The 20 Best DJs in L.A. Right Now

DJ Colette
Courtesy of the artist

10. DJ Colette
A DJ and vocalist, Colette trades off between skills seamlessly in her sets. She'll mix the jams before grabbing the mic for a brief moment of song, still working the EQs as she belts out lyrics, then gets right back into the groove. Colette got her start in Chicago's legendary house scene where, almost 20 years ago, she joined forces with Heather, Dayhota and Lady D to form the all-female collective Super Jane. For more than 15 years, though, she has been based in L.A., where her smooth vocals and the power of the 4/4 beat keep crowds dancing. —Liz Ohanesian

9. J Rocc
J Rocc has won numerous DJing awards, by himself and with the Beat Junkies crew. He’s also DJed for the late great J Dilla, Mos Def and many others, and is a big part of Stones Throw Records. But most importantly, J Rocc is a DJ who will take you to every part of his record collection, illuminating connections between different music genres — and his collection is huge. From hip-hop to footwork to Brazilian music to techno and electro, a J Rocc set will let you know that there’s only good music, and that other stuff. —Sam Ribakoff

8. Ghastly
Tending a goat farm and screaming in a death-metal band don’t rouse thoughts of a typical EDM DJ’s origin story, but Ghastly is an aberrant behind the decks. “Doing death-metal vocals for so long instilled [performance] in me at a young age ... just full energy, full chaos. What’s better about [dance music] is the energy isn’t angry,” says Ghastly. If he’s not cueing up the next bass house or dubstep record, he’s swinging from the club’s rafters and catalyzing raver hysteria. “I try to hold back sometimes and be a little bit more chill, but I just can’t.” —Patrick Shannon

7. Machete
Drum ’n’ bass is a difficult game stateside, requiring a strong constitution both aurally and emotionally. Original junglist DJ Machete has these in spades. A Los Angeles fixture, he has been at the decks for 25 years, 17 of those as the main promoter of North America’s longest-running drum ’n’ bass weekly, Respect. He's also a member of the drum ’n’ bass crew Junglist Platoon and hosts a Wednesday-evening radio show at DnBRadio from 8 to 10 p.m. This is on top of a busy gigging schedule that has him showcasing his unerring skills, playing melodic tracks alongside hard-hitting ones, blending the classics into the latest cuts with the kind of expertise that only comes from years of experience. —Lily Moayeri

6. Drumcell
Drumcell is Moe Espinosa, a member of the Droid Behavior collective and one of the few DJs on this list who reps the SGV. Raised as a classically trained musician, he later got into punk, industrial and noise before ultimately graduating to more synthesized soundscapes. Together with his Droid Behavior co-founders Vidal and Vangelis Vargas (Raiz), Drumcell deliver no-frills, sandpaper techno more consistently than any other SoCal crew currently active. And Drumcell’s been doing his thing for going on two decades, before L.A.’s underground infrastructure developed into the well-oiled machine it is now. For best results, catch Drumcell in a warehouse (at one of Droid's Interface events) or somewhere else dark, dingy and dank. —Jonny Coleman

Adam Auburn
Adam Auburn
Photo by Kyle Hendrix

5. Adam Auburn
Balance is key in Adam Auburn sets. The Exchange resident's style is rooted in house but runs the gamut from soulful to pop-oriented vocal tracks, with touches of bass-heavy hip-hop influences woven throughout. Auburn started DJing well before he moved to Los Angeles from the East Coast, but he further honed his skills here playing alongside the top touring talent that comes through downtown's Exchange, as well as his own parties, Soul & Tonic and Afternoon Delight. Auburn can play for the heads just as well as he can for the new kids; it's all about the balance. —Liz Ohanesian

4. Lee Foss
Hot Creations boss Lee Foss has long been one of Chicago's greatest gifts to L.A.'s dance-music scene. But for the past couple years in particular, Foss has been on fire, stealing the show at CRSSD, Coachella's Do Lab stage and Hard's Holy Ship! cruise with mesmerizing sets that mix classic deep and Chicago house sounds with touches of techno, disco and the occasional big-room drop to keep the EDM kids happy. When a DJ ditches the USB sticks to play his first all-vinyl set in eight years at a high-profile gig like Mysterylands, you know he's feeling himself — and right now, Foss is mixing with the confidence of a guy who feels like he can take the crowd anywhere he wants them to go. He'll be at Splash House in Palm Springs June 10-12 with Odesza (doing a DJ set), Jai Wolf, Guy Gerber and Justin Martin — all of whom had better bring their A-games, or he'll steal the show from them, too —Andy Hermann

The 20 Best DJs in L.A. Right Now

3. Adam 12
L.A.’s most versatile DJ hands-down is Adam Michael Bravin aka Adam 12. Honing his skills in his hometown of L.A. alongside friends DJ AM and Z-Trip, he’s as spot-on spinning fervent sets in a sweaty hip-hop club (AFEX) as he is in a glam West Hollywood hot spot (Giorgio's) or, of late, for a chic goth crowd (Cloak & Dagger). He even played funky stuff for President Barack Obama, where the audience was older but no less jazzed by his turntable jamming. He could’ve easily gone the superstar Vegas route, but 12 was always more soulful than the bottle-service set might have appreciated. Adam 12’s sets are spontaneous and intuitive; he may play one song all the way through, then cut another halfway, only to bring it back a few cuts later. It surely doesn’t hurt that he’s a musician himself (one-half of She Wants Revenge) or that he worked for Prince back in the Glam Slam days. And no matter what genre or style he’s playing, Adam 12’s sets are kinda like his bosses The Prez and The Purple One — as purposeful as they are powerful. —Lina Lecaro

2. Marques Wyatt
When house music started seeping into Los Angeles in the 1980s, Santa Monica native Marques Wyatt was there. When acid jazz swept the small rooms of the early-’90s club scene, Wyatt was there (with a multipiece band, performing over DJ-driven hip-hop breaks). When house got deep in the mid ’90s, Wyatt was there (at the legendary Does Your Mama Know? after-hours nights). He’s no stranger to smoky rooms and dank undergrounds, but Wyatt holds down the tasteful side of Los Angeles dance music. You can thank him for continuing to bring the likes of house legends Louie Vega, Osunlade and Danny Krivit to town. His Deep nights represent a pretty cheap education for students of post-disco dance music. Wyatt’s own sound adds long, syncopated mixes, a West Coast trait, to the jazz- and salsa-infused musicianship of New York house. At a time when EDM is a euphemism for excess, Wyatt is all class. —Dennis Romero

DJ Harvey
Red Bull Music Academy

1. DJ Harvey
“You can't understand the blues until you've had your heart broken, and you can't understand my music ’til you've had group sex on ecstasy.” DJ Harvey’s self-description says it all. He is house music’s rock star. Harvey Bassett has been bringing a subversive, punk edge to dance music since the ’80s. He popularized the disco re-edit and was an early resident DJ at London’s famed Ministry of Sound. And he’s done it all with a  scruffy yet debonair air that’s made him a cult figure and a style icon.

The grizzled, moustachioed veteran shacks up in Venice Beach but still roams the world dropping the marathon, eight-hour sets for which he’s famed. His next L.A. gig is on June 10, to coincide with Gay Pride weekend. Trends come and go, styles change, but DJ Harvey will always be the coolest motherfucker at the party. —Jemayel Khawaja

[Correction: An earlier version of this article referred to Heidi Lawden as DJ Harvey's wife. She is his manager but the two are not married. We regret the error.]

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