5 Chicago DJ’s to look out for in 2016

Chicago is at a very interesting crossroads from a style perspective. Although it is the birthplace of House music, most of our founding fathers have sought asylum in Berlin, where that distinctive Chicago House sound has found a larger audience. This, combined with years of migrating of musicians moving to Chicago from Detroit has certainly had its impact on the sound that you might find both in the clubs and underground of the Windy City. While that soulful, disco-fueled goodness that gave Chicago its name has been relegated to Smartbar and the occasional visit from Paul Johnson or Derrick Carter; Chicago has found itself to be a breeding ground of a deeper, darker, and techier side.

The influence of our neighbor, Detroit, has made its presence especially known in the warehouses and afterhours parties where most of us get our start. Speaking of getting a start; in 2015, anyone can become a DJ. The advent of controllers, sync buttons, and key identification software has certainly lowered the technical bar required to get gigs. With that said, there are DJ’s and then there are the ones who stand out. This article is about those in the latter camp. The 5 DJ’s below are people who have had an especially good 2015. Some of the people mentioned here aren’t new to the scene. Twitchin’ Skratch, for example, has been a household name for as long as I’ve been listening to electronic music. If their current trends continue, I think they will blow up in 2016.

5. Zooey Glass

Zooey Glass has pleased audiences in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Portland with cinematic mixes that tell a story through an eclectic blend of vocal samples, deep emotive house, and soulful driving techno. In 2015, he’s had the honor of playing an all-night set at the opening party for Techweek, Los Angeles on the Santa Monica Pier, the Snowball benefit in Chicago’s Union Station and a recent headlining gig at Manifest 01, held in the Round Room at Sound-Bar. His favorite experience of the year was a private rooftop party this summer in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. The rooftop had a view of the entire Chicago skyline where he had the opportunity to play for an intimate crowd in his home town.

Zooey is preparing to release his first EP of original tracks so look out for it in 2016.

4. Dogma

Dan Kelly, aka Dogma has risen from practical obscurity in 2014, to regularly headlining Traphouse events as well as the Round Room at Sound-Bar and Century Room at TheMID. To say that he’s gone from zero to hero would be an understatement, with tour destinations including Veld Music Festival afterparties in Toroto, ON, Large BQ in Cleveland, OH, and touring alongside Bear Grillz in Chicago and Indiana.

I’ve been forbidden to talk about it, but he has some exciting gigs to close out this year and into the next. Look out for his upcoming feature on OTB soon!

Update 12/1/2015 6:00 PM:Dogma will be opening for Cosmic Gate at TheMID in Chicago on Saturday, December 26.

3. Twitchin Skratch

Twitch is certainly an established Chicago mainstay so it’s tough to exactly call him an up and comer, however 2015 has been a particularly good year for him. While he hasn’t done much in the way of touring this year, Twitch has absolutely destroyed the underground with his distinctive techno and tech-house sound. If you’re staying out past 5am, it’s damn near impossible to not run into him. One thing I really enjoy about his presence is that he actually stays and parties before and after his sets. I’ve had the pleasure of opening for him at Tech(no11) and I can personally say that it’s never a dull moment around him. At Reverse Events‘ Tech(no) parties, he’s played alongside Daniele Petronelli, Gaty Lopez, Sasha Carassi.

The highlight of his year was probably closing for Justin James at Primary. During the set, he started right off scratching (a rare novelty these days) and right away, Justin was hitting effects and up-faders while Twitch did his thing. Another notable accomplishment is his weekly mix for Electric Playground. If you haven’t listened to any of his shows, check them out here.

2. Dabura

I had the honor of spending the weekend with Detroit native, Dabura, in Austin, TX for a Halloween party. He opened for a boat party that I headlined, then we raced off to the next gig where he headlined in front of a sold out crowd on Slate’s rooftop. His presence behind the decks can only be described as impressive. Austin doesn’t have the same underground sound that Chicago does, and to say that nobody saw him coming would be an understatement. About 20 minutes into his set, people were abandoning the hip hop room downstairs to watch him blow their minds. I’ll never forget attempting to run downstairs to grab drinks where the lines were shorter, only to abandon my efforts for fear of not being able to get back upstairs. This was in spite of technical difficulties that included a blown out CDJ, forcing all of us to play on an unfamiliar controller setup.

Other notable highlights of 2015 include playing Transmit Tuesdays at Spybar with Paul Johnson, and His & Hers at Social Lubricant (Miami). Look out for his set at Celeste in Chicago on December 16 and a new track that he’s producing to be released in 2016 (preview below):

Dabura – ID

1. Dustin Sheridan

Spybar Resident, Dustin Sheridan, has been around for quite some time; however 2015 has had some serious peaks for him. While he’s played various sets at Burning Man over the past 5 years, this year he played several notable parties including DISTRIKT and a 2 hour tag set at Trufucta with fellow Spybar Resident Inphinity. He played the Crypt Stage at Freaky Deaky alongside Dubfire, Richie Hawtin, Pete Tong, Joris Voorn, Justin Martin, Gene Farris, and The PoolHouse. Other notable accomplishments in 2015 include playing with Gene Farris at Spring Awakening, Mamby on the Beach, and Soundbar.

Catch Dustin in the following upcoming events:

  • Dec.6 @ Monroe (San Fransisco,CA)
  • Dec.11 @ Primary (w/ Benoit & Sergio)
  • Dec.26 @ Spybar (w/ Inphinity)
  • NYE @ BassLine/RIFF (w/ Cocodrills)
  • Jan.9 @ CocoMaya Beach (BPM,Mexico)

I write code. I spin records. Mostly deep house and techno records. I stay up late. Find me at the shows.
- 13 hours ago
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