What an incredible year 2015 has been, not just for those in the spotlight, but for the underground dance scene as a whole. The standard of musical production across all genres was the best it's been for many years, with some seriously old school sensibilities being seamlessly interwoven with the latest production techniques.
More and more fans around the world also began to find their own distinct sound this year. Whether it was discovering a penchant for smooth soulful grooves, getting out their seat to some Afro beats or finding a space on the floor for some bass heavy Tech House, there really was something for everyone in 2015.
With so many DJs and producers at the top of their game, it was always going to be a difficult job choosing the crème de la crème of the last 12 months. However, through a blend of good old-fashioned A&R, data-driven stats, sales, office discussions (plus a few arguments!) and of course damn fine releases, here are our choices for the Overall Top 20 Artists of 2015.
Belfast duo Bicep came in at Number 13 in our Top House Artists of 2015 with a slew of releases on First Choice, Strictly Rhythm, Aus Music and of course their own label, Feel My Bicep. The faces behind the famous music blog are not only incredible DJs but also studio ninjas. Their sublime 'Just' was one of the biggest tunes of 2015, with serious support from the likes of &Me, Brame & Hamo and Andy Daniell, whilst 'Only Love Can Set U Free' sent audiences into a spin across the globe. These boys just get it. The end.
19. Fred Everything
Fred Everything just missed out on the top spot of our Top Deep House Artists of 2015 with an impressive release schedule that featured tracks and remixes for all your favourite labels. His Shur-I-Kan collaboration ‘Common Ground’ (check the dub, it's deep!) has been tearing up the dancefloors all year, as his own Lazy Days imprint continued to go from strength to strength. Special releases for us were the subtle tones of ‘Gentle as the Sun’ and his latest release 'Searching'.
Number 7 on our Top Soulful Artists of 2015, Martin ‘Atjazz’ Iveson's output over the last 12 months has been the same as every other year; absolutely outstanding! 'Fox Tooth', 'Mama Kosa', 'Oh I (Miss U)'; the list of sonically sublime sound waves radiating from the man this year was endless. Just click play on the player below and get involved. It's hard to describe the Atjazz sound, just go and have a listen yourself. We do, daily!
Doorly was one of the few artists this year to feature on TWO of our Top 100 charts in 2015, for both House and Tech. ‘Its About The Music Man’ finds him in fine eclectic form, mashing up old-school breaks, sparse synths and Chi-town beats to great effect. With releases on Moon Harbour, Onelove, Toolroom and Hot Creations just to name a few, it's safe to say that Doorly was one of the real success stories of the last 12 months.
16. Sidney Charles
Finishing fourth in our Top Tech House Artists of 2015, it's fair to say Sidney Charles Hurricane Vieljans had a great year. One of the busiest DJs on the circuit, in-between flights he still managed to release fire on Avotre, Moda Black and Truesoul, with his 'Power of The Underground' on DFTD and the NWA sampling 'Ruffline' on Voltaire Music all finding their perfect place on the world's dance floors this year.
Finishing fourth in our Top Soulful House Artists of 2015, our Swedish friend Opolopo really made the scene his own in this year. Stand out remixes included Portia Monique’s ‘Ain’t Scared of You’, Ferry Ultra’s ‘Let Me Do My Thang’ alongside releases on Reel People Music, Z Records and King Street. If you want to understand the sound of Opolopo, go and listen to 'I Think I'll Do Some Stepping' with Sandy Barber, then come back and talk to us. Opolopo is the man!
Breaking into our Top 10 Deep House Artists of 2015, Keinemusik stalwart &ME was the name on the lips of house music's most forward thinking connoisseurs this year. Stand outs for us were the sublimely hypnotic 'Woods' and of course, his remix of Damian Lazarus & The Ancient Moons 'Vermillion'. His DJ sets are off the hook too!
13. Oliver Dollar
Reaching number 3 in our Top House Artists of 2015, Berlin's Oliver Dollar could do no wrong this year. ‘Shout Away’ with Chuck Daniels was a dance floor bomb that picked up support from the likes of Kevin Saunderson, Cajmere and Joey Negro to name just a few. With further releases on Defected, Azuli, Cajual and Relief, his recent remix of Boris Dlugosch's 'Keep Pushin' brought a real zesty freshness to the house classic and don't sleep on his remix of Gene Farris' 'Move Your Body' on Cajual.
12. Joey Negro
Dave Lee killed it this year and rightfully cementing his place in our top 3 Soulful House Artists of 2015. ‘Do What You Feel’, originally released in 1991, was given a delicious 2015 re-rub courtesy of the man himself. Released on his own Z Records, support came in from Todd Terry, Golf Clap, DJ Spen, Julius Papp and many other serious taste makers. Other killer releases including 'Free Bass', 'Never Gonna Give You Up' and 'I Can Feel Your Body Rock' to ensure that 2015 was yet another huge year for the Z Records supremo.
11. Adam Port
An exceptional year for Adam Port, who finished 5th in our Top Deep House Artists of 2015. His 2 track EP ‘I Never Wear Black’ on Keinemusik was caned all summer by DJs worldwide, with both the title track and the ‘E Sound Edit’ receiving worldwide acclaim. 2015 saw further releases on Pet Recordings, Kompakt and Moon Harbour, who have all been gobbling up Adam’s unique disco-infused techno that is always blended with irresistible flair.
One of Bulgaria’s finest exports, KiNK is one of the scenes most in demand producers and remixers. With a slew of releases on Ovum Recordings, Freerange, Running Back and ITH to name a few, KiNK's live sets hold the key to understanding how he creates unparalleled enthusiasm on stage. Every time he uploads a new video we're hooked by this man's creativity and we can't wait to see what he has in store for us in 2016.
Finishing second in our Top Tech House Artists of 2015, Lapsus Records owners Supernova pushed out some serious heat throughout the last 12 months. Alongside their own label, they also found time to also fire out releases on King Street, Materia, Voltaire Music, Z Records and Moon Harbour. We loved their remix of Audio Junkie’s ‘Right Love’ on their own imprint, but be sure to check out their remix of Joey Negro's classic 'Do What You Feel'; one of the best re-rubs of 2015.
Freerange label boss Jimpster had a great 2015, finishing second in our Top Deep House Artists of the year, with his output of releases as strong as any in his two-decade career. Alongside the fire on his own imprint, he still found time to release tracks this year on Suol, Avida and Apersonal Music. Stand outs included 'English Rose', 'Head Spin' and his sublime remix of Till Von Sein's 'Booty Angel'. A true Deep House legend.
7. DJ Spen
Basement Boy DJ Spen enjoyed an amazing 2015 and finished runner-up in our Top Soulful Artists of the year. He joined forces with Louie Vega for ‘Why Can’t You See’ featuring the sweet, soulful vocals of Sheila Ford and released on his own Quantize Recordings with amazing reinterpretations by Atjazz, Joey Negro, Dimitri from Paris and Kenny Dope. Other stand out moments included 'Fire' and 'Everybody Get Up' with Gary Hudgins and the sublime 'No Good For You' featuring Hanlei. One of the true greats of soulful house music.
6. Brame and Hamo
An absolutely massive year for our number one Deep House Artists of 2015, Brame and Hamo. With releases on Detroit Swindle's Heist Recordings and Dirt Crew, it was their smokin 'Hotshot' release that really tore up the dance floors with big support from Waze & Odyssey, Till Von Stein and Mark Farina to name just a few. With the recent launch of their own label Splendor & Squalour, we can't wait to see what else the boys have in store for us in 2016, as they continue to push the boundaries with their eclectic style.
5. Low Steppa
Low Steppa was a real breath of fresh air this year and he was rightly crowned runner up in our Top House Artists of 2015. His UK Bass productions have popped up in the playlists of Grant Nelson, Zane Lowe and Huxley this year, whilst the recent 'Kontrol' with Martin Ikin was our kind of rough, tough and wicked stuff. His big selling re-rub of the 90s classic 'Deep Inside' brought some old school flavor to a brand new set of fans this year, in what turned out to be a hugely successful 12 months for the UK based DJ/producer.
4. Pablo Fierro
Our number one Afro House Artist of 2015, Vida Records label boss Pablo Fierro fired out a slew of releases on King Street, Nervous, Nulu and SOLE Channel. Pablo's music can also be found in films produced by some of the most recognized directors of Spanish cinematography, as well as writing his own lyrics and playing a number of instruments. The man lives and breathes music and it's this kind of passion that rightfully see him in our top 5 Artists of the year.
3. Mihalis Safras
Our number one Tech House Artist of 2015 was the irrepressible Mihalis Safras, with his Material label one of the stand out imprints of this year. Big tracks this year included the sublime 'Mantela' and 'Barrage', both on Knee Deep in Sound, and the recent 'Power' release which rounded off 2015 nicely on Saved Records. It’s great to see such a hardworking DJ, artist and label owner really push the boundaries in terms of creative content and we're really looking forward to seeing what Mihalis and Material have in store for us in 2016.
2. Louie Vega
Number one soulful artist and runner up in our overall list of 2015 is the evergreen Louie Vega. His studio was a veritable revolving door of collaborators this year, with Adeva, Jocelyn Brown, George Clinton and even Kendrick Lamar popping up on Vega joints in 2015. With a brand new album due out in early 2016 featuring a star studded support cast, it seems that Louie Vega isn't going anywhere anytime soon. I'm sure you'll agree, that's something we can all be very thankful for.
So there you have it, our choice of the Top 20 Artists of 2015 and to see who nearly made it to the top 20 you can check out our Top 100 Artists of the year here.
A magnificent list to compliment a truly magnificent year for underground dance music. With so many great producers, both old and new, throwing down so many innovative tracks this year, we really can't wait to see what musical masterpieces they have in store for us in 2016.
And the Artist of the year, 2015, is...
1. Purple Disco Machine
Our number one Artist of 2015 is Germany’s very own Purple Disco Machine. With releases on Peppermint Jam, Defected, Get Twisted Records, Love Inc, Nurvous and Kitball to name but a few, PDM was the name on everyone's lips this year. His 'L.O.V.E.' collab with Boris Dlugosch is an absolute killer slice of disco infused house, whilst 'Song for O' was one of of the biggest tunes of Ibiza 2015.
Purple Disco Machine proudly wears his disco influences on his sleeve and produces warm, sun-kissed tunes; all glitter balls, soft melodies and tight production. Released on London’s Get Twisted label at the end of August and featuring the soul vocal of Natalie Conway, ’Soul So Sweet’ had classic summer anthem written all over it. With its uplifting chords and crowd-noise breakdown, it was a massive track at many of the world's festivals this year.
If 2015 had a shape and a sound, it would be a Purple Disco Machine.