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Poll 2021: Afrojack

6
Afrojack
Up
1
From: The Netherlands 
 
Rising star DJ/producer of 2021: “Black V Neck.”

 

Return of the Jack! One of the most consistent heavy hitters remains in the top 10 for the seventh year on the trot, and he appears more enthusiastic than ever. “I’ve been producing soooo much and getting ready for tour after 18 months,” the DJ born Nik van de Wall tells DJ Mag. “I can’t wait to share it with the world!”

He’s already sharing it. Release-wise, 2021 has been one of the most prolific years the Dutch DJ has ever had with a whole slew of big pop/dance sing-along bangers landing on a monthly basis. As 2021 kicked off with another lockdown, Afrojack lightened spirits with a flexback to ’96 as he, Chasner and Rob Adams covered Mark Morrison’s R&B sing-along ‘Return Of The Mack’. This was the tip of the EDM iceberg, as Nik has proceeded to deliver smash after smash.

As always with Afrojack — who has recently been on honeymoon and shaved his signature full-bodied barnet off — the styles continued to fly across the spectrum. He delved deep into the likes of trap with Zafrir on the smouldering ‘Boom Boom Pow’, then Coldplay-esque stadium sizzlers with fellow EDM lord David Guetta on ‘Hero’, followed by classic ‘90s-flavoured euphoric tackle with Timmy Trumpet on ‘Stay Mine’. And these releases barely take us up to spring 2021 as the Dutchman has continually levelled up with his output, climaxing in August with a brand new project he’s dubbed Never Sleeps.

Inspired by collaborations and taking things back to the roots of why we’re all here, the project has been in development over lockdown and is gradually being unleashed to the world now following his and fellow Dutch anthem-crafter Chico Rose’s end-of-set feel-good moment ‘You Got The Love’… The timing was perfect.

“Never Sleeps is a project which is basically just there to emphasise dance music built for the festivals and clubs,” Afrojack told DJ Mag in the summer. “Within the music industry, there's a lot of pressure on artists to keep their brands relevant or to try new things and challenges. With Never Sleeps, it's just about the music and the people — making music for people on the dancefloor and celebrating life.”  

Now out of lockdown and catapulting himself back onto the international mainstages with a full US tour imminent and plenty of big dates beyond, Afrojack definitely has a lot to celebrate. Armed with yet more major league productions such as ‘All Night Long’ (with Azteck) and now the humungous ‘Anywhere With You’ (with Dubvision and Lucas & Steve) he’s fully back, refreshed and eager to remind us why he’s been one of the most consistent DJs in this poll in the last 10 years.

“It’s an honour to still be up here after all these years,” says the DJ who kept many of us smiling through lockdown with his weekly Jacked Radio broadcasts. “Nightlife is in my blood and I will continue to give it my all. Thank you to all my fans around the world for voting for me, and I will see you on stage soon!”

 

How was your first gig back after lockdown?

“Magical. It reminded me that DJing is in my blood.”


How have the last 18 months changed how you view your work/life balance?

“I started to see the potential of collaboration and benefits of no constant pressure to work.”


What further steps should the industry take to combat climate change?

“Raise awareness and inform our people.”


What’s the best bit of tech you’ve added to your studio or DJ set-up this year?

“Definitely the upgrade to CDJ-3000s.”


What’s the best album you’ve heard this year?

Kanye West ‘Donda’. Creatively amazing.”

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Becca Antoon - 2021-10-11 11:19

Style: 
“Whatever I feel like.”
Best known for: 
“Afrojack music.”
Tune of the year: 
“Probably ID ‘ID’, due to Covid not a lot got released.”

Poll 2021: Tiësto

15
Tiësto
Up
1
From: The Netherlands

 

After indulging in a rare break from the road (and letting his honeymoon phase linger a bit longer), it seems Dutch artist Tiësto never missed a beat. As soon as festivals and shows returned,  the ‘Love Comes Again’ producer unleashed his signature euphoric beats upon massive crowds like those at Creamfields, New York City’s Electric Zoo and the newly-opened, 100,000-square-foot Zouk Nightclub in Las Vegas, where he holds a coveted residency. Fans hear plenty of his fresh tunes at these high-profile affairs, too. 
 
Shortly after signing with Atlantic Records in 2020, Tiësto released the first single from his upcoming album entitled ‘The Business', and it became a huge international hit through 2021. More recently, he followed it up with bass house-heater ‘Don’t Be Shy’, featuring Colombian singer/songwriter Karol G. This pop-centric cut bears a stark contrast to the music he’s released under the melodic house alias VER:WEST. The newest of that lot dropped last month — a  remix of French 79’s ‘Diamond Veins’, which received a smooth, progressive treatment to elevate the electro-powered original.
 
Tiësto’s Musical Freedom imprint has been in the spotlight too, with powerhouse collaborations like ‘Impossible’ from David Guetta and MORTEN just scratching the surface of what’s yet to come from his camp. 

 

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Becca Antoon - 2021-10-11 09:23

Style: 
EDM
Best known for: 
First Dutch winner of the Top 100 DJs poll

Poll 2021: Martin Garrix

2
Martin Garrix
Up
1
From: The Netherlands

Rising star DJ/producer of 2021: “GetGet.”
 
 
Since his first appearance in the Top 100 DJs poll, way back in 2013, Martin Garrix has been a mainstay of the list. 12 months later he was a top ten entry, and he’s been there ever since, walking away with the hallowed title of No.1 spinner in the world three years running, only slipping to second and third position in 2019 and 2020 respectively. This year he’s back up to No.2.
 
Suffice to say, plenty has changed about the dance music world in that time, and the fact he has remained on top of his game throughout is testament to both an enduring popularity and restless desire to keep pushing EDM and electronic sounds forward, into new directions. His AREA21 project with Detroit’s Maejor is a case in point, combining high concept narrative — aliens crash landing on Earth, which they find confusingly divided — with guitar pop sensibilities. “The music is very different from the Garrix stuff,” Martin tells DJ Mag. “I play guitar, I’m singing background vocals and Maejor is rapping, singing and co-writing everything.” A debut full-length drops imminently, and expectations are sky high. 
 
On the solo front, since we were last here Garrix has delivered a succession of huge singles to widespread acclaim, winning over even more fans across the globe in the process. Crucially, these provided more evidence to support the theory that this Dutch DJ and producer remains one of the broadest in his sound, hence drafting a slew of guests from across a broad musical palette. Namely U2’s Bono and The Edge (‘We Are The People’), Swedish dark pop superstar Tove Love (‘Pressure’), US rapper G-Eazy with indie vocalist Sasha Alex Sloan (‘Love Runs Out’), and Apeldoorn producer Julian Jordan, who joined with UK bass don Tinie Tempah for the stadium-filling energy rush of ‘Diamonds’. 

Elsewhere, Garrix’s STMPD RCRDS label continues to provide a platform for even more artists, with its Netherlands studio complex now regarded as the country’s most technologically advanced. It’s an ideal destination for up-and-coming talent to ensure their work will turn heads, while established producers are also regular guests. All of which is before we’ve even had chance to mention a calendar of bookings which, since lockdowns began easing, has included headline slots at some of the planet’s biggest dance music festivals, from EDC in Las Vegas to Romania’s Untold. 
 
“It has been such a different year that has definitely shown health always comes first. It has also really made me appreciate the things I took for granted in life even more. Free hugs for everybody,” Garrix tells DJ Mag, before explaining how he thinks the collective experience might shape the future of our industry and scene. “I think some people in the industry might strive to get a better work-life balance after being able to spend so much time at home the past year. But other than that, I really hope we will get back to our old ways and pick up the big festivals and shows all over the world again soon. Music brings us together and I feel that is much-needed after the past two years.”
 
 
 
How was your first gig back after lockdown? 
 
“It was absolutely insane. I hadn’t played a show in almost two years, so was super nervous to get back on the stage. Being able to feel the energy from the crowd again after such a long time was unreal.”
 
 
How has the last 18 months changed how you view your work/life balance? 
 
“It has definitely given me some time and space to unwind, and have my first actual holiday in many years. I had a lot of time with friends and family and was able to spend way more hours in the studio than usual, which has helped me creatively. I love touring and being able to play so many shows, but hitting the pause button hasn’t been too bad for me.”
 
 
What’s the best bit of tech you’ve added to your studio or DJ setup this year? 
 
“I switched to Pro Tools to record vocals and guitars, which has been an amazing change in my workflow.”
 
 
What’s the best album you’ve heard this year? 
 
“Fred again.. ‘Actual Life’.”

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Becca Antoon - 2021-10-08 12:14

Style: 
“Electronic/pop.”
Best known for: 
“Hits such as ‘Animals’, ‘In The Name Of Love’ and ‘Scared To Be Lonely’. Released the official UEFA EURO 2020 Soundtrack, ‘We Are The People’, with Bono and The Edge.”
Tune of the year: 
“Fred again.. ‘We Lost Dancing’.”

Poll 2021: Mr. Pig

76
Mr. Pig
Up
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From: Mexico
 
Rising star DJ/producer of 2021: “Kyle Walker.”
 
 
Ten years ago Daniel Bautista, also known as Mr Pig, had a dream to create his own label and agency that would become a beautiful platform for the music of his country, Mexico. In recent years and with the wealth of top-notch, worldwide gigs under his belt and an ever-increasing in-demand status, Holy Pig Records has only gone and done exactly what it set out to do — and more. Choosing to shine a light on Mexican and Latin artists is typical of Daniel, who simply wants to share the love. 
 
As well as providing work for a team of creatives that are the backbone of his imprint, they have released a good two- or three-hundred songs from blossoming artists, including Mr Pig himself. “I’ve been making new music, and right now I’m working on two EPs,” he explains. “One is pop/dance music and the second one is classic music and tech-house.” Ever evolving and constantly searching out the next thing to sprinkle his magic dust over, Daniel has also launched Holy Films.
 
 
How was your first gig back after lockdown? 
 
“Incredible! I missed so much the energy of the crowd.”
 
 
How has the last 18 months changed how you view your work/life balance? 
 
“180 degrees! Before I didn’t have a balance between my life and my work! Now I feel I manage my time better.”
 
 
What further steps should the industry take to combat climate change?
 
“Solar panels for clubs and stages at festivals, and stop using disposable cups.”
 
 
What’s the best bit of tech you’ve added to your studio or DJ setup this year? 
 
“Right now I’m trying to be my own light jockey, so I just added a [Pioneer DJ] DMX interface.”
 
 
What’s the best album you’ve heard this year? 
 
“'Never Enough' by Disclosure.” 

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Becca Antoon - 2021-10-08 12:08

Style: 
“House, tech-house, dance music.”
Best known for: 
“The Mexican papi.”
Tune of the year: 
“'Just Feels Tight' by Fisher.”

Poll 2021: Mariana Bo

40
Mariana Bo
Up
4
From: Mexico
 
Rising star DJ/producer of 2021: “KSHMR.”
 
 
Mariana BO made a conscious decision to put a positive spin on 2021 — she looked at the dip in events and festivals as something to be taken advantage of. “I experimented with a different style of music, following the tech-house line in my own style,” she begins to explain. “I used this time for myself and also to be in the studio.” Having crafted a niche on the scene with her violin-enhanced performances, this Mexican DJ has gathered momentum and fans along the way. “I believe that each artist has to evolve to their environment and what people like to listen to.”
 
Over the past year, Mariana has been working on setting up a booking agency for DJs in Latin America, hoping to give a platform and help generate jobs for future talents. “I think it was the perfect time to create a team and take advantage of the time to move forward in January 2022.”
 
On climate change, she also suggested that a video campaign with artists strongly advocating the importance of keeping the environment clean and green could be a way forward: “Throw your trash in the bin!”
 
 
How was your first gig back after lockdown?
 
“It was incredible to be able to go back to doing what I love.”
 
 
How have the last 18 months changed how you view your work/life balance?
 
“With the pandemic, it has been a challenge for me, but I have overcome it very well. I was patient, I learned a lot and I became stronger.”
 
 
What further steps should the industry take to combat climate change?
 
“Exercise dynamics and support among the DJs, or do events where the proceeds go to support our planet.”
 
 
What’s the best bit of tech you’ve added to your studio or DJ setup this year?
 
“A new Yamaha SV-200 violin and a Pioneer DJ RMX-1000.”
 
 
What’s the best album you’ve heard this year?
 
“'Harmonica Andromeda' from KSHMR.”

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Becca Antoon - 2021-10-08 12:06

Style: 
“EDM.”
Best known for: 
“Super energetic sets with a touch of live violin performance.”
Tune of the year: 
“'Drop It' by Dubdogz, Mariana BO & Flakke feat. Luisah.”

Poll 2021: Carnage/GORDO

37
Carnage/GORDO
Re-entry
0

From: Guatemala

 

Welcome back to the Top 100 Carnage... Or should we say GORDO? Last spotted in this poll in 2017, the Guatemalan EDM superstar is back with a bang. Trimmer, sleeker and deeper, this year has seen him unveil a brand new alias — GORDO. Two tunes deep, both ‘KTM’ and ‘TARAKA’ have been big milli-streaming smashes and shown a different side to his musical palette.

For the full Carnage/GORDO palette, however, it’s all about the DJ sets. Popping off like a rocket since shows opened again Stateside in the summer, his performances have ranged from his first-ever sunrise set at XS Las Vegas (where he’s a resident) to his TARAKA phenomenon, where he announces flash raves in random cities across North and Central America and plays to his fans for free — for upwards of six hours!

Don’t act too surprised. GORDO’s got a heart of gold and has previously invested in building schools in Guatemala and Nicaragua, cannon-fired $10,000 into the crowd and, most recently, invited his nan to be his roommate so he could look after her. Call him Carnage, call him GORDO, call him a gentleman. 

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Becca Antoon - 2021-10-08 12:02

Style: 
Bigroom house

Poll 2021: ATB

35
ATB
Up
21
From: Germany
 
Rising star DJ/producer of 2021: “Barkley.”
 
 
It's been an exciting year for André Tanneberger, aka ATB, despite the first half of 2021 being consumed very much with Covid-19; he finally released a remake of his epic trance anthem '9PM' with Topic and A7S. “In the last 20 years I've received so many requests for collaborations, remakes and cover versions,” he begins to explain, “but I turned them all down because I was never really satisfied.” Embracing life with his one-year-old son has played a massive part in making this year extra special, he says. 
 
As with so many DJs, artists and performers, the past 18 months have given him a whole new perspective on life in general. After spending much time working on his eleventh album, planned for release next year, ATB also isn't shy to talk about precious family time. “I have once again become very aware that work is not the most important thing and that one should find a healthy mixture of work and enjoying life.”
 
 
How was your first gig back after lockdown?
 
“It was just insane. I had goosebumps all over. I've been used to being on stage since 1993, and this was the first time since then that I hadn't been in front of an audience for more than two months.”
 
 
How have the last 18 months changed how you view your work/life balance?
 
“When you've been on the road for so many years, it feels at first as if time has stopped. You think that it will soon go on, but then you realise that this is not the case.”
 
 
What further steps should the industry take to combat climate change?
 
“Energy from green power should be used by the industry (streaming platforms, festivals, clubs, record labels, artists etc) or more sustainability at events that generate large amounts of plastic waste.”
 
 
What’s the best bit of tech you’ve added to your studio or DJ setup this year?
 
“My new flight simulator platform that I built into my home studio.”
 
 
What’s the best album you’ve heard this year?
 
“No favourite album in 2021 so far.”

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Becca Antoon - 2021-10-08 11:56

Style: 
“Energetic and emotional dance music.”
Best known for: 
“'9PM (Your Love)'.”
Tune of the year: 
“Toni Palucci 'Skywalker'.”

Poll 2021: Alan Walker

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Alan Walker
Up
4
From: Bergen, Norway
 
Rising star DJ/producer of 2021: “Imanbek.”
 
 
Masked-up and hoodie-wearing Norwegian superstar DJ Alan Walker has taken the opportunity this year to sit down and spend time in the studio making new music. It's been a bit of luxury because ordinarily he would be working on the hop while he wows his 'Walkers' across the world. “I've had more time to focus entirely on my music. I think this is why I've managed to release a lot of new stuff this year,” he tells DJ Mag, adding that there's going to be a whole lot more besides in 2022. 
 
When asked about climate change, Walker revealed that he has teamed up with Tree-nation so that he and his fans can contribute back to the planet. “For each purchase of my merchandise, the buyer gets to plant a tree in our forest, the Walker Woods!” Turns out this is an actual place, located in Madagascar. “It's a really exciting initiative and I hope as an industry we can improve and adapt even more.” Well done Alan!
 
 
How was your first gig back after lockdown? 
 
“It was incredibly good to be back on stage, no words can describe the feeling I get while up there! It also made me realise how much I’ve missed performing and meeting Walkers around the world.” 
 
 
How have the last 18 months changed how you view your work/life balance? 
 
“I’ve learned that it’s always good to set aside some time to be with my family and friends. Although it also made me realise how much I love being out on the road.”
 
 
What further steps should the industry take to combat climate change? 
 
“As someone with a following, it’s important to use my platforms to reach out to people and I hope more artists can use their platforms.”
 
 
What’s the best bit of tech you’ve added to your studio or DJ setup this year? 
 
“I’ve actually added a plug-in called Satellite, which enables you to do sessions with songwriters and producers all over the world.”
 
 
What’s the best album you’ve heard this year? 
 
“'WLUWD' by Tristam.”

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Becca Antoon - 2021-10-08 11:50

Style: 
“Pop-inspired EDM.”
Best known for: 
“Wearing a mask and a hoodie!”
Tune of the year: 
“Skrillex 'Supersonic'.”

Poll 2021: Nervo

18
Nervo
Up
2

From: Australia

Rising star DJ/producer of 2021: “KC Lights and Dom Dolla.”
 
 
Australian DJ duo Liv and Mim Nervo have been a constant in the Top 100 DJs poll for nearly the past ten years. Intensely likeable and without question one of the finest double-acts the clubbing community has been blessed with, NERVO remains firm favourites on the scene. They’re known for their many artist collaborations with the likes of Kylie, David Guetta and Miley Cyrus, while their huge tune 'Best Friend' peaked at 100,000,000 streams on Spotify and has appeared on a recent iPhone ad. Nice work. 
 
NERVO ‘opted' to take the summer off to enjoy some beautiful weather in southern Europe. “It was one of those Covid silver linings!” they tell DJ Mag about time spent over the past year. “We have been busy making lots of new music and taking care of our toddler daughters.” Refreshingly keen to talk about parenthood, Liv and Mim are also fired up about their forthcoming NERVOnation shows across the globe. 
 
 
How was your first gig back after lockdown?
 
“It was incredible. We were in Bangkok and had quarantined for two weeks with a bunch of other DJs, so by the end of our month in Thailand we had all become close buddies.”
 
 
How have the last 18 months changed how you view your work/life balance?
 
“It has just reiterated how lucky we are to have the life we live.”
 
 
What further steps should the industry take to combat climate change?
 
“It would be amazing if clubs were all powered by solar energy! And there should be a ban on plastic cups and straws. All plastic should be banned!”

 

What’s the best bit of tech you’ve added to your studio or DJ setup this year?
 
“We have been loving our Neumann U87 mic, and find we spend less time EQing and compressing vox now!”
 
 
What’s the best album you’ve heard this year?
 
“It’s a little shameful to say, but we haven’t been listening to albums at all actually. But we love KC Light’s ‘Girl’, and what Purple Disco Machine has been releasing lately.”

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Becca Antoon - 2021-10-08 11:47

Style: 
“Big room house.”
Best known for: 
“DJing around the world at all major festivals like Lollapalooza, Creamfields, Tomorrowland, and having residencies at superclubs like Hakkasan and Omnia in Las Vegas, and Ushuaïa in Ibiza.”
Tune of the year: 
“'Friday (Dopamine Re-Edit)' by Riton x Nightcrawlers, and 'Gotta Be You' by NERVO feat. Carla Monroe.”

Poll 2021: Calvin Harris

16
Calvin Harris
Up
2

From: Scotland


Despite playing no DJ sets this year, Calvin still remains a firm favourite with many fans as he appears in the poll for the 12th consecutive year. That’s not to say the Omnia resident hasn’t been active, though. As Love Regenerator he’s dropped some of the most underground sounds of his career: the piano-pumping, NYC-inspired ‘We Can Come Together’ (with ex-drum & bass star/current bigroom smasher Eli Brown) and ‘Rollercoaster’ with Manchester tech-house duo Solardo. Both landed this summer and reminded us all of Harris’s dancefloor roots. Prior to these came a more typical poppy Harris anthem in the form of ‘By Your Side’ — a hazy, feel-good track with Tom Grennan that hit the UK top 10.

While we’re unsure when Harris will be able to return to perform at regular haunts like Pacha and Ushuaïa, judging by his Instagram we can confirm he’s grown a reasonably decent (if a little unkempt) beard, and his watermelon growing game is on-point! We told you he was active. 

 
 

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Becca Antoon - 2021-10-08 10:27

Best known for: 
A string of dance hits

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