The past 12 months have seen brothers Sjoerd and Wouter Janssen, aka Showtek, capitalising on their hard work over the past few years, as they transitioned from their early dominance in the hardstyle scene into a broader main stage EDM act.
They've now worked with some of the industry’s biggest names, including their collaboration with David Guetta this year ‘Sun Goes Down’. They point to the launch of their 'Crazy Collabs' project a few years ago as the start of what pushed them towards where they are today.
“We started 'Crazy Collabs' back in 2012, because it was a great way to work with other artists from different genres in the studio,” they say. “It’s really cool to create an opportunity to work with artists like Tiesto or Hardwell, especially because a lot of people wouldn’t expect it from Showtek.”
The duo say the greatest compliment is that these artists want to work with them, and in 2015 they’re widely respected as elite studio magicians.
“Showtek has always been a music-driven act. Producing music made us who we are, and working with names like David Guetta allowed us a broader spectrum. Our music is well known throughout the industry, and looking back on the past, we've always been shifting styles and implementing different kinds of genres. We plan on continuing to surprise people with new ideas.”
Like the prom queen that snubs her most persistent suitor year after year, Diplo has declined DJ Mag’s gracious advances yet again, opting instead to let us speculate on his feelings about making the Top 100 DJs poll and his ongoings for 2015.
With regard to the former, we refer readers to Twitter, where Wesley Pentz’s rants under his Diplo alias are immortalized for all eternity. With regard to the latter, it’s hard to deny that his efforts warrant him a seat among the world’s DJ elite.
The Mad Decent label boss has been busy making music and signing names — such as bold new trio Bad Royale. If that act’s melodic, soca-infused productions are any indication, there is hope for the future of trap yet... and we have Diplo to thank for turning up the volume.
Keeping his Major Lazer collaborative moniker alive and well, a third LP titled ‘Peace Is The Mission’ was released in June. The album includes collaborations with pop stars that span the musical spectrum, from Ariana Grande to 2 Chainz and Ellie Goulding.
Never one to shy away from the names people love to hate, Diplo and Skrillex, via their Jack Ü alias, paired up to create EDM’s most maligned cameo of 2015 when they featured Justin Bieber on their hit track ‘Where Are Ü Now ’. Say what you will about that one; the charts tell a different story. The question to ask Diplo now is, how do you top that in 2016?
Flying solo and loving it, former Swedish House Mafia man Steve Angello has mostly positive things to say about the state of the scene as he sees it. He’s particularly glad of the mainstream’s shift away from panel-beating big room sounds towards something more rhythmic.
“The whole movement right now is shifting in the right direction — which makes me happy,” Steve says. “Loads of new stuff is getting played, and yes, I am trying to play more groovy house stuff.”
Steve’s had a big year, crowned by the release of his three-years-in-gestation ‘WILD YOUTH’ long-player, but he’s also remixed electronic music legend Jean Michel Jarre and M83’s ‘Glory’, rinsed out Las Vegas club Omnia on a regular basis, and played everywhere from Green Valley in Brazil to Creamfields in the UK and Ultra Europe in Croatia. Leaving SHM has clearly done him no harm.
This year, Dyro (real name Jordy Van Egmond) has gone big. He started his own imprint, WOLV, that's allowed him to expand his own catalogue, saying, “We went down on the bpms as I was getting bored of 127/128 bpm, I wanted to show another side to myself and the label”.
In fact, keeping things fresh is very important to the Dutch EDM don — that's why he started his imprint in the first place. "I did it to have my own outlet that I could control completely and just to release cool tracks that I dig,” he says.
Aside from his new imprint, Dyro's already lined up hotly-anticipated collaborations with Headhunterz and Milo & Otis for next year, as well as promising his fans “lots of exciting new shows and, of course, WOLV material for 2016!”
The dawn of future house in 2014 heralded a new age for EDM, it seemed. It was the sound to nudge the continuum away from garish stadium noise towards the (relatively) deeper sound of classic house reimagined through EDM eyes, they said.
A slew of names such as Tchami, Oliver Heldens and Holland's Don Diablo were found carrying the torch, and it felt (at least) as if 2015 was going to be the year that the nubile, cool-cat friendly sound of future house would usurp the EDM juggernaut.
And thus, after polling at 82 last year, Don Diablo is this year's Highest Climber. However, after remixing Rudimental, Ed Sheeran and Tiësto & KSHMR as well as teaming up with Khrebto to borrow Candi Staton's 'You've Got The Love' this year, it's not just Don's progressive approach to EDM that you kids love him for — it's his ear for an infectious pop hook!
Asaf Borger, aka Borgore, is something of a musical chameleon. He started his music career young, first becoming a classically trained musician — he frequently lists Bach, half-jokingly, as one of his favourite musicians of all time — before joining deathcore band Shabira in his formative years. In videos of the band performing he looks out of place, a gawky, shaved-headed figure in a group of bearded, long-haired rockers.
While he might have since left the band and moved from his hometown of Tel Aviv to the US, elements of his heavier musical past have remained a feature of his productions.
Borger describes his music as Gorestep” — a fusion of EDM, dubstep and heavy metal that unites his earlier influences with his newfound passion for brash, in-yer-face electronic music.
In 2012, Borger collaborated with Miley Cyrus on the single ‘Decisions’ — the song is often described as a turning point in Miley Cyrus’s musical transformation. The single catapulted Borgore into the spotlight and proved he could bring ‘Gorestep’ to the masses.
“I’ve been incredibly lucky to have been able to make a career out of music,” Fedde Le Grand tells us, humbly. “It has taken me around the world and allowed me to showcase my music to thousands.”
Best known for catchy dance track 'Put Your Hands Up 4 Detroit', Fedde Le Grand is currently in the studio crafting a brand new set of chart-toppers — his new LP is out early next year. But that's not all. “Next year I’m bringing my run of GRAND shows back, this time bigger and better,” he tells DJ Mag. “And I've got some really amazing new tracks, so couldn’t be happier!”
Looks like it's smiles all round from Fedde then, roll on 2016!
2015 has been a sensational year for fun-loving Dutch duo, Bassjackers. They've toured the globe, released Beatport number ones and even indulged in philanthropy; the duo support The Zoëzo Foundation who help children suffering with Leukaemia.
Music-wise they've collaborated with EDM heavyweights like Afrojack and Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, plus hot-tipped up-and-comer KSHMR. They've also teamed up with the best EDM imprints on the block — cue Spinnin', Ministry Of Sound, Revealed and more. It's in America that the duo's sound has translated best — they've charted record crowds at their weekly club residency at The Light in Las Vegas.
For next year, the duo say they'll “be experimenting with some new styles” on their upcoming release and have another gigantic tour in the pipeline for 2016.
“Turbulent” is Blasterjaxx’s adjective of choice to describe their year, speaking to DJ Mag all the way from Shanghai. “But we’re very happy to look back and say that we’ve really established our place in the dance scene.”
Debuting in the Top 100 in 2013, Thom Jongkind and Idir Makhlaf met at the gym and, since that fateful workout, haven’t once looked back. Treating their fans (or “Blastersoldiers”) to their ‘Maxximize On Air’ podcast and an array of festival appearances (Tomorrowland, Ultra, Sziget) this year, the pair prove they're still going strong.
One project this year saw them teaming up with Electric Family to develop a bracelet, with all proceeds going towards helping millions of blind adults and children.
The trance, hardstyle and house producers have spent the past six months building their own studio and in there have been “raising the level compared to the years before. Not only as Blasterjaxx, as artists, have we grown but definitely have also matured on a personal level,” they say.
A recent Facebook post of theirs promised that for each ‘Like’, they’d do one push-up — meaning that by now they should have done 33,712. Good luck guys!
He may have been dethroned after two years at the top of the poll but Hardwell’s bigger than ever. Robbert van de Corput’s 2015 was a very good year even by his bombastic standards. His debut album ‘United We Are’ was released in January, while a residency at Ibiza’s swish Ushuaia, Hardwell’s Carnival, saw the EDM star slay all contenders for sheer chutzpah.
But it was the filming of a biopic documentary movie following his hectic life on the road, I Am Hardwell – Living The Dream, premiered at Amsterdam Dance Event, that really took him outside his comfort zone.
“It’s kind of odd to see yourself on screen, especially in a cinema environment,” Robbert admits. “I’m not an actor so for me this is really unusual, but it’s always amazing to see how much I’ve evolved, not just as an artist, but also as a person.
“When we first started filming the very first documentary I was conscious the camera was filming me but these days when the camera is rolling I’m not really noticing it at all,” he continues. “So it’s strange when I see myself on the screen talking or DJing or travelling or whatever, in a kind of natural state, it’s really giving a glimpse into me and my life and this whole journey.”
No stranger to collaborations, Hardwell hooked up with several artists this year, including rising artist Wiwek, whose brand of EDM ‘jungle terror’ has been getting him a lot of attention of late. Robbert loves working with others, suggesting that when it’s right, magic can happen.
“The magic that comes out of working with somebody else is always unpredictable,” he says. “I really enjoy working on my own in the studio but from time-to-time it’s a refreshing change to actually jump in the studio and just see what happens.
I’ve done a lot of collaborations over the years, and not all of them have been released. Sometimes the magic isn’t there, but when you get it right it’s really special. I’m always searching for that wow factor when making a record.”
Of course, his biggest collabo in 2015 was with Armin van Buuren for the electro zap of ‘Off The Hook’, an opportunity to work with another of his heroes. “What’s there to say about Armin that hasn’t already been said? He’s such a gifted and natural producer.
I’ve always loved the music he makes, and his ear for arrangement is second to none. It was a real pleasure to work with him on this track, and I feel we both brought some very defining qualities to this record. It captures our different styles and packages it up well — plenty of big electro groove and lots of pace too, with this classic euphoric break, which I love!”