From: The Netherlands
DJ style: “EDM, Emotional Dance Music.”
Best known for: “High-energy, quality DJ sets worldwide. Fan engagement. Charity.”
Fave tune of 2018: “KSHMR feat. Jake Reese ‘Carry Me Home’.”
Breakthrough DJ/Producer of 2018: “Bassanova.”
Dutch group Dash Berlin continued their winning form of hit singles this year, releasing the euphoric EDM track ‘Save Myself’ — a collaboration with DBSTF and vocalist Josie Nelson — in February through Armada. Meanwhile, DJ gigs whisked frontman Jeffrey Sutorius off to Chicago, Miami and Guangzhou, China.
Dash Berlin were originally a trio comprising producers Eelke Kalberg and Sebastiaan Molijn, and DJ Jeffrey Sutorius, but 2018 has been a year of change. Sutorius left this October to pursue a solo career, with Kalberg and Molijn continuing under the moniker. The producers are currently working on a new album, which they say, “will shape the future of our project Dash Berlin”, while Jeffrey carves out a fresh career under his real name.
Words: BEN MURPHY
From: Brighton, South Coast, UK
DJ style: “Funky-ass house and techno music.”
Best known for: “Versatility, style and rocking the house.”
Fave tune of 2018: “Alex Mine ‘Lost (Carl Cox Remix)’.”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2018: “Charlotte de Witte.”
What can you say about Carl Cox? A titan of the worldwide electronic music scene, he’s a global ambassador whose effervescence and joie de vivre behind the decks is absolutely infectious.
Starting to DJ in his mid-teens, Coxy was ideally placed to become one of the UK’s acid house pioneers, his three-deck vinyl mixing wowing the raves right across the UK. By the mid-90s, with the release of his ‘F.A.C.T.’ mix on React and a slew of productions, he was already the biggest DJ in the UK — a fact borne out by his No.1 placing in 1995’s Top 100 DJs poll, and again in 1997.
Via Ultimate Base and Intec Records he cemented his position, and when he began his residency at Space Ibiza and toured his Carl Cox & Friends around various megafests, he became a globally recognised statesman for our culture. He finished his Space residency when the club closed in 2016, but is now a partner in the Space Club business as they launch into the future. “No pun intended, but watch this Space!” he grins.
Carl has also been working hard on his new label, Awesome Sound Wave, and found time to appear in the What We Started doc with Martin Garrix, with Paul Oakenfold at Stonehenge, and at assorted Resistance parties and more. Coxy is unstoppable — OHYESOHYESOHYES!
Words: CARL LOBEN
DJ style: “Energetic.”
Best known for: “Martin Jensen ‘Solo Dance’.”
Fave tune of 2018: “Anne-Marie ‘2002’.”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2018: “Sigala. He has really killed the game this year.”
Enjoying his third consecutive year in the Top 100, Denmark’s Martin Jensen is an EDM fast-riser with a knack for crossover records that shine particularly bright with their female vocals. This was crystal clear with his 2016 breakthrough smash ‘Solo Dance’ (currently swiftly approaching a stupendous half-billion Spotify streams), and the trend continues this year with his summer smash ‘16 Steps’ with Olivia Holt. Jensen tells DJ Mag he’s taken a step up this year.
“I’ve expanded my team in order to push the boundaries even further,” Jensen says. “I’ve been super-productive in the studio lately, I’ve felt a whole new energy towards production and I’ve just released a new club EP called ‘World’. We’ve toured the world, done a bunch of great shows and gone even more in-depth with the show production than ever before. I love seeing the shows evolve in this way, and already have plans for what’s coming next year. I can’t wait to see the response.”
Words: ANGUS PATERSON
DJ style: “Trance.”
Best known for: “Trance.”
Fave tune of 2018: “Paul van Dyk & Plumb ‘Music Rescues Me’.”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2018: “Jardin.”
Paul van Dyk, the winner of the No.1 DJ crown in 2005 and 2006, has been easing himself back into the game since his terrible accident in February 2016. Falling through the stage at the A State Of Trance’s 15th birthday gig in Utrecht, he was in a coma for weeks and it was feared he may never walk again. Thankfully, he’s back DJing and making music now — although he’ll never be quite the same again.
Let’s hand over to Paul to tell us what he’s been up to this year... “At the beginning of the year I released ‘Breaking Dawn’ with Alex M.O.R.P.H., which was the last single to be taken from my ‘From Then On’ album,” he says. “In the summer I began a new Ibiza residency at SHINE at Privilege’s VISTA club. To be somewhere that wasn’t Amnesia for the first time in so many years — essentially doing our own thing, under our own steam — was wonderful, refreshing and truly liberating. I produced the anthem for the night, which took on more and more meaning over our 11-week run there. Seeing the dawn hit VISTA’s windows on the final morning brought a feeling I don’t think I’ll ever forget.”
Paul has now just released ‘Music Rescues Me’, his ninth studio album — launching it at Printworks in London in the middle of October. It’s great to have the trance pioneer back.
Words: CARL LOBEN
DJ style: “Melbourne bounce.”
Best known for: “Melbourne bounce.”
Fave tune of 2018: “Will Sparks ‘Flakka Flakka’.”
Breakthrough DJ/ producer of 2018: “Fisher.”
Will Sparks has been flying this year — literally and metaphorically. The best known export of Melbourne bounce, the Australian city’s homegrown take on big room beats and snare-rolling, bass-dropping, dry ice-firing fanfare, he spent four months touring Europe over the summer, taking in festivals from Scotland’s Colourfest to Denmark’s Magicbox. It was just part of a packed year traversing continents, with Asia and America welcoming the energetic performer in the early part of 2018 to ensure that he’s been performing non-stop.
Teaming up with Dave Aude and vocalist Luciana (doing her best to channel the spirit of M.I.A.), his latest track ‘Flakka Flakka’ demonstrated his rip-roaring, rip-curling sound perfectly, a succession of finely crafted builds and drops keeping energy levels fully charged. Back on home ground now Down Under, the rest of the year sees him embarking on an extensive The Return tour.
Taking in all major cities, as well as the evocatively titled Surfers Paradise, he’s keeping on keeping on just like the Energiser bunny. “Life is good,” he tells us, unsurprisingly.
Words: JOE ROBERTS
From: “Planet Earth.”
DJ style: “House.”
Best known for: “Apart from my music? I guess showing up in appropriate wardrobe at any event.”
Fave tune of 2018: “Fisher ‘Losing It’.”
Breakthrough DJ/ producer of 2018: “Fisher.”
International man-of-mystery Claptone has been leaving his mark on nightlife since 2013, when he first came to prominence through the subtle charms of his massive release ‘No Eyes’ featuring Jaw. He has spent much of 2018 taking his large-scale event The Masquerade to the major cities of South America, the US and Europe. He also managed to squeeze in an Ibiza summer residency and gigs at Defected at Eden, Pacha, Cuckoo Land at Ibiza Rocks, Glitterbox at Hï Ibiza and indeed played at “more mind-blowing festivals and clubs than any regular human being ever could”.
2018 also saw Berlin resident Claptone front our annual Croatia magazine, and release of his second artist album ‘Fantast’, following the success of 2015’s ‘The Charmer’. ‘Fantast’ is a 13-track affair full of rich musical textures, pristine production and collaborations with artists including Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke, Nathan Nicholson, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Zola Blood and Joan As Policewoman. Claptone also released a series of strong singles and remix packages from the album which have kept the masked man at the very centre of the action all year long.
Words: HAROLD HEATH
DJ style: Big room house
Although somewhat aloof when it comes to answering questions for the Top 100 DJs poll, Steve Angello is arguably one of the most infamous stars of EDM. Right now he’s still riding the wave of his second studio album ‘Human’ that dropped this April — a piece of work that he’s been teasing his fans with since 2017 by drip-feeding a string of EPs prior.
The inspiration for the album came about at a time when he was thinking of leaving his whole music career behind altogether; instead he produced 21 progressive house tracks featuring guest appearances from Paul Meany, T.D Jakes, WDL and Pusha T.
Once again in gigland you can’t miss him; this year playing the world’s biggest festivals including Tomorrowland, Creamfields and Ultra Music Festival in Japan and Mexico. There was also the small matter of the Swedish House Mafia reunion show at Ultra Miami in March — are there more SHM moves to come? Although exactly what he’s up to next may be a mystery, we’re sure that he’ll be telling his 1.33 million Twitter fanbase in due time!
Words: ANNA WALL
DJ style: Progressive/electro-house/techno.
Joel Zimmerman, aka Deadmau5, aka Test Pilot, aka Goat Lord (see Twitter), has had a busy year. He’s started scoring a film, started his own Mixcloud show mau5trap radio, booked a headline show at London’s epic Printworks, started building his own first-person shooter game, released a new orchestral album, created a new portable Cube 0.5 live set-up and sent a fan a jar of toilet water in the mail, all in the name of trolling.
The mau5 is never one to rest on his laurels, his ‘mau5trap: Level 1’ EP released earlier this year seeing him collaborate with Pendulum’s Rob Swire for the first time since the seminal ‘Ghosts N Stuff’, with the second installment ‘Level 2’ due imminently. Although Deadmau5’s melodic side has never been too far from even his most energetic tracks, his orchestral album titled ‘Where’s The Drop?’ more literally explores his relationship with traditional composition, including an orchestrated version of his classic track ‘Strobe’.
Based on 2018 alone, it’s hard to predict what the mau5 will do next. Usually we’d have no doubt he’d continue to meander from immaculately produced club- and festival-friendly tracks that got him attention and the intricate compositions the won him fans. However, following criticism over several unnacceptable and offensive outbursts on social media shortly before this magazine went to press, Zimmerman released a statement apologising for his actions, addressing his own struggles with mental health, and announcing he would be taking time off to work on himself.
Words: DECLAN MCGLYNN
From: Osnabrück, Germany
DJ style: “House.”
Best known for: “‘Waves’, ‘Prayer In C’, ‘Sugar’.”
“As you know I’m more of a shy guy, introverted,” says Robin Schulz. “So this year I tried to use the mic a little bit more and communicate with the people.” He has done so at gigs all across the globe from Indonesia to India to Ibiza, always connecting with the crowd with his huge house sounds.
“Studio-wise I try to keep focussed on great songs, songwriters and singers, ‘cause they are the heart of a good track,” he continues. His biggest track this year has been the innocent, pop-leaning house music of ‘Oh Child’ with Piso 21, which clocked up more than six million views on YouTube. He also soundtracked an advert for NIVEA moisturiser, in August dropped ’Right Now’ with Nick Jonas, and will soon get to episode 150 of his Sugar Radio show.
“I always want to share my music,” he says of the radio show. “So releasing tracks and keeping going was my main goal. I’ve also tried to live more healthy and play great shows around the world.”
Words: KRISTAN CARYL
From: Windsor, Canada
DJ style: “Techno.”
Best known for: “1990: Plus 8; 1991, F.U.S.E; 1993, Plastikman; 1998, Minus; 2005, ‘DE9’; 2008, Contakt; 2013, ENTER.; 2016, Model 1.”
Fave tune of 2018: “Balthazar & JackRock ‘Rave Story’ (Odd Recordings). It’s hard for me to go back and play old rave records from the 1990s, as they just don’t feel as fresh or exciting to me as they did back then. ‘Rave Story’ gives me enough of the sound of that era but successfully wraps it up in a fresh way with a result that is both pounding and exhilarating!”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2018: “DJ ANNA. Although ANNA has been around for quite a while, this year saw her step up her productions and remixes to another level.”
Richie Hawtin never stops. For the best part of three decades, the Canadian DJ/producer has worked tirelessly to redefine techno. From the early days of the Plus 8 label — home to then-emerging artists like Speedy J, Kenny Larkin and Dan Bell — and his expansive F.U.S.E. project, into the menacing, acid-soaked minimalism of his Plastikman alter ego, Hawtin was an innovative artist and ground-breaking label owner.
As the ‘90s drew to a close and the new millennium started, he turned his technological focus to his DJing. As anyone who had the pleasure of hearing in a club or just his ‘X-Mix’ CD can attest, vinyl-era Hawtin sets were a propulsive blend of house and techno. The addition of a 909 for his 1999 mix, ‘Decks, EFX & 909’, accentuated his angular selections and paved the way for the intricate ‘DE9: Closer To The Edit’ and ‘Transitions’ mix CDs. By the time the latter mix arrived, the minimal — or ‘mnml’ — boom was in full swing, with Hawtin’s Minus imprint positioned at the epicentre, with the label producing artists like Marc Houle, Magda and Troy Pierce.
While Hawtin revived the Plastikman project in 2015 for a series of new EPs, he continues to look forward. Apart from his touring schedule, which has seen him visit Asia twice and play across Europe, the US and South America, he tells DJ Mag that he has been “working hard to continue the development of my CLOSE live concept and learning video editing in order to finish an upcoming audio/visual release that brings you closer to how I perform and the intensity of spontaneity and synchronicity!”
Words: RICHARD BROPHY