Who have been the pioneers of the last 25 years? We've chosen 25, without whom today's scene would not be the same. Do you agree with our selection?
Armin Van Buuren
“DJ magazine has always been at the forefront of the scene in general. They were always one of the first to notice new DJs, clubs or trends. And of course the DJ Mag poll is widely regarded as the most important DJ poll in the world. I owe a lot of the success in my career to the DJ Mag poll. The fact that I won five times has opened many doors for me.”What have been the most important developments in the scene in the past 25 years?
"The DJ has grown from being ‘the guy behind the barman’ to the centre of everything that happens on a dancefloor. Hate it or love it, DJs have become their own league and are sometimes even more in-demand than rock stars or bands. That doesn’t mean they will ever be bigger or better. It’s just a different game. Also, we went from analogue (vinyl) to digital (USBs) and the scale of things is a lot bigger. Obviously that has attracted a lot more commercialism, which isn’t always necessarily a positive thing but it is what it is. The feeling is still the same, though. House is a feeling!”
Who is going to be making waves over the next few years?
"I couldn’t tell you because it’s impossible to predict the future and there are so many variables! I’ve always leaned towards dance music one-offs from hip-hop producers, like J Dilla when he did ‘Big Booty Express’. I’d like to see more of that and if I am going to make a prediction [laughs], it would have to be Karriem Riggins. He is from Detroit, he worked on one of Dilla’s albums, he worked with me on the Detroit Experiment project and he also did one of the tracks on Kanye West’s last album. I am really looking forward to seeing what he will come up with next. I also really rate Kyle Hall and Jay Daniel and I think that they both have very bright futures.”
“DJ Mag is always an important source of information and reference point, and this was especially true during the WMC in Miami. In the US, we were unable to get Mixmag and Muzik, but we were able to get DJ Mag. You’d go down to Miami and DJ Mag would have all the artists and records from New York, Detroit and Chicago featured. Nowadays, it is different — there is an overload of information available online, but DJ Mag remains a very important source and factor in dance music.”
What have been the most important developments in the scene in the past 25 years?
"More than anything I think it’s how everyone is so connected now to what’s happening out there. Years ago the only way you knew what was going on was word of mouth. Today, every party is accessible to everyone, whether it’s in China or the US or Russia. You just go online, you look up what’s happening, and you know what you’re getting. When I was starting out, you were scared to leave Brixton. You just stayed where you were.
“Last week, I played Amsterdam and there was at least 500 people at Awakenings from England, which always amazes me, as there’s plenty of parties going on here! But they travel anywhere to be part of the scene. I think a lot of people only go as they know what they’re getting, they make it a holiday, they read reviews, they stay in hotels. We never had any of that. You’d get a message about a party happening, and you’d jump in the car and drive there, and you’d be somewhere outside the M25 in a muddy field. Now, because of technology,
“DJ Mag has followed the scene completely, they’ve been there through it all. The mad thing is in the beginning the magazine was just about DJ gear, what DJs did for day jobs, but then the rave scene happened and that’s when DJ Mag happened, as there was more to talk about. The scene is still going strong, and DJ Mag are still here. It’s a bible for DJs, especially with the Top 100, and it’s stood the test of time. “The reviews pages have always been a go-to guide on what you need to listen to. When I bought the magazine it was always the first pages I’d read to see if I was being reviewed and to see what you should be listening to. I still love the gear pages too.”
“DJ Mag have always looked beyond the mainstream, supporting alternative labels like Ninja Tune and its artists, and remained a constant on the ever-changing scene. Respect for that, it’s a marathon, and as Frankie Knuckles said, ‘Only the strong survive!’ I’ve enjoyed the tech coverage which helps us keep up-to-date with new developments, and always felt that the mag was one for music lovers.”What have been the most important developments in the scene in the past 25 years?
"Technology has continued to drive the electronic music scene, as indeed it did from its inception. Availability of soft synths means that anyone can get the 303 sound without paying £1000 for the original box. Yet as with everything, there are two sides to the democratisation process. When everybody can, and does, make music, how can one get noticed? Thus, with the creation and distribution and even sales monopolies broken, the bottleneck has moved to promotion and visibility. This is in some ways a problem, as it leaves the field open to those who are the best/loudest self-promoters, and to the major corporate labels who can spend big money on buying eyeballs and ears. “One development I’m particularly happy about is that the use of electronic visuals with electronic music gigs has become accepted as the suitable marriage it is. This is something our VJ brothers and sisters worked hard for, in the teeth of the establishment’s reluctance to embrace”
What have been the most important developments in the electronic music scene in the past 25 years?
“Technology and the internet, without a doubt, are the most significant developments in the electronic music scene. Technology for production and performance; the internet for promotion, sharing music, discovering new music, reaching fans, building communities worldwide. Connecting with other DJs, seeing what’s hot across the planet".
“Back in the day, as a DJ you would have to search out vinyl from your specialist store. It was more limited, but at the same time you had to trust your heart and follow your own ears only. The skills to mix were more difficult, but it taught me the art. Then came CDs and CDJs, which allowed DJs to do more tricks and now with the technological evolution, DJs can store so much music on a tiny flash drive — and be even more creative live. Festival shows are concerts; people come to hear mainly your own music”
“DJ Mag was the bible when current technologies didn’t exist. The go-to to find out the latest tracks, which clubs, raves, DJs, sounds were hot when it was still an underground street culture. The Top 100 was THE barometer for promoters before things like Facebook followers, ticket sales, Twitter; it’s still relevant, of course, especially for emerging talent. When I reached No.1 it was a very proud achievement and my social media was only just emerging then. And I hadn’t had the global hits. We played on an even field back then. DJ Mag embraced the digital era and still serves the DJ community; plus a much broader one — the music lovers worldwide can access the info, not just the nerds.”
“DJ Mag has been a bible of dance music culture. Yes, there are many other wonderful mags but DJ Mag did it first for me. It felt tailored to me from front to back cover, getting my interest in various ways, but besides the music it helped me to learn about what other DJs were doing globally and where the hottest places on the planet were. Twenty-five years ago I probably had never even heard the word Ibiza while growing up in Brooklyn, but DJ Mag helped me to realise there were tons of other people out there like me with a burning desire to learn about new songs, new artists, new gear, DJ profiles, and made me feel more professional. It also validated what I felt so committed to as a very young tweenager, even when my parents were like, ‘No way!’”
What have been the most important developments in the scene in the past 25 years?
"Big question! So much has happened. Digital files have made music so much more transferable and easier to acquire, mix and re-edit — the DJ can be far more creative without having to simply mix one tune into the other (and by hand too!). The internet has probably had the biggest impact, though. First and foremost, people can hear this music from a young age before they go to nightclubs, so they are familiar with the music and the DJs before they are of legal clubbing age. This has led to the huge growth in the scene. It’s not just for the bunch of late-night, drunkard near-do-wells anymore. Our music is for all!”
“Pre-internet, DJ Mag was at the heart of all communication about the scene. Aside from two hours of Jeff Young or Pete Tong on a Friday night on Radio 1 there was no way of finding out about new tunes, fashions or DJs except by word of mouth — or pirate radio if you lived in London. People like me would read it cover to cover religiously to keep abreast. Over the years it has been the barometer of what was going on and helped shape and build the industry.”
“We need reporters for the timeline of this thing and more importantly we need entry points for the uninitiated. A magazine/website will often provide this and you guys have done it in style.”What have been the most important developments in the scene in the past 25 years?
"The most exciting development and the best thing to come from the ‘internet generation’ is the blurring of genres again. We all began dancing to the same thing — a melting pot of everything, then genres and sub-genres happened and we splintered off, and now thankfully barriers seem to be fading away again. People will go from d&b to techno to guitar music on their playlists, and that openness is very important to the development of any scene.”
“DJ Mag has supported, cultivated and shone a light on up-and-coming DJs and producers and it continues to do so. They were the first magazine to put me on the cover and that’s something I’ll always be appreciative of. In recent years, it’s been good to see the magazine expanding into other territories like Latin America, spreading the word of electronic music far and wide. Their support of up-and-coming artists coupled with this expanse plays a pivotal role in growing our scene.”Who do I think is going to be making waves over the next few years?
"A DJ/producer from Sheffield named Pedram whose music I’ve been putting out on my label, Born Electric, will go from strength-to-strength this year. Having heard some of his new unreleased material I can safely say it’s pretty special, so I’m excited for him and for people to hear it. Stick him on the cover!”
“What have been the most important developments in the past 25 years?
There have been many, but I believe one of the most important developments has been the resurgence of the modular synth and miniature pieces of equipment. New, affordable pieces of gear that accommodate all price ranges. This has allowed many people the opportunity to enter into the genre and stay current with the latest instruments and technology, which otherwise breaks their bank accounts.”
“Music publications are important, especially when they stay ahead and on top of the innovations, as well as people that really push the limits of the genre. That’s when publications work because people look to them for information and updates. But when magazines make the mistake in thinking that they create the dynamics of the scene or get into ‘career building’, that’s when a disservice to the genre and the readers occur. I believe these types of magazines, like DJ Mag, have a greater responsibility in being impartial to favouritism.”
“Putting something online has no risk. So someone taking a risk on what you’re doing, to sell some magazines, in the same way for me to take a risk on an artist and say they’re going to sell on vinyl, it means so much more. People are passionate enough that they’re willing to stick their neck out to represent you.”
“DJ Mag has been a great tool for a lot of young people to learn about dance music. Information is very important, and DJ Mag has always been there. You don’t stay there for 25 years unless you’re good at what you do.”
What have been the most important developments in the scene in the past 25 years?
"Electronic music becoming a global sound. Finding myself touring with U2, Madonna, playing Hollywood Bowl, Madison Square Garden, Wembley and the Great Wall Of China. We as a community really have taken this form of music to a level that no one would’ve ever believed. DJs have major radio shows now, my own show has reached 25 million listeners on a weekly basis. We have huge stars now like Calvin Harris,Avicii and David Guetta".
“It’s DJ Magazine, it’s their 25th year anniversary, it’s their birthday. Congratulations! They’re a very important part of electronic music’s history and we love you guys! The dance press has played an important part in the development of the music globally.”
“Continuing to champion the next best thing. That consistent support over time counts. The DJ Mag poll has obviously had a big impact over time. The DJs that have won have made the most of the opportunity. I’m not sure it’s as important as it used to be 10-15 years ago, but still it’s the one most know about.”What have been the most important developments in the scene in the past 25 years?
"The evolution of the recording process, allowing people to make music at home on laptops etc. The removal of that barrier to entry changed everything. DJs went from curators and song selectors to artists and producers. The pace of change and the impact it’s had has been phenomenal. Game changing. I also believe DJs and the electronic community were the first to really export the global market opened up by the world wide web.”
What have been the most important developments in the electronic music scene in the past 25 years, Liam? Well, happy birthday, for a start — same age as me… Everybody will have a different perspective on this, but from my angle and what I’ve been into there’s a timeline of people, tunes and machines that have inspired and kept it fresh and moving. This ain’t a history lesson list, but things that I think important or had an impact on me personally along the way…
“Roland music company; Giorgio Moroder/Donna Summer ‘I Feel Love’; 808 drum machine; early ‘80s electro — ‘Planet Rock’, Hashim ‘Al-Naafiysh’, Time Zone ‘The Wild Style’; Roland 303 Base Line machine and 1988 acid house; 909 drum machine; Derrick May, Juan Atkins techno; Akai S900 sampler and Cubase; the UK rave scene 1989, pirate radio; the breakbeat sound of London — Shut Up & Dance label, XL Recordings and The Prodigy; Warp Records; R&S Records and the Belgian sound — Joey Beltram ‘Energy Flash’ and ‘Mentasm’; Aphex Twin; jungle into drum & bass; Leftfield ‘Leftism’’ chemical beats; Daft Punk ‘Da Funk’; ‘Firestarter’; ’Smack My Bitch Up’ and video; Ram Records and Andy C; then I was on tour so nothing spiked my ears until Justice came out around 2005; Benga & Coki ‘Night’; dubstep scene (UK); Skrillex and his USA crew; bits of trap style… After that,it`s all been done before-so forget it!”
“You guys have been there from the start, supporting us through all our changes — that’s why I’m doing this.”Liam Howlett
“DJ Mag has always been proactive in putting next generation artists on the cover and introducing their readers not only to what’s trending at the moment, but what might be coming next. This foresight is extremely important, helping to keep the anticipation and excitement of what’s coming next. I also feel that being a magazine that’s been around since the very beginnings of our scene gives more weight to the perspective and general overview of where our scene is currently and how it got to this point — remembering key players and events that may be fading away in some minds, or never before heard-of from newer publications or readers.”Who do I think is going to be making waves over the next few years?
"There seems to be a resurgence of early classic house and acid house music at the moment, which makes sense as many of these ‘classic’-sounding records are made by the younger generation that probably weren’t even around during those early days. I love when these new retro-classic house records take a leap forward and innovate, but that’s not always the case. However, the welcome surprising trend is that some of those original producers from back in the day are re-emerging or, like Larry Heard, revisiting old pseudo-names (like the new Mr Fingers ‘Outer Acid’ record) and showing all of us how the classic acid house sound can sound as modern today as it did back then. That’s what I call inspiring!”
“It’s important it is still here. I still use it as a resource for finding out about music, and whatever people say about the Top 100 it is a big yearly event and getting the top spot was a great moment in my career — something I still cherish, actually.” Sasha
“When you think how many dance music magazines there have been over the years, it’s great to see that the two main magazines are still in business. Bringing record, event, tech and club-land news, views and updates that are still relevant.” John DigweedWhat have been the most important developments in the scene in the past 25 years?
Sasha: “In the studio, Ableton. I tried it out DJing but I left that behind. I guess CDJs coming along is the biggest thing, but it’s still beat-matching, and the core of the job is still the same.” Digweed: “The biggest changes have been digital DJing and social media. You can be on tour now constantly updating your sets with new tracks that you just downloaded that day. Likewise, you can update your fan-base on up and coming events or as it’s happening live video/photos which engages your fan-base instantly. 15 years ago you would have to wait for a magazine review to find out how an event went or a DJ played.”