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Poll 2016: Will Sparks

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Will Sparks
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From: Melbourne, Australia 
DJ style: “Fully sick.”
Best known for: “Melbourne bounce.”
What’s the next new big track? “‘Obsessed’ by Joel Fletcher.”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2016: “Tyron Hapi.”

Will Sparks is a guy you should already be familiar with. Touting himself as a leading light of the ‘Melbourne sound’, whilst you’re more likely to get a witty response rather than anything too serious if you ask him to describe what he plays, we can definitely confirm he is indeed ‘fully sick’. Still in his early 20s, the rate at which Sparks has released Beatport Top 10 smashes is overwhelming — to put it mildly. His breakthrough international bomb, ‘Ah Yeah!’, grabbed No.3 in the overall charts at the end of 2012. 

That work ethic has only intensified since then, and the rewards are already coming thick and fast. Hence residencies at spots like XS in Las Vegas, and a stint on stage at Jay-Z’s Made In America festival, something perhaps made even more impressive considering this guy is not American. Having already been ranked by Billboard magazine amongst the planet’s most exciting young talents, all the smart money in the room is on his ascent up the DJ Mag Top 100 DJs list to continue as his success reaches ever-greater heights. 

What have been the new frontiers for you this year?
“For the first time I’m releasing on different labels — some being renowned, like Spinnin’ and Armada.”

Is electronic music taken seriously enough as an art-form? 
“Yes, I’d like to think so. Anything creative in any way or shape is an art-form.”

What’s the best new bit of DJ/production technology, and why?
 “These days, obviously, touring is much easier — being able to just take USB sticks to play with and a laptop to produce!”

If you had to switch your style to another genre, what would it be?
 “I have deep passion for heavy metal, so I’d probably go pick up the Ibanez again.” 

What can be done to prevent drug-related deaths at dance music events? 
“Pill-testing and educating the public. I also hear that a lot of the causes come from punters taking their whole stash at once because they see sniffer dogs.” 

How can we increase diversity in dance music? 
“Drop the hate. I hope one day there will be a way social media can stop negative activity online. If you’ve got nothing nice to say, don’t say it at all.”

 

WORDS: MARTIN GUTTRIDGE-HEWITT

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Jon Dommett - 2016-10-17 16:01

Poll 2016: Carl Cox

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HIGHEST TECHNO DJ

From: UK
DJ style: Infectious.
What’s the next new big track? “The next big track will be Cirez D ‘Backlash’ (Mouseville)’.”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2016: “Matador. Hard work and self-belief play a big part in what he has created. What a year he has had — it was so well deserved.”
 
We finally caught up with Carl Cox after his epic final set at Space, and while he was in transit to one of the Ultra Music Festivals. The closure of the Ibiza club is the latest chapter in an unfortunate year for electronic music, with Fabric in London also shuttering and Spanky from Phuture — as well as icons Bowie and Prince — all passing away. Cox, as ever the people’s DJ, remains upbeat about the future.
“The music will always rejuvenate itself because of new people coming into the scene with new ideas but also influenced by all the great artists and more” he says.

Aside from his Space residency, he also cites parties and festivals like “Awakenings, Tine Warp, Pure in Australia, Dream Beach in Spain and Fabric and Tobacco Docks in London” but adds that “the list is endless”.
Apart from maintaining a hectic DJ schedule, Cox also reveals some surprising plans to DJ Mag.

“It’s going to be Carl Cox Motorsports,” he says. “I love riding motorbikes; doing bike tours worldwide; drag racing and mighty mini racing,” adds the man with the biggest smile in dance music. 

What have been the new frontiers for you this year?
“I am very much into my Carl Cox Motorsports. I have been putting a lot of time and effort into drag racing; side car and classic motorbike racing worldwide.”

Is electronic music taken seriously enough as an art-form?
“Yes, I think that now more than ever that electronic music is part of many platforms in our lives.”

What’s the best new bit of DJ/production technology, and why?
“I am loving the Model 1 mixer from Richie Hawtin. I can go on all day about this mixer, but I won’t – all I can say is that the analogue sound, the filters and the controller on this mixer are by far the best I have ever used.”

If you had to switch your style to another genre, what would it be?
“I love drum & bass in all its forms, but the more intelligent sound pushes all the right buttons for me.”

As a fan, what is the top price you would pay to see yourself DJ?
“As a fan it should not matter – it is what you believe you should pay that counts.”

 

WORDS: RICHARD BROPHY

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Jon Dommett - 2016-10-17 15:13

Poll 2016: Timmy Trumpet

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Timmy Trumpet
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From: Sydney
DJ style: “Electronic music /live trumpet.”
Best known for: “Bringing live trumpet to DJ sets.”
What’s the next new big track? “Hilight Tribe ‘Free Tibet (Vini Vici Remix)’.”
Your Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2016: “Marshmello.”

You don’t see enough musical instrumentation in house and techno these days — that is unless you’re watching Timmy Trumpet in the mix. Timothy Jude Smith, to use his full name, has been responsible for putting a little ‘live’ back into the DJ booth, and lighting up the scene in his native Australia in the process. Don’t think this is just a case of right place, right time either. The man in question attended the Sydney Conservatorium Of Music, and received classical instruction during his time there, so yeah he can read a score sheet and much more besides. 

No doubt much to the disappointment of his elders at the time, but to the benefit of four-four lovers everywhere, Timmy’s enrolment at the coveted institution ended in tears — or at least an expulsion — after he played a prank that didn’t go down particularly well. Unperturbed, he went on to produce tracks for labels such as Pacha, Ministry Of Sound and One Love, while sharing honours on line-ups with the likes of Swedish House Mafia and Armin van Buuren, all of which is before anyone mentions 2014’s No.1 hit, ‘Freaks’, featuring the rapper Savage. Still, no point in looking back when the future is this bright.

What have been the new frontiers for you this year?
My first world tour including Tomorrowland, Creamfields and EDC Las Vegas.

Is electronic music taken seriously enough as an art form?
You only have to look at the charts to see that it’s taken seriously. Say what you will, but electronic music in whatever form it comes in is the dominating sound right now.

What’s the best new bit of DJ/production technology, and why? 
Serum because you can create sounds that haven’t been heard before. Check out Quadrafuzz if you want to add some colour and flavour to sounds also.

If you had to switch your style to another genre, what would it be?
I’ve been switching genres since I left the jazz scene. Good music is good music and I’ll continue to play and write whatever’s inspiring me. 

As a fan, what is the top price you would pay to see yourself DJ?
I think it all comes down to the experience. I would prefer to pay a premium price if the production value is there. If it’s just a club show, I don’t want my fans to pay an unreasonable amount for tickets but when you are playing for promoters that really care about the experience and invest in the production, it’s worth the extra coin.

What can be done to prevent drug-related deaths at dance music events?
I’m not educated enough on what is and isn’t being done to prevent this so it’s hard to comment, but as long as this is happening, we need to do more.  

How can we increase diversity in dance music?
I’d like to see more trained musicians embrace electronic music. Early in my career, I was frowned upon by so many talented jazz and classical musicians that refused to break the mould. As Miles Davis says “If anybody wants to keep creating they have to be about change.”

 

WORDS: MARTIN GUTTRIDGE-HEWITT

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Jon Dommett - 2016-10-17 15:00

Poll 2016: Borgore

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DJ style: “Dubstep.”
Best known for: “Ruining dubstep.
What’s the next new big track? “Young M.A OOOUUU is getting pretty big.”
Your Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2016: “Getter.”

Whenever Tel Aviv’s most famous broken beat export gets mentioned in conversation, it’s likely the word ‘attitude’ will come up. Whether it’s in the sub-ruining low-ends he spews forth, tongue-in-cheek lyrics demanding that we 'Act Like A Ho' (“but first do the dishes”), or music videos depicting wild debauchery in high-class country clubs, Borgore — aka Asaf Borger — never fails to make an impression. Larger than life, or at least as big as the sounds he creates, would be one way of putting it. 

Taking major influences from death metal, heavy rock and hip-hop, his unique approach to the industry, huge personality and unarguable talent have seen his global popularity skyrocket, securing releases on the likes of Mad Decent, not to mention collaborations with international superstars such as Miley Cyrus.

Meanwhile, his own label, Buygore, has been responsible for shining some much-deserved light on rising talent, including fellow Israeli producer (and partner in crime on the Alphamale Primates project), Tomba, helping position him as one of the most important EDM players in his homeland, further cementing the Mediterranean Middle East’s place on the worldwide clubbing map. MARTIN GUTTRIDGE-HEWITT 

What have been the new frontiers for you this year?
“The return of dubstep. I just dropped a track this month, 'Daddy', that sounds like 2010 me.”

Is electronic music taken seriously enough as an art form?
“To me, art is something that requires thought and creativity, and I use both when producing.”

What’s the best new bit of DJ/production technology, and why?
“Pioneer CDJ 2000 NXS. The search option is life-saving.”

If you had to switch your style to another genre, what would it be?
“Techno.”

As a fan, what is the top price you would pay to see yourself DJ?
“I’d pay a lot of money to watch Harambe perform.”

What can be done to prevent drug-related deaths at dance music events?
“It’s impossible to prevent drug usage by extremely strict laws. Take prohibition, for example. But drug education is a very effective alternative. You can see by the reduction of cigarette usage in Western countries.”

How can we increase diversity in dance music?
“Dance music is becoming more diverse as a natural progression with society. Genres are merging — you see rappers and classical musicians collaborating with producers, and Anna Lunoe and Alison Wonderland were the first women to solo headline EDC main stage this year.”

 

WORDS: MARTIN GUTTRIDGE-HEWITT

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Jon Dommett - 2016-10-17 14:54

Poll 2016: Firebeatz

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From: “We're both from the Netherlands, Tim is from Tilburg and Jurre is from Hilversum.”
DJ style: “Energetic and in-touch with the crowd.”
Best known for: “Our variety in productions and our collaborations with Martin Garrix, Tiesto and Calvin Harris.”
What’s the next new big track? “If you know, please send it to promo@firebeatz.com.”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2016: “Jay Hardway.”

Since first blowing up on the Dutch scene back in 2008, Tilburg’s finest, Tim Smulders and Jurre van Doeselaar, have barely left the airwaves and charts in their Netherlands homeland. Early productions like 'Speak Up' and 'We’re Going Back' quickly garnered attention in what some would call the right corners of the scene, with luminaries like Fedde Le Grand and Roger Sanchez quickly tuning their ears to the pair’s solid b-lines and keen use of vocal samples. 

High-profile gigs quickly began to follow, not least at festivals like Rockit and Free Your Mind, firmly establishing the name Firebeatz in the European clubbing consciousness. Since then, collaborations with and remixes for the likes of Flo Rida, Funkerman, Snoop Dogg, Calvin Harris, Tiesto, Martin Garrix and James Blunt all show a definite upward trajectory for the duo, whose dates this winter will see them hit everywhere from Yangon in Myanmar to New York, USA and Puebla, Mexico.

Tomorrow’s global superstars, today’s rising champions of an unapologetically big room sound that shows no sign of waning in popularity — those looking for dance acts made for the main stage should be taking notes. 


What have been the new frontiers for you this year?
“Jauz, Chainsmokers and DJ Snake.”

Is electronic music taken seriously enough as an art form?
“More and more, you can see that in all the collaborations with traditional musicians.”

What’s the best new bit of DJ/production technology, and why?
“Splice is a cool new platform to use samples.”

If you had to switch your style to another genre, what would it be?
“Techno.”

As a fan, what is the top price you would pay to see yourself DJ?
“Max €2,52, we want to spend the rest on beer.”

What can be done to prevent drug-related deaths at dance music events?
“Education.”

How can we increase diversity in dance music?
“By collaborations between different genres, and just trying to think outside the box.”

 

WORDS: MARTIN GUTTRIDGE-HEWITT

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Jon Dommett - 2016-10-17 14:46

Poll 2016: Tujamo

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From: Germany.
DJ style: “Bouncy house.”
Best known for: “Dirty bass sounds.”
What’s the next new big track? “Smie ‘Running Into You’.”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2016: “Mike Williams.”

German electro-house DJ Tujamo originally rose to prominence with the chart hit ‘Who’ as Dr Who and his ‘Boneless’ collaboration with Steve Aoki, but the past 12 months have seen him earn his stripes as an international DJ. Among the festivals that he rated the most were Untold in Romania, Sunrise in Poland and Lollapalooza in Berlin. Like other big name electro-house and EDM DJs on this year’s top 100 list, Tujamo also name-checks the Bootshaus club in Cologne as one of his favourite nights. Despite this hectic schedule, he continued to release music and in 2016 put out a series of electro-house tracks for Dutch label Spinnin’ Records.

“Yes, it definitely was difficult to balance production with gigs but I feel I’ve got the hang of it by now. I was super-happy with all the music I released, and in the end that’s the most important thing” he tells DJ Mag.

Tujamo also plans to put out more music soon and hints that he wants “to try something different in the future”. When pushed on this subject, he claims: “I definitely want to start producing a new genre, something I always had on my bucket-list.” 

What have been the new frontiers for you this year?
“Keeping up my health during the crazy festival summer, and managing my studio days with my travel days.”

Is electronic music taken seriously enough as an art-form?
“I think with an industry this big, there’s enough seriousness and faith in electronic music, fur sure.”

What’s the best new bit of DJ/production technology, and why?
“Personally, I just switched from FL Studio to Ableton (a completely new world). As for DJing, the new Pioneer DJM 900NXS2 mixer is amazing — serious next-level effects.”

If you had to switch your style to another genre, what would it be?
“Hip-hop/downtempo.”

As a fan, what is the top price you would pay to see yourself DJ?
“The equivalent to my yearly tax statement, if it were for charity purposes!”
 
What can be done to prevent drug-related deaths at dance music events?
“The only thing that helps prevent is to inform. I think it would be a great idea to gather funds from everyone involved in the scene to create a campaign that educates everyone who enjoys the music and wants to keep it alive.”

How can we increase diversity in dance music?
“Being more open-minded, and to stop hating if producers try something new, so that they don’t have to restrain themselves or be afraid to push boundaries until they'll find something fresh.”

WORDS: RICHARD BROPHY

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Jon Dommett - 2016-10-17 14:42

Poll 2016: Laidback Luke

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From: The Netherlands
DJ style: “EDM and anything not EDM.”
Best known for: “Real DJing.”
What’s the next new big track? “Anything by Mark Martins, but it's very underground, Dutch style and ravey!”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2016: “Mark Villa.”

Despite his new-found love for filming and video-editing (picking up skills learned from his graphic design background), Dutch superstar Laidback Luke hosted a series of Mixmash parties this year to push “the amazing talent we have on the label”. One of his own main DJ highlights was playing in EDM capital Las Vegas and he praises festivals like Tomorrowland. However, Luke says that Germany has the best clubs and parties. Apart from clubs like Bootshaus, he says, “the German festival scene was massive for me this year. I did my first time at Nature One festival in Germany, and that probably was my number one show of the year”.

Luke was also busy in the studio and released a brace of singles for his Mixmash label this year. Did he find it difficult to balance production with gigging? “I still very much enjoy making music and make music anywhere! Being settled into the touring life now, making music on the road is just a part of it. Truth be told: it has been hard with the added time I'm spending with video editing nowadays! But I'm not someone to take it easy,” he says.

That productivity looks set to continue into next year, and Luke promises that he will release a new album in 2017. “Having produced for almost 25 years now, making music is coming more natural to me than ever. I'm very excited to unleash even more music, present my musical adventures — and I'm just enjoying the ride still! It's incredible how many lives I've touched with my music. That's where the real magic is. It's not about fame, money, DJ rankings and flying private jets. It's about empowering people, bringing people together, giving them hope, dreams and amazing memories!” 

What have been the new frontiers for you this year?
“Going back to my 2008 sound and producing more club-orientated tracks like ‘Move To The Sound’ and ‘Fcukin' Beats’. My new love has been filming and editing, mainly for my VLOGs and that has been so much fun.”

Is electronic music taken seriously enough as an art-form?
“Sadly no, especially by the artists who practice the craft. Isn’t it ironic that with this being DJ Mag, that the whole focus on the craft of DJing is all but gone? Not just in the EDM landscape, but in underground land as well. I was a fan of all these DJs in the mid-‘90s — Dave Clarke, Jeff Mills, Carl Cox — and it was thanks to them that I was inspired and got so technical. Now, I'm one of the more 'technically advanced DJs’ in the field, but that's just because the rest of the new school can't be bothered to properly practice!”

What’s the best new bit of DJ/production technology, and why?
“We've seen the NXS2 gear coming for Pioneer this year and I'm so happy with it! It's so much faster and more intuitive.”

If you had to switch your style to another genre, what would it be?
“I'd probably pick techno, since that's where a big part of my roots are.”

As a fan, what is the top price you would pay to see yourself DJ?
“I'm guessing around 50 euros — I'd have to still buy some drinks!”

What can be done to prevent drug-related deaths at dance music events?
“Well, I'm from Amsterdam, so what we do is inform people. We tell them what happens with drug use, tell people how to properly cope with it, hydrate, properly stay away from it. People need to realise the risks involved, but also realise that this music doesn't need stimulants!”

How can we increase diversity in dance music?
“In the early 90s, dance music was a melting pot of all styles and flavours. It was one big family. I still live by those ideals, and that's why my sets are so diverse. In the scene, I really welcome kids from all backgrounds to give it a try — women especially seem to think being a DJ or producer isn’t 'their thing’, but it can be for sure.”

WORDS: RICHARD BROPHY

 

 

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Jon Dommett - 2016-10-17 14:32

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