|RA Poll: Top DJs of 2012
Your favourite DJs of the year.
The Resident Advisor Top DJ poll is our annual chance to give RA readers a voice. Voted by registered members of the site, the list puts a global spin on something otherwise personal: your favourite DJ(s). The rules became a little tighter this time around. Selections were restricted to DJs listed in each user's 2012 event diary, limiting voters to their best experiences this year rather than all-time.
There have been a number of shake-ups as a result. There is a new #1, and a prominent top 20 debut for one of the year's fastest-rising stars. Some jocks landed considerably higher while others went down a few notches, as newcomers rubbed elbows with the established old guard. So read on (if you haven't already scrolled to the bottom):
Here's 2012's top DJs as chosen by you.
||"DJing is a job," David August told us in February. If it's work, the Diynamic upstart has made it look effortless this year with gigs stretching across Europe.|
||While Margaret Dygas didn't spend 2012 rinsing the newest records, she consistently played with a kind of finesse few DJs can manage. |
||With a slate of melodic house 12-inches under their belts, Dusky quickly became the toast of the UK underground in 2012.|
||2012 saw DJ Sneak getting into in a lot of beef—literally and figuratively. More importantly, it also saw him keep up the thumping house style that made him famous.|
||The Jackathon continues: hitting Miami in the spring, packing festivals in the summer and making the Warehouse Project sweat this fall, Heidi soundtracked some of 2012's biggest stages.|
Gerd Janson: Todd, did I make it?!
Todd L. Burns: Yes, you did Gerd, congrats!
Gerd Janson: Does this mean I'm no longer a "DJ's DJ"!?
||Huxley's "Let It Go" instantly made him one of 2012's breakthrough stars. It doesn't hurt that his populist taste in house channels prime-era MK and Masters at Work.|
||Known originally for their disco-indebted sound, with their massive summer in Ibiza The Martinez Brothers proved that their DJ sets can reach across eras and genres. |
||DVS1's frenetic performances at Berghain and beyond have helped him climb 40 places in our list this year, cementing his deserved place among techno's top tier. |
||Mano Le Tough's emotive take on house music has made him one of the highest new entries on the list in 2012.|
||Buoyed by the success of "Inspector Norse," audiences were more willing than ever to follow Todd Terje's wide-ranging DJ sets wherever he chose to take them. |
||Kerri Chandler's sound was as influential as ever in 2012, but a Circo Loco residency proved he's oft imitated but never replaceable.|
||As time goes on, Levon Vincent goes further and further into the rabbit hole of his inimitable sound. Impressionistic, cold and soulful—it only gets better the further he goes.|
||Bicep finally struck gold in 2012, starting their own label and refining their accessible brand of candy-sweet, '90s-styled vocal house to near-perfection.|
||Few have caused quite the same commotion as Blawan in 2012. He makes his debut on our list this year thanks to his increasingly brutal exploration of analogue techno. |
||Dyed Soundorom has taken the Apollonia brand around the world this year, with him (and Dan and Shonky) championing a low-slung and boogie-bound brand of tech house.|
A prominent label boss and producer, this year Paul Rose also broke into the DJ big league. He fully incorporated techno into his sets, but it was a barreling, trance-influenced take on the genre: heavy on the melody and big on the breakdowns. As his music has become sunnier, so has his touring itinerary, playing virtually non-stop this year—including his first-ever appearances in Ibiza
He's had by far his busiest year in terms of productions, but Peter O'Grady's entry into our top 20 has been aided by his burgeoning reputation as a DJ. There's always some unreleased bomb people are desperate to hear, while his style feels in the lineage of London's greatest DJs, where busy mixing and a willingness to rock a crowd engenders a super-charged dance floor experience.
"This could be the best night of our lives," wrote one attendee in advance of Sasha's recent 8-hour set
in London. That the DJ can, more than two decades into his career, still command such widespread admiration is incredible. But that's largely down to hard work. Sasha has ramped up his label, Last Night On Earth
, and continued to push his Never Say Never brand in Ibiza and beyond. With the next edition of Involver
imminent, look for his reign to continue.
It's funny how these things happen. Kristian Beyer and Frank Wiedemann have been at it for more than a decade, but this year they suddenly shot to the top 20 of the DJ polls. Maybe their division of labor had something to do with it—Beyer DJs these days, Wiedemann plays live—or maybe it was just their theatrical style of house continuing to strike a chord. In any case, Âme have hit their stride more than ever, and it shows.
How many DJs can pull off a four-CD mix
, let alone one sequenced on the fly in a nightclub? Not many. That John Digweed could—and did—is not only a sign that he's still one of the most impressive jocks in the world. It also shows he's not content to rest on his laurels. And with his Bedrock Records
release schedule and gig calendar remaining jam-packed, he's not likely to anytime soon.
German DJ tINI enters our top 20 for the first time this year. We made the point in 2011 that she'd begun to step out "from the lengthy shadow of Desolat
label boss Loco Dice
"—and never was this more apparent in 2012. tINI's name increasingly appeared apart from the label as a headliner in her own right, due in no uncertain terms to her command of seductively composed percussive house music.
Marcel Dettmann is one of those DJs with effortless X factor. Gently bobbing to his records, occasionally flashing a cheerful grin to the audience, generally looking like the bassist in a Swedish metal band, his presence in the booth is the perfect complement to his utilitarian sound. Needless to say, it's that sound that's gotten him where he is today—internationally loved and flagship resident at one of the world's best clubs
—but appearing both affable and badass certainly couldn't have hurt.
A few years ago, Eats Everything was close to giving music up and becoming a builder. Now he's 2012's highest debut entrant in the RA DJ poll. It's not hard to understand why. The Bristol-based DJ and producer built his meteoric rise on crowd-pleasing sets at numerous summer festivals. With a new label in the offing for 2013, look for his bouncy, low-end heavy take on house music to continue to make waves.
A big single can land you some big gigs, but it takes some serious chops to keep them. As Kenny Glasgow and Jonny White continue to fill their calendars with bookings that stretch from Brazil to Hong Kong to Mexico (where they'll be bidding adieu to this "World Age"
with their Crosstown Rebels
cohorts on December 21st), it's clear "Without You
" was the tip of the iceberg for these guys.
It was a year of change in Ibiza, and few were bigger than Marco Carola leaving Cocoon for his own night at Amnesia
. The Italian DJ and producer's move may have looked risky at first, but by the end of the summer season it became clear that it was anything but: Carola's fanbase is among the most loyal in electronic music and they packed the mega-club (and various venues around the world) to hear him spin.
After coming up in a big way as one of 2011's most exciting newcomers, it's hard not to feel like the young house producer has taken over the world this year, playing everything from Panorama Bar
to mainstream EDM festivals in the US, and mixing a DJ-KiCKS
in between. The key to her success lies in her pop sensibility and personality—no matter what she's playing, it always sounds just like MJC.
Tale of Us haven't released anything outside of a few remixes this year, yet here they are. Their return to the top 20 is a testament to the strength of their pop-savvy selections (and ridiculous work ethic). With over 100 tracks
apparently sitting in the archive, God help us all when the Italian duo truly make their conquering move.
Have we been taking Ricardo Villalobos for granted? High on this list—if not topping it—every year we've compiled it, it's almost cliché that the guy blows minds. 2012 reminded us why. Packing festival stages and Ibiza terraces, Villalobos is as massive a draw as ever. But with a return to form on Perlon
and a celebration of a DJ residency at fabric
, he burnished his reputation and hammered home his perennial relevance.
At this year's Ultra Music Festival
in Miami, Loco Dice played early in the day on one of the festival's smaller stages (speaking very relatively here). This didn't stop him from absolutely banging it out. It also didn't stop the crowd from eating up every minute of it. This is what makes him unique—an ability to make blistering house and techno sound totally appropriate wherever he plays.
If 2011 was the year Jamie Jones and Hot Creations
took over, 2012 was their year of consolidation. The trailblazing agenda set by Jones and Hot Natured
partner Lee Foss
last year was continued on multiple fronts. The pair scaled the UK singles chart with "Benediction
." They helmed a wildly successful party, Paradise
, at DC-10 in Ibiza. And their brand of bass-heavy, '80s influenced house continued to dominate clubs on a global level.
's most recognizable face, Ben Klock's unprecedentedly hectic touring schedule (including multiple trips to America) and a prominent mix for the Fabric
series meant that his reach extended not only to new places but new audiences alike. With his ear for slinky house-influenced techno and penchant for marathon sets, it's not hard to see how he ended up so high in this year's poll.
2012 was the moment that all of the accolades that Maceo Plex received the previous year started to pay off: Eric Estornel began to get bookings at major festivals around the world, made his Ellum Audio
imprint a serious concern and also found time to start Jupiter Jazz—an electro-inspired project with Danny Daze
. Look for the self-proclaimed "inhumanly prolific" producer to take further advantage of the opportunities that his success is affording him in 2013.
Whether on the terrace at Space
, in a packed-to-the-gills Panorama Bar
or at Boiler Room
(where he gave the world its first taste of "Howling"
), Dixon showed no one raises heart rates quite like he does. So it's no wonder even in a year when the Innervisions
boss didn't release a commercial mix or more than a handful of remixes, he landed his highest spot on this poll yet.
—Richie Hawtin's latest large-scale events concept—made arguably the most impressive debut in Ibiza history this year at Space
. Hawtin brought sake, black dots and plenty of techno to a series of sell-out Thursday nights at the club. CNTRL: Beyond EDM
then rounded out one of Hawtin's most relentless years (even by his standards), as he took to the road alongside Loco Dice
to spread the gospel of underground dance music throughout North America.
It was bound to happen sooner or later. Anyone who plays Panorama Bar within a week of graduating high school is clearly headed for great things. And anyone with a personality so infectious is going to get a few breaks along the way. Which isn't to say this was somehow preordained—no, Seth Troxler's steady ascent to the #1 spot on this poll was very much his own doing. With Visionquest, he co-founded one of dance music's most well-loved labels and DJ teams. As a solo DJ, he maintained his underground flavour in the face of bigger and bigger gigs—what other DJs at Ultra Music Festival had Analog Solutions or Anthony 'Shake' Shakir in their bags?
Speaking of gigs, he played more of them this year than anyone else on this list, even with time off and a supposedly scaled back touring schedule. Like anyone with his kind of popularity, he's got his detractors. But as this year's poll makes clear, it's pretty hard not to love Seth Troxler.
Published / Tuesday, 04 December 2012
Photo credits / 97. David August at Sankeys, Ibiza - Igor Ribnik
93. Margaret Dygas at The Nothing Special, New York City - Yuliya Skya
89. Dusky at Hidden, London - Sophia Whitfield
83. DJ Sneak at DC-10, Ibiza - Jess Summerson
80. Heidi at Factory 7, London - Sophia Whitfield
75. Gerd Janson at Corsica Studios, London - Daddy's Got Sweets
70. Huxley at Village Underground, London - So Hasegawa
63. The Martinez Brothers at Tenax, Firenze
58. DVS1 at Eleven, Tokyo - Erica Symonds
53. Mano Le Tough at Electric Minds, London - Daddy's Got Sweets
49. Todd Terje at Corsica Studios, London - Anomalous Visuals
42. Kerri Chandler at The Warehouse Project, Manchester - Eleonora Cecchini
38. Levon Vincent at Kazimer, Liverpool - Vaine Photography
32. Bicep at Stealth, Nottingham - Sam Williams
29. Blawan at Goodgod Small Club, Sydney - Alexis Wuillaume
24. Dyed Soundorom at Rex Club, Paris - Pascal Montary
20. Scuba at The Warehouse Project, Manchester - Sophia Spring
19. Joy Orbison at The Warehouse Project, Manchester - Jason Yang
18. Sasha at Vessel, San Francisco - Demian Bercerra
17. Âme at Space, Ibiza - Jess Summerson
16. John Digweed at Fire, London - Ryan Dinham
15. tINI at Loft Studios, London - So Hasegawa
14. Marcel Dettmann at Fuse, Brussels - Ludovic Thysebaert
13. Eats Everything at Motion Skate Park, Bristol - Ben Price
12. Art Department at Cielo, New York - Cheyenne Bosco
11. Marco Carola at Amnesia, Ibiza - Amnesia
10. Maya Jane Coles at Fuse, Brussels - Ludovic Thysebaert
09. Tale Of Us at Le Cabaret Sauvage, Paris - Pascal Montary
08. Ricardo Villalobos at Fabric, London - Nik Torrens
07. Loco Dice at Fuse, Brussels - Ludovic Thysebaert
06. Jamie Jones at Eastern Electrics, London - Sophia Whitfield
05. Ben Klock at The Warehouse Project, Manchester - Jason Yang
04. Maceo Plex at Movement, Detroit - Natalie Freilich
03. Dixon at Le Cabaret Sauvage, Paris - Pascal Montary
02. Richie Hawtin at Time Warp, Milan - Mortiz Vogt
01. Seth Troxler at Good Units, New York - Oliver Correa