Roll up, roll up, it's time to crown your DJ Of The Year. Every weekend of every month in every year, we roll up to club doors in our millions to sample the finest dance music that the world's selectors have to offer.
The sets are getting longer (kind of), the artists are pulling off tricks and sorcery behind the decks with more prowess than ever before and new faces are joining the pioneers to supply some of the best sets we've heard all year.
Crowning our DJs of the year has always been a tricky one. The amount of gigs an artist has had in 12 months is usually a good indicator of popularity but then sometimes it doesn't matter how many times you've been booked, if you've got something special that allows you to stand out from the crowd, we want to shout about it.
This year we welcome back some dancefloor favourites alongside some outstanding burgeoning talent. If you haven't seen this lot play this year, then we're sorry to say you've been missing out. On the flipside, it means you've got 20 world-class DJs to put on your to-do list in 2019.
In 2018 this long-standing international favourite has been on blistering form. Every set has been talked up as sensational: from lenging out speed garage at Panorama Bar to a show-stealing three hour stint at Houghton playing bassline, dancehall-infused jungle and even a synth-pop Sex Pistols cover.
Pikes was the secret weapon in Ibiza again this year, and Artwork was never far from the action. “Artwork is a wonderful friend of Pikes; we love him and he’s pretty huggy about us too,” says a note on their website. And Arthur’s sheer DJ charisma and fun made his Art’s House festival in London a joy.
Years of hard work paid off for one of Brazil’s greatest exports in 2018 as she took her fiery brand of hypnotic techno all over the world to clubs like Rex in Paris, Watergate in Berlin and Brooklyn Mirage in New York, and played a set at techno’s most prestigious festival, Timewarp.
[Photo: Gabriel Quintão]
Since he appeared on our cover in August 2017, Mall Grab’s rise has continued in fine style. The ‘thunder from down under’ has been all over Europe and the USA with typically energetic and joyful appearances at Parklife, Panorama Bar and DGTL Festival winning him more fans by the minute.
[Photo: Ilka & Franz]
It feels like the big man has returned to form this year, dominating Ibiza with his marathon DJ sets, and being one of the biggest draws globally at festival behemoths like Tomorrowland and his own Diynamic Festival (this year in Istanbul). No one transfixes the masses like him.
Charlotte de Witte
Another new Belgian superstar, Charlotte de Witte found success and her true, fierce techno sound after dropping her ‘Raving George’ alias in 2016. This year she smashed festivals from Sonus to Lowlands to Tomorrowland, and clubs as far as Japan and (naturally) Brussels for the third birthday of her KNTXT party.
[Photo: Urszula Soltys]
Does anyone look like they’re having more fun than Denis Sulta behind the decks right now? Our cover feature back in October revealed the contradictory sides of one of dance music’s great performers, while a string of incendiary club and especially festival shows wowed thousands throughout the summer.
[Photo: Haris Nukem]
After a BBC Essential Mix of the Year title in 2016, and the release of 2017’s Fabriclive mix (our favourite compilation of the year), Harry Agius has been on hiatus from high-profile projects in 2018. Yet the consistent excellence of his longer, more expressively versatile DJ sets in large and small gigs across the globe simply cannot be ignored.
Uncompromising, raw, and rough-edged, Helena Hauff has always been a bit of a badass. This year the world caught up as our August cover star slayed ’em everywhere from AVA and Lost Village to Fabric, Houghton and CRSSD festival with her smoking techno and electro.
[Photo: Steve Gullick]
Having inexorably become the world’s biggest DJ, this year our DJ Of The Year 2017 was inescapable at the world’s biggest festivals and beyond – not that anyone was complaining. Her emotional techno selections have had fans transfixed from Awakenings Festival to the Great Wall of China.
[Photo: Dan Medhurst]
The sheer volume of showstopping gigs Peggy Gou has got under her belt in the last two years is astonishing. And she’s proven herself equally adept at raining down hammering techno as she is at dishing out the kind of elastic, groove-filled house she’s become known for as a producer.
[Photo: Dan Medhurst]
The phenomenon. This year our November cover star went from cult hero to headliner, with co-signs from everyone from Richie Hawtin to Adam Beyer. A student and disciple of intense techno whose sets have what Richie calls an “underlying groove”, she’s built one of the most passionate fandoms in dance music. All hail, Amelie Lens.
[Photo: Daniil Lavrovski]
Not only the hottest DJ booking on the planet right now, but with his polyrhythmic mixing style, TJ Hertz aka Objekt is a genuine innovator of the craft – one who’s also not afraid to drop a banger when required.
[Photo: Kasia Zacharko]