The Top 20 DJs of 2017 - Features - Mixmag

The Top 20 DJs of 2017

The essential selectors who have defined the year in music

  • Mixmag Staff
  • 11 December 2017

Dancing to an exceptional DJ set is life affirming. Those magical moments where everything clicks: the music is flawless, the blends are mindblowing, the mood hits a transcendent peak - even the scent of sweat in the air brings an intoxicating rawness to the formula.

Although losing yourself in music is visceral and in the moment, experiences on the dancefloor can leave a lasting impression that remains long after the lights turn on and the club empties out, the memory of which can evoke a twinge of emotion and slight lip curl into a grin months or years down the line. We're smiling now.

We’re forever grateful for these moments, for the DJs who facilitate them, and in 2017, these sets have been plentiful. Masters of the art have made our lives that bit better and brighter with inspiring performances on deck. See our picks for the finest DJs of the year below.

Bassline’s first lady continued her ascent, with appearances at Hideout, Sónar and in Ibiza the stand-outs. She also joined forces with DJ Q and Royal T to create TQD. Check out her full-fire Lab LDN back in September for a taster.

A Belleville Three contemporary and one of the finest techno DJs in the world, the slew of clubs and festivals he played in 2017 includes Unsound, Melbourne’s Strawberry Fields and Dekmantel in Amsterdam and Brazil.

In 2017 Margaret Dygas could do no wrong. Sets at Houghton and fabric’s 18th birthday saw her emerge as the Most Valuable Player each time, stunning crowds with her remarkable command of a dancefloor, dropping everything from obscure minimal to Ricardo & Luciano MJ edits to jackin’ Miami beats.

He’s on this list because with every gig he’s altering our perceptions of what DJing can be. His increasingly prominent Timedance party and label showcases bleeding-edge music, flooding warped rhythms and broken textures with a dynamic sense of life.

With his feel-good flourish and audience manipulating skill, the Berlin-based DJ has transformed into a top-bill draw at the likes of Corsica Studios, Concrete, Razzmatazz and Oval Space, as well as bringing his lively house workouts to Pacha and The Warehouse Project.

The Swede consolidated his position as one of the top draws in the DJ world this year thanks to his unique sets full of off-beat instrumentation and minor chord musicality – proof of an appetite for something different that was characteristic of crowds in 2017.

The Houndstooth man turned in both a stellar fabric mix and effortlessly eclectic (yet always banging) sets, both alone and with pal Objekt, at parties from London’s Hydra to NYC’s Good Room and Dekmantel São Paolo. Some of the most talked-about DJ performances of the year.

With his roadblock residency at Ministry, the continuing success of his parties at Pikes and his first comp in years, Harvey arguably had his best year since his big return to European DJing in 2012. Very few DJs match his musical breadth, charisma, impeccable dress sense and sheer sense of fun.

Friday night resident in her home city’s Salon Des Amateurs club and presenter of ‘Sentimental Flashback’ on Radio Comeme, Willikens has exported her groove-laden techno sound around the world in 2017, a revelation wherever she has appeared.

Our July cover star had a fine 2017, taking his house-meets-hip-hop-meets-anything-you-care-to-name sound from the club to the big festival stage. Standout performances included multiple sets at Lost Village, plus DGTL Barcelona and Melt, while fabric and Circo Loco also welcomed the young Aussie.

This year Avalon stepped up to the A-list with a marathon set at Berghain, a stunner at Sónar, tours of the Far East and Australia and a showstopper at Sustain: Release; perhaps the ultimate accolade was when Optimo asked her to play their birthday festival.

The line-ups at Daley Padley’s new Labyrinth residency at Pacha were almost as well received as his extended sets. And helming his own roadblock night was yet another signpost on the way to house music superstardom.

Despite the closure of Space, the techno don amplified his majestic reputation in 2017 by way of two huge, decade-defining mega-raves at Privilege, which sold the forgotten venue to dance music’s next generation. If this is semi-retirement...

A recent YouTube comment on a Helena Hauff set described her sound as ‘like Kraftwerk and Underground Resistance having an orgy’, which goes a long way to describing the allure of her uniquely noirish blend of electro, techno and acid.

The Hessle Audio man is now firmly established as one of the world’s most universally adored DJs – and this year’s electrifying Dekmantel headline set sent tremors through the world of dance music.

Her charisma, technique and sets full of rhapsodic, energetic house, plus an almost superhuman 2017 touring schedule that ranged all over the world, have meant Gou-mania really took hold in 2017.

He only played a handful of gigs, but somehow the festival circuit was undoubtedly dominated by Aphex Twin’s brilliant return. Joyous displays of leftfield electronica at London’s Field Day and Primavera Sound were just two examples.

Twenty years into his career, the man from Mannhein just gets better. Regular house and disco filled sets at Panorama Bar plus his blissful turns at Hostal La Torre as part of Talamanca System showed his range.

Perhaps due to her formative years in Chicago and New York’s house music heydays, Honey embodies so much of dance music’s original hedonistic spirit. There were few more joyful experiences in 2017 than her sets, everywhere from Paris’s Rex club to Panorama Bar to Glitterbox in Ibiza to Mixmag Live.

Whether playing the world’s biggest stages or the most intimate venues, Nina’s fearless selections, extraordinary experimentation and willingness to ignore the usual template of peak, drop and build have seen her rule 2017. Listen to her last cover mix from 2013 below, before her new, exclusive mix drops later this month.

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