From: Los Angeles, USA
DJ Style: Dubstep, bass, trap
After a whirlwind break-through into the game that lasted the best part of a decade and took both him, dubstep and EDM to insane new heights, Sonny Moore took a break from most things Skrillex during a great deal of 2017 and 2018. But while his (and his spaceship’s) absence were certainly felt on big line-ups, he hasn’t been shy of the studio.
This year has seen him casually drop some of the biggest remixes of his career, as both Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Humble’ and Pendulum’s ‘The Island Pt 1’ enjoyed the Skrillex treatment, racking up epic stream numbers and once again showing how broad Skrillex’s sonic range is... Much to the chagrin of fans continuously hoping for a ‘Bangarang Part 2’.
He also went back to his roots and linked up with his original band From First To Last, writing his first tune with them in over 10 years, ‘Surrender’, and found time to push the buttons and sculpt the sounds for some of the biggest names in pop: Camila Cabello, The Weeknd, Kimbra, Jennifer Lopez and Lykke Li.
Even with all this activity happening, because he didn’t seem active through the gaze of social media, in June this year he posted ‘I’m not dead, I’m not gone’ to quash rumours being speculated by bloggy fearmongers. Quite the contrary, in fact; he returned to the festival game in a major way towards the end of the summer with massive shows at the likes of Fuji Rock, Decadence, Snowta and Listen Out, and he’s got a string of shows all confirmed around NYE. He may have started the year off quietly, but he’s certainly ending it with a bang.
Words: DAVE JENKINS
DJ style: “House.”
Best known for: “Stretching musical boundaries, not being caught in any one genre.”
Fave tune of 2018: “Fisher ‘Losing It’.”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2018: “Raiden.”
2018 marks 16 years of the Dutch DJ/producer’s meteoric music career, and twelve years since the release of his worldwide chart-topping anthem ‘Put Your Hands Up For Detriot’. Since then, Fedde Le Grand has been non-stop. He’s produced two studio albums — namely ‘Output’ in 2009 and ‘Something Real’ in 2016 — and collaborated with an ongoing list of high-profile EDM and pop stars including Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Ida Corr and Shaggy. With his own label Darklight he’s helped the careers of young talent to flourish, including Dutch duo Holl & Rush, and China’s Carta, who’s now signed to Spinnin’ Records.
As a goodwill gesture earlier this year, Fedde joined forces with DJ Mag and software giants BBIN to raise money for The Gaming Beat Charity by giving away a run of exclusive downloads for the cause. Aside from that he’s been riding the wave of two summer singles — ‘Flex’ featuring ragga titan General Levy, and ‘Hit The Club’ with Korean superstar Raiden. Fedde tells DJ Mag that he has recently completed “some very interesting collabs” — a third album in the wings, perhaps? Either way, we’re certain Fedde has a grand plan...
Words: ANNA WALL
From: The Netherlands, but with Turkish roots
DJ style: “Electronic music.”
Best known for: “Just being me, a guy who likes to produce music and sounds.”
Fave tune of 2018: “W&W x Vini Vici ‘Chakra’ — officially from 2017, but I’ve played it in every set throughout this year.”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2018: “Brooks.”
Ummet Ozcan has had another busy year, but one tainted with sadness. “We’ve lost an inspiring artist and soul this year,” he says of the sad loss of Avicii.
His own tour diary has been dizzyingly busy, with stops in China, the UAE, Cyprus, Singapore, Myanmar, Japan, the USA and all over Europe. In between these shows he has tried to take as much studio time as possible. “I want a constant flow of releases,” he says, and to aid him on his mission, this year he launched his own OZ Records label. It will deal in the same electrifying, hard and big room sounds as his own productions, which this year include ‘Change My Heart’ with Laurell, and ‘Trash Movement’ with Coone and Villain.
“Style-wise, I constantly try to evolve, just because it’s fun to explore other music and experiment a bit,” he explains, while admitting that he and his team have been working hard to create stunning visuals and new elements for his shows, which may well explain his success this year.
Words: KRISTAN J CARYL
From: Paris, France
DJ style: Trap, and beyond.
Last year saw DJ Snake set entirely new benchmarks when he became the first DJ to play on top of the Arc de Triomphe and stream his performance to over 1.5 million people. How could he possibly continue such a trajectory? Don’t worry; he has... and by the end of the year it could be even higher.
Yes, 2018 has been another banger for the Paris-born-and-based DJ. Schedule-wise he’s reduced his shows to a more manageable and healthy 50 headline gigs and has clearly invested the time in his studio creations. Snake, real name William Sami Etienne Grigahcine, has gradually dropped a series of tracks that have been progressively more high-profile as the year has gone by. First came ‘Magenta Riddim’, a tribute to India, a country he’s praised and celebrated in a number of interviews over the years (and shot the video for his and Major Lazer’s hit ‘Lean On’ in a few years back). Then came a Latin-tipped homage to a handy Argentinian football legend during the peak of World Cup tension with the sun-kissed ‘Maradona Riddim’. Then, just last month, he returned to his premium pop mode with his biggest track since his collaboration with Justin Bieber (‘Let Me Love You’ in 2016) with ‘Taki Taki’, a supersized collaboration with Selina Gomez, Ozuna and Cardi B. The track scored over 20 million views within a week of being uploaded, making it the most successful Latin/EDM crossover hit to date.
Having hinted at a new album in the pipeline, we wouldn’t be surprised if more major league mainstream collaborations from Snake dent charts and hearts very soon...
Words: DAVE JENKINS
From: Amsterdam, Netherlands
DJ style: “Electronic and energetic.”
Best known for: “‘Go Hard’ and ‘Good Vibes’.”
Fave tune of 2018: “Camelphat ‘Panic Room’.”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2018: “Curbi.”
Dutch dance music producer/DJ Quinten van den Berg, aka Quintino, has been steadily ascending the Top 100 poll since 2014, last year reaching an impressive No.30 before jumping another five places this year. But he’s been making music long before then; known initially for being Laidback Luke’s protégé, he broke into the charts back in 2011 with the platinum-selling single ‘Epic’. Since then he’s collaborated with some of the biggest EDM acts in the world and signed to the gargantuan label, Spinnin’ Records.
“I was able to do a 12-week world tour this year, did collabs with Steve Aoki, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Hardwell, Deorro and many more,” Quintino tells DJ Mag. “We finished the design of the new merch, which is coming end of 2018, and currently I’m working on my first ever album — and I’m so excited! Got a lot in store for 2019...”
Words: ANNA WALL
DJ style: “EDM bounce/hard bounce.”
Best known for: “Our songs ‘Bounce Generation’, ‘How We Party’, and ‘Raveology’.”
Fave tune of 2018: “We don’t really have one, but if we could pick an album it would be ‘Gravity’ by Bullet For My Valentine. Absolutely loving it!”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2018: “SayMyName.”
Spinnin’ Records stalwarts Alessandro and Andrea VInai have been bubbling under for some time, but it’s really only in the last year or two that they’ve really reached the top tier of EDM and “hard bounce” DJs. Now able to command huge audiences — both at colossal clubs such as Los Angeles’ EDM hot-spot Avalon, and at music festivals in the Far East — the Italian siblings are still coming to terms with their newfound status as a headline attraction.
“Being part of a festival is easy, but headlining it is definitely something else,” they explained to DJ Mag. “You’ve got all the pressure, and you have to make sure all the people that are waiting for you get a memorable experience.”
The pair have continued to rack up dancefloor hits, too, joining forces with LMFAO’s Redfoo on the sizable ‘Everything I Need’. They also got to work with Hardwell. “He’s one of our all-time heroes,” they explain. “It’s something we always dreamed about when we started this journey.”
Words: MATT ANNISS
DJ style: “Hardstyle.”
Best known for: “Representing the hardstyle genre and transforming it into something hard but melodic, energetic but touching.”
Fave tune of 2018: “KELTEK ‘Dark Sun’.”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2019: “Sound Rush and Sefa.”
Few artists would be able to completely change their production style and still retain the same level of popularity, but that’s exactly what Headhunterz (aka Dutch scene stalwart Willem Rebergen) did earlier in the decade. Having established himself as one of hardstyle’s biggest stars, he decided to mix things up in 2014, producing tracks that were closer to house and EDM than the blistering hard dance tracks he was known for.
At the back end of last year he decided to return to his hardstyle roots, heading back into the studio to make what became comeback album ‘The Return Of Headhunterz’. Released earlier in the year, it remains one of the most talked-about hard dance albums of 2018 and — along with his placing in the poll this year — confirmed his place as hardstyle’s leading DJ/producer.
Ever the workaholic, Rebergen has been touring relentlessly, barely returning to his home in the Netherlands for months on end. Somehow he’s also found time to work on a new Project One mini-album with fellow hardstyle star Wildstylez, and record regular episodes of his popular Hard With Style radio show.
Words: MATT ANNISS
From: The Netherlands
DJ style: “Hardcore.”
Best known for: “‘Raise Your Fist For Angerfist’.”
Fave tune of 2018: “Little Jon x Skellism feat. Terror Bass ‘In The Pit (Angerfist Remix)’.”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2018: “Sefa.”
Up 11 places from last year to No.29, it’s fair to say that hardcore stalwart Angerfist is having a pretty exciting 2018. At the end of 2017, the masked Dutchman released his highly anticipated sixth LP ‘Creed Of Chaos’ to scene-wide acclaim. Tracks like ‘Pennywise’, ‘The Promqueen’s Finest Drug’ and the Breaking Bad-referencing ‘Knock Knock’ showcased a producer at the helm of his genre’s animated identity.
Since, the DJ/producer — real name Danny Masseling — has practically been on a non-stop tour, playing to huge crowds at clubs and festivals around the globe, including Tomorrowland, Defqon. 1, EDC Las Vegas, Hardraise and many more. He’s showing no sign of slowing down either, with a pretty full schedule lined up for the remainder of the year, featuring shows in Sweden, Germany, Austria, The Netherlands and California. Angerfist also has new music in the pipeline after a brief break. With the promise of “several solo tracks, remixes and collabs” on the way, it appears to be full steam ahead for the hardcore don.
Words: EOIN MURRAY
DJ style: “Big room.”
Best known for: “Energetic music and sets.”
Fave tune of 2018: “Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike vs Julian Banks and Bassjackers feat. Snoop Dogg ‘The Bounce’.”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2018: “Belgium’s D’Angello & Francis.”
The appearance of big room botherers Bassjackers in this year’s Top 100 DJs is not at all surprising given the year they’ve had, not to mention all the work they’ve been putting in to make their shows are extra-special. “We worked extra-hard on making our sets even more well-balanced,” Marlon Flohr and Ralph van Hilst explain from their base in the Netherlands. “There’s new visuals and we wanted to make interactivity and energy work hand in hand to create an awesome, all-round experience.”
One of the first times their new show was performed was at Tomorrowland, where the popular duo used a headline main stage appearance to debut a raft of new tracks and collaborations. These included a slew of cuts created alongside regular studio partners Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, as well as a hook-up with the one and only Snoop Dogg. They say we’ll be able to grab those soon, with a swathe of singles and a new album scheduled for release in the months ahead.
Words: MATT ANNISS
DJ style: “We go harder than you think. Haha!”
Best known for: “Surprising people!”
Fave tune of 2018: “Fisher’s ‘Losing It’ on Catch and Release.”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2018: “Louis The Child.”
Chainsmokers duo Andrew Taggert and Alex Pall have enjoyed a meteoric rise in the last few years, not only as DJs, but also as producers. Last year, only Ed Sheeran could stop them topping the UK album charts with debut full-length ‘Memories...Do Not Open’, while this year they’ve released a string of radio-friendly singles and EPs.
Demand for their club-rocking services has naturally risen accordingly, with the New York-based pair causing a commotion during a rare UK appearance at Creamfields earlier in the year. Further massive festival appearances in the United States also helped them rise to No.2 on Forbes Magazine’s 2018 World’s Highest-Paid DJs list. According to the American business publication, only Calvin Harris earned more than the popular duo, who took home an astonishing £36.5 million.
Almost a hybrid DJ/live act these days, the pair have deliberately limited their shows this year, instead spending more time in the studio to craft new music. Furthermore, they’ve also moved into the world of the moving image, founding a film and television production company called Kick The Habit.
Words: MATT ANNISS