As a Funktasy Magazine Top 10 ritual, each year we shine light on some of the best international artists, DJs and producers. It is not an easy task narrowing down so much talent to only select the best 10. There are so many House DJs that have made their mark this year. Our team of writers did extensive research on each candidate and put into consideration their production, release frequency, live performance & streaming, fan base… In no specific order, we bring you Funktasy’s Top 10 picks for the Top House DJs of 2021.
German DJ and Producer act Claptone emerged in 2012, gaining attention in 2013 with his hit song “No Eyes”, featuring artist JAW from the electronic trio dOP. They have since released two albums, 2015’s “Charmer”, 2016’s “The Masquerade” and most recently, 2018’s “Fantast”. Famous for their mystique, Claptone acts as an anonymous artist, who wears a “plague-esque” surgical golden mask and who’s identity or identities (there has been speculation as to whether or not Claptone is a single artist or a duo, due to the fact that he/they have been speculated to have been performing at two venues at once), remain unknown to this day. The act is based in Berlin and performs over 260 sets a year on average, since its debut. Little else is known about Claptone but the mystery surrounding the act has only furthered its success. In 2017, Claptone brought “The Masquerade” to Ibiza, with two all-night sets in collaboration with “Elrow” being put on at the Amnesia club, the first shows to sell out that year for the club. 2021 has been a big year for the act so far, with 7 singles having been released thus far (Living on Video and Living on Video the Claptone remix, My Head & My Heart the Claptone remix, Zero, Zero the Skream and Gene Farris Remixes, For a Fool the Claptone remix and most recently, Golden). Claptone is soon going on tour and with all the new tracks that have been released thus far, it is fair to say that 2021 is gearing up to be an eventful year for the iconic House DJ.
British EDM duo, Disclosure broke through in the early 2010’s, with hits such as 2012’s “Latch” (featuring the then obscure, Sam Smith) and their breakout album, 2013’s “Settle”. Brothers Guy and Howard were only 19 and 16 at the time of their first hit single, 2010’s “Offline Dexterity” and throughout the past decade, the brothers have grown into one of the most prolific EDM duo of the decade. Some career highlights include three Grammy nominations, one for their first album, “Settle” and one for their second album, 2015’s follow up “Caracal” and one for their 2020 album “ENERGY”, all three which fell under the Best Dance/Electronica Album category at the 2014, 2016 and 2021 Grammy awards respectively. Their song My High was also nominated at the 2021 Grammy’s under the Best Dance recording category. 2021 has been a big year for the brothers. After taking a short hiatus from music between 2016-2018, Disclosure released a few singles (such as 2018’s “Ultimatum” featuring Fatoumata Diawara.) and began working on their third studio album, 2020’s “ENERGY”. After pushing the album’s release back several months due to the obvious reason of 2020, the brothers released the album in December of 2020 and have been basking in their comeback ever since. With big performances coming up, such as their headlining of 2021’s iconic Reading and Leeds festival, taking place in August, and 2 Grammy nominations under their belt this year already, Disclosure is gearing up for a massive comeback in all respects.
British DJ Sam Divine has played almost every club in Ibiza and has had residencies at the likes of Ushuaia, Amnesia and Sankeys but her path to recognition within the EDM scene was not immediate. She initially began as the sole member of the Defected street team in Ibiza and even fronted their radio show. Since her origins within the Defected world, she has continued to be a staple at Defected events and parties. In other areas of her career, Sam has created a name for herself with her own label, DVINE Records, which has seen 58 releases thus far and will celebrate it’s sixth birthday in 2021. Sam’s career highlights include recording a coveted “Essential Mix”, a Mixmag Lab NYC set, multiple global tours, playing at over 21 festivals worldwide, performing an iconic set above London’s Tower Bridge and raising over 40,000 pounds for Breast Cancer research through her charity D-Vita. In 2021, Sam has released her first single in 2 years, Lookin Good and is set to play the Summer of Love Festival 2021, in addition to multiple other sets, worldwide.
Little Louie Vega
Twenty year veteran of the House music scene, Grammy winner and 7x nominee, Little Louie Vega is both a pioneer and a staple within House/EDM scenes. The American DJ/Producer has explained his success in one word: evolution. Vega is nothing short of a chameleon when it comes to his sound. Having explored musical influences ranging from House, Salsa and Afro-Bear to Jazz, Hip-Hop and Gospel, Vega adapts with the times and ever-changing musical trends, ensuring he puts his own spin on each of his creations. Apart from his notable awards and nominations, Little Louie Vega has a vast performance history, dating back to the 80’s in New York City. In the 80’s, Vega was already performing (and holding residency at), iconic clubs such as Studio 54, Devil’s Nest, Heartthrob and Roseland. He produced many remixes, including Information Society’s Running, What’s On Your Mind, Noel’s Silent Morning, Cover Girl’s Because Of You, and Debbie Gibson’s Only in my Dreams, but it wasn’t until 1991, when Vega was signed to Atlantic Records that his career began to really take off within the mainstream. Him and Marc Anthony produced the single Ride and Rhythm co-written with India & Derek Whitaker, which soon became an insatiable club hit in New York City and beyond. The DJ/Producer has many other highlights as well, ranging from his collaborations with megastars such as Michael Jackson, Madonna, the Black Eyed Peas (and more) to the albums and singles he released with fellow New Yorker, DJ Kenny “Dope” Gonzalez, collaborating under the name Masters at Work, releasing acclaimed albums “Nuyorican Soul” and “Masters At Work – Our Time is Coming”. In 2021, the DJ/Producer is nowhere near slowing down. Vega is currently working on his next studio albums, set to be released at some time this year, featuring an impressive roster of fellow musicians and producers including Honey Dijon, Robyn, Bernard Fowler, Moodymann and more.
British DJ, video game music composer and sound designer Mark Knight, also known by the aliases of TDK and Madfiddler, was initially introduced to music through a classical lens. Having began playing violin at the age of 6, Knight was drawn to music but by the age of 10 years old, upon receiving his first computer, he was immediately interested in the world of electronic music. Despite this early passion, it was not until college that Knight began to write his own music on the software Amiga, releasing his first Ep of sorts “Saturday Sessions Vol. 2” in 2005. Career highlights include Knight’s spear-heading of label Toolroom ‘s #RESET campaign, arranging the “Wing Commander” , “Duke Nukem: Total Meltdown”, Dungeon Keeper 2, Populous: The Beginning and video game soundtracks (the last two which won a BAFTA for best sound), leading the sound design team on EA Sports F1 series, performing electric violin alongside punk-folk bands (such as Tricks Amongst Travellers), being nominated for the Best Western Game Composer of 2015, at the Annual Game Music Awards and releasing two studio albums. Knight remains a prolific radio presence and live performer for Toolroom Records, being a main fixture for multiple international residencies under the Toolroom Live banner and within the Toolroom Radio station, which garners over 13.5 million listeners in over 60 countries. In 2021, Knight remains a permanent fixture of the House scene with 8 singles released this year alone and has 2 live performances planned, with more in the works.
Chicago born House DJ and Producer Honey Dijon has been DJing since she was a kid. A ground-breaking EDM musician, fashion Icon and Trans/Queer rights activist, Honey Dijon has taken the world by storm in all respects. Having gone to clubs throughout her teens, she encountered the emergence of House music, just as it was beginning to gain traction. House music was started by Queer People of Colour and as the once underground subculture has become more and more popular within the mainstream, Honey Dijon stresses the importance of recognizing and appreciating the origins of the genre. Having moved to New York City in the 90’s, Honey’s career took off. With her distinct approach to music, an ever-changing alternation and mixing of various genres, such as Disco, House and Techno, her musical style can be explained as a “exquisitely curated cross-genre sets and total dance-floor chaos wherever she plays”. Taking inspiration from mentors Derrick Carter (from Chicago) and Danny Tenaglia (of New York), as well as the various influences she’s encountered living in Berlin throughout the past few years, Honey Dijon’s music can is self-described as a combination of Chicago and New York sounds which have helped her form her own distinct and original sound within House music and beyond. Career highlights include collaborations with Louis Vuitton and Dior on the creation of the soundtracks for some of their esteemed fashion shows, 3 studio albums (Classic
Through the Eyes of Honey Dijon, The Best of Both Worlds and Xtra), Residencies at the likes of Celio and Le Bain and a constant roster of international nightclub appearances. In 2021, Honey Dijon released her most recent track “Downtown” in April, which has already garnered over 400,000 plays. Touring across North America and Europe all summer, Honey Dijon continues to be one of the biggest forces in present-day House music (and fashion!).
French DJ/Producer Bob Sinclair, first emerged in 1976 and has been dedicated to his craft, and illusive image ever since. A cross between James Bond and a French Playboy, Sinclair has come a long way since his first release in 1998, with his single Paradise. Some career highlights include multiple charting singles in the mid 2000’s in France, including Western Dream, Soundz of Freedom and Born in ‘69, a worldwide chart-topping single Love Generation and a Grammy nomination for his song World Hold On (children of the Sky). He also runs his own label, Yellow Productions which was founded in 1993 in tandem with fellow musician Alain Ho. Known for his popularisation of the “French Touch”, a variation of House music which includes a heavy dosage of sampling and more specifically, the use of sampled and filtered disco strings. Sinclair’s work as a producer is equally as prolific, having worked with the likes of Rihanna, Moby and Madonna. In 2021, Sinclair released one of his first hits in over 6 years, with We Could be Dancing. To celebrate, the House DJ and Producer has scheduled several tour dates throughout the summer, taking place everywhere from Morocco to Croatia.
Brazilian House DJ and Producer Vintage Culture, who’s real name is Lukas Ruiz, emerged in 2013, with the hit What U Want. Since his debut, Ruiz has proved to be an extremely dedicated addition to the House music Scene. With over 80 singles and 1.5B streams, it is fair to say that Vintage Culture’s influence has been immense throughout the past 8 years. Rising from DJ MAG’s 118th Top DJ spot (in 2015) to their top 30 of 100 within 5 years (2020), Ruiz’s recognition has only continued to grow with his career. Ruiz was also given the #2 rank for best Brazilian House DJs in 2015. Career highlights include the aforementioned rankings and impressive discography as well as the #4 ranking of his hit remix Drinkee on beatport in 2016 and the international acclaim that his 2016 hit Wild Kidz released on Spinning Records received, almost immediately after its release. Vintage Culture’s career continues to grow and 2020 brought about some extremely notable collaborations with the likes of EDM superstars Tiesto, David Guetta, Robin Schulz and more. Many of these collaborations reached Platinum and topped Billboard and Spotify Dance charts. He also got a coveted #1 ranking on beatport’s Main Chart Overall with his debut single on Defected Records, It is What It is. Lukas has also used his popularity to raise funding for his COVID-19 relief project in Brazil. Keeping true to his dedication to his art, Lukas has released over 15 singles in 2021 alone thus far and has 9 live shows and counting booked over this summer.
South African DJ, record producer and singer-songwriter Black Coffee has released 9 studio albums and a live DVD since his 1994 emergence. Having majored in Jazz, specifically with the intention of deepening his production skills through advanced listening training and theoretical practice, Black Coffee’s rise to fame was paved through years of hard-work, dedication, and unrelenting passion for his craft. The passion was so strong that Black Coffee ended up leaving university before the completion of his studies to pursue real-world musical opportunities. Black Coffee and two of his closest friends at the time ended up deciding to form a trio, after having worked together as background vocalists for musician Madala Kunene. They named their trio “Shana” and moved to Johannesburg to try and make it within the music industry. Throughout their work as a trio, the three of them explored individual ventures as well, and it was not long before Black Coffee’s talents were recognized and he was chosen as one of two participants in the Red Bull Music Academy in 2003. This served as a breakthrough moment in Black Coffee’s career and helped to propel him into the South African DJ Scene. Although this did serve as a major positive point in Black Coffee’s career, his true breakthrough came with his 2005 hit single Happiness off his debut self-titled album. Many consider Black Coffee as a pioneer in the House music scene, establishing himself as a prolific artist within the genre before the genre had gained any mainstream success. Career highlights include attending the Redbull Music Academy, a 2015 win of the coveted “Breakthrough DJ of the year” award at the DJ awards in Ibiza, the founding of his record company Soulistic Music, performances at the RedBull Music Academy Lounge alongside fellow House music mega stars such as Little Louie Vega and the release of 9 studio albums. 2021 is gearing up to be a big year for Black Coffee with his first album in two years, “Subconsciously”, having been released in February of this year and over 6 shows scheduled throughout summer and fall 2021.
Hot Since 82
The British DJ/Producer, who’s real name is Daley Padley, started playing clubs in his home town of Barnsley in the early 2000’s. According to an interview Padley did with Beatportal, his hometown has always been known for a small – but mighty – nightlife, which consisted primarily of Padley and his mates when he first started playing sets. Daley soon became a resident player at one of the local clubs (KGV) and according to the interview, he still considers these early shows amongst friends to be some of the best of his career. Since then, Hot Since 82, has gone on to become one of the most notable international House DJs of the millennium. Hot Since 82 has since made waves worldwide, including a 2006 residency at the renown “Cream Ibiza” night at the famed Amnesia nightclub, performances at every music festival and nightclub under the sun (including Tomorrowland, Ultra Music Festival, Coachella, Pacha and more), and a rich multiple breakthrough original releases. His breakthrough first album, Little Black Book was released in 2013, gaining him international recognition and inspiring him to go on to create his own label in 2014, Knee Deep In Sound, which continues to champion undiscovered producers and artists. As 2021 presents hope of a return to live music in the near future, Hot Since 82 is gearing up for a big return. Already being one of the first DJs plyaing UK’s first post-covid concerts in early May, he has shows in Leeds scheduled for the end of July.
We take pleasure in introducing artists and DJs from around the world. The world appreciates electronic music as communities everywhere from Canada to the United States, the UK, South America, the rest of Europe, and Asia are building their own DJ culture.
With many upcoming releases and performances by so many talented DJs, including Funktasy’s own Artists, we cannot wait to see which DJs will dominate the dancefloor in the future.
We look forward to our 2022 Top House DJs.