Friday is Independence Day, a holiday where all Americans get together to celebrate hot dogs, cold beer on hot afternoons, fireworks, backyard BBQs, bald eagles, and of course—freedom! It's also time to wave the flag for some of our nation's greatest artists, our DJs! Without these players, the electronic music scene from sea to shining sea just wouldn’t be the same. So while we say thanks to George Washington and his crew, let's fist pump for these stars and stripes-loving heroes who give us yet another reason to cheer U-S-A! U-S-A!
While the origins of dubstep and drum and bass certainly belong to our European brethren, Bassnectar's lethal blend of low end bass music is entirely his own. He’s established a full on movement around his music, and remains an artist who puts on some of the most all-encompassing live performances in the universe, and certainly in the United States. Not to mention, he has some of the most epic hair.
From boogie came electro, came the machine drum funk out of Detroit, that took the world by storm and defined a new generation of electronic music. Individually, Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson are worthy of inclusion, but together they are an undeniable force to be reckoned with. The Belleville Three are proof that while techno may have gone abroad and matured in places like Berlin, it is and always will be an American genre to its core.
Cajmere vs Green Velvet
Cajmere vs Green Velvet represents one of the most legendary alter egos since Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. On the decks, Curtis Jones is equally as tenacious, yet far kinder, and with cooler hair and sunglasses. Since the neon-hued early 90s, he’s been keeping it correct with thumping house heaters under the Cajmere moniker. Then, late in the dark hours of the night he flips the switch, throws on a neon green mohawk and becomes Green Velvet to fire out enough body-shaking techno to rearrange the foundation of the Statue of Liberty, and even make her two-step.
House music wouldn't be what it is today if it wasn't for Derrick Carter
. Born in LA but raised in Chicago, Derrick took the foundation that Frankie Knuckles built and shook it, churning out remixes and original cuts that pay homage to the roots of dance music (disco, soul, funk) but rinse it in Chi-town house. As a selector and a label honcho, his mark on the Chicago scene
and beyond is indelible.
Chicago-born Colette has more than a few accomplishments in her DJ bag. A classically-trained vocalist she has been adorning her deep beats on the decks with her starlight soprano for almost twenty years. As one fourth of the all-female DJ collective SuperJane (along with Dayhota, DJ Heather and Lady D), she has cemented her place in dance music history
. She's had charting albums, hosted an awesome radio show, and after a successful run on Om Records, started her own label, Candy Talk, on which she released her third artist album of house-inspired electro.Dieselboy
While there may be a dearth of stateside members In the pantheon of drum'n'bass DJs, one of the few exceptions is Dieselboy. Damian Higgins cut his teeth creating the Philadelphia d'n'b scene in the late 90s, around the time he bubbled over into mainstream success with his track "Invid." Dieselboy comes from an unusual artistic lineage; his dad Bertie was a one hit wonder in 1981 with pop song “Key Largo.” He is also supposedly a direct descendent of Faust author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Baller.
What could be more American than a man whose first release was called Florida
. A lot has changed since that album first dropped (and since went out of print), including the starmaking partnership with M.I.A
. and some dutiful beatmaking for Beyoncé, Marina & the Diamonds, and even Katy Perry. Still, nobody had made dance music quite so hip before he dipped (pun intended) into the cultural melting pot. From Hollertronix
to Sia to Major Lazer to the Harlem Shake, Diplo’s been at the cutting edge of culture for longer than most American Presidents stay in office.
When Sharam and Dubfire first immigrated to the US, their hometown of Washington, DC wasn't quite a hotbed of dance music. They changed that, bringing house to the House of Representatives (or at least nearby). Their pop remixes made them club mainstays and sometime Grammy-nominees and their 2005 album George Is On
stands the test of time. After a lengthy hiatus
in which they took time to focus on their solo careers, the boys reunited
earlier this year for some new music and a few tour dates for those lucky enough to go deep.Kaskade
We love Ryan Raddon—otherwise known around the fifty states as rave legend Kaskade
. He’s a family man who rides around in helicopters
and loves to take to his Tumblr to get all thinky on all of us. Starting his career with vocal-driven deep house
lullabies, he’s gone on to be one the top ambassadors of big room dance music. Now, freed from a label contract he is reinventing the way his music gets distributed and heard. What could be more American than independent thinking like that?
House music would not exist without Frankie Knuckles
It makes sense that Magda hails from the dance music mecca of Detroit, Michigan. Few cities have pumped out more American legends, and Magda is certainly one of them. Her sets are often hard to pin down to one sounds and she effortlessly traces the winding roads between emotive techno and thumping basslines. While she's been a fixture on the techno circuit in Berlin
for a while now, Magda usually comes home for Movement, if nothing else. So we're proud to claim her as an American, now and forever.
Moby is the reason just about everyone in America over the age of 15 loves dance music. He’s been killing the game
since the early 90s and he still puts today’s major acts to shame on festival main-stages built for a different breed of DJ
. Moby has also sold over 20 million albums worldwide—a rare feat for anyone, let alone a DJ. On top of all this he has his own line of tea (Teany) and, perhaps most importantly, made being bald and wearing nerdy glasses just a little bit more socially acceptable. We will always thank him for that.
California native Josh Davis, aka DJ Shadow, puts down some of the most boundless, brain-skewing "future" performances in the game. With albums like the influential Entroducing...
he set a precedent in the business that was at the time unmatched, and served to blur the lines between dance music, and complex hip-hop beat odysseys
. Mixing and production technology wouldn't be what it is today if it wasn't for the mystical work of DJ Shadow—he's truly an innovator of our time.
These days in the good ol’ U S of A it doesn’t take much more than a faint whisper of “Sonny” for everyone and their little brother to know you’re talking about the dubstep god Skrillex. Although he descends nightly from a spaceship, lil’ Skrilly was born and raised in California. Today he is the Uncle Sam of the rave generation. Whether you think he invented dubstep or are satisfied with the brostep stereotype, there is absolutely no way you don’t just melt a little when he plays that “Circle of Life” remix. He's so cool, it’s literally the lamest thing to even hate on him.
You can’t talk American DJs without mentioning Danny Tenaglia
in the same sentence. Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, he paid his dues gazing under the lights at the now-defunct NYC 80s rave palace, Paradise Garage
. Since those years, Danny has gone on to become one of the most respected producers and DJs in the whole biz, with legendary marathon sets that span through sounds of tribal house thumpers and grooving techno. He’s held residencies at some of the most highly regarded American clubs in history, with his iconic “Be Yourself” clubs night serving to hypnotize clubbers into transcendence. Danny, we salute you!
Ever since we heard the opening notes of now-classic tracks like “Higher State of Consciousness” and “Airplane Electronique," we’ve been hooked on Josh Wink’s enthralling beats and fluttering hooks. Largely responsible for pushing the popularity of acid house here in the states, this guy is way deep in the Hall of Fame. Recently Josh just celebrated the 20th anniversary of his label, Ovum, which seems fitting as we ring in another year as the United States of America. It’s a celebration!
We give an honorable mention to Pete Tong as he is currently living in LA. Love ya Tongy!
(@DLGarber, @JemayelK, @Laurschwar)
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