After reading Charles Apple’s Further Review on page 2 of today’s Serendipity, I would have loved to have partied in the disco-era 1970s of bell bottoms, Bee Gees, Studio 54 and “Saturday Night Fever.”
But I cannot complain at all because I am a die-hard fan of electronic dance music, and my lifelong, quarter-century career in journalism has afforded me an overabundance of opportunities – an embarrassment of riches, really – to cover the beautiful, high-energy and euphoric world of EDM.
From attending the first Electric Daisy Carnival at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2011 and then the following six years, to countless concerts and marathon afternoons and evenings of dayclub pool parties and nightclubs on the Las Vegas Strip, my time in Las Vegas from 2008-2019 was the mecca of EDM.
In between, there were DJ interviews in person, over the phone and via email, and there were especially fortunate evenings when media were invited into the DJ booths with the artists.
I know this story is the epitome of #humblebrag and self-indulgence – “but first, let me take a selfie!” – but EDM made me happy and full of joy for a very long time, and it still makes me feel elated to this day. I hope everyone has an EDM in their own lives.
I was really looking forward to Steve Aoki headlining Knitting Factory in downtown Spokane on April 21, following a stellar set by Jauz in January, but it was not meant to be this spring amid the current pandemic. For now, let us have a listen to these 22 electronic dance music artists and their hits.
They are a part of a long list of great dance acts and anthems that also includes Baauer (“Harlem Shake”), BT (“Somnambulist”), Cascada (“Every Time We Touch”), Daft Punk (“One More Time”), Darude (“Sandstorm”), Deadmau5 (“Ghosts ’n’ Stuff”), Fatboy Slim (“The Rockafeller Skank”), Kaskade (“I Remember”), Orjan Nilsen (“Apart”), Showtek (“Booyah”) and Skrillex (“Bangarang”).
Afrojack (The Netherlands): I met Nick van de Wall, who is 6’10,” at the Mizumi grand opening at Wynn Las Vegas in 2010, and his bestie Paris Hilton also was at the soiree. Favorite tracks: “Ten Feet Tall,” “Take Over Control” and “Do or Die” with 30 Seconds to Mars
Alesso (Sweden): The long-haired DJ has been a longtime headliner at Wynn and adjoining property Encore. Favorite tracks: “If I Lose Myself” with One Republic, “City of Dreams” with Dirty South, “Heroes (We Could Be)” with Tove Lo and “I Wanna Know” with Nico & Vinz
Armin van Buuren (The Netherlands): During his EDC set, he shouted, “Happy Father’s Day!” Oh, yeah, EDC weekend is during Father’s Day weekend. Favorite tracks: “This Is What It Feels Like,” “Let It Go” with Idina Menzel and “Off the Hook” with Hardwell
Avicii (Sweden): Thinking about the loss of Tim Bergling, who committed suicide in 2018 at age 28 within weeks of the suicides of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, still makes me sad. He was soft-spoken and shy in person, and I will never forget him opening for Tiesto’s residency at Hard Rock Hotel Las Vegas in 2011. Favorite tracks: “Fade Into Darkness,” “Levels,” “Wake Me Up” with Aloe Blacc, “Waiting for Love” and, one of my all-time favorites, “Without You”
Calvin Harris (Scotland): Inarguably one of the biggest and most-recognized crossover EDM artists on this list – and one of the hottest. Favorite tracks: “We Found Love” and “This Is What You Came For” with Rihanna, “Let’s Go” with Ne-Yo, “Summer” and “Feel So Close”
Cash Cash (New Jersey): This trio is three Americans, two of them brothers, who bring the party to the pool. Yes, yes, Cash Cash! Favorite tracks: “Take Me Home” with Bebe Rexha and “Every Time We Touch” remix
The Chainsmokers (New York): Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall also have had big crossover success, and their DJ booth during their residency opening weekend at XS Las Vegas in 2017 was crazy fun. Favorite tracks: “#Selfie,” “Roses” with Rozes, “Don’t Let Me Down” with Daya, “Closer” with Halsey and “Something Just Like This” with Coldplay
Dannic (The Netherlands): Arguably the least-known on this list, I interviewed Daan Romers, who hails from Breda, the same hometown as Tiesto and Hardwell, in the tiny security office at Drai’s atop the Cromwell. Favorite tracks: “Viper” and “Chase the Sun” with Hardwell
Dash Berlin (The Netherlands): His video for “Better Half of Me” is 6 1/2 minutes long and features talented and popular EDM vocalist Jonathan Mendelsohn from Brooklyn. Favorite tracks: “Better Half of Me” and remixes of “Listen to Your Heart” and “Locked Out of Heaven”
David Guetta (France): My interview with Guetta at Intrigue, formerly Tryst, at Wynn is my longest, in-person DJ interview ever. I was able to ask all my 20-plus prepared questions. Favorite tracks: “When Love Takes Over” with Kelly Rowland, “Sexy Bitch” with Akon, “Without You” with Usher, “Titanium” with Sia and “Turn Me On” with Nicki Minaj
Diplo (Mississippi): The prolific producer based in Los Angeles has worked with many big music stars, and he has found success as part of Major Lazer and Jack U, too. Favorite tracks: “Lean On” as Major Lazer and “Where Are U Now” as Jack U with Justin Bieber
DJ Pauly D (Rhode Island): He is known for MTV’s “Jersey Shore.” He is the DJ on this list whose marquee name includes “DJ.” He is not known for his original music, but he brings the party – and there is nothing wrong with that. Favorite tracks: “Back to Love” with Jay Sean
Hardwell (The Netherlands): EDM’s renaissance man, Hardwell often hosted panels during EDC week at Hakkasan at MGM Grand in Las Vegas. He is down to earth, likable and very successful. Favorite tracks: “Spaceman,” “Apollo,” “Young Again” and remixes of “A Sky Full of Stars” and “Mi Gente”
Krewella (Illinois): Finally, some female representation, in this heavily European male-dominated field, in the form of Pakistani sisters Jahan and Yasmine Yousaf, who formed their trio in Chicago. Favorite tracks: “Alive” and “Live for the Night”
Kygo (Norway): Singapore-born Kyrre Gørvell-Dahll was one of my final DJ interviews before I moved from Las Vegas to Spokane in 2019. Favorite tracks: “Stole the Show” with Parson James, “It Ain’t Me” with Selena Gomez and “Higher Love” with Whitney Houston
Marshmello (Pennsylvania): Philadelphia-born Christopher Comstock crossed over big time in 2018 with “Happier” with Bastille, whose British frontman, Dan Smith, is a “Twin Peaks” fan alongside yours truly. Favorite tracks: “Alone,” “Silence” with Khalid and “Happier”
Martin Garrix (The Netherlands): How is Martin Garrix still only 24 years old? Oh, because he was a mere 17 when “Animals” made him a superstar in 2013. Favorite tracks: “Animals,” “In the Name of Love” with Bebe Rexha and “Scared to Be Lonely” with Dua Lipa
Paul Oakenfold (England): An elder statesman of the EDM industry when it was called techno and electronica, Oakenfold was my first big DJ concert (in San Diego). Favorite tracks: “Faster Kill Pussycat” with Brittany Murphy and “Starry Eyed Surprise” remix with Shifty Shellshock
Steve Aoki (Florida): His father is restaurateur Hiroaki “Rocky” Aoki (Benihana), and his sister is actress Devon Aoki (“Sin City”). Favorite tracks: “A Light That Never Comes” with Linkin Park, “Delirious (Boneless)” with Chris Lake and Tujamo and “Waste It on Me” with BTS
Swedish House Mafia (Sweden): Axwell, Sebastian Ingrosso and Steve Angello disbanded in 2013, reunited for a show in their hometown of Stockholm in 2018 and were the final and most memorable act I saw during EDC’s first year in Las Vegas in 2011. I also remember vividly driving home at 5 a.m., filing my story and going to bed a few hours later. Favorite tracks: “Save the World” (with a goofy/weird video) and “Don’t You Worry Child.”
Tiesto (The Netherlands): I have been fortunate to meet Tiesto a few times, and he is the idol of many DJs on this list. He won a Grammy Award in 2015 for his remix of John Legend’s “All of Me.” Favorite tracks: “Adagio for Strings,” another all-time favorite, “Red Lights,” because I am sentimental fool, and more awesome remixes than there are stars in the night sky.
Zedd (Russian): The DJ, who identifies as Russian-German and is 30 but could pass for 18, asked me before a photo opportunity how my dinner was at Searsucker at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas before a night at adjacent Omnia Nightclub. So polite. Favorite tracks: “Clarity” with Foxes, “Break Free” with Ariana Grande, the celebratory “Beautiful Now,” “Stay” with Alessia Cara” and “The Middle” with Maren Morris and Grey
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