The results for 2018’s DJ Mag Top 100 DJs poll will be announced tonight.
The countdown will start at 8 40 pm CEST and you can keep an eye on it via our Instagram and Twitter channels. We will be streaming the announcement of this year’s No. 1 DJ live from AMF between 11 40 and 11 58 pm CEST on Facebook and YouTube.
From: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
DJ style: “Progressive/big room house.”
Fave tune of 2018: “Taska Black ‘Forever’.”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2018: “Osrin.”
Dutch wunderkind Martin Garrix has scooped the Top 100 DJs crown for the third year in a row — a feat only previously accomplished by his fellow countrymen Armin van Buuren and Tiësto. Amazingly, he’s still only 22, three years younger than Hardwell was when he first won the poll.
Garrix, born Martijn Garritsen, learned the guitar at an early age — a good grounding for the electronic pop songs he’d later co-write. When he saw Tiësto DJing at the 2004 Olympic Games opening ceremony in Athens on TV, he decided he wanted to be a DJ and — with the full support of his mum and dad — started spinning at school events and the like. Soon getting into producing his own music, he signed to Spinnin’ Records to start releasing club tracks while still doing a music production course in Utrecht. When ‘Animals’ was released in 2013, it exploded all over the world — and Garrix became a star overnight. With much of the EDM mulch that has followed in the scene, it’s easy to forget what a groundbreaking record ‘Animals’ was. Much copied but never bettered, its dynamics were impeccable for rocking big arenas — a synth riff that became akin to a terrace chant, a contrasting clucking drop, and that slightly naughty, shouted “Animals” exhalation that saw some of his early fans start wearing animal masks to his shows.
Five years on from ‘Animals’, he’s now a bona fide pop star, as well as a chart-topping DJ. A slew of productions has seen him collab with a virtual who’s who of EDM — DV&LM, Afrojack, Tiësto, Guetta — and also some of pop’s biggest names, such as the angsty slomo relationship song ‘Scared To Be Lonely’ with Dua Lipa and the widescreen melodic EDM cut ‘Don’t Look Down’ with Usher. He’s also recorded with Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber, although those tracks have yet to see the light of day due to assorted music industry politics.
After escaping his deal with Spinnin’, Martin signed to Sony and also started up his own label — STMPD RCRDS. “It’s doing really good,” he tells DJ Mag. “We’ve released lots of music last year from both established and upcoming artists. My vision of creating this label is really coming to life, especially with the recently added STMPD recording studios. It’s really turned into a creative hub where all kinds of artists and types of music come together.”
Evidently in the game for the long haul, Garrix has released lots of music in the last 12 months — including the deep, melancholic, emotive love paean ‘Ocean’ with American singer-songwriter Khalid — and has toured the world playing the biggest festivals (Ultra Miami, Tomorrowland), headlining the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics in South Korea, and rocking his Ibiza residency at Ushuaïa every week during the summer. He came out very well from the What We Started documentary film launched during Miami Music week in March, sharing top billing with Carl Cox, and has just released a book LIFE = CRAZY, which documents his, err, crazy life through a succession of choice photos.
Martin Garrix is unstoppable. Still incredibly well-adjusted and down to earth despite his fame, he’s a deserving winner of the Top 100 DJs poll once again.
Words: CARL LOBEN
DJ style: “Smashin’ The House.”
Best known for: “Ambassadors of Tomorrowland.”
Fave tune of 2018: “Fisher ‘Losing It’, Travis Scott ‘Sicko Mode’.”
Breakthrough DJ/Producer of 2018: “Murda Beatz.”
In the No.2 slot of our poll for the third year in a row, Belgian brothers Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike sure have come a long way since growing up in the tiny Flemish town of Willebroek.
“When I started, the biggest you could dream was being a DJ in a big club in Belgium,” remembers Dimitri Thivaios. A quarter of a century later, he and his brother have clocked up hundreds more shows in 2018, as well as having collaborated with some of the biggest hip-hop artists in the world. In the last year alone, they’ve made everything from downbeat 80bpm jams to 160bpm hardstyle bangers.
One of their biggest, ‘When I Grow Up’, has nearly 30 million views on YouTube. The pair actually wrote the track with the line “When I grow up, I wanna be like Wiz Khalifa” and then got in touch with the hip-hop giant to ask if he would guest on it. He liked it, so did, thereby making one of the year’s biggest crossover hits.
“It’s a metaphor for looking up to someone,” explains Dimitri of the song. “Kids today might look up to Drake, Martin Garrix, whoever, but it is a song with meaning, a song for adults to look back and see what you achieved so far and where you are today.”
Highlights of the pair’s own year include their second summer residency at Ushuaïa in Ibiza, which saw them break attendance records right from the off. They also played across Europe, the States and Asia, and now really understand what preferences each crowd has and reckon that people’s taste are much more open and broad than they were a few years ago.
“In America there is a lot more hip-hop influence, whereas in Asia people really love EDM,” explains Dimitri. “Then Europe is a bit of everything, but also in Europe there are more house influences that work. Our show at Ushuaïa is divided into different segments, so we play different stages, we do a throwback set with classics, then do a back-to-back which can turn into a more deep sound, and it all works, even hardstyle, which no one was really playing when we first started.”
Many years ago, Dimitri had a residency in a small club on the Greek islands that saw him play six-hour sets, six nights a week. He says he doesn’t miss those days and prefers the huge spectacle of the supersized sets he and his brother now play at places like Tomorrowland and Creamfields.
Another pinch-yourself moment for the pair this year was working on a forthcoming collaboration with Snoop Dogg. “We remixed him really early on in our career and thought back then we had made it, so to work with him has been really huge,” says Dimitri, who has also taken acting classes and continued to work on writing “a bunch of films and TV scripts” this year, while Mike has worked on his songwriting and vocal-focused solo project.
But fans need not worry: the pair are not going to be leaving the dance music spotlight any time soon. “Everything has evolved so much,” he beams. “But everything we do — Mike’s solo career, my acting career — it all adds up to what we are as Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike.”
Words: KRISTAN CARYL
From: Breda, Netherlands
DJ style: “Hardwell sound.”
Best known for: “Big festival sets, Revealed Recordings, United We Are Foundation.”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2018: “KAAZE.”
For the past few years, Hardwell has been a towering a fixture in the Top 100 DJs poll, equally as much as he has been in the EDM scene since its staggering takeover of the US (and by default, the rest of the world). Wherever there is a spectacle-filled mainstage, you will find Hardwell, and he spoke back in 2014 of the Top 100 and its significance following his sophomore No.1 win.
“It definitely changed a lot of things for me. Although I’d spent 10 years dreaming of becoming the No.1 DJ, nothing really prepared me for what would happen after that. The most notable thing was the attention it brought from a new side of the industry, and people from different scenes.”
The rollercoaster ride continued this year, in particular, the 350th episode of his Hardwell On Air radio show in January, which weekly amasses an incredible 50 million listeners across more than 100 FM stations worldwide. Music-wise, it saw the release of ‘Conquerors’, debuted to memorable effect during the intro of his set at Ultra Miami in March and saw him collaborating with the 52-person Dutch Metropole Orkest for the sake of some extra symphonic drama.
With so much going on, something fans might not have been expecting this year was his retirement from touring/performing. Nonetheless, this is exactly what he announced back in September.
“Being Hardwell 24/7 leaves too little energy, love, creativity and attention for my life as a normal person... I’ve always dealt with all the pressure that comes with the heavy touring schedule, but for now, it felt too much, like a never-ending rollercoaster ride... I need some time off to be me, the person behind the artist and reflect on everything that happened the last few years.”
To mark his final Top 100 issue as a touring DJ, we grabbed Hardwell to say a few words about his “whirlwind” year, as well as his decision to retire from touring. “I achieved so many highs and had the pleasure to meet and party with hundreds of thousands of fans around the world! From headline sets at Ultra Music Festival, EDC Las Vegas, ParookaVille, Creamfields, as well as a special show for the UEFA Champions League Final and a return to Tomorrowland’s mainstage... on top of another busy summer in Ibiza and some amazing club shows along the way. I’ve loved it,” he tells DJ Mag.
“Out of the studio I had collabs with guys like Steve Aoki, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Blasterjaxx, WildStylez, and the third edition of my Hardwell & Friends EP. During ADE, I’ll be playing a special one-off show with the Metropole Orkest at the Ziggo Dome, who I collaborated with on ‘Conquerors’. This will be my final show for now. I’m excited to be closing this chapter in my life in such an exciting way!”
Referred to bombastically as ‘Symphony: The Global Revolution Of Dance’, his ADE finale will take fans on a journey through the history of dance music, and is set to see him go out with a bang. But who really knows what the future will bring for Hardwell? Only time will tell.
Words: ANGUS PATERSON
From: Paris, France
DJ style: “EDM to tech-house.”
Best known for: “Crossing over different genres.”
Fave tune of 2018: “Fisher ‘Losing It’.”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2018: “Brooks.”
Regardless of which side of the overground/underground fence you fall on, there’s no denying that David Guetta is a modern dance music legend. His impact as a house DJ in the Parisian suburbs alongside Laurent Garnier saw him work with the likes of Robert Owens and inspire Daft Punk, while his more commercial reputation as pop-dance demigod saw him introduce what became EDM to American airwaves.
His list of collaborations is a family tree of modern pop — Rihanna, Usher, Sia, Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj and fellow Top 100 DJs winner Martin Garrix have all been blessed by his undeniable ear for melody, relentlessly topping charts around the world. 2018 saw him release his seventh album, aptly titled ‘7’ — the double LP features 27 tracks, with regular collaborators returning as well as new faces like South Africa’s favourite export, Black Coffee.
In conversation with Pete Tong, Guetta said the album “represents a full cycle to me, and that’s why I wanted to go back to the beginning of the cycle. I originally started in underground house music, playing all the raves and underground clubs in Paris. I wanted to make music just for fun, with absolutely no commercial approach to it. I want to make every type of music that I like, I’m doing it for the love of music.”
Earlier this year he also revealed his much-rumoured alias Jack Back, launching a label in the process. With Jack Back, it’s a self-proclaimed hark-back to his underground beginnings, albeit with a slicker production aesthetic.
So he’s been busy behind the scenes, but what about in the booth? Continuing to hold down his residency BIG at VIP mecca Ushuaïa and his long-running F***K Me I’m Famous night at Pacha, Ibiza has become the superstar’s second home, dominating his tour dates and even his working life — Guetta finished his ‘7’ album on the White Isle, as well as running writing and production camps from his Ibiza home.
If all that wasn’t enough, 2018 also saw Guetta grace the cover of DJ Mag North America where he discussed everything from the current pressures of major label A&R and the challenges he faces to continue to evolve his sound. “If I wanted to release a record,” he said in the interview, “I was in a position where I had to get the green light from executives in the US, the UK, Germany and France. Honestly, if all those executives agree on a record, you probably have a shit record.”
Where he once struggled to step away from the sound that made him a global name, now he’s found his way back to his first love. “I’m coming back to my original stage in terms of passion, excitement, energy and also musically. I’m not denying my love for pop music, but I’m also not denying that sometimes I just need to go back to my underground roots.”
Guetta’s unimaginable success came at a price — perceived as the poster boy for EDM’s rise, he was often the first name thrown around when those who despised the genre and all it brought to electronic music mounted their soapbox. Undeterred, his positivity and work ethic continue to bring him new fans and as he’s poised to reembrace his underground heritage, he may just win back some old ones too.
Words: DECLAN MCGLYNN
From: Breda, Netherlands
DJ style: “Eclectic dance music.”
Best known for: “Switching it up.”
Fave tune of 2018: “Loud Luxury ‘Body’.”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2018: “Louis Bell.”
“I just had the biggest hit of my career with Post Malone,” says Tiësto of their electrifying ‘Jackie Chan’, which is no mean feat given the amount of music the EDM overlord has released in his long and storied career. The secret to it, and much of his music, is its ability to uplift and energise crowds around the world, no matter the language they speak.
As much as the ‘Jackie Chan’ track was a successful collaboration, Tiësto admits they don’t always work. “I must have at least 100 tracks that never saw the daylight,” he explains. “It happens, it’s nothing personal, but I will only release something when I am 100% happy with it at the moment I want to release it.”
Once again this summer he has toured endlessly, while tending to spend the winter months making music and “trying to come up with records that sound different than everything else out there”. He has another big one on the horizon already in ‘Grapevine’, and says that despite having produced for more than 20 years now, there is “nothing better than making dancefl oor and festival bangers!”
By now, Tiësto has played just about every major club and festival in the world, including Creamfi elds every single year since inception. “It’s always a great crowd and they love everything I play,” he says. “It never gets old and I feel I can really get away with playing anything there, which is the best position to be in while DJing!”
As someone who is at home playing stages to thousands upon thousands of people, Tiësto still fondly remembers the sets he played before he was a global superstar. As such, this year he has played the likes of Bootshaus in Germany, “an amazing small intimate club” and also Opium in Barcelona. Having previously turned his back on trance music in favour of a spell making deep house, Tiësto has rather gone back to his roots recently, at the same time as noticing a few more general trends.
“You can feel the scene is changing again or, I must say, as always,” he tells DJ Mag. “Groovier records are back and deep house made huge progress. Guys like Chris Lake and Fisher made a real impact, but I see myself as a really spontaneous DJ, so I take the best of what’s out there and mix it up with my own stuff. Keep it all together and uplifting. I think the concept of ‘break, big drop, break, big drop’ is getting old, and I am trying to slowly make progress to take things in a new direction.”
Another big change for the Dutchman is the album format. He strongly believes long-players are dead and that they don’t get the attention they deserve anymore. “People don’t take the time anymore to listen to a whole album,” he reckons. “So you put in months of work and people will only listen to it once or twice. But I will make a new album next year, just because I still like to listen to albums and I have a good idea for a new one now.” Despite being 50 in January, Tiësto continues to fire on all cylinders. He speaks quickly and passionately about his continued love of DJing, the joy of discovering new sounds and playing to his adoring fans all over the world.
Words: KRISTAN CARYL
From: Coevorden, Netherlands
DJ style: “Future.”
Best known for: “Creating a Hexagon-shaped universe.”
Fave tune of 2018: “Logic ‘1-800-273-8255’ feat. Alessia Cara & Khalid.”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2018: “Big Pineapple.”
Dutch DJ and producer Don Diablo (Don Pepijn Schipper) is among the biggest acts in stadium-sequestering dance music. Last year, he ranked No.11 in this poll and clinched the highest entry in the Future House category, and this year he’s jumped four places into the top 10 and again claimed the Future House crown. With sold-out tours and megastar collabs under his belt, he makes it all look easy. His success wasn’t handed to him, though. It’s the result of two decades of graft, which began in 1998 with ferocious hard house and gabber tracks for labels such as Re-fuse. Since, Don has tried his hand at a variety of less strident dance genres, from electro-house to EDM, gradually distilling his sound into the sparkly hybrid it is now.
Don Diablo’s career was sent skyward by the Hexagon visual concept, designed to add a new dimension to his DJ gigs, which he first unveiled in 2014. Hexagon has since become a brand encompassing a record label, clothing line and radio show. Successful, pop-tilted releases for majors Warner and Universal and big dance label Spinnin’, followed in Hexagon’s trail, while a collaboration with Tiësto (‘Chemicals’), and a zeitgeist-chasing sound that nods as much to house as it does the commercial end of trap, have contributed to his notoriety.
Don Diablo’s recently released album, ‘Future’, his first in 10 years, was a snapshot of this shiny new sound, loaded with guest vocalists, and the accompanying Future tour of the US was sold out everywhere. This success has enabled Don to give back too, and a recent act of philanthropy saw him raising funds for a worthy cause. “In Europe I performed a whole month for free during my Better Future tour, raising money for the Cancer Trust,” he says.
It was also a big year for vocal tracks, with Don working with a broad spectrum of vocalists, from soul and country stars to rap demigods. “In the studio I collaborated with a wide variety of artists, ranging from Emeli Sande to Gucci Mane and from Calum Scott to Ansel Elgort,” he says.
Despite diversions into pop terrain, Don Diablo has maintained his dancefloor side, and new tracks such as ‘Anthem’, ‘Heaven To Me’ and ‘No Good’ have been rapturously received. “I was the first artist to have three records in the top five at the same time, so I am very grateful for all the incredible support on my music this year,” he says.
“Touring around the globe is heavy, but if you add making music, doing interviews and photo shoots, maintaining social media, producing a weekly radio show, running a record label and a clothing line into the equation, you sometimes come close to the edge of exhaustion,” he tells DJ Mag. Considering all that he has achieved in 2018, Don Diablo has more than earned a bit of downtime.
Not content with solely touring and making music, Don has also maintained a heavy involvement in developing acts through HEXAGON and pushing his forward-thinking label to new heights in 2018. He's been working on a brand-new artist project signed to the label — a mysterious producer by the name of Big Pineapple. According to Don, fans should "expect big things" from the new production outfit in 2019.
Words: BEN MURPHY
From: The Netherlands
DJ style: “House, trap, electro.”
Best known for: “‘Take Over Control’.”
Away from making and playing music for himself, Afrojack is as busy as anyone. This year he launched Global Remix Battle I, a competition that invites producers from around the world to submit their remixes for the chance to win big: the prize includes an artist development contract with Afrojack’s Wall Recordings, having a release on the label and a pair of high-end monitors. They are testament to the Dutchman’s desire to help bring through the next generation, having broken through at such a young age himself.
“I see kids down in the dumps and they don’t have the money for the right laptop or the right plug-ins,” he told EDM.com earlier in the year. “Well, if we make a deal to work together for a few years, I believe in you, so I’ll invest in you. I’ll promote you, I’ll give you a place to stay, I’ll give you the right laptop. Let’s go, let’s have some fun.”
Afrojack started DJing aged just 14, and by his early twenties he’d had worldwide hits and soon entered our Top 100 poll, climbing ever higher since. Essential Mixes, features on Pitbull’s No.1 hit single ‘Give Me Everything’ and contributions to Beyonce’s ‘Run The World (Girls)’ all followed. By 2013 he was one of the highest-earning DJs in the world and became an in-demand producer with David Guetta and even Madonna.
This year he has put out his ‘Press Play’ EP as well as ‘One More Day’, a new collaboration with Wall Recordings’ newest members Jewelz & Sparks. It has a big halftime drop, which proved quite the innovation and always gets huge reactions. “I don’t really care to achieve mainstream success,” he has said of the track. “I just care that it makes people go like, ‘Oh shit, that’s so cool, I never thought of that!’”
In terms of gigs, he did a huge North American tour after focusing on Europe and Asia before that. He has said that he feels like it’s very much time for America to go back to more pure dance music. “When the EDM movement started back in 2010 and 2011, everything was purely about dance and then over the last couple of years it got very like, ‘Oh, let’s make a dance-pop song’. I was guilty of that too, of course, with a couple of songs like ‘Give Me Everything’, which is fun, but people are down with EDM and they’re jumping on the hip-hop bandwagon now. So we can have our own parties and they can go to hip-hop shows and do whatever they want. I’m actually kind of happy with that situation.”
With Afrojack still at the sharp end and dictating trends, anything is possible.
Words: KRISTAN CARYL
From: Rotterdam, Netherlands.
DJ style: “Future house mixed with tech-house, electro, disco and techno.”
Best known for: “Tracks like ‘Gecko’, ‘Koala’ and ‘Wombass’ and for my HI-LO alter ego.”
Tune of 2018: “Calvin Harris & Dua Lipa ‘One Kiss (Oliver Heldens Remix)’ and Enrico Sangiuliano ‘Astral Projection’.”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2018: “Zonderling, Enrico Sangiuliano and Fisher.”
Oliver Heldens slams back into the top 10 after another globetrotting year. He’s played the mainstage at Ultra Miami, hosted his own Heldeep stage at Tomorrowland (inviting Duke Dumont, Chocolate Puma and Disciples amongst others) and is currently off touring the US of A.
However, it’s actually been a (relatively) quiet year for Ollie DJ-wise, deciding instead to focus more on his production. “Besides all the shows, I’ve been working on a lot of new music,” he tells DJ Mag. “This year I took more time off to set up studio sessions with singers/songwriters and other producers.” And it’s been worth the effort as he recently landed his first major label record deal with Sony Music’s RCA Records, giving him the opportunity to release more of his crossover tracks.
He also dropped his ‘Riverside 2099’, a revamp of Sidney Samson’s 2009 hit, via his Heldeep label, which has been firing on all cylinders itself this year. A consistent release schedule has seen the imprint push new music from Chocolate Puma and Tommie Sunshine, Armitage, Murat Salman and more, plus an appearance from Ollie’s more tech-house and techno-focused HI-LO moniker in the thumping party-starter ‘King Kong (HI-LO Touch)’.
In August, he stopped off here at DJ Mag’s base in North London to deliver an energetic mix for our HQ live stream series. Peppered with his world famous mash-ups (including a massive four-way blend of Wamdue Project’s ‘King Of My Castle’, Kölsch’s ‘Calabria’, ‘Gimme Gimme Gimme’ by Abba and Ollie’s smash hit ‘Koala’), what perhaps piqued our interest even more about Ollie’s mix was his use of the new Denon DJ Prime set-up, consisting of four SC5000 decks and the X1800 mixer. Several big name DJs have made the switch from the industry standard Pioneer DJ kit now — perhaps most notably, Tiësto — so what made Ollie convert? “I loop a lot, so I love how the Denons have this big dial knob to set and adjust the loops,” he explains.
“Also I love the skip feature, you can skip forward/backward while a track is playing without the audio interrupting,” he continues. “The touchscreen is also a big pro for me, it makes it way easier to navigate through my music library. And the mixer’s sound quality is very good.”
So what’s on the horizon heading into 2019? “Making and releasing lots of new music. And building the Heldeep Records label more and more,” Ollie replies. “Thanks for all the love and for coming to my shows! I’ve been working on lots of new exciting music, and I can’t wait for you all to hear it.”
Words: BEN HINDLE
DJ style: “Future bounce.”
Best known for: “Smile.”
Fave tune of 2018: “‘Reasons To Run’ Crankdat.”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2018: “Slushii.”
Refusing to budge after first claiming the number 10 spot last year, the man in the big white can, Marshmello, holds place. “My Mellogang is family and their support means everything to me,” he tells DJ Mag about the win.
Aside from avoiding sharp sticks and campfires, Marshy has spent the past 12 months proving he’s one of the world’s hottest collaborators. His track with UK singer Anne-Marie ‘Friends’ (from her debut album), went platinum in August; he’s announced releases with Chicago rapper Juice WRLD and Arabic music legend Amr Diab are on the way; and perhaps the biggest team up of all came with the drop of ‘Happier’, featuring indie-rock/synth-pop group, Bastille. Despite being a massive, vocal-led dance-pop banger, it came with a heartbreaking video in which a young girl has to have her pooch put down —way to flip that one M-dawg!
Strangely, when the Mello Man’s second studio album ‘Joytime II’ landed in June, it didn’t feature any guests at all, with the producer instead opting to go solo across all nine tracks. This didn’t seem to bother fans too much, though, as the album still managed to hit the number one spot in the Billboard Top Dance/Electronic Albums chart. Outside of music, Grand-Marsh-ter Flash has been getting up to all sorts of hijinks too. Despite Skrillex accidentally revealing his identity a couple of times, and Forbes officially outing him as Chris Comstock (aka Dotcom) at the end of last year when they discovered both names were linked to the same tracks on royalty manager BMI’s database, the secretive DJ continued to have fun with his supposed anonymity. After previously having legendary Dutch DJ Tiësto and comedian Will Ferrell both reveal themselves as the man behind the mask, 2018 saw singer Shawn Mendes appear from under the helmet at the iHeartRadio Much Music Video Awards.
The White One — or rather, a suspiciously athletic-looking version — also appeared on the American version of the obstacle course-based TV show Ninja Warrior. And it wasn’t all physical competitions either; his personal highlight of the year was “winning the Fortnite Pro-Am with my buddy Ninja,” he tells DJ Mag. He and the gamer/Twitch star secured a $1 million prize, which they split between charities of their choice. And being the sweetie (geddit?) that he is, Mr Mello recently donated another $500,000 to the Kids In Need of Defense Foundation, a charity which helps to protect refugee children within the legal system. What a lovely chap!
Words: BRIAN FANTANA