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Poll 2021: Ferry Corsten

57
Ferry Corsten
Down
4

Rising star DJ/producer of 2021: “Avira.”

 

After nearly two decades of entertaining millions of people across the world, Ferry Corsten needed a break. On the eve of a global tour, the pandemic set in and the 47-year-old spent time indoors. Serendipitously, his home studio had just been completed, which allowed him to concentrate on production as well as spending time with his family. It’s made him realise that with any future tours, “more family time will be taken into account when planning my next shows”. 

Apart from spending time with his family, Corsten has also been busy producing. “I have been very busy in the studio,” he says, “for my upcoming shows as well as music under my FERR alias.” Earlier this year, Corsten released a music production masterclass that teaches aspiring music producers some of his techniques. 

A mainstay at festivals across the world including Tomorrowland and Electric Daisy Carnival, Corsten is also a constant in the Top 100 DJs poll due to his ability to skip across genres effortlessly, in both his production and DJ sets. 

 

How was your first gig back after lockdown?

“Amazing. Good to see all those happy faces again.”

 

How have the last 18 months changed how you view your work/life balance?

“The last 18 months allowed me to spend much more time with my family. My studio is in my house, so I was also around when I was working there.”

 

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

“An 'environment surcharge' on each ticket is the first thing that comes to mind, as well as limiting the use of plastic.”

 

What’s the best bit of tech you’ve added to your studio or DJ setup this year?

“I have been working with this simple but extremely powerful little plug-in called Trackspacer by Wavesfactory. It's a sidechain/ducking plug-in that carves out a set frequency range on competing elements in your mix.”

 

What’s the best album you’ve heard this year?

“Olafur Arnalds 'Some Kind Of Peace’.”

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Becca Antoon - 2021-10-07 15:12

Style: 
“Melodic.”
Best known for: 
“My productions.”
Tune of the year: 
“Dim3nsion & DJ Nano ‘Shoganai’.”

Poll 2021: Quintino

30
Quintino
Up
3
Rising star DJ/producer of 2021: “Curbi delivered a lot of great songs this year and an impressive EP.”
 
 
It’s been a hectic year for Dutch EDM DJ and Laidback Luke protege Quinten van den Berg, with a raft of festival gigs across Europe and a brace of new releases. In June, he played at Slovenia’s Smile Nation event, while in September he rocked the main stage at Romania’s Untold festival to a huge crowd, and headlined Luxembourg Open Air.
 
All that gig-free lockdown time has been spent wisely too, with Quintino releasing six new singles in 2021, plus a load of collaborations. “The focus this year was on creating music,” he says. “I decided that it was time to bring back SupersoniQ Records, so we’ve released several singles totally independently. To see the support on the tracks has been amazing.” 
 
‘Make It Louder’ was a typically abrasive slab of electro-house with a rabble-rousing riff; ‘Coming Home’ had the kind of big vocal hook and relentless melody that gets crowds in a lather; and ‘F Soft Shit’ was a mid-tempo house track with a profane vocal refrain.
 
‘Back To The Oldskool’ with Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, though, was an entirely different proposition — a speedy and banging, stripped-down hard dance track, and presumably a tribute to the roots of the Dutch genre. Look out for his brand-new track ‘Moon’, just released on the SupersoniQ label.
 
 
How was your first gig back after lockdown?
 
“It was insane! My first show was a festival in Slovenia, and to feel the energy and the connection with the crowd was the best feeling.”
 
 
How have the last 18 months changed how you view your work/life balance?
 
“I realised how many important moments in the lives of my friends and family I missed over the last years because of constant touring. I’m definitely going to try and have a better balance in the future.” 
 
 
What’s the best album you’ve heard this year? 
 
“Kanye West’s album [‘Donda’]. He’s always pushing boundaries and to see his creativity is such a big inspiration.” 

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Becca Antoon - 2021-10-07 15:07

Style: 
“Electronic with a lot of energy.”
Best known for: 
“Bringing big room to the main stage.”
Tune of the year: 
“Farruko ‘Pepas’.”

Poll 2021: Charlotte de Witte

23
Charlotte de Witte
Up
9
From: Ghent, Belgium
 
Rising star DJ/producer of 2021: “Indira Paganotto.”
 
Charlotte de Witte lives her life the same way that she plays her techno: fast. She has been as busy as ever on many different fronts in the last year, from serving up a couple of new EPs, linking with Apple Music for regular playlists, continuing to A&R for her KNTXT label, collaborating with Belgian boutique activewear brand 42I54 on a clothing capsule, and playing a live-streamed set from the Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix. 
 
The Belgian techno titan has also secured a No.1 tune with the remix of 'Age Of Love' by Age of Love that she produced with Enrico Sangiuliano. She is keen to point out it was done out of love and respect for the original, rather than because she thought it needs improving in any way. “It's an absolute classic and a really nostalgic tune for me,” says Charlotte. “It takes me back to my roots and when I first started going out. Whenever I play it, even to younger crowds, everybody knows it so it gets a great reaction.”
 
Still not even 30, Charlotte promises she has plenty more to come in 2022. 
 
 
How was your first gig back after lockdown?
 
“Intense and full of joy. The energy on the dancefloor was insane and many hugs and laughs were shared.”
 
 
How have the last 18 months changed how you view your work/life balance?
 
“The big difference was that there was a healthy work/sleep cycle, which gave our bodies the time they needed to recover. We got pulled out of sleep deprivation, which gave a new perspective on how we would like to handle tour life in the future.”
 
 
What further steps should the industry take to combat climate change?
 
“It’s important to keep on raising awareness and to actively try and improve the way people act and think in their daily lives towards the environment in general. It’s a battle we are all in, and we should all try and contribute in our own way.”
 
 
What’s the best bit of tech you’ve added to your studio or DJ setup this year?
 
“I made the switch from Logic to Ableton last year, so I’ve been investing more time in gaining a bigger knowledge in what was already available.”
 

What’s the best album you’ve heard this year?
 
“30drop’s album ‘Soroban’. A beautiful ambient album.”
 

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Becca Antoon - 2021-10-07 15:03

Style: 
“Techno, acid and related.”
Best known for: 
“Tomorrowland 2018 Main Stage/New Form Livestreams in lockdown.”
Tune of the year: 
“WNDRLST ‘Vertigo’.”

Poll 2021: Armin Van Buuren

3
Armin Van Buuren
Up
1

From: Leiden, The Netherlands

Rising star DJ/producer of 2021: “AVIRA.”

 

Armin van Buuren’s contribution to the electronic music industry can never be truly quantified. The legendary Dutch DJ and producer has rightfully cemented himself as a peerless artist over the past 20 years. This year, in particular, has allowed van Buuren to reflect on his career: 2021 has been a year of anniversaries for the 44-year-old, allowing him to take stock of his influence on the industry while looking forward to how he can continue his trajectory and immortalise himself even further. 

This year marked the 20th anniversary of van Buuren’s weekly radio show, A State Of Trance, with the 1,000th episode allowing the Dutchman to curate and release a collaborative album, while Episode 1,000 itself was a Top 1,000 of the past 20 years in trance, showcasing how Armin has been a backbone of the industry by always keeping an ear to the ground. 

Having been ranked as the No.1 DJ a record five times — including four years in a row — in the Top 100 DJs poll, van Buuren has also been nominated for multiple Grammy awards while also holding the record for most entries (21) on the Billboard Dance/ Electronic Albums chart. It’s no surprise to see the Dutch artist still placing near the top of this list. 

After initial early career success with several EPs and a slew of singles released throughout the late ’90s, van Buuren’s ‘ASOT’ compilation series shot him into the spotlight. A mixture of progressive house and trance styles, the mix series allowed van Buuren to start his own radio show, which has enabled him to spotlight up-and-coming DJs as well as his own productions. 

A discography that spans seven studio albums, dozens of EPs and singles alongside several remix and compilation albums has seen van Buuren rightfully take his place in the upper echelons of the electronic music industry. On the back of 2019’s ‘Balance’, which charted at No.11 in the Netherlands, van Buuren released ‘A State Of Trance Forever’, “an album full of collaborations to celebrate episode 1,000” — an ode to his radio show. 

Alongside his full-length projects, Armin has kept a keen eye on the future. First, through shifting the formatting of his A State Of Trance radio show by focusing on the future of trance, van Buuren also created the first ‘ASOT residency’ with his good friend Ferry Corsten, the first to be given this badge of honour. His Armada Music label continues to help artists foster and grow, while Armin has also found time to collaborate with and release “big new singles with Dubvision, Alesso, Davina Michelle, Vini Vici, Steve Aoki and Timmy Trumpet”. 

2021 saw Armin van Buuren continue to break records and create history. With ASOT receiving its 20th anniversary and this year marking 25 years since van Buuren’s first releases, it doesn’t look like his momentum will stop anytime soon. His energy levels coupled with his ability to stay focused on — and keep in touch with — the demands of a new generation have allowed Armin to have a successful 2021, which is sure to continue long into the future.

 

How was your first gig back after lockdown? 

“It was in Andorra and it felt so great to see the crowd again. The rain killed the start of the set but everyone was so excited to be able to dance again that everyone stayed and danced, soaking wet, including me.”

 

How have the last 18 months changed how you view your work/life balance? 

“I was definitely away from home way too much for my own good. On the other hand, touring and playing is essential to be creative in the studio for me and I simply love it. It’s about finding that middle ground.”

 

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

“Plastic-free festivals.”

 

What’s the best bit of tech you’ve added to your studio or DJ set-up this year? 

“Pioneer DJ V10 mixer.”

 

What’s the best album you’ve heard this year? 

“Vangelis ‘Juno To Jupiter’.”

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Becca Antoon - 2021-10-07 12:42

Style: 
“Trance/progressive.”
Best known for: 
“A State Of Trance."
Tune of the year: 
“Franky Wah feat. AETHO ‘Should Have Seen It Coming’.”

Poll 2021: Cat Dealers

85
Cat Dealers
Down
33
From: Brazil
 
Rising star DJ/producer of 2021: “MORTEN.”
 
 
Brazilian prog house titans and feline aficionados Cat Dealers return to the Top 100 for the fifth year running. Like so many during lockdown, brothers Lugui and Pedrão have re-evaluated their work habits since the pandemic’s inception, but that hasn’t stopped them from staying busy with an impressive run of tracks.
 
In 2021 alone they have worked with Loud Luxury, Dragonette, Amanda Collins and more for Armada Music, while this year also saw them resume their postponed US tour of 2020, join forces with famed LA promoter Insomniac for their Insomniac TV platform, and return to Tomorrowland - Around the World.
 
With Brazil slowly beginning to open up, Lugui and Pedrão are looking forward to some homecoming shows, while their tour in the US embarks on its second phase with returns to New York and Florida in November. 
 
 
How was your first gig back after lockdown? 
 
“It was amazing! We just returned from a 30-date USA tour and the shows were insane, you could feel how much people wanted to party and reconnect on the dancefloor!”
 
 
How have the last 18 months changed how you view your work/life balance?
 
“We got back to having a good physical exercise routine, we’re eating better, spending more time with family and friends, and we stopped working from Monday to Monday without a day off.”

 

What further steps should the industry take to combat climate change?
 
“As artists, we believe it’s our job to speak up, and also take ACTION. We’re involved in some animal causes, which is really close to our heart and to our project, but with regards to climate change we are getting involved where we can too.”

 

What’s the best bit of tech you’ve added to your studio or DJ setup this year?
 
“We actually did not add anything special to the studio this year. For our DJ setup, we were super excited with the new Pioneer DJ CDJ-3000 and V10 mixer.”

 

What’s the best album you’ve heard this year?
 
“As Monolink fans, I would pick his ‘Under Darkening Skies’ as the best one for the year so far.”

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Becca Antoon - 2021-10-07 12:18

Style: 
“We call our style Cat House.”
Best known for: 
“Dealing cats and making music.”
Tune of the year: 
“Skrillex, NOISIA, josh pan and Dylan Brady ‘Supersonic (My Existence)’.”

Poll 2021: Nina Kraviz

54
Nina Kraviz
Up
12
From: Russia
 
Rising star DJ/producer of 2021: “u.r.tracks.”
 
 
After more than a decade as a dance music titan, Nina Kraviz shows no sign of fading into obscurity. Returning this year with, ‘Skyscrapers', her first solo single since 2019, the likelihood is the Russian DJ, producer, singer and songwriter will garner even more crossover appeal than ever.

Footage from her mammoth set to close the Dance Arena at EXIT Festival this year shows she has lost none of her knack for twisting and turning a crowd into rapturous abandon either, while she and her label, трип, were due for a highly anticipated showcase at this year’s ADE. The label’s recent release from Roma Zuckerman and the archival treasure from Steve O’Sullivan show Kraviz has lost none of her taste for the more twisted side of 4/4 music, and offer the perfect counterpoint to her own lean into pop territory.
 
 
How have the last 18 months changed how you view your work/life balance?
 
“I've actually been super busy, even without my usual touring schedule. I released a new single and have been working on more new music.”
 
 
What further steps should the industry take to combat climate change?
 
“I think cutting out as much single-use plastic as possible is probably a good start.”
 
 
What’s the best bit of tech you’ve added to your studio or DJ setup this year?
 
“A Lombardi mixer, it's just such a sexy piece of gear.”
 

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Becca Antoon - 2021-10-07 12:12

Style: 
“Playing my favourite music.”
Best known for: 
“Being your favourite dentist.”
Tune of the year: 
“Majide ‘Stamp Your Feet Hard’.”

Poll 2021: The Chainsmokers

29
The Chainsmokers
Down
2
From: New York, USA
 
 
It’s been a quiet year for Alex Pall and Drew Taggart of The Chainsmokers, who went dark on social media on February 24th 2020 after posting that they’d be taking time to create their “next chapter in music”. The duo seems to be working on their fourth studio album, which they’ve teased simply as ‘TCS4’ on their official (and now all purple) website, along with a phone number fans can text for updates. 
 
Even if the two chose to do absolutely nothing in 2021, it’s not to say they haven’t earned it. Their single ‘Closer’ with Halsey went 12-times platinum in the States last April, making it one of only four tracks to have accomplished that feat (among them are Eminem and Rihanna’s ‘Love the Way You Lie’ and Justin Bieber and Ludacris’s ‘Baby’, for reference).
 
Fiending for a Chainsmokers fix right now? Tune into their monthly BPM radio show, Nice Hair. Pall and Taggart kick off the first half of every episode with their signature brand of EDM-fuelled house music and welcome emerging stars to shine in the latter segment. Recent guests include Kito, Duke & Jones and Aviella, and the vibes are on-point. 

 

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Becca Antoon - 2021-10-07 12:08

Style: 
EDM
Best known for: 
‘Closer’

Poll 2021: Alison Wonderland

49
Alison Wonderland
Down
2
From: Sydney, Australia
 
Rising star DJ/producer of 2021: “Moore Kismet.”
 
 
It’s been a busy twelve months for Alison Wonderland. After a run of singles in 2020, the Australian producer jumped on a collab with Valentino Khan for the deep house-cum-electro pop track ‘Anything’. Released on the Mad Decent imprint in November, the record married Wonderland’s angelic and angst-ridden vocals with Khan’s heady rhythms. “This year I’ve been writing lots of music and working on myself,” she tells us.
 
In February, she teamed up with virtual entertainment company Wave for Wonderverse, a ground-breaking virtual concert, where fans found themselves fully immersed in a world of forests and ghosts, socialising with one another in real-time, including with Wonderland’s very own avatar. The DJ also returned to the iconic Red Rocks Amphitheater in September, putting on two sell-out shows for the party faithful. The second edition of Temple of Wonderland, which appeared at the Colorado venue two years prior, was nothing short of spell-binding. With a trippy backdrop, which at times resembled the mosaic of a Catholic church, Wonderland managed to weave a solo cello performance, two worldwide premieres and a choir and live band into the mix. 
 
 
How was your first gig back after lockdown? 
 
“It was at Lollapalooza 2021 - great!”

 

How have the last 18 months changed how you view your work/life balance? 
 
“I have definitely started to value home time as much as touring time. I think it’s important to be able to recuperate properly before and after touring.”

 

What’s the best bit of tech you’ve added to your studio or DJ setup this year? 
 
“A bed for my dog next to me while I make music.” 
 

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Becca Antoon - 2021-10-07 09:22

Style: 
“Open format, leaning toward bass.”
Best known for: 
“Fucking people up on a spiritual level.”

Poll 2021: Fedde Le Grand

19
Fedde Le Grand
Up
4
From: The Netherlands
 
Rising star DJ/Producer: “Melo.Kids.”
 
 
It has been 15 years since Utrecht-based DJ and producer Fedde Le Grand burst into the club scene’s premier league with ‘Put Your Hands Up For Detroit’. Debuting in the Top 100 DJs poll in 2007, he has ranked consistently since that inaugural appearance and it’s not hard for anyone who has seen him in the booth to understand why. 
 
Known for his solid, floor-ready house selections, the Dutch stomper has been involved in a string of excellent collaborations in recent months, not least the two tracks with his choice for most promising studio head of the past year, Melo.Kids: ‘Losing Control’ and ‘In Love With You’. Meanwhile, his label, Darklight Recordings, offers more compelling evidence of just how exceptional his ear is, whether finding or fine-tuning anthems-in-the-making. An all-rounder with plenty left to say, Fedde has also spent the past year “brushing up on my Spanish” and finishing building his house.
 
 
How was your first gig after lockdown?  
 
“Unreal and absolutely amazing, it was such a liberating experience.”
 
 
How have the last 18 months changed how you view your work/life balance?
 
“For me personally it changed a lot — it showed that family and friends are everything. I also branched out into other things and opened a restaurant, Vegan Heroes, something I’m very proud of.”
 
 
What further steps should the industry take to combat climate change?
 
“Offset your carbon footprint from flying. There are several initiatives to do this. And eat a little less meat or none at all.”
 
 
What’s the best bit of tech you’ve added to your studio or DJ setup this year?
 
“I have traded in my entire studio for a new invention, called The Sphere. It’s a desk with built-in speakers, and all the materials and angles are tuned in to each other. This provides the perfect acoustics at all times. Absolutely amazing!”
 
 
What’s the best album you’ve heard this year?
 
“People still release albums?”

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Becca Antoon - 2021-10-07 09:19

Style: 
“House.”
Best known for: 
“‘Put Your Hands Up For Detroit’.”
Tune of the year: 
“Lost Frequencies ‘Rise'.”

Poll 2021: MORTEN

39
MORTEN
New Entry
0
From: Denmark
 
Rising star DJ/producer of 2021: “jaakob.”
 
 
Danish DJ and producer MORTEN (Morten Breum) jumped straight back onto the DJ treadmill this year, dropping sets of his trademark bigroom crossover dance at New York’s Harbour, Creamfields, Copenhagen's Arch festival, Øresound Festival in Denmark, Romania’s SAGA event and packing out venues like EPIC Prague, Amnesia Cap D’agde and Florida’s DADR.
 
His first single ‘Højere Vildere’ with Rune RK and featuring the Danish duo Nik & Jay was back in 2008 but it was the gnarly synths and irresistibly catchy riffs of his 'Domestic’, also featuring Nik & Jay in 2010, that was his breakout track. Over the last decade, MORTEN has since put out an impressive catalogue of festival-quaking bangers, including plenty of collabs with artists including Steve Aoki and David Guetta. MORTEN and Guetta have worked together several times this year after their huge Fleetwood Mac ‘Dreams’ cover from late 2020. Their electro-house stormer ‘Impossible’ featuring the vocals of John Martin was huge this year, as was their Future Rave remix of ‘Titanium’ featuring Sia. 
 
 
How was your first gig back after Lockdown? 

“It’s was crazy. Thailand in front of 10,000 people, after I was 16 days in quarantine in a hotel room — first show in 18 months! Very emotional.”
 
 
How has the last 18 months changed how you view your work/life balance?

“No travelling of course, but I felt very creative. Super productive making music, and we came with 10 tracks during that time.”
 
 
What further steps should the industry take to combat climate change?
 
“The industry has a big voice that should be used to bring awareness that Climate Change is a real threat to the animals living on this planet.”
 
 
What’s the best bit of tech you’ve added to your studio or DJ set-up this year?
 
“I just got new headphones from Aiaiai!”

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Becca Antoon - 2021-10-06 13:00

Style: 
“Energetic progressive.”
Best known for: 
“Future rave with David Guetta.”
Tune of the year: 
“Achilles ‘Touch Me’.”

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