For the past couple of years, Techno Station had a task to bring the best of techno and house scenes to our crowd. With the continuing dominance of rave culture, techno and similar genres have gained a lot more worldwide fans in recent years.
We are presenting our list of 2021 Top 10 DJs as a way to celebrate the incredible popularity of the techno scene.
Charlotte de Witte
Charlotte de Witte is one of the most recognizable techno DJs on the planet, and in ordinary times plays hundreds of gigs a year. Rather than reveling in time off during the pandemic, though, she kept on working to expand and evolve her KNTXT empire. This year alone there have been two new solo EPs on the label, a chart-topping remix with Enrico Sangiuliano, a historic live stream from the Italian Formula 1 race track Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello.
A titan of the worldwide electronic music scene, he’s a global ambassador whose effervescence and joie de vivre behind the decks is absolutely infectious. Starting to DJ in his mid-teens, Coxy was ideally placed to become one of the UK’s acid house pioneers, his three-deck vinyl mixing wowing the raves right across the UK. By the mid-90s, with the release of his ‘F.A.C.T.’ mix on React and a slew of productions, he was already the biggest DJ in the UK — a fact borne out by his No.1 placing in 1995’s Top 100 DJs poll, and again in 1997. Via Ultimate Base and Intec Records he cemented his position, and when he began his residency at Space Ibiza and toured his Carl Cox & Friends around various megafests, he became a globally recognized statesman for our culture.
As anyone with half an eye on dance music trends will know, hard and fast techno has been having a moment for a minute. Whether it’s coming from New York warehouses, sex clubs in Copenhagen, or indeed mega-clubs like Labyrinth in Belgium, the hypnotic thunder of lean and muscular techno has clubbers all over the world in its grip, and there are few figures as synonymous with the scene as Amelie Lens. For most people, Lens seemed to burst into the stratosphere from nowhere around 2016, but in actual fact she’d been on the circuit in Belgium since 2009, playing then as RENEE and making music for fashion industry brands like Yves Saint Laurent and Armani, before an unbilled gig at Tomorrowland caused her to revert to her given name. The change paid off almost immediately and a year later she was on the bill at Belgium’s most famous festival — only this time everyone knew who she was. Fast forward to the present day and Lens is one of the most in-demand DJs in the world.
Siberian-born Anfisa Letyago is fast becoming one of the leaders of the new school when it comes to delivering cutting-edge electronic music. Adopted by the Italian city of Naples, her musical journey began back in 2010 where she began making a name for herself on the Italian club scene as a DJ. This rising star has caught the attention of a certain Carl Cox who has been supporting her music regularly in his DJ sets and as a result, he’s snapped her up for 2 EP releases on his acclaimed Intec label.
I hate models
The mysterious French producer I Hate Models first broke onto the underground techno scene with the release of his 2015 debut Persephone, an onslaught of crunchy, industrial-tinged techno. But it would be his penchant for ripping up the genre rule book that made him stand out from the crowd, embracing acid, EBM, Trance, rave culture, and psychedelics in his future productions.
For the best part of three decades, the Canadian DJ/producer has worked tirelessly to redefine techno. From the early days of the Plus 8 label — home to then-emerging artists like Speedy J, Kenny Larkin and Dan Bell — and his expansive F.U.S.E. project, into the menacing, acid-soaked minimalism of his Plastikman alter ego, Hawtin was an innovative artist and ground-breaking label owner. As the ‘90s drew to a close and the new millennium started, he turned his technological focus to his DJing. As anyone who had the pleasure of hearing in a club or just his ‘X-Mix’ CD can attest, vinyl-era Hawtin sets were a propulsive blend of house and techno. The addition of a 909 for his 1999 mix, ‘Decks, EFX & 909’, accentuated his angular selections and paved the way for the intricate ‘DE9: Closer To The Edit’ and ‘Transitions’ mix CDs. By the time the latter mix arrived, the minimal — or ‘mnml’ — boom was in full swing, with Hawtin’s Minus imprint positioned at the epicenter
Swedish DJ and producer Adam Beyer’s Drumcode empire has become inescapable, spawning its own Amsterdam-based festival in 2018 and being heard in massive venues around the world — Beyer’s DJ sets alone reaching from Berghain to EDC Las Vegas. Arguably, nobody has helped techno become a global phenomenon with as much streamlined professionalism. It’s not been an overnight success, with Beyer starting out in the speedy, loopy days of the mid-‘90s, when the movement born in Detroit had already starting booming in Europe. Many have fallen by the wayside since then, but Beyer’s prolific work — both in the studio and behind the decks — has been matched by an adaptability that’s seen him whether the sound’s peaks and troughs while simultaneously steering its direction with a steely vision. Drumcode’s flagship radio show has thousands of listeners a week, and his tireless work ethic has earned him a loyal fanbase.
Rebekah has established herself as one of the leading exponents of techno currently operating on the global circuit. Her love affair with the harder sounds stretches back to the legendary Que Club in her hometown of Birmingham where she drew influence from the likes of Dave Clarke, Derrick Carter, Richie Hawtin and Billy Nasty. The fact she now shares billing with artists of this calibre is testament not only to her talent, but the way in which her music has been received by the techno community.
Resident DJs are the unsung heroes of local scenes. Away from the bright lights and main stages of super-produced events, reliable community mainstays provide an escape. These selectors are more vibe-creators than gatekeepers, fostering a watertight network. Paris-based DJ Anetha is standing tall as an axiom of this underground. Anetha is a core member of the Blocaus collective, which has seen her blossoming as a DJ to become a party resident after a chance meeting with owner Farouk six years ago led to him becoming her agent.
There are few artists carving out a legacy for themselves like Dax J is right now. The British DJ and producer from London has gone from pirate radio to magazine covers; from the backroom parties to headlining raves at every major techno institution the world over, all whilst staying true to the underground with an individual style all of his own. His technical skill, pure selection as a DJ and attention to high-end sound production has placed him at the forefront of a global scene, and established him as a singular presence within modern dance music.