At Data Transmission we’re firm believers that the essence of the beautiful is unity in variety. That’s why curating any sort of list can be an utterly thankless task and selecting the DJs we think have been the most impressive over the last 12 months has been a massive source of contention here in the office. On reflection perhaps picking 100 from across the wide smorgasbord of electronic music was a tad ambitious and we quickly realized we could have collated a top 1000. Now multiple fist fights and shouting matches later we’ve completed our list based upon the following DJs dexterity behind the decks in 2014 with our rundown of our favorite Producers and Live acts set to follow.
100. PBR Streetgang99. Louie Fresco98. Optimo 97. Theo Parrish96. Low Steppa95. Sebjak94. J.Phlip93. Green Velvet92. Annie Mac 91. Jaguar Skills90. Secondcity89. Objekt88. Mistajam87. Adam Shelton86. Anja Schneider85. Tensnake84. MK83. Axwell / Ingrosso82. Huxley81. Davide Squillace80. Boddika79. Mano le Tough78. Zedd77. Patrick Topping76. Yousef75. Bicep74. Ulterior Motive73. Tiga72. Alex Metric71. Axel Boman70. Damian Lazarus69. Carl Craig68. Porter Robinson67. Laidback Luke66. Solomun65. Camo & Krooked64. Chuckie63. Armin van Buuren62. Mark Knight61. James Holden60. Steve Lawler59. Flying Lotus58. Richie hawtin57. Bondax56. Subb-an55. Waze & Odyssey54. Nicky Romero53. Cassy52. Four Tet51. Claude VonStroke 50. Heidi49. Krafty Kuts48. Brodinski47. Move D46. The Magician45. Guy Gerber44. Bingo Players43. Erol Alkan42. Laurent Garnier41. Sven Vath 40. Seth Troxler39. Hannah Wants38. Apollonia37. Kasra36. Tini35. Paul Woolford34. Olivier Heldens33. Hardwell32. Tale of Us31. Marcel Dettmann30. Boys Noize29. Dusky28. Ben Klock27. Carl Cox26. Wilkinson25. Above & Beyond24. James Zabiela23. Joris Voorn22. Nic Fanciulli21. DJ EZ
20 . Friction
Friction’s deck dexterity is well known. Comfortable on a multitude of turntables or CDJ’s he delivers an absolute aural onslaught from start to finish, packed with dubs, VIP’s, current crowd pleasers and upcoming beats. Putting a mix in the more than capable hands of the Shogun Audio boss man can only have positive results. If you’ve ever managed to catch Friction live then you’ll have a fair idea of the goodness on offer whenever he steps up to the wheels of steel. With a varied track selection that still caters to the heads, bringing that proper D&B sound Friction remains one of that special breed of DJ that can blow you away time after time.
19. The Martinez Brothers
Whilst it is often releases that get artists on the map and garner them respect amongst colleagues, for The Martinez Brothers it was their unbounded energy behind the decks coupled with their youth that initially caught our eye. Today they are in huge demand worldwide and their releases have kept us enthused and yearning for more.
The two brothers (Chris and Steve Martinez) from the Bronx, influenced by the music played by their father throughout their upbringing, thrived on a musical childhood that would later prove the cornerstone that propelled them into a global phenomenon. Now regulars at legendary clubs including DC-10 and Shelter in New York The Martinez Brothers are undoubtedly stamping their mark on the scene.
18. Joseph Capriati
Now recognized as one of the biggest names to appear in the techno scene, Joseph Capriati’s progression from newcomer to headliner has been phenomenal since he first came to our attention as a producer back in 2007. A key artist for Adam Beyer’s Drumcode label; resident at Marco Carola’s ‘Music On’ events in Ibiza and one of the top attractions at some of the worlds biggest festival Joseph is understandably a firm favorite with club crowds across the globe.
In fact we’re pretty sure that people can be split into two distinct camps: people who are fans of Joseph Capriati and people who have yet to see him DJ.
17. Loco Dice
As a name in the scene Desolat boss Loco Dice is as big and respected as they come. Despite his success however it appears that the German remains as passionate about underground music as he ever was as evidenced by an almost unrivalled dynamism behind the decks.
There is good reason why he has regularly been voted in the top end of all the major end of year polls for the past few years and we look forward to seeing what the next step is in a career that has been littered with unpredictable moves, backed up by glittering moments of genius.
16. Hot Since 82
Whether it’s Hot Since 82’s slightly outlandish approach to events, having recently blindfolded and kidnapped his fans, or his immersive take on electronic music that have built up a name for the British born DJ there’s no denying his huge presence in the house scene with the producer perhaps being the single hottest act to rise through the ranks in house music the last couple of years.
Interestingly though, he’s been around for a fair while longer than people might realise. Leeds-based producer Daley Padley has a history in DJing and production that goes back nearly 15 years, with early successes taking him as far afield as residencies in Ibiza.
The classic house sound that defined his early career ultimately led to him disconnecting, as his passion for the music waned. However, the creative fire was reignited several years ago when he was lured back by the charms of underground house and techno. Hot Since 82 was born.
It’s not hard to understand why he’s stood out so much in 2014. Padley’s sound is an extremely polished variant on modern tech house, though the appeal comes though from how direct, punchy and laser-focused his grooves are; it’s underground house engineered for the big rooms.
15. Eric Prydz
In an era when many of the big-name DJs performing the festival mainstages have gotten there pushing a heavily commercialised sound, Swedish titan Eric Prydz has pulled off a formidable feat indeed. He was bigger than ever in 2014, simply by the virtue of doing his own thing. It’s a measure of how just how skilled he is at creating an explosive atmosphere on the dancefloor.
“I’d say it’s not something that I would say I’m necessarily trying to do, just for the sake of being different. I’ve always done my own thing,” Prydz told Data Transmission when we caught up with him earlier in the year and it’s this passion and willing to take risks that has made him such a firm favourite at DT HQ.
One of the most respected figures in the industry, Skream has long championed his own sound, ignoring genre boundaries and tearing up the rule book as he drops house, techno bass and anything else he feels like playing into his sets which have rocked crowds around the world. It is this ability to effortlessly cross genres – Skream has wowed us playing everything from Dubstep to Disco – that had us so intrigued as to what the eclectic Of Unsound Mind boss would conjure up on the decks when we invited him to deliver podcast number 400.
With his hotly anticipated XOYO residency set to begin in January we’ve high hopes the orginal dubstepper and DT favourite will continue to impress us throughout 2015.
13. Daniel Avery
As you may have guessed from last years end of year poll, we’re quite the fans of Daniel Avery here at Data Transmission. One of the few acts in recent years to come to prominence as a DJ before being recognized as the talented producer that he is known as today we’ve enjoyed watching him rapidly win an ever increasing number of fans since he delivered an exclusive podcast for us back at the start of 2012.
Taking influences from the greatest risk takers on the decks such as Andrew Weatherall and Erol Alkan, the fabric resident fuses indie sensibilities with house, techno, post punk and new wave to create a sound that’s wholly his own, weaving together superb DJ sets wherever he plays.
12. Duke Dumont
Whenever we speak with Duke Dumont we find it a most reassuring process. Far removed from the doom mongers that dominate the blogosphere, here is a man who truly loves, respects and understands the scenes innermost workings and it shows whenever he steps into the DJ booth.
Raised in North West London as the son of a record dealer, Adam Dyment has seen a lot of changes over his already storied career and sees most of them as for the better. Rather than jealously guard his profession and own interests the man who topped the charts under his musical moniker of Duke Dumont has openly spoke of his joy at the new found accessibility, with fans having more freedom to enjoy and craft electronic music than ever before.
11. Simian Mobile Disco
We make no secret of our appreciation of Simian Mobile Disco here at Data Transmission. It’s hard not to be impressed with an act that seamlessly flick between live shows and DJ sets, retaining their audience whilst refining a constantly evolving sound. Electro, techno and house, the dynamic duo have mastered it all, delivering a handful of genre hopping albums on the way.
Compiled of a heady concoction of techno influences, their signature approach to off-kilter melodies, and a certain indefinable British-ness, there are few things we enjoy more than watching SMD take to the decks as evidenced by our nigh on religious attendance of their residency at XOYO earlier in the year.
You never know exactly what you’re going to hear with Jackmaster. The element of glorious surprise is crucial to his sets: from the lost Dance Mania gems he spends his time unearthing to the latest hip-hop & RnB tracks to straight-up house and techno sets, the Numbers co-founder has more options up his sleeve than just about any other DJ out there – and a rare knack for connecting seemingly disparate styles with each other. “I don’t do eclecticism just for eclecticism’s sake,” he states firmly. He’s also proven that populist tendencies can have longevity, if done right: unbelievably, it’s now over 10 years since the Numbers club night was founded, forging a tight-knit and loyal scene in which Jackmaster and like-minded Glaswegian’s could hone their skills. This has developed in to parties across the globe and allowed Jackmaster to play from Glasgow to Berlin to New York, and from superclubs such as Berghain and Fabric to legendary underground warehouse raves. At the heart of Jackmaster’s wide-ranging sensibility is a fundamental honesty: he believes in neither following trends nor the concept of guilty pleasures which he has brought across to his superb Mastermix Series. His commitment to both honesty and energy encapsulates what can make dance culture life-changingly thrilling: it’s about the clubber on the dancefloor reacting instantaneously and truthfully to the music.
9. Jamie Jones
Everyone’s favourite valley-boy turned techno-prophet had to make his way onto our list. Followers of Jones will instantly recognise many of the signature sounds that have put the man – and the Crosstown Rebels tribe – firmly on the map throughout his sets.
Warm, bouncy synths work alongside tight kicsk whilst plenty of spangly sampled beeps and pings are brought to order by the ever-present pitched down vocals, altogether putting his performances into firm hot-boat-party-sleaze territory. And that’s just the way we like it.
8. Eats Everything
From a spectacle of eras and styles, regardless of specific taste and potential music snobbery, Eats has mastered a technique by which no matter who his crowd are or his selection in tracks, he manages to tear the place to absolute pieces. From commercial disco and house dirty underground techno the sky seems the limit for this man.
It takes a performer to perform, an entertainer to entertain but to do it with such enthusiasm and accomplishment it is undeniably impeccable. It’s almost as though he has a sixth sense to successfully feed a nation of hungry ravers. With an individual fashion and uniquely established brand, any opportunity to see this guy should not go amiss. Eats is far more than a player in the game. It’s almost as if he is the game itself.
You won’t have been able to enter a nightclub or festival this year without someone mentioning the name Dixon. After spending years honing a unique set of skills that Liam Neeson’s lead character in Taken would have been proud of in the vibrant Berlin scene he finally came to get us in and in a big way.
He’s been one of technos leading lights in the last 12 months and with the type of sets he’s been delivering it’s not hard to see why he’s so high up on our list.
6. Marco Carola
Marco Carola is a global ambassador of techno. From Napoli in the south of Italy, Marco was instrumental in the development of the electronic scene in the early 90s, where he gifted the flourishing techno Neapolitan scene to the rest of the world. Over two decades on and Marco is still one of the most respected producers and DJs within the techno scene, widely regarded as one of the key factors in driving the genre towards worldwide recognition within electronic music. Famed for his energetic and impressive three-deck style of mixing and extended sets, Marco has remained one of the most in demand DJs on the planet throughout 2014 and with his propensity towards delivering mammoth eight hour plus sets he was once again the cause of a many of our summer highlights at his legendary Music On parties in Ibiza.
5. Levon Vincent
If this poll were to reflect which artist had most impressed us with a single performance then there is no doubt that Levon Vincent would top this list.
The are DJs who chase trends, there are DJs who like to experiment with the crowd and there are DJs who just want to sure the party is rocking until the wheels come off. Mr. Vincent likes to offer the latter two qualities throughout his performances as he skips though various genres of house with the occasional classic sounding piece of techno inspired fare to keep the crowd continually guessing as to where he will take them next within his inspired journeys.
Delivering each and every time we’ve caught the former Fabric resident in the flesh we’d highly recommend anyone given the chance to check him out if he is booked to play a city near you.
4. Maceo Plex
Electronic music has many faces though for artists it is important to have a well-defined identity to enjoy success. Whilst a cohort of artists are renowned and make a career with their genre-defying eccentricity this can itself becoming the defining feature with which fans identify. Occasionally an artist establishes themselves in multiple planes, albeit a tremendously rare story of success. Despite years spent in the shadows of fame and accomplishment Eric Estornel persevered, producing techno under the guise of Maetrik with a debut release going to press in 2000. Despite plugging away with releases and relatively small scale club appearances the sudden propulsion to fame and celebrity with his alter-ego Maceo Plex was perhaps not the linear progression that Estornel had expected. If one listens over the impressive back catalogue of Maetrik’s work, the polished composition and attention to detail is obvious and serves as a stark reminder of how difficult success can be in this fickle industry.
2014 saw the continued success of his own imprint Ellem Audio but he also enjoyed success with releases on some of worlds most esteemed labels with the likes of Kompakt and M_nus housing his work. It was however his performances as a DJ that really stood out for us with a series of blistering sets blazing a trail across the globe that we hope continue in the new year.
3. Andy C
“There isn’t a better feeling. To be able to play for six hours to the same crowd is amazing. You’re not gonna play the same tunes twice – although depending on the drink intake that could happen,” laughed Andy C, discussing why he’d chosen to once again undertake another six hour set, this time at the O2 Brixton Academy when we caught up with him recently. This was Andy’s third go around for six hours. First was back in October 2012 when he took over Fabric’s main room, clocking approximately 6 hours and 47 minutes of playing time.
He followed that up in April this year by rolling out once again for over six hours at The Electric in Brixton. So popular was that one, that instead of waiting nearly two years to do it, he went and did it again only six months later and guess what? It was another successful All Night session from The Executioner. There simply aren’t any DJs held in higher esteem than Andy C in the world of D&B and for that reason alone he was always going to find his way onto our list.
2. Ben UFO
Paradox lies at the heart of Ben UFO’s appeal. Whilst the music he plays, in every generic and sonic sense, is way ahead of the curve, his stature as a DJ is something of a throwback. In the age where DJs are expected to be part-time producers, Ben UFO’s very conscious decision not to make music separates him from his contemporaries. Whilst for others success means both club bookings and Beatport chart success, Ben’s decision to focus on the ‘art’ of djing is an open challenge to the compromise inherent within the forced joinery of this previously optional separation.
Yet, the decision to focus on DJing is not a regressive or conservative purist positioning of the art, but a starting point for challenging the conventions and boundaries of what is possible from a DJ mix.
1. Nina Kraviz
One thing has been tragically overlooked when talking about Nina Kraviz in recent times and that’s that she’s a fucking great DJ.
2014 has been a big year for Nina with our favourite ex-dentist delivering a blistering set of “Dance Mania-inspired, stripped down jacking grooves” each and every time we’ve seen her DJ. Add to that the launch of her own imprint трип -pronounced “trip” – which has showcased some of our favourite acid enthused numbers of the year and her showing a different side to her musical personality on her DJ-Kicks compilation it quickly becomes evident why she has been our favourite DJ of the last 12 months.