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 40 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 2016.
39. Camo & Krooked
38. Mark Knight
37. Erol Alkan
36. Nic Fanciulli
35. Claude vonStroke
33. Gerd Janson
32. Darius Syrossian
30. Seth Troxler
27. Stanton Warriors
25. Paul Woolford
24. Boys Noize
23. Tale of Us
22. Joris Voorn
21. Loco Dice
20. Nicole Moudaber
Dance music changed Nicole Moudaber’s life – now she’s returning the favour. “The drums reached me,” she says of her initiation at New York’s infamous Tunnel Club. Ever since then, the Nigerian-born Lebanese star has dedicated her immense energy to finding ways to share that vibe.
After years as a promoter – first in her native Lebanon, then in London (which is where we first met her) – and a long self-apprenticeship in her studio, Nicole burst onto the scene like record-wielding Athena.
She founded Mood Records in 2013, as a vessel for her own music, Moudaber often brings different elements of her style and taste to life under the MOOD banner, showing her roots as a party promoter, and a New York City clubber during the golden age of the resident DJ. She’s fierce and firey and plays dark music and we absolutely love her!
tINI has been making regular forays to the White Isle since 2003. After meeting Loco Dice, she was asked to warm up for him and impressed, he then invited tINI to join him for a back-to-back session that would change her life forever. Meeting Dice was a huge break, as she then signed with Desolat and became a headliner in her own right.
In the years that followed, she took on the role of techno missionary, touring the globe with Dice’s all conquering Artist Alife agency – the force currently underpinning Amnesia’s HYTE. More famously now, perhaps, were her free beach parties ‘tINI and the Gang’ at Sirocco, and then No Name & Lips in Ibiza. It’s no surprise that tINI’s strikingly atmospheric DJ sets work so well outdoors, resonating, in particular, with the passion and heat of an Ibizan summer.
18. Patrick Topping
There’s just no stopping Patrick Topping right now, his sets are hi-energy from the word go. Patrick has cemented his status as one of the most in demand names in dance music, securing his Beatport number 1’s, tirelessly touring the world’s biggest festivals, from Creamfields in South America to Stereosonic in Australia, to the main stage at Movement in Detroit, whilst completing a summer as resident at DC10 in Ibiza for Paradise.
Now 27 years old, Patrick first built a DJ career around playing at his own popular club night, ‘Motion’ at Digital Newcastle where he booked and played alongside some of the biggest names in the business.
17. Joseph Capriati
Now recognised 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; and a major figure at Paradise this summer after switching from Music On.
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.
16. 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.
15. 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 ensure 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.
14. James Zabiela
James Zabiela is a rare breed of artist. Over the last 12 years he has become something of a heritage act despite still being 2 decades younger than his peers currently sharing that title;this, in part, is owing to his unrivalled technical abilities in his live performance which have cemented him into the hearts of electronic music lovers the world over.
James is a technical Jedi and pushes the boundaries of DJ’ing to its absolute limit every time he plays. His skills take Pioneer and the kit into new dimensions.
It’s been eight years since Belfast born duo Andrew Ferguson and Matthew McBriar first started their popular blog ‘Feel My Bicep’ but it’s the last couple that must have been the sweetest for the London based pairing with 2012 the break through year for them before they consolidated their position within the scene as tastemaking producer extraordinaires.
The pair’s relentless quest for new music makes, spending much of their free time digging in the basement of the Lucky Seven secondhand record shop in Stoke Newington, pulling out old trance 12-inches and playing them at the wrong speed to see if they’re ripe for DJ use. (Lucky Seven’s basement is where they found a copy of Dominica’s “Gotta Let You Go,” a forgotten mid-’90s Euro house tune they revived last year with a hugely popular edit.)
2016 was another big year for Bicep: they’ve got a gruelling tour schedule and a new hardware-based live show that debuted at Belfast’s AVA Festival in early June, was something to witness!
12. Daniel Avery
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 recognised 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.
Heidi has worked hard over the past decade to make her mark on the new house and techno music generation. You only have to visit her worldwide brand of Jackathon parties or listen to her BBC Radio 1 show to experience her passion for music and fiery nature. “It’s the way you bring it. If I stood there staring into a laptop and not looking at the crowd once, I could play all the hits and it would sound like shit because I wasn’t interested in it,” Heidi explained to the Independent newspaper in 2011. “I came from the dancefloor, I love dancing. It’s disappointing when you leave without a strong memory from the night. I want to finish it with an explosion.”
Her Jackathon parties were inspired by her youthful endeavours into house and techno music. Heidi heard its calls across the water growing up in Windsor, Ontario Canada, just across the border from Detroit. Relocating to London in 2000, she picked up her craft and deep expertise behind the counter first at Koobla Records, and in 2003 Heidi was part of the team that opened up London’s foremost record shop, Phonica. Now she wow’s crowds large and small at clubs shows and festivals all over the world and she has won through sheer determination and sharing the magic with those she loves at every step.
10. 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 kicks, 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.
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 Disco to Techno – that had us so intrigued as to what the eclectic Of Unsound Mind boss would conjure up on the decks whenever you see him.
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.
7. Maceo Plex
There are very few people in the world who are true masters of their art; Maceo Plex is, unconditionally, one of those. With an incredible array of sounds emerging from his studio, whether it is under the Plex name or one of his aliases, every note, every drum hit, is perfectly formed to create that indescribable groove that unquestionably identifies a Maceo Plex track.
Speaking of grooves, Maceo’s efforts this summer have grooved the whole of Europe, from curating and building his own eclectic party ‘Mosaic” built from all corners of electronica, to the future classics being released on his Ellum imprint, everywhere we look we see the master at work, which makes it even more exciting for us to host him for his first show since last New Year’s Day in London.
6. 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 DJ’ing is an open challenge to the compromise inherent within the forced joinery of this previously optional separation.
Yet, the decision to focus on DJ’ing 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.
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.
4. Black Madonna
Marea Stamper aka Black Madonna is a pillar of Chicago’s club scene and an increasingly popular DJ in Europe and growing more and more in 2016. She’s an increasingly respected DJ, known for uplifting sets that balance established anthems with idiosyncratic selections. Born in a remote Appalachian region of Kentucky, Stamper got her start young, attending her first rave at the age of 14. Realising it would be her life’s passion, she dropped out of school at 16 to work in the industry. “My mom was really supportive of it,” she says. “My dad wasn’t so thrilled, but mom let me move out and get my own apartment when I was 16.”
With a big european touring schedule firmly cementing her as a firm favourite of Data Transmission. She recently said: “Dance music needs riot grrrls. Dance music needs Patti Smith. It needs DJ Sprinkles. Dance music needs some discomfort with its euphoria. Dance music needs salt in its wounds. Dance music needs women over the age of 40. Dance music needs breastfeeding DJs trying to get their kids to sleep before they have to play. Dance music needs cranky queers and teenagers who are really tired of this shit. Dance music needs writers and critics and academics and historians. Dance music needs poor people and people who don’t have the right shoes to get into the club. Dance music needs shirts without collars. Dance music needs people who struggled all week. Dance music needs people that had to come before midnight because they couldn’t afford full admission. Dance music does not need more of the status quo.”
3. Nina Kraviz
A firm favourite with the team, there’s just no stopping Nina Kraviz apparently. Having launched her own record label трип, her imprint quickly lined up a number of releases that have thus far all hit the mark.
The Siberian born singer, producer, song-writer and DJ also recently has just mixed fabric 91. Which she said “The mix is of course where I am as a DJ and record collector, but it’s also where I am as a listener and it’s what makes me groove at the moment. People call this a brain dance … This mix is a trippy acidic dream with a lot of different emotions along on the way. And as it was recorded at different times and places, under different circumstances, it’s naturally absorbed all these very different emotions.. I’ve used only completely new unreleased music or rare old tracks, and nothing in between, no current releases. The mix is an invisible bridge between the past and a future that is actually now.”
2. Andy C
2016 has been a big year for Andy C. Not many DJs, let alone Drum & Bass DJs, can sell out 10,000 capacity shows on his own, at Alexandara Palace. He then played all night, crossing boundaries & sub genres, using all the old and new technology to its maximum resources.
The Executioner, the Lord and King of Drum N’ Bass has just recently announced he is to become the first quarter resident of XOYO in January. His RAM Records goes form strength to strength including the announcement of seminal act Bad Company joining the label for 2017. After years of playing every festival and big show known to man, with MC Tonn Piper at his side, he strives on in to 25 years of RAM Records in 2017 and possibly an even bigger year, is that possible?
1. Carl Cox
Carl Cox bowed out of his residency at Space Ibiza in the summer after a phenomenal 15 consecutive years at the top of the isle. Over the last 15 years Carl Cox and Safehouse have helped establish Space as one of the biggest clubs in the world. With carefully thought out line ups, and as much emphasis on new talent as big names, Carl’s always strived to keep his night at the forefront of Ibiza clubbing making it one of the most successful residencies in Ibiza history. Starting out in 2001 with just 6 nights, his residency grew and adapted as the club did, so it’s fitting it draws to a close as Space itself moves into a new chapter.
He was then back one more time for the final closure of the club in October for a sad farewell. For us at Data Transmission, Carl is the ultimate professional, pushing technology and constantly hunting for new and exciting music and pushing the boundaries as much as humanly possible, whilst remaining one of the nicest people you will ever meet. If you are lucky enough to meet this glorious individual, you are always greeted with warmth, open arms and that smile, you can listen to him speak for hours as he shares wisdom and knowledge openly, which is often rare in this industry.
For us at Data Transmission, there is/was only ever one winner for 2016 and it’s King Carl. Coxy we salute you and cannot wait for our next time together (New Years Day at Tobacco Dock).