance dedicated to their homeland have had another storming year. They've celebrated 400 episodes of their Future Sound Of Egypt (FSOE) radio show with eight big gigs — including that one in Giza — and played everywhere from Canada to China.
As ever, the tracks and remixes have come thick and fast and they've released two compilations ('FSOE Vol.3' and 'FSOE 400') all in 2015, so it's no surprise that their loyal fanbase have voted in full force once again.
This year, Paul van Dyk released the third in his popular 'Politics Of Dancing' LP series. A risky move, considering number two came out way back in '05, but van Dyk is actually stronger than ever over a decade later. “A great number of things had changed,” says Paul, about the gap between then and now. “The way we make and produce music, how we promote and release music and, of course, how we consume it,” he says.
The producer/DJ also staged his fourth We Are One Festival in Berlin earlier this year — a day and night party that kicks off on Rummelsburg Beach on the banks of the River Spree.
Finally, van Dyk tips his 2016 set at Aquanario as one of his best ever, saying, “I performed new versions of many of my tracks choreographed to a water, light, laser and firework show — backed by singers and an orchestra.” Impressive!
CHARLOTTE LUCY CIJFFERS