So what kind of DJs did we vote for? Obviously, getting around matters. While votes came in for club residents who week in week out do the business on their local turf (Cassy, Optimo, Slam, Craig Richards), ultimately it's the DJs who spend their lives hanging out in airport lounges, flying into a city one day and out the next, who made it onto our list.
Size also matters. It's one thing to rock a room full of your mates, but it's another thing to impress a couple of thousand complete strangers, many of whom come with huge expectations, especially after forking out a lot to see you play. Small parties are great, but when it comes time to vote, it seems the DJs can who wow hordes of us at the big events such as the Winter Music Conference, Sonar, Mutek and Ibiza are who we tip our hats to. Big DJs nominated included Carl Cox, Adam Beyer, Laurent Garnier, Sven Vath, John Digweed and Desyn Masiello to name a few.
There were also plenty of nods to the tastemakers such as Roman Flugel and Luciano, who always seem to have record bags filled with vinyl that we've never heard before. Digital download stores and online record stores mean any bedroom jock with a credit card can easily get their mitts on a release, but how can they compete with the likes of our number one DJ, who has upfront access to almost 200 labels months before they hit the shelves?
But it’s not just about who’s biggest or who’s first, it’s ultimately about being able to rock the room. Plenty of votes came in for DJs who managed to please the crowds in 2006: John Tejada picked up more than a few votes from one big night at Spacelab Yellow, while Ryan Elliott probably jumped up a couple of hundred places by playing a blinder at Sonar this year. If you managed to catch M.A.N.D.Y at Kubicle in London, you voted accordingly.
Then came the technical votes. Ableton Live, Final Scratch and all those Pioneer gadgets mean pretty much anyone can splice, dice or beatmatch two records together, but many contributors paid respect to DJs like Richie Hawtin, Magda and James Zabiela, who've managed to find a way of incorporating the new-fangled gizmos to complement, and not replace, the music.
There are no DJs from the southern hemisphere. When getting your name out there means clocking up gigs in hundreds of cities, location is everything. “If you live in the UK or Europe,” Danny Bonnici laments Australian’s Nubreed. “You’re only two to four hours away from thirty-three countries that you can tour in.” Unsurprisingly, many of votes were for European DJs: Ivan Smagghe, Ewan Pearson, Damian Lazarus, Tiefschwarz, High Contrast, Steve Bug, Marc Romboy – the list is a long one.
There are also no fresh-faced kids. You won’t find anyone on our list who still has the receipts for their decks. Votes came in for old hands Francois K, Andrew Weatherall and Josh Wink, all of whom have put in the hard yards. But's that not to say we're stuck in the past either – lots of votes for ones-to-watch such as Margaret Dygas, My My, Erol Alkan and Henrik Schwarz.
Here are the ten DJs that rocked our floors best in 2006.
- @ Unit, Tokyo: “Emotions and feelings were the name of the game for headliner Michael Mayer. Starting sometime around 2 a.m. with some sweeping melancholic orchestral sounds, Mayer took the partygoers at Unit on a six-hour journey that was by turns melodic, dramatic, anthemic, emotional, and highly danceable. Edgy, New Wave basslines (Super Discount’s 'Fast Track' gave way to swaggering, soaring guitar rock (Superpitcher’s remix of M83’s 'Don’t Save Us From The Flames') which in turn folded into soaring minimal techno anthems and out and out feel-good tunes (Justus Koehncke’s 'Elan'). There were moments that would have no doubt made a minimalist purist cringe ('Good Life' by Inner City or Pete Heller's 'Stylus Trouble', for example), but Mayer made it all work because he loves music... all music. As the sun rose outside and 8 a.m. finally rolled around, Mayer let the crowd down gently; his last two hours filled with sweeping ambient textures, letting the journey that had started so dramatically end equally as blissfully. Earlier in the evening Superpitcher had been crooning 'I need happiness.' I think it’s fair to say that tonight, Michael Mayer delivered happiness in spades.” – Cameron Eeles
Contributors: Jeremy Armitage, Peter Chambers, Richard Chinn, Paul Clement, Cameron Eeles, Tami Fenwick, Stéphane Girard, Chris Hobson, Ben Hogwood, Nico Ilickovic, Mohson Iqbal, Matt Langler, Alex Macpherson, Joshua Meggitt, Tal Messing, Dave Noonan, Barry O'Donoghue, Siana Petro, Dave Rinehart, Nick Sabine, Kiran Sande, Christopher Thomarios, Jacob Wright, Robbie Younan.