They call it the Oscars of the dance music industry, and while there might not be a red carpet or paparazzi, the annual DJ Awards in Ibiza is still a pretty big deal. This year, the event took place at HEART Ibiza on Monday September 16, 2019 and the roll call of attendees was – as you’d expect – the who’s who of DJs, promoters, managers, performers, journalists, photographers and of course, some random ring-in island residents who simply must be seen at every party. Not sure which category I fit into… not sure it matters!
This year there seemed to be quite a bit of a shake-up in the awards – I don’t know if it’s just me, or whether it was obvious to everyone, that many of the major players who had been dominating the awards were nowhere to be seen on the winners roll call – think Luciano, Solomun, Sven Vath, Richie Hawtin, Marco Carola et al. Maybe they collectively decided to stand aside and let some newcomers collect the glowing Kryptonie trophies, or maybe we’re just genuinely entering a new musical era (although as you’ll see below, there are some industry stalwarts who will probably win their categories every year for the rest of time). There also seemed to be a lot more women present in the categories and indeed on stage – has the #metoo movement finally come to Ibiza?
The inimitable Graham Sahara once again slipped into his role as host with ease – truly, there is no person more suited to this role than the island’s most loveable (and talented!) ginger – alongside guest host, DJ Jaguar from the UK, and special entertainment came courtesy of popular island vocalist blondewearingblack.
Without any further ado and with a big drum roll please, the winners of the 2019 DJ Awards are…
Afro House – Da Capo South Africa’s Da Capo (whose real name is Nicodimas Sekheta Mogashoa, admittedly quite a lot harder for Graham to have pronounced) scooped the Afro House category, and after watching him play an intimate lounge club gig at Laylah a few weeks ago, it couldn’t have done to a better DJ!
Bass – Chase & Status This is one was pretty easy to predict, as the guys come into their ninth season at Amnesia!
Breakthrough – ARTBAT Eek I’m sorry! I have to admit I wasn’t cool enough to recognise this name (as cool as the name is, I’m not cool!) – but I’ve since discovered ARTBAT have been around for four years and are actually two people (yes, you can all laugh at me now) hailing from Kiev and who are now touring the world. Excuse me while I rush over to Beatport…
Deep House – Maya Jane Coles This one felt like a long time coming – after scooping the best newcomer award quite some ago, it was only a matter of time before Maya was called up to accept some Kryptonite in the big leagues. Let’s hear it for the girls!
Deep Tech – Butch This was a new category introduced to the awards this year and really, it seems like it was basically designed for Butch. Looking fly in red, the quirky DJ and producer took to the stage like a natural – probably not for the last time!
Electronic Live Performer – Stephan Bodzin For the second consecutive year, German artist Stepahn Bodzin was crowned the best in this category, thanks to wowing the public with his mega shows at Ushuaia and Afterlife this year.
House – Kerri Chandler What do you mean he’s never won this category before? The man who’s been dubbed the Stevie Wonder of house music (by his agents not by me!) was well and truly in line for this one. A standing ovation for the don.
International DJ – Carl Cox Oh I’m sorry – is anyone surprised here? Need I say more? Well, just one thing if I may – I thought Coxy was looking very fit and quite trim on the night. Looks like life is treating him well.
Melodic House & Techno – Maceo Plex Bless his cotton socks, the lovely Cuban-American DJ has proven this season that he’s certainly still got it (this is not his first time winning this award) and the general public voted him number one in this very specific category. My question is – why is it melodic house and techno, and not the other way around? (Fellow Zoolander fans will get it, apologies if you don’t.)
Newcomer – ONYVAA I feel I must ask the question here – what’s the difference between a newcomer and a breakthrough artist? While I’m all for more girls scooping the winners’ pool, I would love someone behind the scenes to explain the nuances of the categories. Either way, a big round of applause for the Cali-gone-Paris techno DJ.
Progressive House – Hernan Cattaneo This is a category where old school truly rules. I mean, Sasha, Digweed, Nick Warren, Hernan Cattaneo – they ARE progressive house and therefore must rotate winning this award year on year, although this was Cattaneo’s second consecutive Kryptonie win. In case anyone wants my musical opinion, I think if you listen closely to all the shaman/ethnic/desert house music of this season however, you’ll hear they are all rooted in prog. Long live the Argentinian king.
Tech House – Michael Bibi This is the category that I thought would always be hard to break into given the solid crew of old-timers still dominating the clubs, but London youngster Michael Bibi has done it. Congrats kiddo (ok, he’s not THAT young but you know, when your category peers are pushing 50, it’s a compliment!)
Techno – Charlotte de Witte Let’s hear it for the girls AGAIN! This was the first time a female DJ has ever been awarded this category, and after watching this Belgian DJ emerge from under the wing of all my fave techno greats in recent years, I couldn’t be more chuffed for her.
Trance – Aly & Fila They’ve been killing it at Eden’s SHINE this year by all accounts (I’m not a trance fan so have to take the general public’s word for it). I imagine the closing party tonight will be a double celebration for the Egyptian duo of Aly El Sayed Amr Fathalah and Fadi Wassef Naguib. Wonder how Armin’s feeling?
This next lot of awards are voted by the industry – perhaps less surprises here but equally as exciting.
Cutting Edge – Cercle Not a DJ, but a live streaming service that has had literally millions of views from some truly incredible locations all around the world. Well that’s it – I’m never leaving the house again.
Record Label of the Year – Hot Creations It wouldn’t be a DJ Awards if we didn’t see Jamie Jones and this year the DJ, producer and label boss score the award for his legendary label, Hot Creations.
Outstanding Contribution – Simon Dunmore I like the story behind this one – the lovely Mr Dunmore was apparently just in the audience to support his label and DJs, and was well and truly shocked to receive this amazing and well-deserved accolade. Awww bless.
Dance Nation – Israel There’s not doubt about this one – anyone who’s anyone is jetting to Israel of late, checking out the amazing music (and restaurant!) scene – the award was accepted by Shlomi Aber, one of the country’s biggest DJ exports.
Ibiza DJ – Francisco Allendes Aww, now this is one that makes me smile. I feel like I’ve been dancing to the Chilean DJs music for around a decade now (though my memory is fuzzy) – he still holds the record as one of my favourite mixes of all time (a very very old Cadenza podcast), so it’s wonderful to see him get the recognition he deserves – especially in a category that has been often dominated by Brits!
Ibiza Music Event – Cocoon 20: Kraftwerk 3D This was pretty much a shoe-in. I don’t even think they needed a vote. Just three days after hosting the legendary electronic group at Ushuaia in the torrential rain (which cleared just in time for the main act), Cocoon’s Johannes Goller graciously accepted the award.
Ibiza Night – Saga In the past, the DJ Awards had always been (ahem) rumoured to have some kind of nepotistic tendencies but 2019 was not the case. Saga – although, yes, it is held at HEART – has been one of the biggest events of the past few seasons and the Bedouin guys were very well deserved winners.
International Festival – Kappa Futur Festival While I rarely want to leave Ibiza, after seeing the footage and excitement surrounding this Turin based festival, I think it might be on my holiday list for next season…
Producer – Enrico Sangiuliano According to my musical friends in the know, this is another award that’s been a long time coming. Geeks, take note – all those hours holed up in a studio eventually pay off!
Track of the Season – Joys: Robert Surace This is reported to be the number one Shazammed song in Ibiza this summer but I can’t say I knew it by name. Considering the fact I still cling on to Villalobos’ minimal techno like it was 2005, I get the appeal even if (sorry Robert!) I do find it a tad repetitive. Fortunately for many of the artists who were awarded Kryptonite, I’m not on the industry voting panel, because we all know that I have ears for only one DJ… Luci, I missed you at the DJ Awards this year! Come back in 2020!