Drum ’n’ bass club night Respect
Drum ’n’ bass club night Respect
Regal D

Best of L.A.: Music — EDM's Top DJs, Club Nights and Personalities

Best Electronic DJ

Zhu continues to take the EDM scene by storm. Signed to Mind of a Genius, the L.A.-based DJ/producer is an artist who wants to be defined by his music, not his looks; that's part of why he remained anonymous until 2014. The reveal of his real name, Steven Zhu, had the EDM community in a frenzy. The Chinese-American Zhu wears many hats, including contributing his own vocals to his music. His release of "Faded" in 2014 gained him the international attention he needed to take his music to the next level. Most recently, he dropped a remix of Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa's "One Kiss," adding his signature falsettos. —Shirley Ju

Best Dubstep DJ

It's hard to maneuver through the EDM and dubstep space without coming across Borgore. The L.A.-based Israeli producer, singer, songwriter and rapper left such an imprint on dubstep that he nicknamed the genre "gorestep." It's as if each show comes with a money-back guarantee of out-of-this-world bass levels and teeth-rattling trap beats. His past work as a drummer in a punk metal band goes hand in hand with his unique use of heavy drums in his art. The release of #NEWGOREORDER, his debut studio album, had fans wanting more. He continues to give the masses any excuse to turn up. —Shirley Ju

Best Trap DJ

Flosstradamus fans were heartbroken when the news was revealed in 2016 that the duo comprised of Curt Cameruci and Josh Young was no longer. Anyone who hears their 2013 hit "Mosh Pit" can only imagine how wild their live shows got. But don't worry, Cameruci keeps the momentum going. It's his unique fusion of EDM, dubstep, house and rap that shuts down the stage each time. Since then, Cameruci has linked up with notable artists such as Waka Flocka, 24Hrs and, most recently, Smokepurpp, for a new single titled "MVP." This isn't just trap; this is Flosstradamus' claim to fame. —Shirley Ju

Best Trance DJ

When you think of trance in Los Angeles, you think of Gareth Emery. Being at the forefront of progressive house and trance, the DJ/producer has yet to disappoint, as those fortunate enough to attend his celebratory Dec. 31 New Year's Eve countdown at Exchange L.A. can attest. With festival-ready records like "Concrete Angel," "Sansa" and "Long Way Home," it's no surprise Emery has received A State of Trance Tune of the Year award three times already in his career. He experiments with the different elements in dance music to create the most beautiful, uplifting finished product for fans to enjoy. —Shirley Ju

Drumcell
Drumcell
Dean Paul De Leon

Best Techno DJ/Producer

For those of us in Los Angeles who are passionate about techno, Moe Espinosa is one of our heroes. The DJ-producer known as Drumcell put L.A. techno on the map beginning in 2001, when he founded the Droid Behavior collective (and, later, the Droid Recordings label) with brothers Vangelis and Vidal Vargas. Since then, Drumcell has established himself as a key player in the international techno scene with his masterful, cutting-edge productions and a nonstop gig schedule that would be the envy of any DJ, performing recently in Tokyo, Seoul, Lisbon and Geneva — and at his own Interface afterparty during Detroit's Movement Electronic Music Festival. Honorable mention: Truncate. —Matt Miner

Marques Wyatt
Marques Wyatt
Aria Morgan

Most Zen DJ and Promoter

For years Marques Wyatt has been known as the original house-music don of Los Angeles, and rightfully so. The Santa Monica native also has been a yoga practitioner for years. Since 2010 Wyatt has combined these passions into a fresh entity, Deep Exhale, bringing music, movement and meditation together in a unique blend that is greater than its parts. From day parties to nightclubs to festivals — most recently EDC Las Vegas and Lightning in a Bottle — Wyatt, along with his partner, Cristi Christensen, create a powerful yet peaceful experience that leaves participants with a heady feeling that has the euphoric, elevated existence of yoga plus being touched by music you are sharing with a gathering of people. "Encouraging health and wellness by merging these two loves of mine is a dream come to fruition," Wyatt says. "Being able to provide an alternate experience to the attendees, especially at festivals, takes it to another level. I couldn't ask for much more than that." —Lily Moayeri

Heidi Lawden
Heidi Lawden
Andrew Hogge

Most Adaptable Selector

Heidi Lawden may be best known for being DJ Harvey's brilliant manager, but she has some formidable deck-wrangling skills of her own. Whether it's on her Dublab radio show, Magic Roundabout, opening for the legendary Andrew Weatherall at Lot 613, doing a marathon set at Bears in Space at Akbar or providing the atmosphere at a gallery opening, Lawden can be relied on to bring the appropriate goods. Thoroughly flexible, Lawden has no insistence on getting her bangers in; you might hear her play two hours of ambient music in a warehouse if the occasion calls for it. In her very early DJ days, she would play Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety as the crowd trickled into the club. But when the time is right, she will bring the dark basslines and carve out a set that is pure dynamite. "Every party has a music and vibe reputation," Lawden says. "I want to honor that but I also want to unleash my inner beast." —Lily Moayeri

Best Electronic Collaboration

Collaborating as Belief Defect, Moe Espinosa and Luis Flores are crafting some of the most unsettlingly apocalyptic, sonically uncompromising and deeply compelling electronic music of recent years. Belief Defect premiered their blistering live show at the Berlin Atonal experimental music and arts festival last August, shortly before the release of their debut album, Decadent Yet Depraved, on noted German electronic label Raster (formerly Raster-Noton). They made their L.A. debut at an unforgettably cathartic Prototype night in January. The forthcoming Belief Defect single will include remixes from Alessandro Cortini, Telafon Tel Aviv, Kangding Ray and Surachai. —Matt Miner

Most Involved Camp Counselor

Claude VonStroke is no stranger to an outdoor party. He's been throwing them since 2003 at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. That event has morphed into Dirtybird Campout, a three-day festival where the affable VonStroke can host most if not all of the artists on his hefty Dirtybird label. It's where you'll find Head Camp Counselor VonStroke not holed up in a trailer but in the middle of the action of the retro adult summer camp he has put together. "We're trying to make an experience that has no reliance on what wristband you have," VonStroke says. "Our parties are the only ones where the DJs go in the audience and hang out in the crowd." Until Dirtybird Campout debuts in its new location at the Modesto Reservoir Campgrounds in October, you can belly up to the grill with Dirtybird BBQ 2018: L.A. in July and listen to VonStroke Live in Detroit, his headlining mix from Movement this past May. —Lily Moayeri

David Harrow
David Harrow
Guido Frenzel

Best Futurist Electronics

Electronicist David Harrow brings a wealth of oddly resonant experiences to his music. The former London punk has been a collaborator with Psychic TV and Jah Wobble's Invaders of the Heart, with Adrian Sherwood and various On-U acts. Harrow also was a key part of Andrew Weatherall's Sabresonic setup and partner with Weatherall in Bloodsugar, and perhaps most infamously was a producer of jazz-jungle under the James Hardway nom de plume in the '90s. His colorfully eclectic improvised mixes at local dubstep and drum 'n' bass venues, along with his long-running sound madness scenes at the mighty Low End Theory, are one thing, but he's smearing the lines in provocative new ways with collaborative works in partnership with visual/performance artists such as Ron Athey as well. Harrow has recently devised a ragingly powerful one-man-band version (multisynched programmed/improvised synths) of Terry Riley's minimalist classic In C that must be seen or at least heard to be believed. —John Payne

Most Gastronomic Gigs

The default DJ setting is either a glossy, large-capacity venue or a big production festival stage, but you can plug in decks anywhere. Los Angeles fixture Mick Cole has done just that for more than 20 years. The Solid Selector's now-defunct Bud Brothers Monday Social took place in the loft of the shuttered Louis XIV restaurant. From there he took on another shuttered eatery, Café des Artistes. He has become the go-to DJ to accompany your culinary experience. Since the turn of this century he has been providing the delightful sounds heard at the outdoor Blue Lounge of Moonshadows in Malibu on weekends. Thursdays he can be found on the street corner in Culver City welcoming diners to Ugo. Wednesdays he's al fresco at Ca del Sole in Toluca Lake. "I like being outdoors rather than a high-energy club," says Cole of his special niche. "Plus, I enjoy playing six-hour sets rather than two-hour sets and being part of the night but not dominating the night." —Lily Moayeri

Best Club

L.A. is home to many flashy nightclubs — the kind with long lines, bottle service, VIP areas and superstar DJs, like you'd find in Vegas — but at Prototype at Lot 613, it's all about the music. Since opening in 2015, partners Nik Wilson and Dave Dean have curated only the finest electronic music, with an emphasis on underground techno and house, at their no-frills Arts District club, showcasing acts like Rødhåd, Courtesy, Anthony Parasole and Noncompliant this year. Prototype hosts Berghain resident Function on June 16, Detroit techno phenom Omar-S on June 23 and tech-house duo Catz 'n Dogz on June 30. —Matt Miner

Most Resilient Club Night

Any promoter will tell you it's hard work to run a weekly club night. Respect, Los Angeles' drum 'n' bass Thursday night, is no exception. In its 20th year, Respect has not missed one week. Not at Christmas, not when it's faced major competition, not when the attendance has been sparse multiple times in a row. It's a labor of love for the drum 'n' bass collective Junglist Platoon, and drum 'n' bass DJs from across the globe cite Respect as one of their favorite places to play in North America because the crowd is so knowledgeable about the music. Says Respect's figurehead, DJ Machete, "My motivation to do Respect every week is the same as it ever was: excitement to play and hear music I love and see how the crowd responds to the variety of artists booked every week." —Lily Moayeri

Best Electronic Album

Santiago Salazar is a veteran L.A. DJ who relocated to Detroit for four years to study music production with Underground Resistance co-founder "Mad" Mike Banks. Aspirations for Young Xol, released last September, is Salazar's second full-length album, inspired, he says, by his experiences growing up in Bassett, then an economically challenged and often violent area in the San Gabriel Valley (the final track, "Sara Rivera," is dedicated to a childhood friend who was shot to death). Despite this backstory, or perhaps because of it, Aspirations for Young Xol has mostly a warm and inviting sound, and it's an engaging listen from front to back. —Matt Miner

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