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!”
Asaf Borger, aka Borgore, is something of a musical chameleon. He started his music career young, first becoming a classically trained musician — he frequently lists Bach, half-jokingly, as one of his favourite musicians of all time — before joining deathcore band Shabira in his formative years. In videos of the band performing he looks out of place, a gawky, shaved-headed figure in a group of bearded, long-haired rockers.
While he might have since left the band and moved from his hometown of Tel Aviv to the US, elements of his heavier musical past have remained a feature of his productions.
Borger describes his music as Gorestep” — a fusion of EDM, dubstep and heavy metal that unites his earlier influences with his newfound passion for brash, in-yer-face electronic music.
In 2012, Borger collaborated with Miley Cyrus on the single ‘Decisions’ — the song is often described as a turning point in Miley Cyrus’s musical transformation. The single catapulted Borgore into the spotlight and proved he could bring ‘Gorestep’ to the masses.
Dutch hardstyle producer Brennan Heart has had one of those years. “I thought 2014 was madness, but 2015 topped it… crazy”, he sighs. “At the beginning of the year I took one and a half months break in Bali... to recharge myself, regarding my future, plans and ambitions.”
That rest was warranted, surely. In between broadcasting his radio show on SlamFM (‘WE R Hardstyle’) and manning stages at EDC and Defqon.1, the producer’s been heading up his own WE R Music label, and is revered by his fans for arena smashers such as ‘Follow The Light’ and ‘FIFO’ (standing for “fit in or fuck off”).
To get away from the madness of the jetsetting lifestyle of an international DJ, he’s just treated himself to a new crib: a “beautiful cottage in the countryside, enjoying life with my girlfriend. But no worries for the fans: there will also be a new studio next to the house!” he assures DJ Mag.
“My passion for music is the thing that keeps me going, but I need to make sure that any spare time I have is spent with family and friends.”
“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!