With releases on Dutch imprint Spinin’ Records, remixes for the likes of Avicii, and a huge collaboration alongside Tiesto, American EDM producer and DJ KSHMR has had quite a productive 2015 to say the least.
His ascension to the top is even more impressive considering Niles Hollowell-Dhar has only been releasing music under his KSHMR alias since 2014. Before then he was one half of hip-hop production duo The Cataracs alongside David 'Campa' Benjamin Singer-Vine.
2015 finally saw the LA-based producer breakout from his hip-hop roots and into the world of EDM, and it was his collaboration, ‘Secrets’, alongside Dutch heavyweight Tiesto that was the catalyst to putting his new alias on the map. That success then saw the LA-based producer play his first live show at the Fonda Theatre in LA alongside Bassjackers and newcomer Yogi.
“This year has gone better than I ever hoped for,” KSHMR tells DJ Mag. “'Burn' with DallasK really opened the door for me, and from there I had the honour of collaborating with Tiesto on 'Secrets', which became the biggest release of my career so far.”
“Music aside, Tiesto introducing me for the first time at Ultra 2015 in Miami was one of the most surreal experiences of my life,” he continues.
As well as high-flying collaborations and remixes, KSHMR also found time to release 'Jammu' — his most personal track to date. It pulled in a host of influences, including those from his Indian heritage, into a giant EDM melting pot.
With support from the scene's biggest names, KSHMR is showing all the signs of becoming one of the US’s biggest EDM stars to date.
Like the prom queen that snubs her most persistent suitor year after year, Diplo has declined DJ Mag’s gracious advances yet again, opting instead to let us speculate on his feelings about making the Top 100 DJs poll and his ongoings for 2015.
With regard to the former, we refer readers to Twitter, where Wesley Pentz’s rants under his Diplo alias are immortalized for all eternity. With regard to the latter, it’s hard to deny that his efforts warrant him a seat among the world’s DJ elite.
The Mad Decent label boss has been busy making music and signing names — such as bold new trio Bad Royale. If that act’s melodic, soca-infused productions are any indication, there is hope for the future of trap yet... and we have Diplo to thank for turning up the volume.
Keeping his Major Lazer collaborative moniker alive and well, a third LP titled ‘Peace Is The Mission’ was released in June. The album includes collaborations with pop stars that span the musical spectrum, from Ariana Grande to 2 Chainz and Ellie Goulding.
Never one to shy away from the names people love to hate, Diplo and Skrillex, via their Jack Ü alias, paired up to create EDM’s most maligned cameo of 2015 when they featured Justin Bieber on their hit track ‘Where Are Ü Now ’. Say what you will about that one; the charts tell a different story. The question to ask Diplo now is, how do you top that in 2016?
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.
Once the mainstay of our Top 10, trance is no longer the dominant sound of the world's big-room clubs. Of course, EDM is today the world's mainstream sound du jour, which even Tiësto is now embracing — however, that hasn't stopped this London trio sticking to their guns.
While the Anjunabeats bosses have delved deeper into house territory with their 'deep' spin-off, they've continued to stay true to the supple melodica of their DJ sets in 2015. Third studio LP 'We Are All We Need' is as earnest as you'd expect, feeding elegant, Goan-influenced styles into a pop formula, while the return of their acoustic show in 2016 will see them illuminate their illustrious club tracks as a live band. Above & Beyond are still maturing — continually evolving — and their following is still strong, placing in the top 30 in the poll again.
This year, Dyro (real name Jordy Van Egmond) has gone big. He started his own imprint, WOLV, that's allowed him to expand his own catalogue, saying, “We went down on the bpms as I was getting bored of 127/128 bpm, I wanted to show another side to myself and the label”.
In fact, keeping things fresh is very important to the Dutch EDM don — that's why he started his imprint in the first place. "I did it to have my own outlet that I could control completely and just to release cool tracks that I dig,” he says.
Aside from his new imprint, Dyro's already lined up hotly-anticipated collaborations with Headhunterz and Milo & Otis for next year, as well as promising his fans “lots of exciting new shows and, of course, WOLV material for 2016!”
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!
It's been business as usual for Kura (aka Rúben de Almeida Barbeiro) in 2015, having placed 42nd in last year's DJ Mag Top 100 DJs poll. Despite a slide in the rankings this year, the Portuguese electro-house producer has cemented his position as one of the most in-demand EDM producers in Europe with a raft of new tracks and collaborations.
2015 saw Kura release stadium-sized cuts, 'Oxygen' and 'Collide', on Dutch imprint Spinnin’ Records, collaborated with Dutch producer Tony Junior for a huge track ‘King Kong’, which is being released on Afrojack’s Wall Recordings this month, and he still found time to tour all over the world.
As well as a string of well-received productions, the DJ and producer has seen his output consistently supported by EDM’s leading lights — including David Guetta and Hardwell, who’ve supported his output throughout 2015.
Not only has last year’s No.1 DJ, Hardwell, been playing his tracks consistently during 2015, the Dutch producer recently revealed during a radio interview that the two producers have been collaborating in the studio. With his next release coming out on Afrojack's Wall Recordings, 2015 has seen Kura become one of Portugal’s biggest dance exports.
“This year has been intense, so much good stuff happening,” he tells DJ Mag. “Travelling the world, new collaborations, meeting new people... I can only remember of positive stuff, the shows keep getting bigger and bigger, and the support of the fans is insane!”
Repping bass music hard for the UK, Flux Pavilion is the only British producer to hit the Top 100 with a passion for those low-end frequencies.
Nowadays, bar the likes of Skrillex, there are few superstar DJs dedicated to the “genre formerly known as dubstep”, but Flux Pavilion and his Circus crew have tapped a rich seam of fizzy EDM melody and hard, brutal mid-range bass that seems to hit the sweet spot for a lot of people.
It helps that Flux Pavilion, or Josh Steele to friends and fam, is a dab hand at several musical instruments, from drums to guitar and even the saxophone. Citing appearances at EDC Las Vegas and gigs in Hawaii as particularly fond 2015 memories, he also released his monumental debut album ‘Tesla’ in September.
Will Sparks is a truly passionate guy. He's passionate about his city, about his music and most of all, about his fans. His dream is simply to see them happy, and, as Will confesses to DJ Mag, he's living that dream everyday.
Rising all the way from No.126 in last year's poll, it's obvious Will is doing something right, but there's evidence elsewhere too. His massive 2014 collaboration with Wiley and Elen Levon, 'Ah Yeah So What', has clocked up over 4.5million YouTube plays to date; whilst his latest single, 'Sick Like That', has already picked up over 250,000 plays on SoundCloud.
Having become a firm favourite in his home nation over the past few years, 2015 has seen the Aussie go for gold on a global scale. Gigging in North America or Europe most weekends, it's not surprising that Will describes his lifestyle as “non-stop”, but he makes it clear to DJ Mag: “I haven't stopped and I won't stop.”
With that kind of confidence and enthusiasm we're inclined to believe him, and if the electrifying Super Saiyan artwork for 'Sick Like That' is anything to go by, nobody else will be stopping Will either.
Together Bizzey (Leonardo Roelandschap), Nizzle (Nils Rondhuis) and Jim Aasgier make up Yellow Claw, a grouping whose sonic output is a diverse reflection of the trio's own personalities. However, their method of working doesn't always see them agree on issues of musical taste, but fortunately they have a simple way of reaching a final decision — “paper/rock/scissors get you through a lot,” they tell DJ Mag.
After successful singles in their Dutch homeland's national charts, Yellow Claw's reputation spread internationally and they signed to Diplo's Mad Decent. Now they regularly travel the globe, citing Indonesia as the most interesting new place they've visited this year and Bootshaus in Cologne as the best venue.
We asked the guys how they feel about their recent progress. “Last year was great but this year was just better because everything was bigger, better, faster, harder,” they explain, before enigmatically adding: “and we get to share it with our barong family.”
With an unshakeable faith in the future of electronic dance music and an ever-evolving palette of sounds that they are only too happy to work with, Yellow Claw's ambition for 2016 is quite straightforward — “World domination!”