Where My Head’s At: Gabi’s DJ Mag Top 100 picks
Today marks the final day of voting for the DJ Mag Top 100 poll. In spite of the fact that this poll is misrepresented and holds little to no value, it doesn’t hurt to pay tribute to the DJs we love and have become devoted to. For most of us, our standpoints are based on a number of things. Whether it be the music releases we follow everyday, the live performances we witness every weekend, the very own cities we live in, or perhaps the people we associate ourselves with; DJs become our favorite based on personal sentiment. This doesn’t make one person’s opinion better than the other, or make someone right and wrong. We all live different lives, and appreciate music in different ways. So, with that being said, I present to you my five favorite DJs of the moment.
French techno maestro Louis Rogé – who goes under the stage name Brodinski (his grandmother’s name) – is the newest member to my top five. I discovered him a short while ago – January 2012 to be exact – when I accidently walked into Webster Hall to see him play alongside Gesaffelstein. At the moment, I didn’t know how to pronounce either names, let alone what kind of experience I was getting myself into. Besides those impediments, my choices for the night were Calvin Harris, Nicky Romero, and Pierce Fulton at Pacha NYC; Porter Robinson and Bassjackers at Terminal 5; underground techno masters Guti and tINI at WIP, and Alan Fitzpatrick at Sullivan Room. For some reason, by the intuition of my dance music peers, I decided to pass up free admission at Pacha, waste the money I spent on Porter Robinson tickets, ditch my group of friends going to WIP, and paid $25 to go to Webster Hall — based solely on the advice of friends who taught me so much about this industry. In the end, it wound up being one of the best decisions of my music career.
For the next three hours, Brodinski and Gesaffelstein embarked on a three-hour back-to-back session, a journey that forever changed the way I listened to music. Everyone has that moment. When you’re at a festival, and you have the choice of seeing the headliner, but you pass it up because one of your friends begs you to explore a new sound or genre. Or when Calvin Harris and Nicky Romero are in town, and you’re bored of their repetitive style of play and want to see what else the world of music has to offer. After that night, I went home to see one or two Brodinski tracks in my iTunes library, but had no idea how amazing they were until I experienced him live. It’s crazy how that happens, right? In a world where electronic music has become a global phenomenon, Brodinski and his Bromance label are pioneering a new and refreshing sound. French techno is here to stay, and you can thank Brodinski for having a helping hand in bringing it the proper awareness.
4. Markus Schulz
I’ve seen Markus Schulz a handful of times now. Every time he comes to New York and plays Pacha, I get a solid five to six hours out of him. He is known for his dark trance roots, but will play everything from trance, to tech house, to techno. On the production front, he is one of the best programmers there are, as his works blow my mind each and every time. He runs Coldharbour Recordings, which has been busy pumping out massive releases and is a label any aspiring trance DJ dreams to be a part of.
Markus Schulz has always been my favorite trance DJ. There is something about trance and the way he plays it that makes it more than just a regular dance party. He has a way of controlling your soul and leaves you wondering what the hell just happened — each and every time. But perhaps one of the most memorable moments of my life was when EDC Vegas was shut down due to weather, and Markus Schulz did something startling to save the day. Thousands of depressed fans sat on the speedway, waiting hours for their transportation to arrive. In that very moment, everyone started to crowd around a tour bus equipped with CDJs, a mixer, and enough speakers to rock a crowd of few thousand closely gathered festival goers. Schulz was there to save the day. There were no contracts to sign, no questions to be asked. On that day, Markus Schulz was our savior.
3. Mark Knight
Mark Knight is a tech house master. Every experience with him is a natural dance party full of funk and sex appeal. His label — Toolroom Records — is one of the most prestigious in all the land, and grounding a release on it — to many — means you’ve made it amongst the créme de le créme. He has been nominated for Grammy’s, he’s won more awards than this post will permit to list, and when it comes to DJing — which is what this poll is all about — he maintains a prominence over many. Whether it be a one or two hour festival set, or a marathon set on the Terrace at Space Ibiza, Knight makes it look like a walk in the park. His productions are also outstanding. Whether it be my all time favorite house release, “Man With The Red Face,” or more recent releases like his remix to Florence and the Machine’s “You Got The Love,” there is a certain rhythmic progression in all his works that make them astoundingly dance floor ready.
Mark Knight & Funkagenda – Man With The Red Face (Original Club Mix)
Moby. Moby. Moby. Where to even begin? People get perplexed when I say Moby is one of my all time favorite DJs, and even more angered when I make them skip one of their favorite artists at a festival to see him spin. But that anger subsides after a few minutes. Given a one to two hour slot in a festival environment, there is no DJ on the planet that comes close to rocking a crowd harder than Moby. You may look at his past releases — maybe stuff your parents used to listen to — and think to yourself: Moby makes dance music? Moby makes more than just music. He is an artist in every sense of the word. He’s been part of a hardcore punk outfit, plays the acoustic guitar in live settings, showcases his photography for the world to see, and understands music better than any DJ I’ve come across. He has been making music for 38 years (that’s no typo), and has dabbled in a multitude of genres. Having witnessed a few of his live performances, and researched his past accomplishments, Moby — to me — will forever be slated as one of the most accomplished musicians around.
1. Carl Cox
The best DJ in the world — in my opinion — is none other than techno god Carl Cox. Having just turned the ripe age of 50, there is no slowing in Cox’s future. He loves what he does, as its clear through and through. One of the most loved DJs by other DJs, Carl Cox has a hypnotizing effect that transpires on all of us. He has his own tent at the biggest electronic dance music festival in the world, year after year. You don’t need to be told to see Carl Cox. You just do. One of the most bubbly and free spirited personalities in dance music, it’s easy to see why Cox is so admired. He’s smart, quick witted, and has been around long enough to understand music better than anyone else. You could probably blinde fold him and he would be able to feel out a crowd and rock a one-of-a-kind experience. I say experience because that’s exactly what it is. Every time you’re in the presence of Carl Cox, you’re in front of a true legend. A legacy that surpasses many, and one that will live on forever.