EDM.com proudly publishes four installments of annual year-end coverage: Industry Leaders, Performances, Music Producers and Songs.
DJing and music production are different. But the difference between the two is like a wallflower—it hides in plain sight, and it's vastly misunderstood.
Publishing a "Top DJ" list would undermine the originality, ingenuity and dauntless imagination of the artists who dedicate their lives to music production. To honor their fearless creativity and profound dedication to their craft, we've recognized 10 of the best electronic music producers of 2022.
Hardwell’s long-awaited return from a multi-year hiatus was anything but conventional.
Rather than stay the course and fan the fumes of big room house nostalgia, the Dutch superstar ventured into uncharted territory and made perhaps the boldest bet of the year. Ironically, in Hardwell’s mind, his ambitious new approach was the one most personal to him.
Having signed his first record deal at just 13, Hardwell was inspired by the sounds of the underground he grew up with in his teenage years, and sought a return to that era via the advent of his new mainstage techno sound. His rapturous comeback album, REBELS NEVER DIE, was the comprehensive exploration of what that sound has to offer and helped spur a broader trend towards a cozier embrace of techno in its wake.
Listening to Ninajirachi's sublime, intricate music, it's tough to believe she's only 23.
2022 saw the release of her debut mixtape, an undeniable breakout record for the Australian prodigy. Second Nature is both haunting and effervescent, a dazzling display of her ability to glide on the wings of distorted bass and weave between trap, indie and hyperpop.
The release also came with a phantasmagoric virtual world, which paints a picture of a producer whose artistic vision extends far beyond her masterful studio chops. Calling to mind the work of the late SOPHIE, Ninajirachi's unapologetic approach to production and songwriting is emblematic of a disruptor with plans to nuke the status quo of electronic music.
After years of questioning how to present himself as a music producer, Andrew Bayer finally quelled his inner saboteur in 2022 with the release of Duality. Presented as an answer to Bayer’s deep-seated struggles, the two-part album demonstrates that his varied productions can coexist simultaneously under the same roof.
Disc 1 focuses on brooding indie-pop and downtempo productions, while Disc 2 shifts gears into the progressive trance lane. Being openly gay, Bayer invited a number of LGBTQ+ collaborators to participate in the album as well. He spent most of 2022 touring Duality, perhaps most notably with a high-profile appearance at Above & Beyond's momentous Group Therapy 500 celebration in Los Angeles.
"They say love is love is the message that lives in my core. I dance for love. I work for love. I am love," commands the first track on Honey Dijon's scintillating sophomore album, Black Girl Magic. Dedicated to self-acceptance and respect, Dijon said in a press release, the 15-track album is significant in its sparkle—a kind of consistent rhythm and groove that comes only with seasoned skill and clear-eyed vision.
Not to mention Dijon’s influential production work on Beyoncé’s house music-inspired album, Renaissance, for which she stands to nab a Grammy Award should it win in the category of Best Dance/Electronic Album early next year.
Those outside the bass music fandom often roll their eyes and dismiss some of the heavier releases in the genre as nothing more than loud noises and hollow bass drops. SVDDEN DEATH is one of the innovators shifting that perception.
Curating a sumptuously dark fantasy aesthetic, SVDDEN DEATH and his alter ego, VOYD, managed to introduce conceptual nuances without compromising the ferocious production that took his music to new heights in 2022. He decimated the bass music community with his monumental debut album, VOYD II, which incorporates theatrical interludes to tell a gripping, dystopian fairytale.
SVDDEN DEATH’s tireless work ethic and artistic vision landed him on the world's biggest festival stages in 2022. And after a banner year, he’s firmly entrenched at the vanguard of electronic music.
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G Jones has always been revered as an elite music production mind, but the bass music virtuoso made quite a statement in 2022.
He released the ineffable Acid Disk 2, a collaborative EP with partner-in-crime Eprom, before following up with another tribute to the maiden days of the rave with their stunning "Disk Doctors" mix. Jones also released a slew of jaw-dropping singles, including the haunting "Say What," a monster collaboration with Class of 2022 star ISOxo.
Then came Illusory Tracks, a stupefying EP comprising six of the most brilliant and elaborate bass records you'll ever hear—at least until his next release. With a rare combination of imaginative sound design and fearless creativity, it’s safe to say that G Jones the gold standard of bass music.
With this year's release of his first full-length album in a decade—his first-ever live album—now under his belt, techno legend Carl Cox has taken the genre to a new level with nearly two hours of new music inspired by the one lingering question he has after four decades of dominance: where do we go from here?
From the otherworldly sound design of “Deep Space X” to the broiling, old-school intensity of “World Gone Mad,” Electronic Generations triumphantly ushered in a new chapter for Cox like never before.. As he recently proclaimed in an intimate interview with EDM.com, "I’m not DJ Carl Cox anymore. I'm Carl Cox, the artist. And this album is only the beginning of what I do next."
Brazil is a hotbed of electronic music talent where a new wave of hungry producers is influencing the house music genre on a global scale. And Carola is leading the charge after a big year.
Her gritty club track, "Welcome to the Future," is a fitting metaphor for the sizzling career of this formidable DJ and producer. That track, which dropped in a joint release between Tomorrowland Music and Martin Garrix's STMPD RCRDS, was one of a number of high-profile releases in 2022 for Carola. She also released a handful of huge house records on Armin van Buuren's renowned Armada imprint, like the sultry Latin slow-burner "Luchadora."
One of Brazil's most promising dance music exports, Carola marches into 2023 red-hot—and she's on the precipice of a meteoric rise.
Sam Gellaitry never fails to innovate.
Following last year's Escapism series—a triptych of stunning EPs—and his debut instrumental album, the visionary Scottish producer signed to Parlophone and reinvented himself as a formidable singer-songwriter. Making music with a renewed sense of verve and artistic identity, Gellaitry in 2022 unveiled his first full-length project under his new direction, VF VOL II.
The innovative VF VOL II release saw Gellaitry flesh out his vibrant, playful and mesmeric style in ways fans have never before heard. This year also saw the pioneering artist collaborate with viral sensation PinkPantheress (“Picture in my mind") and perform a rare impromptu DJ set alongside none other than Skrillex in Edinburgh.
Fred again..’s success in 2022 was undeniable, and the creative approach by which he arrived at the forefront quickly became the cynosure of all eyes in the music industry.
Transforming samples from his everyday life into visceral beats, Fred's genre-bending sound is akin to controlled chaos. His artistic image—from his album covers to his breezy exuberance—are a candid portrayal of the unfiltered life of a touring artist, frequently presented without the frills and facade that come from a life of fame.
2022's Actual Life 3 album best highlights his raw authenticity. It’s a long-form project that seeks to bring electronic music back to an era of simplicity without compromising on quality. Like a mosaic of life’s memorable, heartwarming and emotionally impactful moments, AL3 will likely stand the test of time as a tour de force.