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Poll 2015: Nicky Romero

18
Nicky Romero
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10

For Nicky Romero, 2015 was another typically hectic year. Playing at all the biggest festivals across the world, including Ultra Miami, Europe and Japan, at EDC Las Vegas and Tomorrowland in Brazil and Belgium, the DJ/producer still found time to drop the first installment in his new ‘Lighthouse’ trilogy of productions.

Nicky also knuckled down to get his Protocol label bubbling more than ever before.

“We’ve got some seriously great talent on our roster,” he says, “and we had our 50th release at the beginning of the summer. We’re also taking our Protocol nights around the world, and they’re always great fun. I’m so proud of everything that is coming out there.”

Questions Top100 DJs 2015 - Jon Dommett - 2015-10-20 16:34

Style: 
"Full-on energy.”
Best known for: 
“Lately, ‘Lighthouse’.”
Tune of the year: 
“Had a blast collaborating with Volt & State on ‘Warriors’.”
From: 
Amerongen, Holland
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2015: 
“Volt & State — they are mixing the official Protocol x ADE compilation. If you haven’t heard of them, you’re missing out!”
What’s the most important skill a DJ should have?: 
"The ability to connect with their crowd. The fans are more important than anything else, so it’s crucial that you can read what they want and give them the best time.”
Is the future still bright for EDM?: 
"Of course, but I think we are going to see a change. The dance music landscape is already changing and evolving, which is all part of the process.”
Does the constant travelling and DJ lifestyle ever take its toll on you mentally?: 
"Yes, absolutely. It can be hard switching time-zones and going from one gig to the next with next to no sleep. As a DJ, you want to be the very best you can be for each and every fan you play for.”
What cause is closest to your heart?: 
“I’m actually a worldwide ambassador for [voluntary work organization] 10,000 Hours and really admire what they do. One of the best aspects is that rather than just donate money, people are fully involved as they are contributing themselves and their time.”
Which club would you like to bring back from the dead?: 
“I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in saying I would love to bring back The Guvernment, Toronto. It was an amazing venue and it was a sad day when it closed just over a year ago.”
Why aren’t there more women in the Top 100 DJs poll?: 
No answer
What do you think of DJs who use ghost producers?: 
No answer

Poll 2015: Quintino

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Quintino
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6

The Dutch DJ, real name Quinten van den Berg, has climbed a further six places in the Top 100 DJs poll this year. “It really made me happy when I heard the news that I was in the Top 100 again,” he tells DJ Mag when we contact him for his interview. “Even though music speaks for itself, it’s great when it gets recognized.”

Signed to giant Dutch behemoth Spinnin', his latest release is a huge EDM update of the Nomad house classic 'Devotion', while earlier in the year he again teamed with his 'Epic' cohort Sandro Silva for 'Aftermath', a release supported by DV&LM, Hardwell, Garrix, Showtek et al.

“We always make sure that there is time enough in my schedule to be in the studio,” Quintino tells us. “And on the planes I sleep like a baby, so that is a good perk.”

He also says that he's had some great shows this year such as EDC and Ultra Korea, and is heading back Stateside for EDC Orlando in early November before returning for Electrowave in France later in the month. 

KIM O'CONNOR

Questions Top100 DJs 2015 - Jon Dommett - 2015-11-16 15:04

Style: 
“Dutch dance music.”
Best known for: 
“'Go Hard' and 'Epic'.”
Tune of the year: 
“Martin Solveig 'Intoxicated'.”
From: 
Holland
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2015: 
“MOTi — he’s definitely killing it!”
What’s the most important skill a DJ should have?: 
“Being able to read the crowd for optimal performance, and the combination of own music with a strong connection with the crowd is a winner!”
Is the future still bright for EDM?: 
“I don’t like to think about EDM, trap or deep house and I never did. It’s dance music that makes people wanna go out to festivals, party and listen on their phones. It can be everything.”
Does the constant travelling and DJ lifestyle ever take its toll on you mentally?: 
“No not really, we control our tours with management and agency and make sure everything is proper.”
What cause is closest to your heart?: 
“Karma! I believe if you do good, it comes back.”
Which club would you like to bring back from the dead?: 
“That’s a club in Glasgow called The Arches. I had the honour to play there before it closed. The energy in that venue was out of this world.”
Why aren’t there more women in the Top 100 DJs poll?: 
“No idea. There is a lot of talent, so I think it’s a matter of time. I think it also has to do with the fact that women are less likely to be interested in technology; basically, DJs are nerds who are figuring out software when they’re starting out. That’s more of a boys thing to do.”
What do you think of DJs who use ghost producers?: 
“I’m personally sort of against it. I mean, basically, you’re lying to the entire world about your work.”

Poll 2015: Chuckie

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Chuckie
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Dutch house titan and last month’s DJ Mag cover star Chuckie is going through something of a reinvention. The Dirty Dutch superstar, real name Clyde Sergio Narain, has recently been dabbling in ‘traphall’, aka trap x dancehall — the genre he’s now spearheading.

Speaking about the last 12 months, Chuckie reveals he’s had an amazing year. “I travelled around the world many times and played some of the biggest festivals in the world,” he says.

Having always embraced a multitude of genres, he has this year debuted his Metamorphosism world tour — a mega showcase of floor-fillers spanning between five and nine hours, and an antidote to the (allegedly sometimes) pre-recorded 45-minute festival set. 

Despite having encountered many corners of the globe in 2015, Chuckie’s only lament is that he wishes he “could have had more time in the studio. It was almost impossible to combine it with my hectic tour schedule.”

In our cover story, over a cup of builder’s tea, he admitted to flying 452 times last year, and he explains how “all flight attendants and pilots are allowed to fly only a certain amount of time because of safety measures. We all know that DJs fly way more than whatever is healthy”, the chameleonic producer finishes. FELICITY MARTIN

Questions Top100 DJs 2015 - Jon Dommett - 2015-11-16 14:44

Style: 
“Dirty funkin' Dutch music.”
Best known for: 
“Mixing whatever with whatever.”
Tune of the year: 
“DJs From Mars 'Phatt Ass Drop 2'.”
From: 
The Lowlands
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2015: 
“Ape Drums!”
What’s the most important skill a DJ should have?: 
“The ability to read the crowd, the ability to open and close a room, and all points in-between!”
Is the future still bright for EDM?: 
“The future of electronic dance music has always been bright. But when you're talking about EDM as a particular sound, I would say it is evolving into a more relevant sound.”
Does the constant travelling and DJ lifestyle ever take its toll on you mentally?: 
“The constant travelling doesn't take a toll on me mentally. But physically it does.”
What cause is closest to your heart?: 
“I support different charity projects, so it's hard to say which one is closest to my heart. I feel blessed to be able to give back. If I retire some day, I will dedicate most of my time to help the less fortunate.”
Which club would you like to bring back from the dead?: 
“Club Voltage in The Hague, The Netherlands. That's the club where I started back in 1994.”
Why aren’t there more women in the Top 100 DJs poll?: 
“I have no clue, but maybe there should be a separate Top 100 DJs poll for women. Not to discriminate against women but there are some talented ladies out there, especially in the underground.”
What do you think of DJs who use ghost producers?: 
“If a DJ needs help producing his music and he needs a specialist to help him out, be my guest. As long as his heart and soul is all over that track.”

Poll 2015: Borgeous

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Borgeous
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By now you’ll know the singular synth strokes of ‘Tsunami’, a UK No.1 and the reason its producer shot to fame in 2013. The Miami-born, now LA-based John Borger (or Borgeous as he’s known to his two million and counting Facebook fans) made his debut mark on the Top 100 last year and could well be here to stay.

The American producer's proved he’s not a one-hit wonder since that worldwide chart smasher, with tracks like ‘They Don’t Know Us’, ‘Wildfire’ and ‘Voodoo’ (another collaboration with DVBBS) granted major airtime by key tastemakers.

The Spinnin’ Records signee even teamed up this year with Waka Flocka Flame and Wiz Khalifa on ‘Toast’, showcasing the versatility of his productions. Having remixed the likes of Afrojack and Canadian singer-songwriter Lights, he’s shown to have a dab hand at reworking tunes into crowd pleasers.

The 'Borgeous Army' (his fans) are always out in full force at his shows, keenly awaiting those big room house drops and heavily clad in custom garms. While on those rare days he’s not catering to EDM-hungry crowds, he’s busy cooking up mixes for his ‘House Of Borgeous’ podcast on Sirius XM. 2016 looks set to be just as big a year for the chart-hitter.

FELICITY MARTIN

Questions Top100 DJs 2015 - Jon Dommett - 2015-11-16 14:39

Style: 
Big room house, EDM
Best known for: 
DVBBS & Borgeous 'Tsunami'
From: 
Miami

Poll 2015: Laidback Luke

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Laidback Luke
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14

He’s been sliding around the Top 100 for some time now, but Laidback Luke wasn’t about to let himself be phased by last year’s results. “Funnily enough, after dropping to position 50 last year, this year seemed to be my busiest year ever,” recalls the big room house producer — Lucas Cornelis van Scheppingen, as he’s known off stage. 

He’s been on more than one of those this summer — Tomorrowland, Ultra, EDC, to name a few — and produces incessantly for labels like Size, Fool's Gold as well as his own Mixmash. Having also just announced his first album in ten years, ‘Focus’, we’re questioning whether the first half of his name is really necessary. 

Despite his status as successful DJ and producer in his own right, the Philippines-born, Holland-raised artist doesn’t look down on those who use ghost producers. “DJing and producing are two totally separate entities,” he goes on to say. “Just because you're a good producer with big hits, doesn't mean you know how to work a crowd properly and that you're able to take the crowd on a musical journey. And vice versa, just because you're a great DJ, doesn't mean you'll be an amazing producer.”

You heard it here first.

FELICITY MARTIN

Questions Top100 DJs 2015 - Jon Dommett - 2015-11-16 14:10

Style: 
“EDM and beyond.”
Best known for: 
“Lover of the art of DJing, fast producing, helping talents. Love for superheroes.”
Tune of the year: 
“Galantis 'U&I'.”
From: 
The Netherlands
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2015: 
“KANDY.”
What’s the most important skill a DJ should have?: 
“To be able to adapt to the crowd and feel what a room needs.”
Is the future still bright for EDM?: 
“Absolutely! EDM will just morph into something else, like it did with the coming of future house last year.”
Does the constant travelling and DJ lifestyle ever take its toll on you mentally?: 
“It sure does! All the time, actually. It's been a real good practice to try and stay healthy both mentally as well as physically on tour.”
What cause is closest to your heart?: 
“With Electric Family, we've done the 'Fuck Cancer' bracelets this year. It's very rare you come across someone who didn't lose someone to cancer. It's crazy we're still losing loved ones to cancer in 2015.”
Which club would you like to bring back from the dead?: 
“The Arches in Glasgow. It's such a shame that closed down this year!”
Why aren’t there more women in the Top 100 DJs poll?: 
“Why aren't there more technical DJs in the Top 100 DJs poll?”
What do you think of DJs who use ghost producers?: 
“I'm absolutely fine with that. The mailman might be able to deliver the most wonderful packages on time, but that doesn't mean he's responsible for the products in there.”

Poll 2015: tchami

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tchami
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EDM takes many of its cues from the French touch electro sound that preceded it, so the only surprise in Tchami's dramatic new-entry position this year is that there aren't more like him.

Bloody Beetroots and Germany's Boys Noize might have represented Gallic-inspired noise in this poll over the years and subsequently dropped out, however it's as part of EDM's new wave that this hip Parisian finds himself rubbing shoulders with the big guns.

One of the few managing to straddle a line between mainstream success and underground credibility, Tchami has been spotted dropping everything from EDM bangers to silkier, bass-inflected house beats on gargantuan festival stages as well as the cooler, more demure rooms of clubland in 2015.

On the one hand acknowledged as a pioneer of the future house sound — to the point where comparisons between this summer's 'After Life' and Oliver Heldens' breakthrough tune 'Gecko' have raised one or two eyebrows — he also sits comfortably alongside trap/EDM and brostep names such as DJ Snake and Nero.

Reaching No.2 in the UK charts earlier this year with 'Promesses', he's already proved a darling of Britain's house-loving public and his After Life tour has just visited the US. 

A compatriot of fellow Frenchmen Madeon and Martin Solveig (both notable absences in the poll this year), Tchami — as the namesake of his associated genre suggests — really does appear to be the future. Not just for house, but EDM as a whole.

ADAM SAVILLE

Questions Top100 DJs 2015 - Jon Dommett - 2015-11-16 14:06

Style: 
Future house/EDM
Best known for: 
'After Life'
From: 
Paris, France

Poll 2015: Markus Schulz

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Markus Schulz
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12

For Markus Schulz, life imitates art. Or rather, fantasy. The self-styled unicorn-slayer of trance has found his moniker has presented some surreal encounters in recent years. “Now it’s gotten so big, I don’t know where it’s going to end. I played a show at Avalon in Los Angeles a few years ago and they had a full life-size unicorn statue at the front of the club!”

In 2015 he’s focused on his City Series project, making a track a month dedicated to his favourite worldwide clubs or festivals. He’s also excited by the ongoing success of his New World Punx project with Ferry Corsten.

“We’ve made even more strides this year, highlighted by the first-ever performance at the legendary Coachella festival. We have a few dates together before the year rounds out — in Buenos Aires, Santiago, Moscow and of course the Top 100 DJs party for DJ Mag in Minsk on 29th November.”

BEN MURPHY

Questions Top100 DJs 2015 - Jon Dommett - 2015-11-16 11:17

Style: 
“Unicorn-slaying trance.”
Best known for: 
“Music for the soul, life-changing marathon sets and being scandalous on Snapchat.”
Tune of the year: 
“Markus Schulz feat. Delacey ‘Destiny’ and Gouryella ‘Anahera’.”
From: 
Miami, Florida
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2015: 
“Nifra.”
What’s the most important skill a DJ should have?: 
“Understanding the art of DJing. DJs are taking this same festival formula into their traditional club sets, and I don’t think that’s right.”
Is the future still bright for EDM?: 
“The hard, aggressive sounds of modern-day EDM are slowly being phased out, and the more melodic deep house movement is becoming more prevalent.”
Does the constant travelling and DJ lifestyle ever take its toll on you mentally?: 
“Undoubtedly, the most difficult aspect of the job by far is the travel involved. The two most important things are being dedicated and disciplined.”
What cause is closest to your heart?: 
“I’m actually a big animal lover, and supporting them in everyday situations is very important to me.”
Which club would you like to bring back from the dead?: 
“Paradise Garage in New York City. When I was growing up, I would be inspired by reading all of the wild stories emanating from that venue.”
Why aren’t there more women in the Top 100 DJs poll?: 
“There should be, but there must be a change in attitude within the scene for that to happen. I’ve named Nifra from my Schulz Music Group artist agency as my pick for breakthrough this year.”
What do you think of DJs who use ghost producers?: 
“I think the fans can conclude fairly easily whether a track is from the genuine article simply by hearing what comes out of the speakers.”

Poll 2015: Wolfpack

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Wolfpack
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2015 has been a big one for Steve and Ruben, aka the notorious Wolfpack. Not only did the Belgian duo tour Asia for the first time — an experience they describe as “very cool” — but also happened to score two massive hits. Firstly, back in August, Wolfpack teamed up with Funk D and the don dada of booming vocals, Fatman Scoop, for the huge 'Drop The Smiley'. 

Then the following month, 'Ocarina' — the pair's beloved Tomorrowland Anthem collaboration with fellow Antwerpians, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike — got the remix treatment from Klaas & Mazza. That track has already catapulted through the rankings to become Wolfpack's second most popular release on Beatport.

Speaking of Tomorrowland, Wolfpack also happened to play the first ever South American edition of the festival earlier this year, as São Paulo spent four days as the global epicentre of EDM. Still signed and releasing through Dimi and Mike's scene-shaping Smash The House imprint, and having now appeared in the DJ Mag Top 100 DJs poll for two years running, Wolfpack can stride confidently into 2016.

BEN HINDLE

Questions Top100 DJs 2015 - Jon Dommett - 2015-11-16 11:08

Style: 
“Electro progressive house.”
Best known for: 
“'Find Tomorrow'/'Ocarina'.”
Tune of the year: 
“'The Hum'.”
From: 
Belgium
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2015: 
“Lost Frequencies.”
What’s the most important skill a DJ should have?: 
“Having fun during a set. Bringing that fun over to the people.”
Is the future still bright for EDM?: 
“We definitely believe so.”
Does the constant travelling and DJ lifestyle ever take its toll on you mentally?: 
“Sometimes it does get to you being away so long and missing your family and friends. But we are extremely lucky to be able to do this, so we actually can't complain!”
What cause is closest to your heart?: 
“Our families. Music.”
Which club would you like to bring back from the dead?: 
“Cherry Moon in Belgium.”
Why aren’t there more women in the Top 100 DJs poll?: 
“No idea, ha ha.”
What do you think of DJs who use ghost producers?: 
“Sometimes working together with others can accomplish great things, but having a track made by somebody and to sell it as your own is just not right."

Poll 2015: Ummet Ozcan

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Ummet Ozcan
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Ummet Ozcan's techno-influenced trance made something of a seamless transition to gain huge popularity amongst EDM fans, but that's come as no surprise to the man himself. “I am not bound to any musical conventions, I just produce whatever I like. People tend to put things in boxes. I personally don’t do that,” Ummet tells DJ Mag.

Of course, not every DJ or producer actually has a hand in creating the things that make the actual noises that are used to create tracks either, but Ummet is famous for providing softsynth and soundbank designs for some of the biggest music software houses too.

When it comes to making your own music, Ummet has a tip or two for aspiring producers: “There are certain elements that work better for your song than others, but the magic appears only with the right parts that fit the puzzle… but let’s say it helps to have a festival mindset before you start producing,” he advises.

Citing Tomorrowland 2015 in Belgium as one of the highlights of his past year of playing out, plans for 2016 look likely to see Ummet spending more time in the studio. “Producing is sometimes hard to combine with tour life,” he explains, before quickly adding: “My records are equally important. So that is one of my aims for 2016.”

DAVID McCARTHY

Questions Top100 DJs 2015 - Jon Dommett - 2015-11-13 15:50

Style: 
“Electronic music.”
Best known for: 
“My releases on Spinnin’ Records, my sound design and my DJ sets.”
Tune of the year: 
“‘The Hum’.”
From: 
Turkish descent but born and raised in The Netherlands
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2015: 
“Robin Schulz.”
What’s the most important skill a DJ should have?: 
“He should smile a lot!”
Is the future still bright for EDM?: 
“It couldn’t be any brighter.”
Does the constant travelling and DJ lifestyle ever take its toll on you mentally?: 
“I can cope with it pretty well, tour life is heavy but I get a lot of happy faces from my fans in return. And that keeps me going!”
What cause is closest to your heart?: 
I feel strongly for animals and compassion for every life form on earth.”
Which club would you like to bring back from the dead?: 
“The infamous Studio 54 in New York.”
Why aren’t there more women in the Top 100 DJs poll?: 
“It seems to be a man’s world… but great DJs like Nervo and Krewella should trigger more female talent to step up.”
What do you think of DJs who use ghost producers?: 
“It is inevitable, but it doesn’t really bother me.”

Poll 2015: Yves V

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Yves V
Up
21

A Belgium EDM hitmaker with a close link to newly crowned Top 100 kings Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike and their Smash The House label, Yves V kept the hits coming in 2015.

In addition to the turbo-charged main stage thrills of ‘Memories Will Fade’ earlier this year and his new single ‘Octagon’, he’s penned collaborations with the likes of Sidney Samson and Don Diablo.

He’s continued his residency at his country’s goliath Tomorrowland Festival, with his V Sessions Sound brand regularly hosting arenas at the three-day party in addition to his main stage performances, and he also took the brand to SupermartXe in Ibiza this year.

“My year has been amazing, I’ve been very lucky to return to some of my favourite places in the world,” Yves tells DJ Mag. “We went to Brazil for our first Tomorrowland event in Sao Paulo, visiting Thailand again was a lot of fun, and playing to sold out crowds at Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike’s House Of Madness night at Amnesia was crazy!

I’ve pushed my releases this year more as well with more original tracks, but I have a feeling 2016 is going to be bigger and better!”

ANGUS PATERSON

Questions Top100 DJs 2015 - Jon Dommett - 2015-11-13 12:01

Style: 
Progressive house, electro-house
Best known for: 
“Tomorrowland, V Sessions.”
Tune of the year: 
“'Octagon'.”
From: 
Antwerp, Belgium
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2015: 
“KSHMR, I love his sound and style.”
What’s the most important skill a DJ should have?: 
“It’s a combination of the DJ’s interaction with the crowd, having an understanding of music and trying to create a musical journey.”
Is the future still bright for EDM?: 
“Yes of course, it’s evolving.”
Does the constant travelling and DJ lifestyle ever take its toll on you mentally?: 
“Yeah definitely, life on the road can be tough at times, but it’s a life we all choose so you can’t complain. You just need to be smart, take care of yourself and don’t push yourself too much.”
What cause is closest to your heart?: 
“Improving the welfare and future of animals.”
Which club would you like to bring back from the dead?: 
“Illusion in Belgium, it pioneered trance music and was the start of my passion for music overall.”
Why aren’t there more women in the Top 100 DJs poll?: 
“I think nowadays there are more and more women coming through like Nervo, Krewella etc. It’s really good to see, and I hope we continue to see this growth in our scene.”
What do you think of DJs who use ghost producers?: 
“I actually work with a studio partner, and that works really well for me with my schedule. The first records I released were made entirely by myself, but since I’ve worked with a partner and I really feel we can go to that next level.”

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