Dancing Astronaut’s Top 25 Techno and House Artists 2013
In an attempt to give credit to some of the best producers and DJs outside the mold of mainstream dance music, we’ve chosen our top 25 techno and house artists of 2013. These were not the biggest artists of the year in the eyes of the media, main stage audiences, or Twitterverse — nor were they trying to be. These were the artists tucked away in intimate nightclubs, spinning five-hour sets and keeping crowds of zealous devotees dancing through sunrise. These were the artists holding down the tradition of crate digging — keeping the medium of DJing alive while public perception of the art dwindled.
There are hundreds of artists we could have included in this list. Ranking DJs/producers will always be subjective; it’s inescapable. We all adore our particular idols and an unforgettable set from any DJ has the power to change one’s entire perception. It comes down to which artists you saw, which sets you streamed, which tracks you chose to spend your days to. We’re bound to play favorites, and we’re bound to overlook amazing artists for the sheer fact that there’s too many exceptional techno and house artists to include in a list of 25. Yet that doesn’t deter us. Rather, it makes every artist on this list all the more worthy of their spot.
25. Jeremy Olander
Jeremy Olander approached 2013 with a relentless vigor. Releasing impeccable progressive house and techno tracks like “Let Me Feel,” “Factures,” “Petroleum” and “Bandersnatch,” Jeremy’s productions in 2013 were easily the best of his career. On the DJing side, Olander linked up with his Pryda Friends’ label mate Fehrplay as the two toured North America incessantly. Ultimately, Olander was one of most exciting techno and house talents to break into the US market this year.
24. George Fitzgerald
Exciting doesn’t even begin to describe George Fitzgerald’s sound. The Berlin-based talent walks a fine line between gritty techno and sex-backed house to craft a sound and style distinctly his own. Making his Essential Mix debut as a Future Star in early January, 2013 quickly turned into a year of milestone’s for the talented producer. The runaway success of his stand out hit “I Can Tell (By The Way You Move)” established Fitzgerald as a remarkable talent on the other end of the dance music spectrum. Add “Thinking of You” to the mix and George Fitz finds himself planted comfortably at our 24 spot.
23. Guy J
Consistent album smith and Israeli luminary Guy J would have struggled to up the game much further in 2013. Donning his debut Balance compilation installment and keeping the digital market in check with a wave of incredible music through his Lost & Found imprint, his role was as much that of an integral force as it was tastemaker to the blurring lines of progressive house and techno. As the new year motions towards another full-length offering for John Digweed’s Bedrock Records and an equal caliber of talent pumped into his own label, Israel’s fast maturing scene is sure to benefit from a man whose impact is only getting stronger with age.
Deetron is an artist seldom associated with anything short of the highest caliber. Straddling the boundaries of house and techno with unprecedented quality of sound, his return to the album platform for the first time in eight years was just one of the reasons the Swiss talent remained essential listening for 2013. Music Over Matter matched big collaborations with polished club cuts, while his inaugural Balance compilation made for an essential embodiment of his outspoken live aura. The new year will start with remix duties for Paul Woolford’s “Untitled” and little doubt as to the integral aural charm sill associated with the deviant producer and his vision for warped dance diligence.
21. Adam Beyer
There’s never a slow year in the life of Adam Beyer. The techno legend spent 2013 as he spends most 365-day runs: hypnotizing heads on the dance floor and bringing sweet, sweet techno to light courtesy of his revered Drumcode label. Aside from his killer collaborations like “Unanswered Questions,” “You Know,” and “Take Hold,” Beyer led his own Drumcode stage at Awakenings Festival among other events.
For Umek, 2013 ended with a three-month tour of North America, India and Europe. Needless to say, the 1605 head honcho covered a lot of ground, taking his infatuation with the groovier side of dance music to every corner imaginable. This was all whilst keeping the label in check, donning the airwaves from ‘Behind The Iron Curtain’ and generally giving tech house the approachable protagonist it needed.
19. Jonas Rathsman
As a key component of the French Express unit, Jonas Rathsman’s slow burning days are long gone. Emerging from Sweden as a sparing yet consistent breakout talent capable of rallying high-profile remixes and devious club cuts alike, his melodic yet emotively charged studio output is recognizable from miles away. Past landmark releases “Feel What I Feel” and “Bringing You Down,” 2013 saw him conquer the North American circuit with little sign of any resistance. Given the turning tastes now dominating both live and recorded platforms, Jonas Rathsman is an essential European contender to the next generation of melodic house music.
18. Seth Troxler
When he’s not getting naked to promote a festival, Seth Troxler is laying down mesmerizing techno, deep house, and minimal sets. His patented Visionquest brand rose to further prominence in 2013, taking over stages at Movement Festival, Wavefront, BPM and more, with the Visionquest supergroup laying down plenty of memorable sets in the process.
17. Joris Voorn
Joris Voorn’s productions in 2013 were glistening. Years of experienced have culminated in his polished production, as Voorn’s sound design and mixing continues to impress. While some of his best releases like “Chase the Mouse” and “Goodbye Fly” flew under the radar, “Ringo” made it’s mark, topping Beatport and captivating the dance community with its smooth progression. Tack on stellar festival performances at places like Coachella and Awakenings and you’ve got the makings of an exceptional year for Joris Voorn.
16. Marco Carola
When it comes to prowess behind the decks, few can touch Marco Carola. The Italian stud is an Ibiza favorite, and for good reason: his spell-binding marathon DJ sets are the closest you’ll get to the divine on the White Isle. In 2013, Carola made his presence in the US felt, initiating his Music On residency at Marquee New York, not to mention his six hour set from No Sugar Added at Nikki Beach in the Spring.
15. Damian Lazarus
Damian Lazarus may be one of the intriguing DJs out there. His sets are pervaded by psychedelic bridges and mystic incantations, yet they’re also notorious for their flawless display of techno and minimal. Damian’s patented Get Lost party became a traveling psychedelic circus, making its home at LA’s Egyptian Theater and Insomniac’s Beyond Wonderland. Meanwhile, Crosstown Rebels, Damian’s renowned imprint, took home “Best Record Label” at the 2013 DJ Awards.
Paul Rose, aka Scuba, may not be the loudest voice in the community, but you can be damn sure he’s one of the most influential. His revered record label Hotflush Recordings did big things in 2013, including releasing one of the hottest tracks of the summer, Paul Woolford’s “Untitled.” Aside from his ensnaring DJ sets at events like We Love Space and EXIT Festival, Scuba released his career-spanning compilation album, Updated, as well as helped produce Close’s infatuating “Beam Me Up.”
13. Jamie Jones
A new breed of deep house has swept dance music, and Jamie Jones and his Hot Creations team lie squarely at the heart of it. After taking the scene by storm in 2012, Jones’ 2013 may seem a bit less dynamic on its surface. Don’t be fooled. Jones has been hard at work cementing his Hot Creations and Paradise party brands in the ears and hearts of a new wave of eager listeners. With a Hot Natured album, a premier Ibiza party and countless impressive performances under his belt, Jones has ensured that his sound will continue to be at the forefront of the current movement taking shape.
12. Tale of Us
Italian techno duo Tale of Us have given new meaning to the term “breakout year” with a 2013 for the ages. Their unique blend of haunting melodies and dark atmospherics helped put Life and Death on the map this year, while simultaneously raising their own profile to hipster household name status in underground meccas from Berlin to Brooklyn.
11. Nicolas Jaar
The Chilean-American wunderkind made some serious moves this year. Jaar has deservedly received praise for the release of his first album as one-half of psychedelic electronic act DARKSIDE, but he also pushed his solo live sets to a new paradigm on big festival stages from Movement to Wavefront to Lightning in a Bottle. To top it off, he remixed Daft Punk’s entire album just for kicks. Jaar is an ever-shifting creative enigma who remains one of electronic music’s brightest talents.
Sasha’s far reaching influence will be appreciated for years to come. 2013 saw the release of Involv3r, the third, and potentially best, installment of his renowned Involver series. His relentless touring schedule facilitated a plethora of enrapturing performances from Ibiza, Miami, Manchester and more.
9. Nicole Moudaber
We’ve got a special place in our hearts for Nicole Moudaber. The deviant techno goddess embodies the spiritual side to dance music. When Nicole’s in the zone, she takes the crowd on a divine, multi-hour journey, which few DJs can do with such dexterity and consistency. When she wasn’t enrapturing our psyches with her DJ sets, Moudaber was impressing us with releases like her Roar EP and debut album, Believe.
Dusky caught fire in 2013. From making their Essential Mix debut to enchanting the dance music world with “Careless,” Dusky proved they mean serious business. Touring North America in the fall, Dusky’s appeal stretched across the pond, hitting such festivals as TomorrowWorld and HARD Day of the Dead. Their releases were impeccable, capped off by tracks like “Mr. Man” on Anjunadeep and of course, “Careless.” It’s rare for Beatport’s prolific festival house to be overtaken by a subtler deep house track (especially for such a long time), but such was the case with Dusky’s irresistible original.
7. Hot Since 82
Few have enjoyed as favorable a year as Daley Padley. The Leeds-based DJ/producer has established himself as a marquee player in the emergent nu school deep house scene, adding his first artist album Little Black Book, a slew of well-received original and remix releases (including his signature remix of Green Velvet’s “Bigger than Prince,” which became an Ibiza anthem), and a bevy of festival and top club gigs to an already glistening résumé. Combining slick production prowess with pop sensibility and versatility, Hot Since 82 appears primed for further crossover commercial success in 2014.
6. Maya Jane Coles
2013 was the year we saw the true extent of Maya Jane Cole’s much-anticipated overhaul. The mistress of the intimate club cut balanced relentless global touring with a firm run of studio releases, adding a second Essential Mix to forge her most prolific year to date. Her debut album Comfort was welcomed with attention from both the industry and mainstream press, making the British/Japanese artist an unsuspecting cover girl still immersed in respect from musical sects across the continents. If the story so far is anything to go by, Maya Jane Coles looks certain to remain a global dance pioneer like few others of her time.
5. Claude VonStroke
2013 saw Claude VonStroke experience one of biggest years of his career. From releasing his third studio album, to taking over the BBC Essential Mix, his achievements were first class. Led by their affable head honcho, Dirtybird became one of the most recognizable US techno and house labels in 2013. From unforgettable parties in San Francisco and Miami, to hosting stages everywhere from HARD Summer to TomorrowWorld, Dirtybird became a bonafide buzz word, and you’ve got Claude VonStroke to thank for that.
2013 marked the year that Dixon and his Innervisions gang actualized their long-simmering potential energy into a kinetic coup, overthrowing the underground’s less visionary veterans with their unimpeachably inspired output. Weaving intricate melodies with driving bass lines in forward-thinking arrangements, Dixon and his label-mates have managed to brand a continually shifting sound that it is as complex as it is unpredictable; you never quite know what you’re in for when you press play on an Innervisions release, but you know it’s going to be damn good. That’s called trademarking quality, and this German’s own output has mirrored that approach this year. In addition to numerous laudable original and remix releases, Dixon managed to stare down daunting expectations and turn in one of the most memorable and nuanced Essential Mixes on record. For those who have followed him for years, his rise may seem somewhat meteoric, but it could never be deemed undeserved or unexpected.
3. Richie Hawtin
Last year’s number one artist followed up his 2012 campaign with another strong showing this year. Richie Hawtin has emerged as techno’s most recognizable and relevant elder statesman, solidifying his Enter brand through unimpeachable Ibiza parties, star-studded Space lineups and his own delightfully quirky Enter.Sake concept. His M-nus label also flourished in 2013, boasting one of the year’s best releases in Tale of Us’ Another Earth alongside a stellar minMAX compilation and other rock-solid output from the likes of Matador, Gaiser and Martin Buttrich.
Whether waist-deep in the Mediterranean enthralling Balearic beach partiers with a waterproof iPad or summoning Plastikman’s demonic dissonance within New York’s most sacred art enclaves, Hawtin has demonstrated time and time again that he has no intention of abandoning his perch as a pioneer firmly fixed along the intersections of music, technology and immersive artistic experience.
2. Guy Gerber
What was the best set you saw in Ibiza this year? Guy Gerber anywhere. The enigmatic Israeli took the White Isle by storm this season, transforming Pacha into a bombastic personal carnival where he could curate finely crafted lineups and showcase his own eclectic live sounds by virtue of his hyperbolic Wisdom of the Glove concept. Further, he became a highly coveted guest fixture at many a soiree of significance, such as rocking Sirocco Beach with tINI as an integral member of the Gang.
Beyond Ibiza’s shores, Gerber brought his burgeoning brand on the road and traversed the globe for a slew of high profile gigs, while also finding time to deliver one of the year’s most atmospheric and acclaimed Essential Mixes. 2013 made one thing abundantly clear: Gerber is a ringleader who has finally found his rightful stage.
1. Maceo Plex
When success arrives, some artists recline and relish it. Others simply keep plowing ahead like musical mudslides, gathering exponential momentum while changing the terrain in their wake. American-born Barcelona transplant Eric Estornel – known variably as Maceo Plex and Maetrik – was the poster child for the latter in 2013, excelling in every facet of the game with prolific output and peerless poise.
In a genre rife with ghost-produced DJs and yawn-inducing producers, Maceo has evolved into a true dual threat, upping his live performance ante while elevating his already standout studio work into superlative rarified air. It’s not just that practically everyone coming up in the burgeoning nu deep house movement wants to sound like him; the Hot Creations crew inspires similar sycophantry. What makes Plex so singular is his ability to achieve this level of adoration without formulaic lapses, tirelessly pushing his own envelope further and further into a twisted wormhole of interstellar techno and brooding yet dynamic deep house that he alone seems capable of navigating.
He was responsible for arguably the biggest underground remix of the year in “Emperor,” the strongest DJ-Kicks album to grace K7 records, and the most legendary performance to ever defy the wrath of nature at Movement Festival. His releases under each of his aliases were innovative and inspired, and the new level of respect that his Ellum Audio imprint commands today testifies to the fact that its owner simply could do no wrong this year. For these reasons and more, Maceo Plex is our top underground artist of 2013. Bow down to the Emperor.
Editors Note: Michael Sundius, Matt Medved, and Dan Carter contributed to this post