We profile the DJs who are shifting the parameters of dance music even after hitting the big five-O.
The old adage goes “with age comes wisdom” and where these 12 DJs are concerned, the sentiment couldn’t be more pertinent. For decades these deck wizards have been shaping and moulding the electronic dance music landscape. Before there were fireworks, huge stages, millions of dollars worth of production, branding deals and Facebook likes there was a guy with a few records and a passion for getting people moving.
Many of these are recognised for their varying contributions to dance music. From pioneering Chicago house, to garage, techno and trance, from beating down the boundaries between beats and bass lines and establishing music havens like Ibiza, these DJs are constantly reinventing the standard for live electronic music. In a couple of cases even retirement hasn’t stopped them getting back on stage, a passion that is derived from a connection with a crowd rather than the money in their pocket.
Take note young bucks/does, age is but a number.
12. Alexander Robotnick
64-year-old Italo-disco legend Maurizio Dami aka Alexander Robotnick admits he’s completely at ease with both his age and his rapidly expanding career as an international DJ. “When you’re 80, if you look in the mirror you’re aware you’re 80, but if you don’t look at yourself in the mirror, you don't know you’re so old. It’s only other people who remind you of your age, not yourself.” His new analog mix ‘Black Ground’ dropped in May this year on label Hot Elephant proving he still has what it takes to ruffle a few feathers. Check out the orginal mix in full here.
11. José Padilla
The hugely influential DJ José Padilla soundtracked the 1990s with his sunset sets at the Café Del Mar, playing a selection of widescreen electronica, dubbed out ambient and the likes of Penguin Café Orchestra to signal the end of one sun-drenched day and the start of another hedonistic Ibiza night. He changed things forever. There is even an album in the works for sometime this year. His latest single ‘Day One’ released in March this year on Ibiza's International Feel label with his ‘Day One 12"’ following on a few weeks later. A truly sunny track and worthy of the Island he helped to create.
10. David Morales
David Morales is considered by many to be one of the first so-called superstar DJs. Larry Levan was the first to recognize the potential for success in Morales, and he was soon a popular regular at the Loft, Paradise Garage and The Sound Factory - all highly influential New York City nightclubs in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Morales released his set tribute to Frankie Knuckles from his show at Basement Miami on Soundcloud last month, showing his has a heart as well a deft hands.
9. DJ Hell
Helmut Josef Geier, professionally known as DJ Hell has been bolstering the German techno scene for decades. He is the label boss of International DJ Gigolo Records and has been responsible for many of the big records to come out of the electroclash that emerged in Berlin in the mid-nineties. He released a live record from his set at Wilde Renate in Berlin at the end of April on Soundcloud and will be playing at EMC Festival in Croatia at the end of May.
8. Greg Wilson
British DJ Greg Wilson has long been associated with both the early 80s electro scene in Manchester and the current disco re-edit movement. His influential blog called ‘Being A DJ’ has grown in popularity due to his observations on various aspects of club culture. Its worth a read.
7. DJ Harvey
DJ Harvey was an early exponent of the US, disco, garage and house sound in the UK. He brought over Larry Levan from the US noting his influence and skill early on. In the summer of 2014 he released an album titled Wildest Dreams on Smalltown Supersound. Check out the video for 'Last Ride' which features the longboard surf legend Joe Tudor. Harvey was recognised at the international dance awards in Ibiza 2014 with their outstanding contribution award. Still on the move he is playing across North America and Europe this year and played the Yuma tent at Coachella last month to a rapturous applause.
6. Danny Tenaglia
Danny Tenaglia has remained prolific in the clubs and has graced the decks in all the big rooms in NYC including Avalon, Crobar, Pacha NYC, Roxy and Webster Hall. After a long studio silence, Danny re-emerged in 2008 with a single on Tommy Boy Records, "The Space Dance". After over 30 years of DJing Danny still continues to tour around the world. His commitment to playing new music and incorporating it with music from his past is still a very big part of his performances. Earlier this year he played a 12-hour ‘Techno is the Answer’ marathon set at Miami Music Week at Therapy nightclub.
5. Jeff Mills
Jeff Mills, along with Robert Hood, Carl Craig, and Joey Beltram, is one of the biggest American names in techno. Championed for his hard stripped-down, industrial sounding DJ sets, Mills is the latest in a long line of Detroit-bred talent to take on an international reputation. Right now Jeff Mills and Axis Records are readying the first of three 12" Eps from the forthcoming Exhibitionist DVD. He also announced his latest 12-track “USB album” Proxima Centauri in January this year. Busy, busy man. Check out the tracks 'Axis' here.
4. Paul Oakenfold
Paul Oakenfold has been producing and playing since the 1970s transitioning into dance music in the way we would recognise in the mid-'80s. His 25-year-old Perfecto record label has been the springboard for many other influential artists including Carl Cox and Infected Mushroom. Still touring across the world he hits up Creamfields Summercamp Music Festival and Isle of White Festival plus a bunch more this year. Read our 2015 interview with the maestro here.
3. Pete Tong
Pete Tong is not only the man behind BBC Radio 1's Essential Mix, he was the top choice for the Evolution radio stations in Boston and Miami becoming the overseas voice for EDM fans in North America. Still at the forefront of the industry Pete Tong teamed up with UK duo Gorgon City on the latest installment of his All Gone series earlier this year, whilst his All Gone Pete Tong brand is still rocking Friday nights at Pacha Ibiza.
2. Carl Cox
Carl Cox is like a dog on heat when he gets up on stage. His long-running SPACE Ibiza night is still one of the hottest tickets in town and not too many young DJs can rock for three, four or even five hours like the ‘Four Deck Wizard’ can. Carl Cox has been spinning decks since the 1980s when he could be spotted in Ibiza playing tunes from a burger van, and shows no signs of stopping now he is a mainstay at some of the biggest clubs in the world. Read of 2015 interview with him here.
1. Sven Väth
Only a select few DJs on earth command the kind of audiences Sven Väth does, and infinitely fewer over 50-years-old do. But that’s exactly why Papa Sven and his genre defining, island changing Ibiza club night Cocoon are set to receive the Legends Award at this year’s International Music Summit in Ibiza. Headed into its impressive 16th year, Cocoon Ibiza is looking bigger and better than ever, and as its boss continues to crisscross the globe headlining the world’s biggest festivals year after year, it seems unlikely Väth will slow down anytime soon. Thank goodness for that.
Do you think someone else should have made our list and have a very good reason as to why? Have you sampled all the tracks released by our top 12 this year and have an opinion you wish to share with the Pulse community? Then do so on Facebook.
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