10 Club DJs That Will Spin Your Rave Into A Frenzy

Words: James Keith

First thing's first: this is not a definitive list of anything. This is a list (in no particular order) of ten of our favourite club DJs in the UK right now. We've tried to keep the focus on those who aren't too established yet but are creating a stir in their respective scenes. Besides that, our only real aim was to pick DJs and selectors who aren't just insanely talented, but also those who are doing something truly new and exciting. Whether it's Sherelle finding the sweet spot between footwork and grime, Chimpo flipping the D&B world on its head, or Manara seamlessly blending Eastern and Western cultures—whatever 'it' is, all of these DJs have it in spades.

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As with everyone on this list, London-born DJ Sherelle has a knack for making connections and seeing what the rest of us miss. Take the below clip, for example. Much has been made in the past few years about the crossover potential between footwork and jungle, but it was Sherelle to take that one step further by getting a jungle-influenced MC to ride a series of footwork riddims. Once heard, it seems obvious, but only Sherelle spotted it.

There's much more to Chimpo than the mix and blend. Both as a solo adventurer and a member of LEVELZ, Chimpo is a rapper, producer, DJ and probably master of several more disciplines. Manchester hasn't struggled for recognition in the music world for a long time now—for reasons that stretch back as far as the history of popular music—and the latest reason to give Manny props is Chimpo and his expansive LEVELZ crew. Like all good selectors, the trick with Chimpo is to expect the unexpected. Hip-hop, grime, drum & bass, bassline, jungle... nothing's really off the table and all can be pulled together seamlessly by the onesie-sporting selector.

It's official: A.G. is one of the most skilled DJs to ever grace grime. If you caught her at our recent ChockABlock event, you'll remember exactly how wild she sent the crowd with her selection of hard-hitting riddims and R&G refixes. Alongside her residency on Rinse FM with The Grime Show, she also co-hosts the Beauty Blender show with Manara on NTS. This woman's star is on the rise.

One of several on this list who splits their time between producing and DJing, Grandmixxer recently founded the very excellent South London Space Agency, birthing a stand-out eponymous single and the promise of plenty more to come. Often seen alongside frequent collaborators Mez and YGG (both in studio and as rave MCs), Grandmixxer takes the lessons learned and the foundations laid by the old school and propels them into the bleeding edge of club music. Somehow, he manages to do this without repeating what came before whilst staying true to the scene's roots.

The person who basically inspired this piece; if you caught Manara's now-legendary Boiler Room appearance, you'll know exactly what we're talking about. The whole set (below) is absolutely mandatory listening, but if you're on a deadline skip to the 26-minute mark for arguably the greatest blend of all time. To give you some background, Manara is also one half of the Beauty Blends show (alongside A.G.) as well as being an integral part of the genre-defying, club-killing BBC AZN Network. To say her selections are inspired doesn't even begin to come close.

A champion of the darker side of jungle and D&B, Nuvaman has been killing it for a little while now. His Circular Jaw label should be an essential stopping point in your hunt for your new rave cuts. And, despite exploring that darkness, he's about as far from poe-faced pretension as it's possible to get. You won't catch Nuva staring downcast at his shoes or running his fingers through his hair in that "oh, I didn't realise you were taking my photo. I'm so self-conscious" sort of way. Instead, spot him at the rave, grinning ear from ear and whipping the crowd into a self-destructive frenzy.

Another rave maestro spitting in the face of poe-faced misery is Melé. Regardless of the timeslot or setting, Melé can always be seen raving for his life behind the decks. His output, both as DJ and producer, is predominantly house and always bouncy. Like any DJ worth their salt, Melé's personality can be heard in every tune selection, every blend and every drop. Crucially, particularly for a house DJ, he's never been about elitism. Instead, his sets are about bringing people together and introducing them to sounds they might never have heard. Even if someone claims not to be that into house music, you can guarantee they've cut a couple of shapes to Melé.

Bristol selector Lucy Helyer has been creating a respectable buzz for a year or two now, both in her hometown and in our smog-ridden capital. Though she's most closely linked to the grime scene, regularly appearing on deck for radio clashes and club sets, L U C Y's influences and her output stretch far beyond that. Of course, the famous 'Bristol sound' can be heard in her music, but to that she's also added classic hip-hop tropes, jazzy flourishes, soul, R&B, bass music, breaks and more (take a listen to her Locations EP to see what we mean). If there was one thing that tied it all together, it would have to be the very vague title of UK underground, and that rawness can be heard in every production and every DJ set.

A regular fixture at Balamii and pretty much all your favourite clubs (what few still remain), Shy One never does the same thing twice. Her sets are always filled with those head-turning, what was that? moments. Despite being insanely well-versed on her music, there's an approachability with Shy One's sets that puts you at ease and draws you in. One of the other things that typifies a Shy One mix is the warmth and colour she injects into it, often via a heavy dose of jazz and soul in with the hip-hop, house and electronica.

As a DJ, producer and boss of Rah Boy Music, DJ P Montana is invaluable. Even those with only the most casual interest in Afrobeats, 'Afrowave' and so on will know P Montana. Besides having "the ear", DJ P Montana is the king of scouring the underground, sifting through countless releases, and finding the one hit that will smash the charts and convert new fans. Few in this world can challenge his encyclopaedic knowledge, and his DJ sets—which often also feature hip-hop, R&B and more besides the Afro sound—take that endless well of knowledge and translate it into pure dancefloor energy.

Photo credits: Olga Maksimovica (Sherelle), Courtney Francis (Grandmixxer), Rob Hawkins (Nuvaman), Charlotte Farmery (L U C Y), Hyperfrank (P Montana)


Posted on September 19, 2018