2021 | Page 8 | DJMag.com Skip to main content

Poll 2021: Steve Aoki

10
Steve Aoki
Down
1
From: California, USA

Rising star DJ/producer of 2021: “Ninja Attack.”
 
 
Producer, DJ, published author, label boss, restaurateur, sheet cake-launching showman — with this ever growing list of titles, Steve Aoki proves himself to be a Renaissance man time after time. In April 2020 he dropped his sixth studio album ‘Neon Future IV’, a diverse collection of pop-centric singles with performances from the likes of the Backstreet Boys, Zooey Deschanel, will.i.am, ALOK and Sting, just to name a few. In January 2021, he followed that LP up with ‘60KI — Rave Royale’ EP, a handful of hardstyle bangers crafted in collaboration with names like Timmy Trumpet, k?d and Brennan Heart. This six-track collection kept fans sated until it was safe to catch him in the flesh again.
 
Though the baking industry likely took a hit when last year’s tour was postponed due to COVID-19, the ovens are heating up once again. Aoki brought frosting-flinging performances to clubs and festival stages across the globe this summer, making stops at Untold Festival in Romania, HQ2 in Atlantic City, and Beyond Wonderland at The Gorge, with a set at the first-ever Electric Zoo Adventures resort party in Cancun, Mexico still to come. These action-packed spectacles were a welcome shift following the forced hiatus brought on by the pandemic, during which the Dim Mak label founder claims he spent focusing on mindfulness, self-reflection and time with family. “We can all use that,” he adds. 
 
Speaking of which, meditation is especially important to the two-time Grammy nominee. Though his on-stage antics have earned him the reputation of fun-loving stuntman, his contributions to science are noteworthy, too. His charitable 501c3, The Aoki Foundation, “has a primary goal of supporting organisations in the brain science and research areas with a specific focus on regenerative medicine and brain preservation.” Part of the way this is achieved is through in-person and live-stream events, the most recent of which was a record breaking $1 million invite-only Pokemon Box Break Charity Event that took place in October. “Also, NFTs to the moon!” he adds. “Collectible culture has been a fun joyride for me so sports cards, Pokémon, and most importantly (especially if you are even remotely interested in this space) keep your eyes on MetaZoo!"
 
Steve explores his rich interests, among others, in his two biographical books. In 2019, he published his second, in which he lends a deeper look into the life of the rebellious herbivore turned EDM-blasting pioneer. Aoki revealed the story of his incredible come up in Blue: The Color Of Noise, an introspective and critically acclaimed memoir that details his relationship with his late father, Rocky Aoki, founder of the Benihana empire. Though they didn’t always see eye-to-eye, Steve has since gone on to open restaurants himself, the most recent venture being Kura Kura Pa, a Japanese Yakitori joint he and his older brother Kevin Aoki brought to Resorts World Casino on the Vegas strip this past August. 
 
Always one to surprise, Aoki unveiled his new tech-house alias Ninja Attack in October with his debut single, ‘Aurora’, which sees the producer meander into darker, minimal territory, a stark contrast to the colourful mainstage sounds many associate with the unmistakable artist. 
 
Aoki continues to say he's got a new album in the pipeline. “This is going to be much different than what most people will expect,” he says. However, if there’s one thing he's shown us repeatedly, it’s to expect the unexpected. Oh, and also to hang several meters behind the rail, unless of course you want to spend the rest of your festival evening in a sticky-sweet layer of sugary goo.
 
 
How was your first gig back after Lockdown?
 
“The crowd was twice as wild and twice as crazy. People were so excited to be at a live show again!”
 
 
How has the last 18 months changed how you view your work/life balance?
 
“I enjoyed the lockdown. The reset is what I may have needed because I'm always on the go. More mindfulness, more self-reflection, and more family time — we all can use that.”
 
 
What further steps should the industry take to combat climate change?
 
“More education creates more action. Education is the key.”
 
 
What’s the best bit of tech you’ve added to your studio or DJ set-up this year?
 
“I haven't changed much in the past few years. If it works, why fix it?”
 
 
What’s the best album you’ve heard this year?
 
“'Go Global' by Global Dan.”

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Becca Antoon - 2021-10-12 09:36

Style: 
EDM
Best known for: 
“‘Music Means Love Forever’.”
Tune of the year: 
“‘Pepas’."

Poll 2021: David Guetta

1
David Guetta
Stay
0
From: Paris, France
 
Rising star DJ/producer of 2021: “My friend MORTEN and Joel Corry.”
 
 
“I’m so proud to be a part of this amazing industry and can’t express my gratitude to everyone who voted me your No.1 DJ for the second year in a row. It means so much."
 
The big news from this year’s Top 100 DJs poll results is that David Guetta has retained the No.1 spot that he claimed last year — a decade after he was first crowned the world’s No.1 DJ back in 2011. The Frenchman now joins an elite grouping of Dutch DJs — Martin Garrix, Tiësto and Armin van Buuren — who have won the Top 100 vote three times or more. So it’s a big congratulations to David, a global ambassador for the electronic dance music scene who keeps on innovating and reaching the parts that few others can.
“It’s wonderful, I’m so happy,” David exclaims to DJ Mag. “To do it two times in a row as well — it’s the third time, but two times in a row is pretty crazy. It’s been an incredibly busy year for me, but it’s always nice when you work hard to feel like people can see it.
“I’ve been doing this for so many years since I was playing funk records as a teenager. It’s amazing to be able to pursue your passion, and I just hope — cos I also started from nothing — that being No.1 after all these years is an inspiration to kids that are bedroom DJs like I was.”
 
Guetta’s first Top 100 DJs victory in 2011 was a definitive marker for how EDM was replacing trance as the dominant bigroom/festival sound at the time. “It was the beginning of that EDM era in the festivals,” Guetta said. It followed his string of dance-pop hits where he effectively — finally — broke down the doors of mainstream America for dance music virtually single-handedly. 
‘When Love Takes Over', featuring the vocals of ex-Destiny’s Child member Kelly Rowland, was his first multi-platinum international smash — a UK No.1, it was also the single that made US radio stations start playing dance music in the daytime. ‘Sexy Bitch’ with Akon, ‘Memories’ with Kid Cudi, ‘Who’s That Chick?’ with Rihanna, 'Titanium’ with Sia, and ‘Turn Me On’ featuring Nicki Minaj and others followed in its wake, Guetta making a feature of collaborating with hip-hop/R&B artists and crossing over into the mainstream charts. He also produced ‘I Gotta Feeling’ for the Black Eyed Peas — another global smash.
 
His move into the pop world was essentially a calculated transition to cross dance music over into the mainstream. “I was always feeling strongly about the quality of our music, and thinking ‘Why are we not as big as hip-hop or rock or pop,” Guetta told DJ Mag last year. “Why is the music industry looking down on us? I think all those hits made us more respected in the music industry. And also everybody got more money!”
In truth, Guetta has always had a yearning to make things more accessible. “That was always my thing since I started,” he said. “Even as a DJ, my thing was always to take my inspiration from the underground and find a way to make it more accessible, and more melodic, with harmonies and stuff. I’m a musical person, I like melodies and harmonies.”
 
Guetta had certainly paid his dues by the time he hit mainstream paydirt. Originally a hip-hop DJ, he started running clubs in his home city of Paris as house music swept Europe in the late ’80s/early ’90s and steadily built up his rep through singles, DJ gigs and his own club-nights such as the prophetic F*** Me I’m Famous parties in Ibiza. Two decades of activity in the house music scene, and he switched it up to become the most famous DJ/producer in the world thanks to his run of pop hits.
A natural-born collaborator and empath, David spent the 2010s consolidating his position as a top DJ/producer, but in recent years he’s started to seek out more underground credibility once again. In 2011 he released ‘Nothing But The Beat’, a double album where the first half was collabs with people from the hip-hop/R&B and pop worlds such as Lil Wayne, Taio Cruz, Nicki Minaj, Ludacris, Snoop Dogg, Timbaland, Jessie J and Sia (the epic ’Titanium’).
 
The second side was stuffed full of instrumental dance tracks. He then created the Jack Back label in 2012 for electronic music releases that weren’t EDM pop, and towards the end of the decade started using the Jack Back alias to play more underground shows and to differentiate the house music he was creating from the more commercial material.
 
This journey away from the pop mainstream coincided with Guetta finding that there weren’t enough big EDM tracks that he liked to fill a big festival set. He needed more bigroom tunes for his big room shows, so set about creating more of his own. “I took two years to dedicate all my efforts into DJ culture, without trying to do any crossover records,” he said. “I went a little bit against the grain — when a lot of DJs are trying to make pop music, I did it the other way around.”
Hooking up with Danish pal MORTEN, he came up with the ‘future rave’ concept via the ‘New Rave’ EP. Characterised by techno drums, a trance sensibility and EDM dynamics, tracks such as ‘Never Be Alone’, ‘Make It To Heaven’ and ‘Detroit 3AM’ came out just as the pandemic was about to shut down the planet.
 
His renewed focus on DJ culture led to his 2020 victory in the Top 100 DJs poll, and following on from his fundraising United At Home live streams in Miami and New York in 2020 he pulled off the Paris edition of United At Home by playing a virtual concert from the French capital city’s renowned Louvre Museum on New Year’s Eve 2020, in aid of Unicef and French food package charity Restos du Coeur. He then took the concept to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, and raised almost $2million in all from the United events.
He had his first ‘in real life’ gigs back in Florida from the end of May 2021 onwards. He soon moved onto Las Vegas before playing EXIT in Serbia, Creamfields in the UK, Untold in Romania, and then back to the UK for the Isle Of Wight festival at the end of September. “I did like [the lockdown] but I love performing and the energy it gives me,” Guetta says. “My whole life has always been about music, it’s my passion, so for me, it doesn’t feel like work.
I’m so happy I was able to play again this year but I’ve also been enjoying plenty of studio time.” 
 
Guetta put out a tonne of new music this year. “I’ve released more music than ever,” he says. “The fact that I was not touring, I had so much time and energy. I’m a bit of a hyperactive person, and I gave everything to music. It gave incredible rewards.”
He kept one toe in the pop world by dropping ‘Heartbreak Anthem’ with Little Mix and Galantis, which reached No.3 in the UK charts in the summer. He also released singles in 2021 with Afrojack, Rita Ora, Becky Hill, Sia, Joel Corry and Raye, and MistaJam and John Newman, plus a new future rave numbers with MORTEN, ‘Impossible’, and a future rave remix (again with MORTEN) of ‘Titanium’.
 
“I remixed Shouse’s ‘Love Tonight’ with a future rave spin, which has been amazing to play out live,” he adds. “It was so incredible to see ‘Memories’ go viral on TikTok such a long time after I released it, this inspired me to release a 2021 remix. I also celebrated the 10-year anniversary of ‘Titanium’, too. It felt like I was covering 100% of the spectrum.”
 
Somehow, the amiable Frenchman also found time to make a film with DJ Mag to showcase his production chops, demonstrating how to create a future rave edit of ‘Titanium’ that’s primed for festival action. And he starred in a How I DJ video for DJ Mag too; Guetta came to DJ Mag's London HQ to share a host of DJ tips and techniques including a demo of his hybrid setup, how to key sync, creative use of FX, and much more.
 
“I’m super happy with the Top 100 chart this year, especially seeing my close friend MORTEN finally getting recognition,” Guetta concludes. “We have been having big success together with future rave, I’m really proud - and this is just the beginning!
“We’ve been working on future rave for more than two years now, and it kind of became the leading sound of festivals,” he continues. “We’ve loved that people have been imitating the sound and also doing it in their own ways. Our responsibility as producers is to keep pushing the envelope — the next release [‘Alive’ at the end of November] is completely different; it’s that same spirit, maybe even more underground? It’s still the idea of taking underground music and taking techno and trance influences in an underground way, but to make it accessible to the main stage because of the level of energy. And how phat it sounds. I think we’re going a little bit deeper.”
 
Congratulations once again to David Guetta: the world’s No.1 DJ 2021.
 
How was your first gig back after lockdown?
“Incredible! I played one of the first gigs in Vegas when the clubs opened. I always said the first moment when the sound came back on in a club, and we’re together again, was going to be amazing and that night will certainly go down in history for me as one of my favourite shows. The energy from the crowd was out of this world.”

How have the last 18 months changed how you view your work/life balance?
“I had a lot of time to reflect, refine and create music that has inspired me like never before. With no shows, I was in endless studio sessions and had the time to start the next chapter of my ‘Future Rave’ sound together with MORTEN. I had a normal sleeping routine during the pandemic for the first time in 20 years, waking up at 8 am, going to the gym and heading to bed at the same time every day.”

What further steps should the industry take to combat climate change?
“I know a lot of DJs, including myself, are off-setting their carbon emissions, which is great, as we’re travelling so frequently.”

What’s the best bit of tech you’ve added to your studio or DJ setup this year?
“I got two crazy new plug-ins! One is a sidechain plug-in called Kickstart by Cableguys and Nicky Romero, and also the new VolumeShaper by Cableguys too.”

What’s the best album you’ve heard this year?
“Nowadays it’s not really about albums, there are so many great releases coming out every week. It was really exciting to see the Swedish House Mafia return. They’re good friends of mine and we released two tracks together, ‘It Gets Better’ and ‘Lifetime’. Also, I love all of Joel Corry’s records, and Tale Of Us!”

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Becca Antoon - 2021-10-12 09:29

Style: 
“Future rave.”
Best known for: 
“‘Titanium’ with Sia!"
Tune of the year: 
Fave tune of 2021: “‘Love Tonight’.”

Poll 2021: Carl Cox

27
Carl Cox
Up
7
From: UK

Rising star DJ/producer of 2021: “Franky Wah. He is coming at ya!”

  

Carl Cox: maestro, legend, genius — he’s been called it all and that’s probably why he’s never left the Top 100 DJs list ever since it began. If our figures are right, in this year alone Coxy has remixed five tracks, featured on one single and played on three continents — not bad during a pandemic. To top it off, he began his BBC Radio 1 Residency, published his autobiography Oh Yes, Oh Yes! — which made the bestsellers list — and announced his first album in a decade. All good reasons for him to make the 2021 list.
 
But perhaps what’s kept Coxy at the top all these years, aside from his mastery of the craft — across all DJ formats — is the pure joy he exudes when playing, even up to this very day. Anyone who watched one of his Cabin Fever sessions online over the past year would have noticed this. It’s the kind of passion you can’t fake or maintain unless it's coming from a real place. He really does embody the spirit of the rave: peace, love, unity and respect.
 
 
 
How was your first gig back after lockdown?
 
“I’d already been playing big shows in Australia but my first gig back in the UK, to 5,000 people on Brighton Beach, was beyond amazing."

 

 

How have the last 18 months changed how you view your work/life balance?
 
 
“Probably by learning what balance was! Of course, I was working just as hard but without touring. I used to fit everything around the shows but now I can see how to let everything flow together."

 

 

What further steps should the industry take to combat climate change?
 
“As an industry we are on the whole mindful of the environment, but we also have a loud voice and a huge global reach and can make sure that industrialists and politicians listen to us."

 

 

What’s the best bit of tech you’ve added to your studio or DJ setup this year? 
 
“I started to use the Pioneer DJS-1000, it’s such a powerful piece of kit, I love it.”

 

 

What’s the best album you’ve heard this year? 
 
“London Elektricity ‘Building Better Worlds’. I just cannot stop playing it.” 
 

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Becca Antoon - 2021-10-11 12:36

Style: 
“Techno and house – played with passion.”
Best known for: 
“Sharing the love of all music styles, bringing a positive energy to the dancefloor and still known as the People’s Choice.”
Tune of the year: 
“Dubfire & Flug 'Rubber'.”

Poll 2021: Marshmello

13
Marshmello
Down
2
From: USA
 
 
American helmet-wearer of mystery Marshmello, otherwise known as Christopher Comstock — and for those that know him better still he is affectionately just plain old Mello — is as fierce a genre-bending producer as he is a crowd-pleasing DJ. In recent years he's been moving away from his saccharine pop EDM sound and working with hip-hop artists — glimpses of hip-hop have been appearing in his music since he first started out. But it's not just the obvious solid A-listers, Marshmello has been pushing forward songs that his counterparts might not have considered. Recording with Roddy Ricch, 42 Dugg, Migos and Meek Mill, and working through the night, it's almost like he has a point to prove. 

2021, with its worldwide lull in touring and gig activity, has given the Mello one the chance to go deep and spend some serious quality time in the studio. Known for his ability to switch up genres, Marshmello's anticipated 'Shockwave' album came out this summer, released on his own Joytime Collective label, embracing his roots both in electronic dance music, country, rock and rap.

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Becca Antoon - 2021-10-11 11:29

Style: 
Pop EDM
Best known for: 
His helmet

Poll 2021: Oliver Heldens

8
Oliver Heldens
Stay
8

From: The Netherlands

Rising star DJ/producer of 2021: “There are many! I’ll name a bunch of them, including some that are pretty much ‘stars’ already. Eli Brown, Franky Wah, Artbat, Ben Böhmer, Tinlicker, Fabrication, Nora En Pure, Sofi Tukker, John Summit, Vintage Culture, Shermanology, Guz, Sosa, Cloonee, Michael Bibi, Martin Ikin, Wh0, Dombresky, CID, Leftwing & Kody, James Hype, LP Giobbi, Fred Again.., Kungs, Imanbek, Topic, Purple Disco Machine, KUU, Shouse, Anabel Englund, Rebuke, Ronnie Spiteri, Will Clarke, T78, Deborah de Luca, Joyhauser, Wehbba, Layton Giordani, Ramon Tapia, Space 92, Lilly Palmer, Drunken Kong, Metodi Hristov, Reinier Zonneveld, Klangkuenstler, TRYM, DYEN, Nico Moreno, Alignment, Mike Cervello, Funkin Matt, MorganJ, SKIY, and PBH & Jack. But there are many more! Check out my radio show Heldeep Radio or my label Heldeep Records to discover more of them.”

 

Though live performances have only just become possible again in many countries, Oliver Heldens had a busy summer and early autumn of gigs. He toured the US, played at SAGA festival in Romania and at Creamfields in the UK, before a triumphant headline show at London’s massive Printworks.

“In the US I was blown away by the energy of the crowds,” Heldens says. “Same goes for the few festivals I’ve played in Europe recently and my own headline show at the legendary Printworks, it just feels really good to be playing shows again!”

He also spent lots of time in the studio during the last 18 months, developing the sound of his more techno and progressive-driven HI-LO alias. Released this year, ’Balearic Mornings’ with Reinier Zonneveld was a euphoric pumper built for (hopefully) 2022’s Ibiza season, while ‘Saw Of Olympus’ (another Zonneveld collaboration) was an acid-propelled chugger with strident kicks and hats.
“I’ve found myself doing more progressive or even trance-influenced stuff than before,” Heldens says. “Also one of my upcoming HI-LO tracks, ‘Hera’, on my Drumcode debut EP, is quite proggy and euphoric. It’s a real crossover techno anthem.”

Heldens, though, has always drawn from various different dance genres, and in 2021 he reached for the rave lasers too, tapping into the pervasive ’90s revival that is sweeping all areas of the scene. ‘Ma Luv’ with MorganJ was all diva vocals and big synth stabs. “True,” he says, “that kind of music has definitely been an inspiration for me recently, you can also hear that in my track ‘Rave Machine’ featuring Rowetta, but I’m influenced by a lot of different styles and sounds.”

Heldens is still working on a track with a specially recorded guitar line from Chic’s Nile Rodgers, channelling the disco sound, another musical passion. “He laid down some of his signature funky guitars, but I just couldn’t find the right vocal for it,” Heldens admits. “I must’ve written at least 12 toplines with several songwriters, but I now finally found the right vocal sample for it and I’m having a choir re-sing that vocal now. I really can’t wait to release that one!”

This year, Heldens also got the chance to remix one of his all-time favourite tunes: Roger Sanchez’s evergreen ‘Another Chance’, dialling up its epic sensibilities and adding a trance tinge.
“‘Another Chance’ is one of my favourite dance music records, so it was a huge honour to work on this remix for the 20-year anniversary,” he says. “I feel very grateful to be able to work on such awesome projects, same as when I got asked to remix Chic’s ‘Le Freak’ for its 40-year anniversary. I’m really happy how these turned out.”

As the night-time industry begins to open up again, Heldens is looking ahead to a brighter future. “I truly want to thank everyone who has supported me in my career so far,” he says. “It’s been an insane journey already, but at the same time there’s so much more musical territory to explore, so I’m super excited for what the future holds. Bring it on!”

 

How was your first gig back after lockdown?

“It was early July this year under my darker alias HI-LO at a Filth On Acid party here in the Netherlands, and it was amazing! It felt really good to be on stage again and I came well-prepared with lots of new tracks that I made during the pandemic, which made it extra fun.” 

 

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

“I have my carbon footprint from flying calculated every year and have that footprint compensated by some projects that plant lots of trees all over the world. This is probably not enough, though. It would be good if events/festivals have their carbon footprint calculated and have it compensated through these kinds of projects.”

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Becca Antoon - 2021-10-11 11:26

Style: 
“Mixing future house and dance with tech/deep/bass house, techno, electro, progressive, disco and more. Bridging the mainstream and underground.”
Best known for: 
“Pioneering the future house genre since 2014, my weekly Heldeep radio show, running Heldeep Records, my darker alias HI-LO, and my eclectic/versatile sets.”
Tune of the year: 
“This mash-up I made for my sets of Christian Smith – ‘Stratosphere (Ronnie Spiteri Remix)’ vs Shouse ‘Love Tonight’ – has been crushing it for me.”

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
3
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.”

Pages