The 25 greatest DJs in the world today
19th Jun 2013 | 15:30
DJ EXPO 2013: To celebrate the inaugural MusicRadar DJ Expo, we asked you (esteemed readers of MusicRadar and users of the internet) to nominate and vote for the greatest DJ in the world today.
We drew up a shortlist of 25 names from your suggestions (plus a couple of our office favourites) and let your votes decide the rest. Read on to find out the results - there's some predictable names in there, along with plenty of surprises and a few inevitably controversial figures. First up, at number 25...
It’s hard not to like San Francisco-based DJ and Dirtybird Records founder Claude VonStroke.
Behind the decks he exudes energy and excitement, which never fails to carry across into his ever-enjoyable sets of funk and hip-hop tinged house. As a DJ, he may not be quite as technical or flashy as some artists on this list but you’ll be hard pressed to find a more all-out likeable clubbing experience than one with VonStroke at the helm.
Although he’s been producing music since the early-‘90s, it wasn’t until the turn of the millennium that Todd ‘The God’ Edwards began his career as a DJ.
He quickly became something of an underground hero though, known for his tight sets of slick, house-infused garage and his endless supply of homecooked edits and remixes. Ten years on, his recent BBC Essential Mix - which featured exclusive music from his occasional collaborators Daft Punk - is testament to the fact that Todd The God is still a DJ not to be overlooked.
Michigan-born, Berlin resident Seth Troxler has found himself playing some pretty massive gigs in recent years, yet his sets have lost none of their winning underground mentality.
Since emerging in the early noughties at the age of 16, Troxler has slowly risen through the ranks of underground dance music, building a legion of fans with his deep, technically precise and unfailingly fun sets. Both as a solo artist and as part of DJ team Visionquest Troxler has quite-rightly come to be known as one of the most reliable names in modern dance music.
German DJ Loco Dice started his career in hip-hop, but through his ten-year residency at Tribehouse in his native Düsseldorf he’s gradually become one of the most technically impressive names in house and techno. These days, few DJs out there can work a big club crowd in the fluid way that Loco Dice can.
Since emerging in 2004, Toolroom Records boss Mark Knight has risen through the ranks of the international house scene to become one of the most influential figures in contemporary dance music.
Through his production work, his label, his weekly radio shows and - most importantly - his ever-evolving DJ sets, Knight has helped to shape modern house music as we know it.
Hot Creations boss Jamie Jones has really broken through in the past few years. He’s snuck into the UK charts with his Hot Natured project, which sees him working alongside label co-founder Lee Foss, and found himself headlining and hosting huge summer parties in Ibiza and across the international festival circuit.
It’s little surprise though; given how fun Jones’ impeccable sets of retro-leaning house tend to be, world domination always seemed somewhat inevitable.
German DJ Ben Klock is probably the most recognisable name associated with Berghain - Berlin’s techno Mecca, regarded by many (quite rightly) as one of the world’s finest clubbing experiences.
While he may be most closely linked with Berlin, that hasn't stopped him having a sprawling international touring schedule, and the past few years have seen him wow crowds the world over with his epic sets of churning, house-infused techno.
Angello’s early days as a turntablist might help to explain why he’s such a compelling live DJ - he’s been entertaining ever-larger crowds for the best part of two decades.
He’s produced and remixed under various guises - he’s perhaps best known for being part of the three-pronged Swedish House Mafia - but whatever name he’s currently going by, he’s known for his success.
It’s hard to find a gap in Oakenfold’s CV: he worked as an A&R man, served as a promoter and British agent for the Beastie Boys and Run-D.M.C, played a big part in the Madchester scene of the late ‘80s/early ‘90s, and bettered U2’s own version of Even Better Than The Real Thing with his Perfecto remix.
It almost goes without saying that he remains a big draw in DJing circles, and he’s also worked on numerous film and TV projects.
One third of Swedish House Mafia but an acclaimed DJ/producer when operating on his own, Sebastian Ingrosso also manages to run his own record label, Refune, and has even been known to throw the odd Spotify house party.
He’s been releasing remixes for well over a decade, and is a major player in both the booth and the studio.
It’s questionable whether we should call German techno icon and occasional film star Paul Kalkbrenner a DJ at all. For years he’s been blurring the lines between dance sets and live performance; throwing drum machines and synths in amongst his tunes to create immensely melodic, passionate club experiences like no other.
Semantics aside, we’re more than happy to celebrate the enigmatic performer’s talents here. Few other artists have expanded the boundaries of dance music over the past decade in the way Kalkbrenner has, and the rockstar-like status he seems to enjoy in his native Berlin is certainly well-deserved.
German techno icon and Cocoon head-honcho Sven Vath treats DJing as an artform. He looks on his turntables as instruments and, three decades into his career, is still pushing things forward with his expansive and ever progressive sets.
Chilean DJ and minimal techno icon Ricardo Villalobos began his DJ career in Germany (the country he’s called home since the age of three) in the mid-‘90s. Since then he’s steadily risen to become known as one of the most consistently awe-inspiring and technically adventurous DJs in modern dance music.
Axwell actually began his musical life as a drummer, but sticksmithery’s loss turned out to be house music’s gain when he traded his kit in for a computer in his early teens.
Now that Swedish House Mafia are over he’s free to pursue his solo DJing, remixing and production projects. Given his credentials, he’s unlikely to be short of work.
Above & Beyond
British dance icons and Anjunabeats bosses Above & Beyond are the only artists to have been awarded the title of BBC Essential Mix Of The Year twice - which is no small feat, given the sort of world-beating talent the radio show attracts.
It’s little surprise then that, as the trio head into their second decade of DJing together, they’re still one of the biggest draws on the international club and festival circuit.
Almost 25 years into his career, UK house icon John Digweed is showing no sign of resting on his laurels.
In 2012 he released Live In London, a five-hour mix spread across four CDs and recorded entirely on the fly. That sort of lengthy mix is nothing out of the ordinary for the electronic music legend though - he’ll regularly be found playing all-night sets in clubs across world, demonstrating to crowds that he still has both the passion and the technical skill to stay at the forefront of house music.
David Guetta is arguably more of a pop artist than a straight DJ these days - but he’s undoubtedly paid his dues to get to where he is now.
Years before he ever collaborated with Ne-Yo or Akon, the teenage Guetta was grafting away amongst Paris’s (then underground) house scene, developing his skills in small bars and haphazard raves. It all must seem a world-away to the all-conquering David Guetta of 2013.
He may only be in his mid-20s, but Dutch electro house DJ Hardwell has already got the best part of a decade’s worth of DJing experience under his belt. It’s little surprise then that he’s now one of the fastest-rising names in crossover electronic music.
This perennial winner of DJ Magazine’s top 100 poll has done it all, from playing legendarily marathon sets to appearing at the 2004 Olympic opening ceremony.
A trance DJ Hero in real-life, he’s even appeared as a playable character in the game of the same name. Now that’s what we call superstardom.
Prydz will forever be remembered for his 2004 hit Call On Me (and for the video that came with it…), but his career as a DJ/producer continues to thrive.
Swedish-born (what is it about that place and house music?) but now based in LA, it seems remarkable that he’s only just getting round to releasing his debut album:.Eric Prydz Presents Pryda.
Carl Cox’s big beaming face has to be one of the most recognisable in clubland.
His 30-year career has seen him remain a constantly influential figure - pioneering three-deck mixing in the mid-‘90s, heavily influencing the shape of the UK rave scene and ultimately embracing modern technology with aplomb (recent sets have seen him working with a setup built around four CDJs.)
Impressively, over that time Cox has lost none of his relevancy; a fact that his current sets of cutting-edge house and techno attest to.
Sonny Moore is one of the most controversial figures in modern music. Depending on who you speak to he’s either an electronic music visionary or the root of all dance music evil.
Love him or loathe him though, his hard-edged sound is instantly recognisable, and it’s impossible to deny his work ethic. Skrillex has spent the past few years constantly touring and performing right across the globe, leaving a trail of moshpits in his wake. Looking at Moore’s packed summer schedule, it doesn’t look like the hardest working man in electronic music has any intention of stopping any time soon either.
Few DJs have embraced the capabilities of modern technology in the way that Richie Hawtin has. In recent years his sets, both under his own name and as Plastikman, have seen him fully exploiting every new idea available to him to create experiences that take dance music to more immersive and interactive places than ever before.
His most recent grand-scale project - his weekly ENTER. nights at Ibiza’s Space - blew pretty much everything else on the island away during the summer of 2012, and look to be even more eclectic and impressive this year.
While it might be over a decade since Norman Cook performed to a quarter of a million fans on Brighton Beach, he’s still something of a massive draw - a fact made evident by where he’s landed in our poll.
It’s hard to deny the influence Cook has had on dance music over the past few decades. Countless other bands and aliases aside, as Fatboy Slim he’s responsible for shepherding his distinct brand of crossover big beat dance music out clubs and into the forefront of the mainstream consciousness.
In the past two years alone - alongside his standard schedule of huge headline sets - he’s DJ’d in the House Of Commons and burst forth from the top of a giant inflatable octopus at the Olympics closing ceremony. How many other DJs can claim to have done that?
Armin van Buuren
Trance icon Armin van Buuren is nothing short of a phenomenon. His weekly A State Of Trance radio show is currently broadcast on stations in over 26 different countries to around 20 million listeners and he regularly headlines the biggest clubs and electronic music festivals in the world.
While other DJs have moved away from trance in recent years, van Buuren has remained true to his roots - always pushing the genre forward and supporting new talent.
His recent celebrations of ASOT’s 600th episode have seen the DJ play huge gigs everywhere from Miami to Mexico City, Moscow, Mumbai, Guatemala and beyond. And with the recent release of his new album Intense, plus a summer schedule packed with huge headline sets, things are showing no sign of slowing down.
Armin van Buuren on being crowned the greatest DJ in the world today by MusicRadar readers:
"I'm extremely happy to win this year's greatest DJ Poll. To me it's very special to know that so many people take the time to go online on MusicRadar and vote. It's truly the best feeling, to get recognition from the people I do it for: the fans! Thank you!!"