IN SEB FR GR AS EE OS TIA SO N CD
The world’s biggest dance music and CLUBBING magazine
Your clubbing plans sorted every month issue 233 OCTOBER 2010
the greatest dj OF ALL TIME kazantip tiga’s turbo tour ibiza review
who is the greatest
of all time?
Get ready to vote in the most important poll in dance music history
Full review of the best season in years
The month-long beach rave! HOW TO MAKE IT AS A DJ
Part two of our pro guide!
“No more remixes”
plus The Count And Sinden | Tiga Mighty Mouse | Matt Tolfrey Super 8 & Tab | Mary Zander
Is your CD missing? Tell your newsagent to poll their finger out
UK £4.20 OCTOBER 2010 overseas £4.20 www.mixmag.net
who is the greatest
of all time?
“They made it OK for indie kids to listen to dance music” Entering the music scene as Soulwax in ’96, David and Stephen Dewaele smashed their way into dance mythology in 2002 with ‘As Heard on Radio Soulwax Pt 2’, one of the greatest mix albums of all time, featuring114 samples. Their mashup DJ sets have been legendary ever since.
Forget this year’s latest hype DJ. They’d be nowhere without the legends in this poll. Over the next nine pages, the bona fide biggest stars in electronic music tell you who they think should be crowned The Greatest DJ Of All Time. But who will be champion? That’s down to you. Read, inwardly digest, and then vote at www.greatest.dj
“He’s a music fan, first and foremost”
The term ‘maverick’ is often misused when it comes to DJs, but Andrew Weatherall is the real deal. From the Balearic explosion, to indie-dance with Primal Scream, dark dubscapes with Sabres Of Paradise, deep electro with Two Lone Swordsmen and a thousand dark basement parties, he’s never stopped pushing the boundaries.
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“He was the one that p u t I b i z a o n t h e m a p” Ibiza-based Argentinian DJ Alfredo has been spinning for nearly 30 years. Making the move to Ibiza in the mid-80s, his mix of pop, early house and everything else pioneered the Balearic sound and inspired many of today’s veteran DJs such as Paul Oakenfold, Sven Väth & Danny Rampling.
Erol Alkan on Andrew Weatherall “It’s about attitude and having ambitions about where you can take music. Andy Weatherall has that more than anyone. Every time I’ve seen him play, he’s fluctuated between sounds, constantly side-stepping expectations without losing the crowd. He can set the scene, then turn everything upside-down. Although he’s played so many styles, you never feel like he’s just dabbling in scenes – though he’s not a boring purist either; he understands the power of all these different sounds. He’s a truly great role model for DJs – he’s a music fan first and foremost. He shows young DJs that if you don’t suck the corporate dick you can still be here in ten years or more. I still get a buzz if I hear he’s playing a track I’ve been involved in, and he’s still one of the few DJs where I will find a dark corner and just completely get absorbed in the music.” Erol Alkan changed the face of clubbing with his infamous indie-rave night Trash, and his Phantasy Sound label continues to promote eclectic electronica.
“The fastest beatmatcher in the game” Co-founder of Ram Records Andrew Clarke is widely accepted as the biggest DJ in drum ’n’ bass. Essex born and bred, he released his first tune at 16 and was playing his first rave shortly after. His career has spanned over 20 years, and his popularity as a DJ continues to grow.
laurie fletcher, lars borges
Danny Rampling on DJ Alfredo “Larry Levan may have inspired a whole generation of the original American house and techno DJs, but for me, Alfredo was the one who inspired the whole original wave of British and European DJs. When I first saw and heard what he was doing in Ibiza I came straight back to the UK and started my own club, Shoom, and many others did the same. I’d been a funk and soul guy, and had been going nowhere, really, as a DJ for seven years, but when I heard what Alfredo was doing with house and Balearic music I knew it was something I had to get involved in. He would play all sorts of music, and mix it together so seamlessly and smoothly, creating a unique sound. Without Alfredo I would not have had a career and be where I am today. He’s an icon, a pioneer and quite simply a legend. Ibiza would not be what it is today without him. He put it on the map. He must have inspired ninety per cent of the DJs who play there.” Danny Rampling promoted one of London’s first house nights, Shoom, and has DJed the world over for 25 years.
Words Phil Dudman, Joe Muggs, Ralph Moore, Thomas H Green, Gavin Herlihy, Craig Torrance, Nick Stevenson, Frank Broughton, Bill Brewster, Peter Rogers, Ed Karney, Duncan Dick, Mike Monypenny, Rebecca Bidner-Goldstone
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Andy George of Jaymo & Andy George on 2ManyDJs: “I first saw 2ManyDJs play Leeds Festival in 2005. They pushed the boundaries harder than and played completely different music to all the house and techno DJs at the time. Coming straight out of the Soulwax thing, 2ManyDJs made it OK for indie kids to listen to dance music. As an indie kid myself, it struck me how they played an electro record then could drop in Blur’s ‘Girls and Boys’ before playing some weird techno thing. It was groundbreaking – it made it OK for DJs to be ‘mash-up’ and break free from their usual BPM. That was an attitude I really liked, and with the Dewaele brothers it wasn’t just another band doing a DJ set – it was two awesome DJs in a great band, often playing one show right after the other! The fact is, their influence on dance music has been massive. It may not be such a surprise when they drop a random track at a headline show seven years after ‘As Heard On Radio Soulwax’ blew up, but that’s only because 2ManyDJs changed the game.” Radio 1 star duo Jaymo & Andy George are two of the UK’s brightest DJ talents. From lonely Lincoln to becoming airwave megastars, the Moda boys are taking the dance world by storm.
Sub Focus on Andy C “Andy is pretty much the fastest beatmatcher in the DJ game – there are few DJs that can get two records in time as quickly as him. He’s definitely helped shape the way d’n’b is played. Double-drop mixing was something he became famous for. Now it’s much more common to see DJs doing it. I really like the way he works old classics seamlessly into the mix, going right back to 1994 jungle. When you see him play now you’re getting a snapshot of all the different styles of the genre and how it’s evolved, too. And his ability to keep the momentum going over the course of a long set is so impressive. The last Ram Records night at The End before it shut down really sticks in my mind. He absolutely mastered the set-up in that club, having had a residency there for so many years, and his set was absolutely incredible. I remember him rewinding one mix seven times due to the insane crowd reaction it got every time.” Signed to Ram in 2004, Nick Douwma, aka Sub Focus, has become a figurehead for the label with releases like ‘X-Ray’. His live show has stormed festivals worldwide.
OCTOBER 2010 [[2R]]
of all time
“He never fails to turn the club on its head” At the top of the game for over 20 years, Carl Cox’s Global radio show is one of the most syndicated in the world, while his night at Space Ibiza is the club’s busiest party. More impressively, he’s remained at the top of dance festival line-ups since the dawn of rave.
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YOUSEF ON CARL COX “If there was a points table for the DJ that has rocked his (or her) gigs every single time, no one would come near Carl Cox. He never fails to turn the club on its head. Ever. Carl knows which records will slay the floor and when. His ability to read the crowd is unparalleled. He’s not part of a clique, or a fashion movement. He’s his own clique, and the DJ you can rely on to nail you to the floor every time. I remember so many sets from Carl, from the mixtape of him playing Amnesia House, one of the first ‘Summer Of Love’ raves, to his days as Cream resident. He’s someone I truly admire and aspire to be like, both as a DJ and as a person. The first time I played before him, in 1999 at Space in Ibiza, was also my first time playing Space. He climbed into the booth and with his presence and first track he destroyed the place. It was both an amazing and very sobering experience.” Founder of Liverpool’s infamous Circus club and resident at Coxy’s Revolution at Space, Yousef’s crowd-slaying sets have seen him top the game for a decade.
“One of the first superstar DJs to take it up a level”
“He showed records didn’t need gimmicks” A starry-eyed 60s child, David Mancuso’s 12-hour sets in his NY apartment paved the way for modern clubbing. A million imitators followed his Loft parties, leading not just to disco but to the birth of club culture and DJing as we know it. He still plays today, and is just as well-loved.
Following the million-selling Reel II Real project, Morillo set up Subliminal Records in New Jersey and then began a historic house residency at Pacha, Ibiza, that’s been running riot for well over a decade. A pioneer of the filter disco sound, his energy and seamless mixing skills are still the stuff of legend.
Danny Krivit on David Mancuso “Before 1970 you might have a jukebox or a guy who played requests like a jukebox. After that you had the DJ as we know it. And as far as I’m concerned David Mancuso is the difference. Without the Loft, everything would be different. He showed that a DJ could dig deeper, he told a story throughout the party; the Loft was a long party, not for short attention spans, but for dancers, for music heads. He showed that records didn’t need gimmicks. He was all about the sound: he was the first to use sub-bass, though it wasn’t about volume but clarity. You’d hear new things in a record, and they would stay with you. He created a community of like-minded people who were looking deep inside themselves, but who were about fun, too. It wasn’t about fame or being cool, it was about whether you wanted to have the best party imaginable.” Danny Krivit, aka Mr K, is himself a New York legend. He’s DJed everywhere, most notably the Body & Soul nights he now runs with François K and Joe Clausell.
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“You don’t have to be a dick to be successful”
David Dewaele of Soulwax/2manyDJs on Erol Alkan “We met Erol at Trash in 1999, and it was inspiring to see a crowd dancing to The Smiths and New Order along with electronic tunes – it showed us that what we were doing could work. His real influence on us, though, was to show that you don’t have to be a dick to be successful! We thought that DJs all had huge egos, but he proves you can still be happy, excited about music and really nice. The happiest you can make him is just to hang out at his house and listen to his new discoveries and share your music with him – and that’s what has allowed him to keep growing from indie music to playing everything from nosebleed techno to 60s psyche now. He’s built something precious: all the bands, all the friendships that came out of Trash mean he’s made something that’s not throwaway but will last and keep growing. And his career will too, just because he’s in it for all the right reasons.” 2ManyDJs’ quick-fire collages of pop and underground music were instrumental in moving clubland on from the superclub rut of the late 90s
fabio & grooverider
“They created a brand new sound”
“ H e l o o k s i n t o p e o p l e ’s eyes and he performs” Two time Mixmag DJ of the year, 30-yearold Wigan-born Eddie is one of the most exciting and technologically advanced DJs of all time. Discovered in 2002 (by Mixmag) cutting and scratching hard dance in the Howard pub in Sheffield, he has since had a weekly Radio 1 show.
Judge Jules on Eddie Halliwell “The first time I heard Eddie’s name was through the market research we do at Judgment Sundays. About 2002, 2003 people started mentioning him. When I eventually saw him play, I had a real eureka moment – it’s so rare to see someone so technically proficient and so good with the crowd. There’s the stagediving, the standing on the decks (he must have pissed off a fair few promoters over the years!), the scratching – I think he was the first person to scratch in his genre – and the way he uses technology to the max. Eddie comes from the trance and hard dance clubs of the north, and it shows in the way he connects with the crowd. He looks into people’s eyes, and he performs. Incredible stage presence, incredible skills and an almost telepathic ability to read a crowd. Eddie’s got everything.” Judge Jules pioneered house and now hard dance to the masses on his longrunning Radio 1 show and his epic Judgement Sundays party at Eden, Ibiza.
Fitzroy Heslop and Raymond Bingham met playing on London pirate station Phase One in the mid-80s. Originally spinning rare groove and disco, they were swept up by the acid house movement and became pioneers of jungle. Now they are figureheads, inspiring artists and promoting the freshest music around.
the peter hujar archive
Part of Chicago’s original house explosion of the 1980s, Derrick Carter became known for his dazzling displays of vinyl mixing virtuosity on three or more decks. A regular at UK nights like Spaced at Bar Rumba in London, and Back To Basics in Leeds, he’s always stayed true to house as exploratory party music.
Raf Rundell of Two Bears on Derrick Carter “In the mid 90s, house music often meant something quite cheesy and crass, but Derrick opened my eyes to what house originally meant. His sets were always tough, soulful and amazingly fun and funky – but as a technician I don’t think there’s anyone better in house. He’s plugged right into epicentre of soulful, jacking house in Chicago, so it’s completely in him and he just expresses it in the way he plays. You can see he enjoys it, he’s a very cool guy and definitely brings the party wherever he goes, but more than that, he’s got a powerful presence that makes you believe that as a DJ he knows better. We’re in an era where technology allows people to do wild things, where everyone’s a DJ, but to be someone who can turn up and bring something utterly unique every time – well, there are very few people who can do that.” Big, hirsuite and bearded, the 2 Bears – Raf Rundell and Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard – are instantly recognisable faces on the scene, their releases steeped in the spirit of true-skool house music.
“EROL keeps kids dancing” goes the T-shirt – but Erol Alkan has done so much more. Known first for the rock’n’rave of his Trash club, he has expanded in all directions musically, and continues inspiring passion and activity in his followers – rare, even in today’s thriving clubland.
“You believe that as a DJ he knows better”
Sebastian Ingrosso of Swedish House Mafia on Erick Morillo “Erick Morillo was the first DJ who blew my mind. He really played around with acapellas and had THE NRG! He was one of the first superstar DJs who took it to another level. Imagine being a kid and hearing a DJ like that do their thing for the first time – Erick had such an impact on us. And now in a similar way, the Swedish House Mafia want the kids to come. The VIP crowd that comes to Pacha – they don’t go home and vote for you, or follow you on Twitter. I remember when Erick played in Stockholm when I was 16 and I couldn’t get in. Imagine being a kid and feeling that frustration – and then finally getting to see that Erick Morillo house NRG for the first time! He blew our minds.” Sebastian Ingrosso is one third of Swedish House Mafia, currently hijacking the charts with ‘One’ and dominating Ibiza 2010 with their Monday nights at Pacha.
technicolour on Fabio & Grooverider “Fabio & Grooverider have arguably done more to shape and promote drum ’n’ bass through their DJing than any other artists. The d’n’b that is all over mainstream radio these days evolved from jungle, and Fabio & Grooverider championed its earliest forms at their night ‘Rage’ in London in the early 90s – which became the place to hear proto-jungle. They created a brand new sound in their sets, even playing house records at the wrong speed, and from then on, they’ve topped flyers for 20 years. One of the best sets I’ve ever heard came at the last Swerve at The End in 2009, where Fabio gave everyone a complete history lesson, from new d’n’b, going further back into jungle and eventually playing the stuff he and Groove pioneered at Rage. God knows how long he played for, but the club was open for about four hours over schedule. Add into the equation their long-running Radio 1 show, which has probably brought d’n’b to the ears of the public more than any other, and you’ve two bona fide legends of DJing.” Peter Rogers, aka Technicolour, is signed to Technique Recordings. He has been the d’n’b editor at Mixmag for 10 years.
“He’s the biggest dance act in the world” Fatboy Slim is the main DJing guise of Norman Cook (real name, Quentin). At the forefront of the ‘big beat’ sound, his stock grew in the late 90s thanks to era-defining studio album ‘You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby’, and his huge gigs ushered in a new era in stadium (or beach) DJing.
Hervé on Fatboy Slim “He’s the biggest dance act in the world, in terms of what he’s sold, his reach and what he’s achieved. He’s a showman in many respects, not a frontman, but he wants people to have a good time. He’s always talking to me about playing tunes that reach right to the back of the crowd. He wants to make sure the people at the back are lifted by the music just as much. I’ve always been into Norman in a musical sense. I knew him from his Housemartins days, then Beats International, Pizza Man and Magic Carpet Ride and obviously early Skint stuff like ‘Everybody Wants A 303’. I’ve got all the Fatboy Slim 12s. He’s inspired and influenced me. My whole philosophy of having several names is from Norman: he’d do a disco track under one name, a house record as Fatboy Slim. He’s just got a knack; he’s done so many things and been successful at all of them.” Cheap Thrills boss Hervé (Josh Harvey) is the DJ/producer whose fusion of bassheavy house, electro, fidget, garage, dancehall, B-more and hip hop reshaped the UK’s weekends.
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of all time
felix da housecat
“His sets come from a pure love for music”
Hailing from Chicago but with a kick -start to his career via “Bilarikee, Basildon!” the larger than life Felix da Housecat has remained a pioneering DJ/producer for the best part of two decades. He’s kept his raw, chopped-up and unpredictable style cutting-edge by always keeping his ears to the ground.
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Kris Menace on Felix Da Housecat “Felix Da Housecat is one hell of a character. He first stepped into dance music back in ’86 together with acid house pioneer DJ Pierre and nobody knew Felix would later become an international ambassador of American dancefloor quirkiness, not to mention one of the most influencial guys in electroclash, pioneering the sound with his ‘Kittenz And Thee Glitz’ album in 2001, long before any of other the projects around that genre took off. Felix’s DJ sets come from a pure love for electronic music. He just plays what he likes, without worrying about genres or compromising. Felix has always been true to himself and has the right feeling about what the crowd wants to hear. With a Mezcal bottle in his hand and a big smile for the audience, he’s still one of the best DJs there is!” Kris Menace is one of this decade’s electro-tech success stories, producing with and remixing a host of dance music’s biggest stars, including Felix da Housecat.
“If you’re a DJ, he invented what you do” Brooklyn-born former go-go dancer Francis Grasso revolutionised the craft of DJing. He wasn’t the first DJ to mix, but he was the first to see how powerful it could be. Bringing together rock, funk, African and Latin sounds, his revolutionary approach laid the foundations for disco and everything that came after.
Frank Broughton on Francis Grasso “No-one is more important to the history of DJing than Francis Grasso. He was the first DJ to realise that the excitement in the room was thanks to his performance – his choices, his programming and his mixes – and not just down to the bands playing on the records. Francis made beat-mixing an essential part of the DJs art and came up with the techniques that made it possible. He inspired the first generation of disco DJs. He nailed the superstar thing, too. He got blowjobs behind the decks, dated movie stars and Playboy bunnies, spent more than his rent on drugs and went on three-day benders with Jimi Hendrix. More than anything, though, Francis invented the set: the idea that the sequence of music is as important as the individual records. Before him a DJ was more like a jukebox; after him the DJ was a creative artist. If you’re a DJ, he invented what you do.” Co-founder of www.djhistory.com, dance music journalist Frank Broughton has written some of the definitive histories of electronic music.
“He is fearless in the way he plays”
François Kervorkian is one of the pillars of dance music. Moving from France to New York in 1975 he quickly became one of the key DJs of the disco explosion. He’s worked with U2 and Depeche Mode, but never lost touch with underground clubbing, touring the world alone and with Derrick May as the Cosmic Twins.
Mala on FranÇois K “François doesn’t compromise or conform to bullshit. His real strength is to make strange things sound familiar, but familiar things sound new. He’s fearless in the way he plays, and for someone with as much experience as him not to get stuck doing one thing takes a healthy diet of new music – which requires packing your ego away and just listening. When I first met François it was an education to find out how much history he had, going right back to when dance records were made by full bands. Now I talk to him a lot because he understands what I’m about, but he can also help me understand where he’s come from. His club in NYC, Deep Space, is important too: it doesn’t matter if there’s 50 people or if it’s rammed, it’s a vibes thing, a music thing, a regular place with great sound where people know they’ll hear excellent music. It’s amazing that someone of that generation can still be innovating; it’s an inspiration.” Mala’s DMZ nights are at Dubstep’s very heart, and his tunes, solo and as Digital Mystikz, are often among the most sought-after in modern music.
“Frankie Knuckles is his real name – how cool is that?” In the beginning there was house. And ‘house’ was the music played at the Warehouse club, by one Frankie Knuckles. A disciple of New York disco, he set up in Chicago and almost singlehandedly created the scene that would put the city on the dance music map.
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terry farley on frankie knuckles “Was Frankie the father of house music? Well, he ticks every box: black, gay, he was in the booth with Larry Levan, then he took that New York thing to Chicago... In the early days there was Ron Hardy playing harder, weirder, more European sounds, and Frankie playing records full of soul, and you can tell which of those first Chicago house tunes was influenced by which DJ. When we started Junior Boys Own, real house DJs in London wouldn’t buy our Black Science Orchestra releases. Then they started flying out of the shops, and we found it was because Frankie was playing them in the Sound Factory NYC. There’s a gravitas in saying “as played by Frankie Knuckles”! To this day he plays what he plays not because it’s cool but because he likes it. And Frankie Knuckles is his real name – how cool is that?” As part of suburban reprobates Boys Own, Terry Farley brought connoisseurs’ raving to the UK. With Junior Boys Own he introduced the world to Underworld and The Chemical Brothers.
vincent dolemann, adam weiss
of all time
“He gave scratch DJs like me a career”
Joseph Saddler, aka Grandmaster Flash, is a pioneer of hip hop. His ‘quick-mix theory’ saw him take the new method of looping drum breaks using two identical records to new levels, and his command of the art of scratching has become the stuff of legend, turning the turntable into an instrument.
“One of the cleanest sc r a t c h e r s y o u c a n f i n d ” DJ Jazzy Jeff is an American turntablist, producer and sometime actor best known in the UK for his early career with Will Smith in The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air. His hip hop career is pretty much peerless, particularly his scratching and mixing skills. One look at hip hop’s first ever movie Wild Style (from ’81) will reveal all.
Niall Dially from jack beats and Scratch Perverts on Grandmaster Flash “Flash released ‘The Message’ when I was about two. I grew up with that tune, and it wasn’t long before I discovered Grandmaster Flash the personality and realised that he was one of hip hop’s founding fathers. For me, Flash represents the crossover from underground to commercial – in every respect – where that can be a really positive move as opposed to the negative ‘girls and money’ idea we think of today. Through ‘Adventures On The Wheels Of Steel’ he married the underground with the most commercial records of the time. I can only imagine how exciting it must have been to hear that record back then. He created a legacy that has been essential, beyond hip hop, to dance music as a whole and this is why Grandmaster Flash has got to be one of the greatest DJs ever. He gave scratch DJs like me a career.” Niall Dially aka DJ Plus One from Scratch Perverts has been cutting records for years and his Jack Beats collaboration is one of 2010’s success stories.
A-trak on Jazzy Jeff “In my opinion the best DJ ever has got to be Jazzy Jeff. He was also one of my earliest influences when I started scratching, and he is still an inspiration today. No other DJ has been so strong across the board and for such a long time period. We’re talking about twenty-five years of being at the top of his craft. He’s a world champion, and still one of the cleanest scratchers you can hope to find. Jazzy Jeff is an amazing party DJ who can adapt to any setting, he produced Grammywinning records and well, he’s done it all, really. Hats off to The Magnificent.” Former multiple World DMC Champion, the youngest in history, A-Trak has taken turntablism to the masses, working with artists from Kanye West to Boys Noize. His recent Duck Sauce collaboration with Armand Van Helden has propelled him to mainstream superstardom.
“Hatcha forced people to create dubstep” Dubstep would be very different if it wasn’t for Terry Leonard, aka Hatcha. As the head buyer at Big Apple, and the main DJ at the FWD>> nights, he was the lynchpin that held the emerging dubstep scene together, and remains one of the most powerful and influential DJs in UK bass music.
“He’s a true icon in our eyes”
Jeff is one of the inventors and main protagonists of the original Detroit techno sound. Acclaimed for his technical ability on the decks, with his exceptional DJ skills he created new sounds and was one of the first to play on three decks and with a Roland 909.
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Artwork on Hatcha “It’s as simple as this: Hatcha forced people to create dubstep. At the early FWD>> nights he was the main man, completely in control; everyone wanted him to play their records, and he’d say to Skream or Benga or Benny Ill, “Yeah, I like that one, but strip it down, make it darker, put more bass in.” They would, and that became dubstep. He’d be on every tune months before everyone else, he’d play them on the pirates and at FWD>> and they’d become massive. I remember him first coming into the shop aged 12, with his auntie; he couldn’t even see over the counter but he knew exactly which d’n’b tunes he wanted. Then he got on garage before everyone else – for a fourteen-year-old kid to know all that stuff was pretty mental. Even then he was a razor-sharp DJ, and to this day he loves to smash up a party, and he’s still got the hunger to hear new things.” Arthur ‘Artwork’ Smith worked in Big Apple and mentored many of the youngsters that came to the shop, including fellow Magnetic Men Skream and Benga.
Orde Meikle from Slam on Jeff Mills “We first heard about Jeff when he was doing his Electrifying Mojo radio show in Detroit. Then he played round the corner at another party in Glasgow, and we were gutted he wasn’t playing for us. Even back then you could tell that he had this amazing ability. The energy always stays there, which gives him a fantastic scope musically. He can pick a record up and bang it on and catch it exactly right so it sounds great. When he first played for us, and every time since, he’s just blown us away. Jeff has never toed anyone’s line, he’s always followed his own direction and that’s taken him away from the mainstream, but I think that the hardcore underground know about his quality. He’s also technically amazing and a pioneer – he was the first person we saw using a 909 drum machine during his sets, and this was 15 years ago. He’s a true icon in our eyes.” Slam are longtime champions of UK house and techno, both through their label, Soma, and residencies at Glasgow’s Sub Club, The Arches and Fabric, London.
“Without Jimmy the world of DJs would look very different”
Coal miner, professional wrestler, bookie, hospital porter, tour cyclist and the first and last presenter of Top Of The Pops, Jimmy Savile has done it all. For several years in the early 50s he promoted parties at the Mecca Ballrooms in Leeds, where he also made his name as a DJ.
“He was New York in the 80s”
Larry Levan was known as the resident DJ at famed New York City club The Paradise Garage, but he was also a prolific producer and remixer with many of his productions storming the international dance charts. After suffering from addictions to heroin and PCP, Larry died tragically in 1992 at age 38, from heart failure.
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“They opened my eyes to different sounds” Bill Brewster on Jimmy Savile “Jimmy Savile is a self-made force of nature. Starting out as a tough post-war entrepreneur, it was Savile more than anyone who moved British nightlife from the dance band to the DJ. After the war, while rationing and fun were still rigidly controlled, Jim set about transforming the dancehalls of Great Britain into record party strongholds. Given a choice between a bunch of dusty old musicians stomping through dance numbers with all the swing of a Dalek, and Savile’s records fresh from the recording studios of New Orleans, Chicago and New York, there was no contest. To get around Musicians’ Union rules, Savile would pay the band not to play, set up his decks (he was one of the first DJs to use two decks) and speaker system and play the best in swing, jazz and the dance music of the day. Without the contribution of Jimmy Savile the world of DJs would look very different. Sometime underground house and disco DJ sensation, dance music journalist and co-founder of www.djhistory.com, Bill Brewster knows it all.
Arthur Baker on Larry Levan “In the mid-seventies, before I moved to New York, I went to a party at The Paradise Garage – and it was the most unbelievable experience. It was at that point I first became aware of Larry Levan. He just played whatever he felt. He was the most risk-taking, interesting DJ. He would play one song five times, and if it cleared the floor he’d just play it again. He’d dare people not to dance to it. I’d go to the Garage to hear what he was playing, and then I’d be inspired to make records. I’d give him an acetate and wait until about five or six am to hear him play it. When I couldn’t wait any longer I’d leave, and the next day a friend would call and say, “Larry played your record about five minutes after you left, it sounded amazing!” He did stuff like that. He was New York in the 80s, and he is without doubt one of my favourite DJs.” Arthur Baker is a producer, DJ and engineer, best known for his production work with the likes of Afrika Bambaataa, New Order and Al Green.
“Grandmaster Flash looked up to him. That says it all” Breakbeats spawned hip hop and Kool Herc, real name Clive Campbell, was the first DJ to use two copies of the same record to create a beat. It was a revolution and changed dance music for ever.
“He opened doors for the whole world” When V Recordings boss Bryan G toured Brazil in 1998, he found Marco Antônio Silva dismantling a São Paulo dancefloor with such intensity that he invited him to tour the UK. A big name in Brazil, Marky conquered Europe and has since headlined festivals, brought d’n’b to Space, Ibiza, and hit the UK Top 40.
Smithy from Total Science on DJ Marky “Marky came around at just the right time for drum ’n’ bass. Producers and DJs from outside of the UK were still fairly rare around 2000. He brought Brazilian style and flair to a scene that had never witnessed anything like it before, and he opened doors for DJs all over the world. I first saw Marky play at a night called Source in Oxford in 2002. I’d never seen anyone with so much energy behind the decks, and the whole crowd were buzzing off it as much as I was. He was beat juggling two copies of our tune ‘Squash’ and messing about with the main riff by playing both of them at different speeds, which blew my mind. His turntable skills are second to none; the trick where he picks up the deck and scratches upside down is genius! He’s full of energy in real life, and the kind of DJ who always has time for people away from the decks. He genuinely loves it, and it shows!” Total Science are one of the most prolific and popular duos in d’n’b, releasing tunes since the early 90s and DJing worldwide.
Great DJs play great records. Optimo’s Twitch and Wilkes have earned a place in this list on the merit of doing just that. Pioneering their eclectic techno sound at their eponymous Glasgow Optimo parties, they earned world renown for their Yoda-like knowledge of dance music and DJing.
Mylo on Optimo “When I moved back to Scotland in 2001 the Optimo parties had been running for three or four years. They were always insane, eclectic and funny. I was aware of Keith Twitch from Pure, and I’d been to Jonnie (Wilkes)’s night Knucklehead. But Optimo was always more diverse and fun. And it went through unpredictable phases – one night it would be ultra minimal techno all night, then for several months it was basically a dancehall night! They had an amazing crowd of music appreciators, students, art school dossers, ravers, freaks and the otherwise unemployed. The first time I spoke to Keith I went up to him at a party to shove a seven-inch single of ‘Destroy Rock & Roll’ into his hand. I mumbled something about how it was a bit like ‘Losing My Edge’ (as if!) and he kind of looked at me as if to say “I highly fucking doubt that”. I wasn’t around for the final Optimo, but the entire seven hours is online – an amazing set and pretty representative of what they stand for. They definitely opened my horizons to different kinds of sounds.” Mylo exploded onto dance music consciousness with his electro-house epic ‘Destroy Rock & Roll’, and has since become one of the UK’s most respected producers.
“He just has this grasp of emotional music”
“He brings music to life in a seamless fashion” Influenced by everything from jazz to punk to early Detroit techno, this French techno maestro has been smashing clubs since he in started the game back in the late 80s. For the last 20 years he’s also been an original, inspirational and avantgarde producer, his ‘across-the board’ sets making DJing an art form in itself.
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Dominic Butler from Stanton Warriors on Kool Herc “Kool Herc showed us a noholds-barred approach to sourcing music, no matter where it came from. His ethos was to mix it up but keep a groove going. He could hear a Mexican funk tune and a heavy metal track, and if he liked the beats he’d mix them together. Creating that kind of excitement and unpredictability on the dancefloor is something he invented. He’s the block party king, unconfined by genres. His ability to read a crowd revolutionised the art of DJing, and by testing and analysing the records he played, he pioneered a style that gave birth to hip hop and dance music as we know it. He took it to the streets, setting up soundsystems and jacking power from lamp posts in the park – Kool Herc and his crew are the original ‘fuck you, we’re gonna party’ rebels. The fact Grandmaster Flash looked up to him says it all. He gave us beat music.” Stanton Warriors are dancefloor heroes. They are about to roll out a brand new live show, and have a fresh album ready for launch in the new year.
Layo Paskin from Layo & Bushwacka! on Laurent Garnier “Laurent is one of the greatest. He’s been involved in the scene since the start, and he constantly evolves. He’s a DJ in the sense that he can play everything, supports all kind of music, and can play comfortably alongside any other DJ. He plays jazz through to techno with influences from Detroit, he drops soul and funk to the rhythms of drum ’n’ bass. Laurent will roll up at 10pm and play all night switching back and forth between every genre. To have that in a club is amazing. People don’t pop down for an hour, they’re there for the whole night. There aren’t many DJs people will dedicate themselves to in that way. We played deck-to-deck for the last 12 hours in the main room at The End’s final party and it passed in the blink of an eye, it was so good. It was right he was there as he was part of the essence of what the club was about. He brings music to life.” Layo Paskin has been DJing and producing alongside Matthew ‘Bushwacka!’ Benjamin for nearly 20 years. He co-owned The End, where Laurent was resident.
Paul Oakenfold was, famously, one of the Brits who went to Ibiza in Summer 1987 and imported the Balearic scene to Britain. His Spectrum club helped invent acid house and clubland as we know it. His label, Perfecto, had multiple hits and, since the millennium, he’s made huge inroads into the US, soundtracking films.
Tony McGuinness of Above & Beyond on Paul Oakenfold “Paul Oakenfold has played with Madonna and cracked America, but he’s much more fascinating to fans of trance and progressive as one of its leading lights. The things he did with music excited us all, as evidenced by his famous Goa Essential Mix on Radio 1 and the stuff he did with [his label] Perfecto Fluoro. He just has this grasp of emotional music and its effect on the dancefloor. I went to Cream with the guys from Chakra and two acetates of [their tune] ‘Home’ when it first came out. Oakenfold was resident in the Courtyard, and he played the acetates back to back for about 25 minutes. The first time [Samuel] Barber’s ‘Adagio For Strings’ was used in a trance context was by him. Once he’d done it, classical music in a club made sense.” Anglo-Finnish trio Above & Beyond are one of the most successful DJ teams in the world. Their decade-old Anjunabeats label is a world leader.
paul van dyk
“He was the undisputed king of trance” Growing up in communist East Germany Paul van Dyk embraced dance when the Berlin Wall came down. With Sven Väth, he helped invent and define the style that became known as trance, first with releases as Visions Of Shiva and later with the international club hit ‘For An Angel’.
marc de groot
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Gareth Emery on Paul Van Dyk “In 2002, I sent Paul van Dyk a CD of my first track, unmastered. Next thing, someone rang up and said van Dyk played it live on radio at Nature One, a big festival in Germany. That track was ‘Mistral’. It’s easy, when you get where Paul van Dyk is, to rely on tried and tested names, to play it safe – so anyone who plays an unlabelled CD from someone they’ve never even heard of… well, it’s a lot rarer than you might think. He’s not a massive one for crowd interaction, but he’s never needed to be because he’s so good at what he does: three-hour sets and never a moment when the energy is lost. I saw him a few times at Gatecrasher in ’98–’99 and he was undisputed king of that scene, before guys like Tiësto and Armin van Buuren, when the whole trance thing exploded. Paul van Dyk’s was a name I knew before I was even old enough to go clubbing. When I did, he lived up to my expectations – and then some.” Gareth Emery is one of trance’s young guns, gigging the world over and releasing on his own Five AM and Garuda labels
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“No one is coming close, or ever has come close” DJ Qbert and Grandmixer Qbert are the aliases of Filipino-American scratch deity Richard Quitevis. If Grandmaster Flash turned the turntable into an instrument, Qbert is a one-man rhythm orchestra. In a league of his own, he’s pushed turntablism further than any other DJ on the planet.
“Hawtin showed us what to expect in the future” Icon, innovator and impresario, for 20 years Richie Hawtin has been at the forefront of technology, refining and expanding the DJ’s craft. Having rewritten the techno rulebook as Plastikman throughout the 90s, he continues to push the boundaries of what a DJ is capable of to previously unimaginable levels.
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DJ Yoda on Qbert “Why is Qbert the best? It comes down to one thing: scratching. Ask anyone involved in rhythmic manipulation of records and they’ll tell you the same thing: no one is coming close or has ever come close to Qbert. My first exposure was through his mixtapes when I was learning to scratch aged about fifteen. He’d put film samples on top of classic Bboy breaks and cartoon samples and scratch up random spoken word stuff. Without that I wouldn’t be doing what I do now. It’s weird because he’s never been a club DJ or done much production. At his live shows he turns up with a turntable and a stool, plays a beat from a minidisk and just scratches. He’s like a jazz musician sitting there freestyling – he’s constantly thinking ahead. The cool thing is his whole focus has been on developing the art form of turntablism. Qbert’s out there keeping it real and passing on that knowledge and creativity to a younger generation through his online scratch academy, which is really important.” DJ Yoda is the brightest star of the UK turntablist scene. His pioneering live AV shows are a festival essential.
Seth Troxler on Richie Hawtin “When asked who I thought was one of the greatest DJs of all time, Richie Hawtin was the obvious choice. From the legendary ten-hour sets that were so inspiring to me as a teen, to the technological innovations and his everinspiring overall vision of what dance music could be – all have had such an impact on me, as well as on so many of my friends. Growing up in Detroit, we were all so inspired by him, his parties, his ideas. Artists like Magda, Heartthrob, Troy Pierce, Matthew Dear, Ryan Crosson, Shaun Reeves and Lee Curtiss would not exist without the sounds, experiences, and visions of the future generated by the mind of this great artist. Few people in the world have the ability to make me stop, step back, and say ‘wow’, and even fewer people have done it as many times as Richie Hawtin. With the triumphant return of Plastikman, and his game-changing take on live performance, Hawtin again showed us what to expect for the future. From my heart, Rich, thanks for everything you’ve been a true inspiration.” Detroit-born, Berlin-based Seth Troxler is on the frontline of Detroit techno’s third wave, changing deep house and techno for the next generation.
“He’s like a flood, overwhelming and impossible to contain” Chilean born and German raised, Ricardo Villalobos is widely regarded as one of the kings of the underground, and a pioneer of minimal techno and micro house. His sets have become the stuff of legends as he mixes up contemporary and classic sounds using his huge vinyl collection.
“He has a presence, an X Factor” Although he may hate it, Sasha’s ‘Son of God’ Mixmag cover in 1994 marked the day the ‘Superstar DJ’ was born. Many have followed in his path since then, but only a handful of the first ‘Super’ generation are still traversing the globe and playing the world’s biggest gigs to this day like he is.
Craig Richards on Ricardo Villalobos “When Ricardo plays he’s like a flood: overwhelming and impossible to contain. The reason I consider him to be an incredible DJ lies in his approach to playing records and how he plays them. Great DJs make other people’s records their own, but still allow them to remain powerful. It’s a real skill to let the music breathe. Deep techno, soulful house, Latin rhythms, classical music and abrasive experimental electronica are all played with confidence in a style that’s truly his own. An authentic and futuristic journey, his selections are made with a true love of the music: nothing is played without reason. At times he can be wonderfully inappropriate, challenging and even mildly confrontational – but in the sprit of a true artist Ricardo is bold and without fear of failure. Narrowminded music lovers with a liking for the obvious and an aversion to surprises may wish to avoid a night at his mercy.” Craig Richards is the original resident and musical director at Fabric on Saturday nights. He is renowned for his in-depth knowledge of all genres of music.
James Zabiela on Sasha “The first time I met Sasha I felt like a teenage girl at a Take That concert. I’d discovered him by way of his mixtapes. They had an unearthly quality that I related to, and I became the ultimate Sasha fanboy before I’d even seen him DJ! I thought I could mix until I saw him spin. He would do these threeminute key mixes, riding the pitch of the warped acetates he was playing. He’s the master of epic mixes and his music is emotive and thought-provoking. He made me realise you could push new, interesting music if you programmed your sets well. He has a presence, an X factor. I guess everyone best knows him for ‘Expander’, but I really love ‘Wavy Gravy’. I was lucky enough to have the first dubplate of it. I played it as the sun came up at my first ever Homelands gig, so I have fond memories of it. That’s what Sasha gives to people: memories to keep hold of forever.” James Zabiela has revolutionised DJing with his FX-laden sets. As the face of Pioneer he now drives DJ tech forward.
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“He prepares perfectly: that’s why he rocks it” Since his DJ career started in the early 80s Sven Väth has been involved with numerous clubs, artist projects and record labels, but is most revered as one of the founding fathers of German techno. As the man behind Cocoon, DJing remains his first and truest vocation, and he still wows crowds across the globe.
tony de vit
“He closed the gay/ straight clubbing divide”
Loco Dice on Sven VÄth “During the nineties I was a hip hop kid, but even then I knew when Sven was playing. I heard him many times in Frankfurt and Ibiza. Once I was at a huge after-hours party and suddenly it was like, “OK, now I know what you’re doing, now I understand it.” Sven was a part of my formation and transformation. He’s not only constantly powering techno and electronic music, but also the entertainment aspect. For Sven, the afterparty is like part two of the movie. He can’t just let go after a brilliant party and say, ‘That’s it, go home’ – he wants to celebrate with the people. He’s got so much energy, and he’s such a professional because he knows he’s got to perform for eight or nine hours. Don’t forget, this guy is playing records, he’s not playing CDs or digital files. He takes two or three record decks wherever he goes, and he knows all his records. He prepares perfectly, and that’s why he’s still rocking it.” Loco Dice is a juggernaut of the techno scene, famed for his productions, his label Desolat, and his residency at Cocoon, Ibiza.
Fergie on Tony De Vit “Tony de Vit’s music was all about the weekend. It fitted the time – people working hard all week and letting off stress. His 12-hour ‘journey’ sets at Trade were world-renowned. The first time I went with him it blew my mind. Trade was a very daunting place for someone who didn’t know anything about the gay scene. But that’s probably one of his great achievements: closing the gay/ straight clubbing divide. When I first met him, he had come to play a club in my home town in Northern Ireland. I was only fifteen, and I spent all night pestering him for the names of tunes he was playing. I phoned him about three times a day after that, and he became good friends with my family. He invited me to visit, but just then the ceasefire broke so he let me live with his boyfriend to avoid going back. He took me to clubs every weekend, three or four gigs on a Saturday finishing at Trade on Sunday morning. When he became sick he kept on DJing right up until he collapsed in a club, and even then he was reaching up to move the crossfader.” Former Radio 1 resident Fergie became a global superstar while still in his teens. His Excentric Muzik label has become of the UK’s most exciting contemporary techno imprints.
“He’s a trance pioneer, but he’s always changing his style” Forty-one-year-old Tijs Verwest rose to fame with Ferry Corsten as Gouryella, but nowadays he’s about as successful as a DJ can be. Playing stadiums worldwide, he’s released four bestselling artist albums, overseen the rise of the Black Hole record label (which he left last year) and even played the Olympics.
who is your greatest
Sander van Doorn on TiËsto “Tiësto’s a trance pioneer, but he’s always changing his style. Right now he’s lowered his pace, a really fresh new sound, and he’s at the top of his game. Opening the Olympics in 2004 really set a foundation for trance DJs to build the scene. From the moment I started producing, he picked my music up and promoted it – he’s one of the DJs who got me where I am today. He sells out stadiums, but never comes across as big-headed or arrogant. He’s very approachable, asking questions about music, giving tips and honest opinions. I rate him as an innovator, especially with his latest album, collaborating with artists like Calvin Harris and Jonsi from Sigur Rós. Tijs can play a big arena with his more familiar, commercial stuff, but when he plays a clubbier night he goes deeper, more underground. When we played Beirut he played a phenomenal set; I stayed to the end and I definitely shook a leg.” Sander van Doorn first turned heads with productions as Sam Sharp and Purple Haze. Now he’s a first-rank DJ, permanently on tour around the world.
dj of all time?
Don’t forget to choose your champion. Watch our interviews, cast your vote and argue about who you think should’ve been on the list online at w w w.g r e a t e s t . d j
Tony De Vit’s impact in the 1990s earned him the title ‘The People’s DJ’. His sound, a mix of relentless energy with a camp twist, helped shape hard house, his tunes and compilations shooting the genre into the Top 40. He died in 1998 aged 40 from AIDS-related illnesses – not before leaving a legacy of escapism.
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Published on Aug 9, 2012
To kick off our huge poll, I interviewed a series of stars on their DJ heroes talking to Andy George on 2many DJs, Niall Dially on Grandmast...