Sometimes a visionary comes along and completely disrupts our musical world. It seems like almost out of nowhere they’ve hacked the music scene in a way that changes it forever, this is a collection of the most influential DJs that changed the music game forever.
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The name Tiësto is synonymous with electronica and trance, for nearly 30 years this Dutch musician has been at the forefront of the ever-expanding EDM scene (not to mention he was the #1 ranked DJ in the world for three consecutive years).
But his break through moment came at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece when he became the DJ to ever play live on-stage at an Olympics opening ceremony. It was a moment where the entire world was simultaneously watching the electronica phenomenon for the first time, and many were hooked that day, as evidenced by the movement’s ever-growing popularity.
But Tiësto hasn’t always been the DJ he is in the video above. One of the biggest and most controversial moves ever in the electronica scene came when Tiësto left his origins in Trance to move over to the predominant House and Dubstep styles that currently fuel the EDM movement.
Tiësto once ruled over the Trance scene and could do no wrong, and when he left he spurned a lot of fans. However it was this innovation and change, the move to a multiple genre approach, that makes him perhaps the most eminent DJ in the world today. Below is an interview explaining his change:
Currently the #1 ranked DJ in the world according to DJMag’s Top 100 poll, this 26 year old Dutch DJ often credits the aforementioned Tiësto as the reason he got in to the DJ business.
Hardwell decided he wanted a life of music at the age of 11 after watching an MTV documentary on DJs, entered a Rock Academy in the Netherlands at the age of 14, and after only three months was told he needed to drop out and truly focus on his trade. From there it only took him 12 years until he reached his first iTunes #1 track at the age of 23.
According to Wiki:
Hardwell’s set also broke all records for the most watched Ultra live broadcast with over 80,000 people watching his set online through the live stream.
In an interview back in February of this year, Hardwell expressed that he was becoming “sick” of the formula that currently drives EDM music. MixMag reports:
“I’m experimenting with a lot of new, different sounds. I’m a bit sick of the same formula that’s going on in EDM right now so I’m just trying to change boundaries and look at what’s going on in the rest of the world. Even in the hip hop scene and the trance scene and try to combine as much as possible.”
So it no mere coincidence that Hardwell has propelled himself into the #1 spot in the world DJ rankings. By changing his style and going against the grain that is formulaic EDM he’s opened up the electronica scene in a way nobody has witnessed in years.
#4: Aphex Twin
Described in a 2001 interview by Great Britain’s ‘The Guardian’ as “the most inventive and influential figure in contemporary electronic music,” Aphex Twin is one of the earliest and most influential pioneers of the electronica music scene.
Apex Twin is credited as a major influence on acts from Daft Punk to the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
One of his defining moments came just one month ago however, on June 18th 2014, when a studio album, ‘Caustic Window,’ of his was re-discovered after being recorded 20 years ago, then promptly scrapped, and thought to be lost forever. Lost it was not though. Only five copies of the album were ever printed before the project was scrapped, and last month one surfaced on EBAY.
Aphex Twin then bolstered by the support of his fans took to KickStarter, raised $67,424, and was able to buy back his own vinyl and release it to his fans on YouTube free of charge. Taking back the power in a way we haven’t seen from any artist in this age of iTunes & VEVO domination. The album is said to be as fresh to today’s EDM sounds as it would have been to the scene twenty years ago, and you can listen to it in full below:
Love him or hate him, in recent years he’s had more of an impact on EDM’s popularity than any other DJ alive. The six time Grammy Awards winner is arguably one of the most well known active musicians in the world these days.
To put his six Grammy Awards in perspective, that six more awards than Queen, The Who, The Doors, and Led Zeppelin…COMBINED.
A Rolling Stone titled ‘15 Ways Skrillex Changed the World‘ details his unmatched impact on Electronica as we know it today. From claiming he’s ‘He’s the missing link between generations’ to being the first person to prove that EDM is financially viable, his impact is seen everywhere throughout the Electronica scene. However, my belief is that his indelible legacy was cemented by being the first DJ to make it okay to ditch the turn tables, and just go about his performance on stage.
99.9% of the work these DJ’s do takes place at home or in the studio, long before they ever take the performance stage. They’ve set their music, mixed it, perfected it for the masses. So when they show up all they have to do is hit ‘play.’ Skrillex became the first mainstream EDM DJ to ditch the pageantry. As Rolling Stone writes:
“Skrillex once and for all made it permissible for DJs to do virtually nothing technical, or even musical, onstage – that is, if they provided something else interesting to watch. In the past, that included wearing a helmet or a mask, but for Skrillex, it meant bouncing behind the decks like a jumping bean in a slam pit, pumping his fists, raising his arms, and hooting into a mic.”
#2: Daft Punk
You just knew Daft Punk would be on this list, right? The anonymous French duo famous for never showing their faces has broken through into the mainstream in a way that no other electronic DJs could ever even imagine. From their appearance in the movie ‘Tron’ to their absolute DOMINATION of the 2013 summer music charts, they’re practically a household name.
Their influences include Andy Warhol, Fleetwood Mac, The Doobie Brothers, The Beach Boys, Elton John, amongst others…and you truly hear it in their eclectic approach to electronica.
MixMag sums up their musical legacy and influence on the scene best in an article from last year:
Most of all, the whole stadium-sized ‘big room EDM’ juggernaut began at a few minutes past 11pm on April 29 2006, when Daft Punk unveiled their pyramid at Coachella. In a couple of hours they proved that two men operating laptops on stage could not only rival but surpass anything that any other musical genre could offer in terms of a live experience.
They proved that dance music deserved a big stage, and the ramifications can be felt from Creamfields to EDC to Vegas to Privilege. We all rave in a Daft Punk world.
So next time you’re fist pumping at 3am in a Vegas club, stop and take a moment to recognize that none of it would be possible without the way Daft Punk has shaped the current scene as we know it.
Go ahead, hate me all you want for making this claim…but without Moby electronica NEVER would have reached the mainstream across the world.
He’s sold over 20,000,000 albums worldwide, is credited with brining dance/electronica to the mainstream in both the UK and the USA, has “co-written, produced, and remixed music for Michael Jackson, David Bowie, Daft Punk, Mylène Farmer, Brian Eno, Pet Shop Boys, Britney Spears, New Order, Public Enemy, Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, Soundgarden, and others.”
Without Moby EDM wouldn’t be the movement it is today, laugh all you want but this is the truth.
If you’ve taken any exception with the claims I’ve made here today feel free to sound off down below in the comments, or go follow me on Twitter HERE to tell me just how right or wrong I am.