8 Essential European DJs of Our Time
Written by Angel Lebailly for BPM Supreme
With 2019 behind us and a new decade just beginning, it’s a great opportunity for a look at some of the greatest European DJs of our time. If you don’t already know the DJs listed here, they are acts you surely don’t want to miss. We are pleased to take you on a quick tour through Europe with these eight essential DJs who have had an immense impact on modern electronic music.
FRANCE: DAVID GUETTA
Beginning in France, the first talented DJ has been voted number one DJ in the DJ mag top 100 poll and is none other than Monsieur David Guetta. Born in 1967 and active since 1984, Guetta made a stunning international breakthrough in the mid-2000s with his 4th studio album, One Love. The album was nominated as Best Electronic Music Album by the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards and sold over 3 million copies in total.
Later in 2009, a collaboration with multi-talented band, The Black Eyed Peas, drove Guetta to new heights with the release of the world-famous song “I Gotta Feeling.” More recently, Guetta released the album named 7, as well as the Jack Back Mixtape with his new label/artist alias, Jack Back, which focuses on getting back into underground music.
GERMANY: PAUL VAN DYK
Paul Van Dyk is one of Germany’s most successful musicians with wide international acclaim. A Grammy-nominated artist and listed as number one DJ by Mixmag in 2005, audio architect and artist PvD needs little introduction. As a child of East-Berlin, the prominent musician sold over 3 million albums by 2008, something very few would ever achieve in the world of electronic music.
PvD was established as an international trance producer with the success of his album Seven Ways released on MFS in 1996. Yet as of today, Pvd prefers to be qualified as an electronic musician rather than strictly a trance producer. He’s created multiple high-profile collaborations such as the remixed work of Britney Spears’ “Gimme More,” Justin Timberlake’s “What Goes Around Comes Around,” and Depêche Mode’s “Martyr.”
Beyond music, PvD’s interests range from politics—which gave birth to the well-known The Politics of Dancing compilation that celebrates electronic music as a link builder between communities around the world—to fighting poverty in third-world countries.
UK: CALVIN HARRIS
Few electronic music producers have been ranked by Forbes as the highest-earning DJs (continuously since 2013). But Scottish DJ/ producer Calvin Harris made his path to a successful, international music career way before the age of 30. From self-releasing music at the beginning to selling millions in the 2000s with anthems such as “One Kiss” and “This Is What You Came For,” Harris unveiled a promising journey towards stardom.
Yet it was his debut album I Created Disco in 2007, featuring two hits “Acceptable in The 80s” and “The Girls,” that initially put Harris on the charts. He quickly followed with co-productions alongside established artists such as Jamiroquai, All Saints, Groove Armada, and Kylie Minogue.
The Scottish prodigy’s latest endeavor, Funk Waves Bounces Vol.1, was released in 2017. The album features guest vocals with prominent artists such as Frank Ocean, Pharrell Williams, John Legend, and Snoop Dogg. We’re sure he’s got more coming soon!
NETHERLANDS: MARTIN GARRIX
The Netherlands is another fertile ground for outstanding electronic music names, and it’s also where Martin Garrix was born. In 2013, at the age of only 17, Garrix surfaced as one of the fastest-growing success stories electronic music had ever seen. He released the track “Animals” which became a number one hit almost overnight. In 2014, the track led him to become the youngest producer to ever top the Beatport 100 chart. Later on in 2016, with his future bass hit “In The Name of Love” with Bebe Rexha, the Dutch talent would secure himself as one of the top European producers in the world.
Garrix was heavily influenced by Tiesto, releasing a couple of songs on the Dutch producer’s label Musical Freedom. Performing on the world’s most impressive stages at festivals like Coachella and Tomorrowland, as well as holding residencies at top clubs like Ushuaia Ibiza and Omnia Las Vegas, Garrix’s fantastic musical journey does not seem to be slowing down.
Chilean-Swiss DJ, producer, and artist Luciano can not go unnoticed on this list of greats. Although born in Switzerland, at the age of 11 the rising talent moved to Santiago, Chile and discovered electronic music. Influenced by Detroit heavyweights Juan Atkins and Derrick May, Luciano’s successful career in electronic music took off when he appeared as the main act of Santiago’s largest music festival Love Parade in the late 1990s.
Moving back to Europe in the 2000s, Luciano became one of the most prominent names in Ibiza’s nightlife circuit, and with his own label Cadenza Music would take over the island. The CircoLoco party in collaboration with DC-10 brought Ibiza back as the newest epicenter of everything-music related, with Luciano as a main initiator.
Boasting an impressive career as a musician and performer at the world’s biggest festivals and clubs, Luciano is a great example of an artist who strives to keep a healthy lifestyle. Following the death of the Swedish talent Avicii, Luciano opened up about his struggles with substance abuse and desire to stay balanced in a demanding industry.
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UK: CARL COX
“The rave was built on energy and the excitement of it all and this desire to get lost, it’s like a new era for me now,” Carl Cox once said.
Born in Greater Manchester, England in 1962, Carl Cox has fueled the house and techno scene since the ’80s. Alongside the rise of Chicago house music, Cox began DJing at the age of 15. He released his first track “I Want You (Forever)” in 1991 on Paul Oakenfold’s label, Perfecto. That was just the beginning.
Cox released his album F.A.C.T. in 1995 which became known as a “techno benchmark.” In 1999, Cox launched his own label Intec Records had multiple successful releases such as the track “Sensual Sophis-Ti-Cat” in 1996 and the album The Second Sign in 2005. In 2001, Carl Cox began his residency at world-famous Ibiza Club Space, which he ended in 2016.
Cox recently announced his latest tour called Invites which kicks off in February. Catch him cities like New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Miami.
This Dutch DJ and producer was ranked “Greatest DJ of All Time” by a Mixmag poll in 2011, and in 2013 was voted the “best DJ of the last 20 years” by DJ Mag readers. We’re talking about the one and only Tiësto of course.
Back in 1997, Tiësto founded the label Black Hole Recordings on which he released the album series Magik and the series In Search of Sunrise. But it was in 2001 that Tiësto was exposed to a mainstream audience following his collaboration with Sarah McLachlan on the remix of “Silence.” Right after releasing his second solo album in 2004, Just Be, Tiësto performed at the Athens Olympics, becoming the first-ever electronic artist to do so.
A hard-working musician, Tiësto has consistently released new music and albums throughout the years. His third album “Elements of Life” in 2007 reached number one in “Billboard Top Electronic Albums” in the United States. Most recently, Tiësto’s 2019 album Together has been praised for its big-room energy and fresh collaborations.
SWEDEN: ERIC PRYDZ
Our final pick for top European DJs of our time is Swedish-born producer and performer, Eric Prydz. This acclaimed electronic musician and Grammy-nominated artist has won awards such as “DJ of the Year” in 2017 by the Electronic Music Awards. He’s also known for helping form the famous DJ group, Swedish House Mafia, which he later decided not to join. Today, Prydz lives and works in Los Angeles.
Eric Prydz began his musical career in 2001 and found success soon after. In 2004, the Swedish artist released the legendary track “Call On Me,” followed closely by “Proper Education,” a remixed version of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall Part 2,” and “Pjanoo” — all of which topped various electronic music charts. In 2012, Prydz released his Pryda album, a compilation of tracks created under his successful alias (Pryda). The moniker Pryda was so successful in fact that the iconic nightclub Ministry of Sound in London hosted a club night named Eric Prydz Presents Pryda.
Alongside world-famous releases and albums, Prydz is known for mind-blowing visual performances, including his EPIC 3.0 concert with large scale installations and a mega performance at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
We hope you enjoyed this list of our top European DJs from the past few decades. Did we miss anyone? Who do you think will be the next iconic DJ? Leave a comment below.
About Angel Lebailly
Angel is a French music producer and journalist. She began her music career 10 years ago in London, DJing and promoting music events. Inspired by various music scenes, she lived in Berlin, Bali, and Tokyo. Angel contributes to large music magazines and music platforms, such as DJ Tech Tools, Magnetic, Musicoin, and Imusify both as a journalist and content writer.
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