DJ style: Tropical
This Norwegian bright spark rose up the Top 100 DJs poll over the last three years, but has slipped eight places this year. Kygo may only still be the tender age of 27, but the achievements he’s made since he stormed into the dance music world way surpass his years.
His productions regularly top the charts, including a debut album ‘Cloud Nine’ that included massive collaborations with John Legend, Labyrinth, Tom Odell and Julia Michaels, the latter of which he performed to over 75,000 people at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro...impressive! His second album ‘Kids In Love’ hit the shelves last November and spurred his biggest world tour yet — with 22 shows in ten different countries in Europe alone. Locations included Finland, Denmark, France, Ireland, Canada and the USA. The last few months he’s continued the jet-set life with gigs in New Zealand, Australia, Japan and Korea and more; does Kygo ever stop? We think not...
Words: ANNA WALL
From: Sydney, Australia
DJ style: “Explosive!”
Best known for: “Playing trumpet live with electronic music.”
Fave tune of 2018: “Marshmello feat. Khalid ‘Silence (Illenium Remix)’.”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2018: “Sub Zero Project.”
Where do you start with this Australian tour de force? Debuting in the Top 100 DJs poll just two years ago when his inaugural world tour and a fi ve-times platinum bomb in the post-sales era catapulted him into the global spotlight, Timothy Jude Smith is right to be proud of his accomplishments past and present.
Starting the year delivering one of his trademark live instrumentation performances to a home crowd as Ultra landed Down Under for the fi rst time in the festival’s history, since then it has been a whirlwind 2018. “I released more music than ever before and toured non-stop, hitting some of the biggest stages out there such as Tomorrowland, Creamfi elds, Ultra and EDC,” Timmy enthuses. “Collaborations with Maddix, Lady Bee, Max Vangelli and the mighty Hardwell are just a few stand-out production moments.”
We could namecheck plenty more, though, considering the man in question has hit a career high when it comes to quantity of releases this year. The fact quality hasn’t dropped despite the relentless output only makes it all even more impressive. Jumping ten places this year is the icing on the cake.
Words: MARTIN GUTTRIDGEHEWITT
DJ style: “Psy-trance.”
Best known for: “‘Good Vibes Only’.”
Fave Tune of 2018: “Fisher ‘Losing It’.”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2018: “Reality Test.”
‘Debuts’ is probably the best advert for the Vini Vici’s boys’ 2018. Having successfully broken out of the psy-trance bracket two years back, Matan and Aviram have been knocking down firsts like ninepins. Initial appearances on Smash The House, Spinnin’ and Dim Mak have seen them team respectively with Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Timmy Trumpet, Steve Aoki and Steve Aoki’s (yes!) mother. There’s also been a return visit to the studios of patron Armin van Buuren to follow up their 2016 breakout ‘Great Spirit’. Adding Alok to the ensemble, ‘United’ did brisk business over the summer months.
On the home front, “learning how to be a father to my baby boy” has been “the main thing for me”, says Matan. Meanwhile, back in the spring, Aviram got engaged.
Underlining perhaps the relative overnight-ness of their arrival, they’ve referenced a couple of earlier (well, 2015) moments this year. Ace Ventura collab ‘The Calling’ got a remix-release, while ‘Alteza’ was drafted from ’15 single title to that of Vini Vici’s new label enterprise. “Carrying the psy-trance message out, not just in our niche, but to the wider world is the mission,” says Aviram. “So aside from the big collaborations and headlining festivals, through Alteza Records we’re also providing a platform to newer artists that we believe in,” affirms Matan.
Words: TIM STARK
DJ style: “EDM.”
Best known for: “Tomorrowland anthem ‘Find Tomorrow’.”
Fave tune of 2018: “‘Complicated’ by Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike.”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2018: “Angemi.”
“A lot of touring, producing, getting married and making babies,” say Wolfpack — known to their friends and family as Steve Braet and Ruben Khaza — when DJ Mag probes them for info on what they’ve been up to in the last 12 months. We can’t speak for the last two points, but as for touring and producing, the pair aren’t telling porkies. This year has seen the duo, who hail from Willebroek in Belgium, hit stages at the likes of Tomorrowland festival, Cream Ibiza and Tomorrowland’s Garden Of Madness takeover at UshuaÏa Ibiza, plus drop a brace of massive collabs in July’s festival devastator ‘Derb’ with Futuristic Polar Bears and ‘Like Air’ with Nervo, which has continued to do the rounds since landing at the end of 2017.
While fans will be hoping those babies the boys mentioned won’t keep them from touring and producing too much in 2019, we can’t think of a nobler reason to take some time off than raising a few more cubs for the Wolfpack.
Words: BEN HINDLE
From: Bergen, Norway
DJ style: “Melancholic, emotional and mysterious.”
Best known for: “My debut single ‘Faded’. I am currently promoting my new single, ‘Diamond Heart’, the final chapter in the ‘World Of Walker’ trilogy.”
Fave tune of 2018: “Tiësto ‘WOW’.”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2018: “Brooks.”
Talk about whirlwind romances. If EDM crowds have been swept off their feet by anyone in the last couple of years it’s British-born, Norway-bred wunderkind Alan Walker. His meteoric rise to the upper echelons of global dance culture is nothing if not hugely impressive.
Considering how vast his army of so-called Walkers now is —check the fact his YouTube channel became Norway’s most subscribed portal this year —it’s amazing to think 2016 marked the Scandinavian maestro’s debut appearance in the Top 100 DJs poll. Since then there has been a wealth of incredible releases, the most recent being the stunning ‘Diamond Heart’, featuring Swedish experimental vocalist Sophia Somajo.
Arguably his deepest and most emotive work to date, which is saying something, it reflects Walker’s penchant for combining pop songwriting with club bounce. Concluding a three-part musical saga that began with the chart-topping ‘All Falls Down’ and continued with this summer’s ‘Darkside’, it’s yet more dancefloor ammunition for the incredible appearances that have dominated his year. “The highlights were definitely Coachella and Tomorrowland,” he tells us.
Words: MARTIN GUTTRIDGE-HEWITT
From: The Hague, Netherlands
DJ style: “Big room, electro-house.”
Best known for: “‘Snake’, ‘Mystica’, ’Rocket’, ’15’, ‘Bigroom Never Dies’, ‘Beautiful World’,‘Faith’.”
Fave tune of 2018: “Armin van Buuren ‘Blah Blah Blah’.”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2018: “Will K and Ben Nicky.”
That Blasterjaxx finish their 2018 with studio work still unreleased, which will eventually appear on their highly-anticipated long-player, is surprising. After all, the Dutch duo have been a near constant presence in the global dance charts over the past 12 months.
Work has arrived via their own Maxximize Records and Hardwell’s imprint, Revealed — the latter a collaboration with the bossman himself, ‘Bigroom Never Dies’. Anything but an ironic title, the gargantuan tune could easily fill a stadium or three, and is typical of the pair’s approach to crafting tracks, explaining why they have risen to the top of the EDM scene over the last decade.
Also known as Thom Jongkind and Idir Makhlaf, while the latter continues to avoid live performances after bravely opening up about mental health issues and backing away from touring in 2016, the former holds it down on stage for both, unleashing sets packed with energy and titanic drops, from European mega-festivals like Tomorrowland and Mysteryland, to Don’t Let Daddy Know in Chile. Look out for their debut album — coming soon.
Words: MARTIN GUTTRIDGE-HEWITT
DJ style: “Electronic Music.”
Best known for: “Highly energetic DJ sets and a very diverse taste of all different kinds of genres in the electronic music world.”
Fave tune of 2018: “Danny Avila & The Vamps feat. Machine Gun Kelly’s ‘Too Good To Be True’.”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2018: “Timmy Trumpet.”
‘Dreams’ have been coming true for young Spaniard Danny Avila long before he released a track with that name this year. A perfect encapsulation of his pop-primed big room sound put out with the backing of the mighty Sony, his next release comes in November with the follow-up to that already in the finishing stages too. The brash ‘Brah’ for Spinnin’ Records was another 2018 slice of Avila in main room mood, but he’s shown his deeper side this year too, a mix for Dancing Astronauts showcasing a set of ‘poolside sounds’, albeit what sounds like a pool in Miami.
Starting the year with an extensive tour of China, before taking in other parts of Asia, he spent the following months racking up air miles. From Chicago to Shibuya, it’s been another non-stop ride of high-profile shows, including a summer of festivals taking in Tomorrowland, Ibiza Sun Fest and Untold Festival. As for the future, with collaborations happening with Timmy Trumpet, Deorro and many more, expect news very soon.
Words: JOE ROBERTS
DJ style: “Energy-driven, from 120 to 150bpm, epic drops and a lot of fun.”
Best known for: “I’d love to say it was from my Cribs episode, but it’s for my trademark beats.”
Fave tune of 2018: Fisher ‘Losing It’.”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2018: “Timmy Trumpet, he can rock a crowd no matter how big — like he owns the place.”
One of Portugal’s highest ranked DJs of all time, Kura — or Rúben de Almeida to those who know him best — should need no introduction by now. This, after all, is his fifth consecutive entry into the Top 100 DJs poll, a clear sign of the continued demand for this European talent.
Having established a reputation for himself as one of the Spinnin’ Records family’s most innovative producers, fittingly 2018 got off to a particularly studio-focused start. His track with Olly James, ‘Fuego’, dropping in February to universal praise, and the man in question delivering a spring masterclass for aspiring talent in his homeland’s capital, Lisbon.
The standout moments didn’t end there, of course. ‘Young & Invincible’, with Jimmy Clash, ‘Kambo’ and the Mr Black and MC K9 collaboration, ‘Favela’, all ensured he had plenty of fresh original material to spin at major events like Ultra Miami, Tomorrowland and 7th Sunday Festival. This is before we mention dates in Beijing, Shanghai and Seoul, spreading his trademark powerhouse sounds across the world. “I’ve also been focusing on different genres of music, getting out of my comfort zone — it never felt so good,” he concludes.
Words: MARTIN GUTTRIDGE-HEWITT
From: Dumfries, Scotland
Calvin Harris is the ultimate musical chameleon, an artist who seems to make every transformation a success. Even in his first productions, Harris had an ear for a radio-friendly hook, though his earlier work is light years from the EDM he’d eventually become most famous for. His debut single ‘Let Me Know’, which appeared on Manchester underground heroes The Unabombers’ ‘Electric Soul 2’ compilation, was a sublime piece of jazzy neo-soul in the vein of Jill Scott or Angie Stone, before Harris changed tack and went full-on ’80s synth-pop with 2007’s chart-bothering ‘I Created Disco’ album.
His collab with Dizzee Rascal, ‘Dance Wiv Me’ tipped Harris into the mainstream, and from there superstardom, EDM songs and beats for artists such as Rihanna have beckoned, as well as a very lucrative DJ residency for Las Vegas club Omnia, which continued this year. More recently, he’s shifted style again, with last year’s ‘Funk WAV Bounces’ LP hinting at the soulfulness of his earliest work alongside an all-star cast of rappers and singers.
In 2018, he moved towards a warmer house sound (in line with many in the EDM scene), with several singles featuring bankable acts Dua Lipa and Sam Smith. He remains among the most famous dance acts from the UK.
Words: BEN MURPHY
DJ style: Big room house/EDM
It's been a tumultuous year for Sebastian Ingrosso and Axel Christofer Hedfors (Axwell to you and me). When rumours started to spread at the start of 2018 that the duo were considering reforming with their former Swedish House Mafia comrade Steve Angello, all eyes were suddenly firmly on the duo’s every move. No pressure. After three months of speculation, rumours and hearsay, the trio did indeed reform to colossal fanfair at Ultra Miami in March. While Swedish House Mafia haven’t played since, the promise of a fully-fledged reunion has continued to keep the hype alive. Since, Axwell ^ Ingrosso have been busy doing their own thing, playing to devoted crowds around the world including at festivals like Tomorrowland, Ultra Beijing, Ultra Korea, Creamfields and many more.
As anticipation builds for the full-blown SHM reunion in 2019, it’s understandable perhaps that Axwell ^ Ingrosso as a unit have slipped down to No. 41 in this year’s Top 100 DJs poll. While the duo have announced a hiatus for next year, the two Swedes are unlikely to leave our sights as one of the biggest reunions in EDM’s recent history takes centre stage. Probably.
Words: Eoin Murray