The underground had a big year in the US in 2012 and we only felt it appropriate to highlight some of these amazing artists independently from potentially bigger or more commercial artists in the dance music world today. We considered the year these artists have had in terms of production, live sets, and overall influence. We also generally picked artists we love and admire; artists we feel are extremely important to pushing electronic music forward. This list of 25 names includes legends and young guns alike, but we can assure you that every single one of these artists is incredibly talented and is well worth a listen or a trip to a club for a live set. Today we’re going to share with you our picks for #25 through #16.
Frequenting the bill of Richie Hawtin’s Enter parties throughout the European circuit and Ibiza summer season, Matador has quickly risen to the top of the minimal techno game and is considered by many to be Hawtin’s official protege. The release of a Matador track makes us feel giddy inside because we know its going to be nothing short of an utter missile. His works are supported by electronic music legends like Sven Vath and Moby, and although he hasn’t made a name for himself stateside yet, from the looks of his recorded DJ sets, a future legend is in the making. If you haven’t come across Matador yet, check out “Spooks” and “Klay” from his Spooks EP which released earlier this year. We promise that from the first listen you will have a new artist to consume all of your time.
24. Hot Since 82
Hot Since 82 has spent 2012 solidifiying himself as a producer with whom to reckon. He has released some of the most standout tracks of the year — including his remix to Yousef’s “Beg” — which reached Top 10 over all on Beatport — and most recently his Forty Shorty EP. His productions are deep and catchy and have been supported by everyone who’s anyone. If next year is as big as this one, this is a name with which you’ll be getting more and more familiar.
Yousef – Beg (Hot Since 82 Future Mix)
Hot Since 82 – Like You (Original Mix)
Hot Since 82 – Forty Shorty (Original Mix)
23. Joris Voorn
From the Netherland’s fresh crop of superstar DJs comes the longtime electronic music star, Joris Voorn. He has dabbled in all forms of house and techno throughout his career and has had a very standout 2012. This year Joris hit us with the release of “Goodbye Fly” – a track that can be considered the Avicii “Levels” of the tech house world. The song delivers a pure infectious dance rhythm and has the power to break any timid crowd into a grooving sea of bodies. Along with being part of Sensation’s American debut, touring festivals and clubs all around the world, and being commissioned to remix Swedish House Mafia’s “Don’t You Worry Child,” Voorn continues to update his sound and keep his storied career more relevant than ever.
The argument can be made that if Cadezena kingpin Luciano is the president of sexy techno, Reboot is the prince. A DJ set by Reboot – our most recent account being this year’s Electric Zoo – is full of pummeling beats and perfect groove. They’re hard-hitting but minimal; giving him total control over any crowd. He has been a regular feature at Luciano’s Vagabundos parties this past summer and commands a global following unlike many others with his experience. In the growing world of electronic music, Reboot forges his own unique minimal brand of house and techno, and is an act any true dance music enthusiast should experience at least once… or twice.
Fresh off the return of his most recent Essential Mix offering, former BBC Radio 1 resident DJ Yousef marks 10 years of his famed Circus party in his hometown of Liverpool. His productions – ranging from house to techno – have been released on some of the biggest labels in the world — including Carl Cox’s Intec, Nick Curly’s Cecille, and Nic Fanciuilli’s Saved. His own Circus Recordings pushes forward iconic names like Sven Vath and Four Tet, and finds the next generation of producers like Tom Flynn and Maher Daniel. He is an established and admired DJ and producer, deservedly atop our most noteworthy underground artists of the year.
20. John Digweed
A top DJs list seems out of place without John Digweed. The handful of times we saw him this year solidified our belief that he hasn’t lost his touch as a DJ despite being in the game for decades. His Bedrock imprint shows he’s still got an ear for what’s new and freash and has put out hits from the likes of Pig & Dan, Marco Bailey, and Tom Hades. His Transitions podcast continues to have an enormous global following and has been at the top of its game in finding new and promising talent. The Bedrock 14 compilation was a major success, along with his recent 4-disc live compilation from London – a journey in its own, and showcases flawless track selection from some of the biggest names in the underground scene.
19. Claude VonStroke
In the span of his career, Claude VonStroke‘s championed a new breed of tech house that’s influenced unique spin-offs from homies Justin Martin and Eats Everything. His Dirtybird imprint has had a stellar year — pushing out countless chart topping hits and bringing rising talent to the top of their class in no time. In maintaining an innovative mindset and always striving to push new and imaginative productions out of his camp, it’s easy to see why Claude finds himself atop the best in the underground scene, year after year.
Slovenian born producer and DJ Umek has had quite a trendsetting year. His 1605 imprint has released quirky tech house from Pleasurekraft and progressive techno bombs from Uto Karem. On top of running a successful label, he’s also put out tracks with esteemed peers like Toolroom, Spinnin, Great Stuff, and Intec, and has hit the decks at most major festivals and clubs in the world. Umek balances a career as a standout producer and label head and still hits the road a third of the year (a mind-blowing fact in its own). This, in our opinion, is reason enough to top the 2012 underground list.
Umek – Kuzla Prevarantska (Original Mix)
Umek – Freak It Out (Original Mix)
Calling German-based Solomun a jack of all trades would be an understatement for the year he’s had in 2012. Not only does he wear pretty much every hat imaginable at his very own Diynamic Records, but he also ruled the Ibiza season this summer in a way no other underground DJ can boast. He hit the decks regularly at Sankeys, Privilege, Pacha, and DC-10; presiding over clubs that draw both mainstream and underground crowds. He also promotes, runs his own radio show, and manages most of the A&R for the label amidst a mental international touring schedule (and we haven’t even gotten to his productions!). His “Kackvogel” original and “Flash of Light” remix for Brigante topped the charts and warmed our hearts. To top it all off, our friends at Mixmag and Resident Advisor have named him into their first and 22nd spots, respectively, for DJs of the year. Enjoy a taste of what one of his live sets sounds like with his very recent mix for Mixmag.
16. Danny Tenaglia
For a year that was filled with retirement and resignation rumors, Danny Tenaglia’s career was buzzing and very much in the spotlight. He played at festivals like EDC Vegas and Beyond Wonderland and was part of Sensation’s American debut. His twelve-hour marathon set during his birthday celebration at Pacha was a mind-blowing experience; it put him into a category of his own just like innumerable sets before. Danny is a staple within the dance music community and is without question considered a forefather of the ever-expanding genre. If you haven’t witnessed a DJ set by him, we highly recommend you make it one of your priorities for 2013.
Cara Daley contributed to this article.