When we catch up with Jono, Tony and Paavo to chat over A&B’s last 12 months, initially at least the chaps are considerably more focused on their last 12 days. Shows at the Hollywood Bowl, Sydney Opera House and the Royal Albert Hall throughout 2016 whetted the collective appetite for gigs in iconic spots — an inclination that’s continued into this year.
"We've just returned from our first Group Therapy Weekender at the Gorge Amphitheatre near Seattle”, says Tony. “For us, it’s one of the most scenic venues we’ve played yet”.
The event, thrown to hail the 250th episode of their Group Therapy radio show, involved “25,000 people joining us, 16 Bit Lolitas, Yotto, Oliver Smith and Seven Lions for the weekend,” says Jono. “We live streamed it worldwide on YouTube in 4k, and took the opportunity to break news of ‘Common Ground’ — our next album — while we were there. We just knew it was going to be the right moment!”
Musically, back in February, the 13th volume of their annual Anjunabeats mix-comp arrived right on cue, while singles ‘1001’, ‘Balearic Balls’, ‘Alright Now’ and ‘Another Chance’ kept floors hot. Looking to the end of 2017, December will see the trio release the documentary shot in the run up to, and during last year’s acoustic gig at The Hollywood Bowl.
Despite retiring from touring back in March of 2016, 2017 has still been an important year for DJ, producer and songwriter Avicii. Real name Tim Bergling, the Swedish superstar released his comeback EP — titled ‘Avīci’ — last month which featured collaborations with AlunaGeorge, Billy Raffoul, Vargas & Lagola and Sandro Cavazza. His team-up with Rita Ora, 'Lonely Together', also proved particularly successful for the Nordic native, with Avicii promising two more EPs are currently in the pipeline.
But it's not just his own material Avicii has been busy working on since he quit life on the road. He's also been in the studio with disco legend Nile Rodgers working on Chic's comeback album, which is expected to be released early next year.
Holed up in Stockholm since his retirement, fans will now be able to get a monthly taste of the producer thanks to his new radio show, Avicii FM, plus his much-anticipated ‘True Stories’ documentary, which debuted in selected theatres at the close of October. The work of director Levan Tsikurishvili, the film traces the unvarnished truth behind the success of the Grammy-nominated star — it’s an honest account of what it’s like to hit the big time.
Tsikurishvili followed Avicii for over four years to make the flick, capturing his beginnings, the successes, and subsequent struggles with his physical and mental health. The film features appearances by Chris Martin, David Guetta, Wyclef Jean and Chic’s Nile Rodgers, and is a rare and important insight into the producer's journey thus far.
Zedd has barely spent a minute out of the headlines this year, winning Best Dance Track at the MTV Video Music Awards, taking home $52K at the 2017 PokerStars Championship in Barcelona and releasing his own range of headphones in partnership with Japanese tech company Double Zero. Musically, it’s been much the same for the Russian-born German-raised US-based artist — known to the taxman as Anton Zaslavski.
With a follow-up to 2015 album ‘True Colors’ still in the works, Zedd dropped a pair of huge singles in 2017, with Liam Payne-featuring cut ‘Get Low’ and Alessia Cara collab ‘Stay’ both smash hits.
His Huge Echo world tour has also made stops across the globe, but it’s his American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) benefit show in April that created the biggest headlines of Zedd’s year, where he called on numerous artists to join him in a show rallying against President Donald Trump’s anti-immigration ban. Skrillex, Macklemore, Tinashe, Imagine Dragons, Incubus and more joined him at the benefit, which Zedd said he was inspired to hold as he felt a "personal connection" to Trump's travel ban. It’s this desire to use his status for positive change, as well as a penchant for huge hits, that’s pushed Zedd up six places in DJ Mag’s Top 100 poll this year.
More evidence that Amsterdam is the smallest city with the biggest impact on global electronic music, Quinten Van Den Berg, aka Quintino, again finds himself riding high after another stellar 12 months in the game.
Since the last time we unveiled the world’s biggest music poll, he hasn’t really let up in terms of pace. There was that big stage bomb he made with fellow Netherlander Hardwell, ‘Baldadig’; the tune that resulted from teaming up with high-flying Australian duo, NERVO, ‘Lost In You’; not to mention the sultry end of summer electric-R&B slow jam, ‘I Just Can’t’, crafted with R3hab.
This is before we come to the latest instalment of his aptly-titled ‘Go Harder’ EP series, which hit chapter three this year. And the relentless touring schedule that sees him showcase his performance skills across the world.
“This year I’ve been trying to balance studio time with my tour schedule, which was really important,” he tells DJ Mag. “I opened a new studio for myself and other talent, which we built from almost nothing while touring all over the world. So that was a very intense and busy period, but now the studio is finished and I can't ask for anything else.”
A talent honed since the tender age of 18, Quintino is a case in point when it comes to the age-old phrase of good things coming to those who work tirelessly for what they want.
The special connection that Vintage Culture feels with his crowd is one of the most important aspects of his life, and he tries to let his fans know that every day. “Being chosen by the people tells me that I am doing something right and motivates me even more to keep the pace of heavy touring, hard working, and making more and more music,” he explains to DJ Mag.
It's been a heady year for him, opening up Martin Garrix's Ibiza shows at Hi and Ushuaia, playing the closing of the massive Rock In Rio and pulling the biggest of crowds to Lollapolooza's electronic music stage. And his So Track Boa label parties are also going from strength to strength across Brazil. “It's just amazing and I cannot be thankful enough,” he says. Electronic music in Brazil is seriously taking off right now, and he's clearly super-proud to be a part of it.
VC firmly believes in seizing the moment, as well as creating it, and with this in mind he's just started his own clothing line called VNTG — well crafted and designed garments. “On the production front, there are many tracks coming out or about to come out that I feel very happy with.”
Plans for 2018? “Basically, to keep on doing what I have been doing so far and growing both personally and professionally in the process, sharing love, friendship and the mantra of my life: good vibes!”
Walking a fine line between creative freedom and success, Dutch DJ and producer Headhunterz, aka Willem Rebergen, in recent years has struggled to find the right balance. From 2014 to 2016, Rebergen — like many producers — jumped on the EDM bandwagon, seduced by the bright lights and new opportunities that EDM could bring.
This two-year period had a profound impact on Rebergen, who broke down during a performance at hardstyle mecca Defqon.1 and soon realised that EDM wasn't for him, something he's wrestled with articulately via his popular vlog series, Vlogs From Without.
So the last 12 months has seen Rebergen trying to reconnect with the community he abandoned, and like any family, they've welcomed him back with open arms. The veteran Dutch producer is now back to his hardstyle best with his latest track 'Taking It Back’, a massive nod to his roots.
And his hardstyle homecoming was most evident when he and Wildstylez's Joram Metekohy brought their iconic Project One alias back for a special one-off performance in Amsterdam in late 2016. The duo has only ever released one album and played a handful of shows together, but their album is arguably the genre's most iconic and proved Rebergen's desire to be at the centre of the scene he had helped create once again.
Eric Prydz is a man of many monikers. Over the last two decades he's released everything from industrial techno to progressive house under his many aliases that include Pryda and Cirez D, as well as lesser-known names like Tonja Holma and Sheridan.
He’s managed to successfully traverse the delicate line between dance music’s commercial and underground scenes, making No.1 hits like ‘Call On Me’ plus seminal (and still widely-played) club anthems like ‘Pjanoo’, alongside his debut and record-breaking 2016 LP, ‘OPUS’.
2017 has been one of his biggest yet, with festival and club bills worldwide — from Australia to India, USA and Europe — triumphantly topped by the Swedish selector. He put down roots in Ibiza for the very first time this year with a residency at brand-new Ibiza superclub Hi Ibiza — the new club set-up on the former site of legendary nightclub, Space.
He's also still running his three labels — Mouseville, Pryda and new addition Pryda Presents — and continuing to push his ever-evolving, holograph-laden stadium show, EPIC, to new heights. Prydz is also still producing astounding amounts of music — up to five tracks a week, according to a chat we had with him earlier this year — and is a man resolutely committed to his craft.
Nearly 20 tracks and remixes released, headlining huge festivals and sell out gigs across the world — fair to say 2017 has been pretty large for the Dutch duo. Oh, and there was the small matter of appearing in one of the biggest games of all time. “Our track was featured in the video game ‘Destiny’. This made playing the game even more special,” the Bassjackers tell DJ Mag.
The highlight of their live season was playing the mainstage of Tomorrowland — “the cherry on the top”, says one-half of the duo, Ralph Van Hilst — but they were busy in the studio as well, creating their ‘Signed By Bassjackers’ music production series, “in which we gave away our project files and released a studio session online where we explained what we did and why,” says the other half of the duo, Marlon Flohr. Invaluable to any fans of their big room sound.
And 2018 plans? “We already have releases lined up deep into 2018 — which include our collabs with Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike — that have been making waves on the internet for quite some time now.” News to our ears!
Dutch duo Blasterjaxx are currently winding down from a solid festival season that has seen them consolidate their longevity as big room favourites. They‘ve supported appearances at festivals like Tomorrowland and Dance Valley with several high-profile releases.
“Music-wise, we had a really productive year,” they tell DJ Mag. “We released lots of new music on our own Maxximize Records imprint, and the response of our fans has been great.” The label is doing really well, they add, with their next label event scheduled to take place at ADE.
It’s approaching two years since Idir Makhlaf withdrew from touring due to mental health issues, leaving Thom Jongkind to assume DJing duties while they both continue to produce together. While they say it took some getting used to, it’s been a change for the best. “In the end we can both say it works better for us personally, as well as for Blasterjaxx in total.”
Hurtling into 2017 with the same energy, momentum and high-profile focus as he’s had in previous years, Alesso instantly kicked the year off with a massive vocal hit, ‘Falling’.
Always one to keep us on our toes, however, he followed it up with one of his heaviest dancefloor tracks: the grunting, shunting bass house bumper ‘Move It Like That’. A crowd-shaking heavily-demanded ‘ID’ at his headline showcases at the likes of EDC, Ultra and Tomorrowland, he gave it away for free earlier this summer as a way of saying thanks to his loyal fanbase, the champ.
In contrast to big weighty bass bruisers, the future is looking very interesting for the Swedish pop fusionist. A big announcement landed in September regarding him parting with Swedish House Mafia’s old management company for the Bieber-invested Shot Studios, who work with a host of pop singers and writers — including award-winning writer Poo Bear, who’s written for and with everyone from Chris Brown to Bieber himself.
They launched this new chapter with the belting tropical poplet ‘Let Me Go’ featuring Chainsmokers’ mate Hailee Steinfeld, a track that’s still building momentum as you read this. Packing a UK No.1 (with Calvin Harris) and a string of hits since he emerged in 2010, it looks like there’s plenty more airplay action and crossover electronic/pop blends from Alesso to come…