[YEAR END EXCLUSIVE] Chicago Producer DJs Pick Their Favorite Tracks of 2015

[YEAR END EXCLUSIVE] Chicago Producer DJs Pick Their Favorite Tracks of 2015

[YEAR END EXCLUSIVE] Chicago Producer DJs Pick Their Favorite Tracks of 2015

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Each year, the staff here at The Sights and Sounds draws upon some of Chicago’s top dance music artists with a challenge: look back, reflect, and make choices honoring the best new music that was released this year. The city commonly known as the “Birthplace of House Music” is bursting at its seams with prodigious talent, evidenced by the abundance of first-class production coming out of large and small studios alike. Dance floors are consistently packed with revelers throughout the city’s nationally-renowned club, nightlife, and festival scenes.

This year, we asked our friend, Chi-town beatmaker and dance floor curator Xonic, to reach out to those acts that our team identified as Chicago’s top Producer DJs, in order to recap and share their favorites. Along with their selections, most of the artists let us know why they made their choice as the top track of 2015. The Chicago dance community, and its legendary underground scene, are collectively and individually strong in health and knowledgeable in breadth going into the new year.

We are proud to present to you the great music that these dance floor curators and tastemakers believe is the cream of the crop from the last twelve months.

Artists are listed in alphabetical order.

AXILON

axilon

Members: Timothy “Skyler” Shores, Mike Parks (M.D.P)
2015 Highlights & Affiliations: Spring Awakening Music Festival, Life in Color, Trinium Events

TRACK OF THE YEAR:
NGHTMRE – Street (Original mix)

“The first time I heard this track was at Ultra Music Festival in Miami this year. Skrillex actually dropped this track and it was an ID track that got the crowd so pumped up. The choice to use large-sounding percussion drops along with the massive support for a relatively newer artist made this my choice for track of the year.”

HONORABLE MENTIONS:
Flosstradamus, GTA, Lil Jon – Prison Riot, Sir Mix-a-lot – I Like Big Butts (Axilon Remix), Hi Five, Xonic, Drake – No Pain, Skrillex & Diplo w. Justin Bieber – Where Are U Now, San Holo – We Rise

BENTLEY DEAN

bentley dean

Member: Alex Bentley-Dean
2015 Highlights & Affiliations: Hysteria (Remix Contest Winner), Zulu Records (Remix Contest Winner), Peak Hour Music, Three Dot House, North Coast

TRACK OF THE YEAR:
Zeds Dead x Megalodon – Wit Me Dub

“Sound design is the first thing I listen to in a song. That’s why songs like this, and tracks from artists like Snails stand out to me. Tracks like this show an understanding of sound design, and don’t just use the same ‘Massive’ patch, time after time.”

HONORABLE MENTIONS:
Kaskade – Disarm You (Galago Remix), Los Suruba – 3000 (Metodi Hristov Remix), Flow & Zeo – Spin It (Wehbba Remix), Oliver Giacomotto – Postgalactic

BISHARAT

bisharat

Member: Ricky Bisharat
2015 Highlights & Affiliations: Spring Awakening Music Festival, Mamby on the Beach, Freaky Deaky, Reaction NYE, Farris Wheel Recordings, The Pool House

TRACK OF THE YEAR:
Mene – Indigo

“Such a feel-good vibe to it. Always worked well with the dancefloor.”

HONORABLE MENTIONS:
Bisharat – Centi, Jordan Bernardo ft. Raj & Desi – Golden Monkey, Happyghost – Total, Mike Miraldi – Cosmos, Connections, Self Reflections

CASUAL DJS

casual djs

Members: Stephen Duey, Robert Bordignon
2015 Highlights & Affiliations: 4th of July Virgin Hotel, The Century Room, SpyBar, supported JACK LNDN, Manilla Killa

Robert’s Selections:
TRACK OF THE YEAR:
Louis the Child – It’s Strange

“The melody is beautifully simple. We couldn’t be more proud to be from the same city as these two.”

HONORABLE MENTION:
Augustii ft. Anthony Pavel – Sorry (Justin Bieber Cover / Remix), Tame Impala – Let It Happen, Escape – Just Escape ft. Daudi Matsiko (Justin Martin Remix), Hermitude -The Buzz, Bo Racha -Live Fast Or Die (Maths Time Joy Remix)

D2A

d2a

Member: Brian Rosin
2015 Highlights & Affiliations: “Vacant EP” reached No. 4 on Beatport Top 100 Progressive, Founded Giallo Musica

TRACK OF THE YEAR:
Weiss (UK) – Man Gone

“I found myself playing this one out a lot. With its soulful vocal samples and driving piano line, I could always count on it setting a nice mood to the room.”

HONORABLE MENTIONS:
D2A – Keep Moving, Purple Disco Machine & Boris Dlugosch – L.O.V.E., Gene Farris & Sonny Fodera – We Work It, Shadow Child & Ben Pearce – Nothing Ever Hurts

DANGERWAYNE

dangerwayne

Member: Eric Zingsheim
2015 Highlights & Affiliations: 101.1 FM Electric Playground Resident, support for Kaskade, Fedde Le Grand, Chris Lake, Dyro

TRACK OF THE YEAR:
Eric Prydz – Generate

“This was an easy choice for me. I’m a firm believer that personal opinions on songs are based on the experiences people have when they encounter them. I went on a trip to Vegas with some great friends in April, and this song quickly became the anthem of the weekend and thus etched itself into my brain as a feel-good, emotion-provoking memory capsule. Prydz dropped the track during his set at Spring Awakening in June and I remember getting full blown chills and goosebumps. I’ve found that songs driven by emotion are always more likely to stand the test of time, and I don’t see myself ever getting sick of this one.”

HONORABLE MENTIONS:
Dusky – Squeezer, Hayden James – Something About You, Go Freek & Dom Dolla – Define, Duke Dumont – Ocean Drive

DELAROSA

delarosa

Member: Augie De LaRosa
2015 Highlights & Affiliations: Giallo Musica, Phunk Junk Records, 418 Music, DJ of the Year Finalist at Chicago Nightlife Awards, Winter Music Conference, Reverse Events

TRACK OF THE YEAR:
D2A & Delarosa – Anonymous

“My track that I wrote and produced with D2A. This has a deep, techy groove, with those dark vocals that are perfect for those late night and afterhours sets.”

HONORABLE MENTIONS:
Harry Romero – Tribal Jazz, Technasia & Green Velvet – Suga, Hot Since 82 – Voices, Traumer – Hoodlum

INPHINITY

inphinity

Member: Garrett Birch
2015 Highlights & Affiliations: Spybar Resident, Burning Man, Spring Awakening Music Festival, Sound-bar

TRACK OF THE YEAR:
Kyle Watson – Watermelons (Abby Jane Remix)

“I can only assume the title was based off of its summer release date and warm vibes. I played this in all my sets and it was perfect to drop in the middle, out of nowhere. The feel-good melodies and the atmosphere still put a smile on my face.”

HONORABLE MENTIONS:
Flume – Some Minds, Aston Merrygold – Get Stupid (Chris Lake Remix), The Glitz – Friends, Billy Kenny – I Eat Beats (Ardalan Remix)

INTERMODAL

intermodal

Members: Mike McKenna, Marty McKenna
2015 Highlights & Affiliations: Perfect Driver Music, Audiophile XXL, Spybar, Sound-bar

TRACK OF THE YEAR:
219 Boys – Jack That

HONORABLE MENTIONS:
Doug English – Hood Life (Rrotik Remix), Kyle Watson – Hey Hey, Eyes Everywhere & Wood Holly – Snow Birds, Diamond Lights – My Everything 2015 (Taiku & Nulight Remix), Billy Kenny – I Eat Beats (Ardalan Remix)

JORDAN BERNARDO

JORDAN BERNARDO

Member: Jordan Bernardo
2015 Highlights & Affiliations: Spring Awakening, Mamby on the Beach, Freaky Deaky, The Pool House, Farris Wheel Recordings, & Plus Plus.

TRACK OF THE YEAR:
The Golden Monkey by: Jordan Bernardo ft. RAJ & Desi

HONORABLE MENTIONS:
Sharktooth – Over the Phone, Happyghost – Eyes in the Woods, Bisharat – Centi, Felix Sanchez & Mr. PJ – Monicon

JSQUARED

JSQUARED

Members: Josh Ramos, Josh Ravesloot
2015 Highlights & Affiliations: North Coast, The Elevated Tour, The Trap House

TRACK OF THE YEAR:
Eptic – The End (Carnage x Breaux Remix)

“We think it is the overall song of the year, because when you hear the drop, it will turn the party from zero to a hundred real quick. It’s a little overplayed, but definitely a crowd turner-upper.”

HONORABLE MENTIONS:
Yogi ft. Pusha T – Burial, Herobust – Dirty Work, Ab the Thief – Everything, Hucci – Montana, Bro Safari x Boombox Cartel – Flip, Jauz – Feel the Volume, Flosstradamus & Nghtmre – Lighters Up, Party Theives – Chief, Jsquared Ft. 2KDrae & Yoson Tala -We Turnt

KINGS OF CLASS

kings of class

Members: Erik Johnson (Tsunami), Bobby Demaria
2015 Highlights & Affiliations: North Coast Music Festival, Hatrax Records, Afterlife, House Music Saved My Life

TRACK OF THE YEAR:
Sugarstarr ft. Alexander – Hey Sunshine (Antonio Giacca Remix)

“We chose this overall, simply because it was huge this year. Regardless of where you were, or what kind of DJ you were listening to, this track always seemed to find its way into everyone’s sets. It has such a straightforward and infections groove that it was almost impossible to go out without hearing it. It is equally impossible to not dance to it.”

HONORABLE MENTIONS:
NVOY – All Night, Nero – Two Minds (Nero ‘92 Minds Remix), Cassian – Takeover, Kings of Class – Event Horizon, Kings of Class – Nightshade

LIGHT.EM.UP

LIGHT.EM.UP

Members: Johnathon Gust (Zebo), Colin Rebey (PHNM)
2015 Highlights & Affiliations: Spring Awakening Music Festival, Lollapalooza, Reaction NYE

PHNM’s Selections:
TRACK OF THE YEAR:
The Weeknd – The Hills

“So much raw emotion. Mano did a great job producing this track. It has all the changes I want to hear musically. It’s just a perfect track. I was one of the first people to break this record in Chicago, so it was fun to watch the progression from unknown [song], to people asking me what it was, to hearing it everywhere on the radio, to seeing it live.”

HONORABLE MENTIONS:
Duke Dumont – Ocean Drive, Fetty Wap – RGF Island

LOUIS THE CHILD

louis the child

Members: Robby Hauldron, Freddy Kennett
2015 Highlights & Affiliations: Spring Awakening Music Festival, Mamby on the Beach, “It’s Strange” Tour spanning 23 cities over four months

Robby’s Selections:
TRACK OF THE YEAR:
Hayden James – Something About You

“I had heard this song in a ton of mixes and clubs, and loved it, but never knew what it was called. Eventually, I found it on Soundcloud and probably played it close to one hundred times over the rest of the day. Easily one of the catchiest and coolest songs of the year.”

HONORABLE MENTIONS:
Jamie xx – Loud Places, Tame Impala – Reality in Motion, Jess Glynne – Hold My Hand (Valy Mo Remix), Drake – Legend

MIKUL WING (AUTOGRAF)

mikul wing

Member: Autograf, Midnight Conspiracy
2015 Highlights & Affiliations: Electric Forest, Mamby on the Beach, Reaction NYE, Autograf named #1 up-and-coming artist to watch in 2016 by DJ Mag

TRACK OF THE YEAR:
Autograf – Dream

“The most meaningful track to me this year was our first original track as Autograf. “Dream” represented our dream to do this full-time. Being able to pursue this group has meant a ton to me, and since the track’s release it has been played over six million times, and most recently it was used in the feature film “Burnt’ starring Bradley Cooper.”

HONORABLE MENTIONS:
The Weeknd – Can’t Feel My Face, Jamie xx – I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times), Bob Moses – Tearing Me Up

PHIL RIZZO

PHIL RIZZO

2015 Highlights & Affiliations: Zulu Records, Pinkstar Records, Primary Night Club

TRACK OF THE YEAR:
Juliet Fox – Can’t Sleep (Toolroom Records)

HONORABLE MENTIONS:
Sweat – Sailor and I (DJ Tennis + Margot Remix), Anthony Attalla – Sur

SERVANTE

SERVANTE

Members: Steve Gerard, Rick Carrico (Hexes)
2015 Highlights & Affiliations: Mamby on the Beach, North Coast, Freaky Deaky, Reaction NYE, Farris Wheel Recordings

Steve’s Selections:
TRACK OF THE YEAR:
Blancah – Vulture Dance

HONORABLE MENTIONS:
Radiohead – Everything in its Right Place (DJ Tennis Radiospread Remix), Several Definitions – Extasia, HVOB – Azreal, Yokto – Unagitated Love Affair

SMIIRK

SMIIRK

Member: Avery Delgado
2015 Highlights & Affiliations: North Coast, Dancefestopia (DJ Contest Winner), Backwoods, DayTrip, Spring Fever, Miami Music Week (Robbie Rivera DJ Contest Winner)

TRACK OF THE YEAR:
Galantis – Gold Dust

“I think this song truly represents the beauty of our generation electronically; it’s very emotional and not only has great meaning, but also the sweetest sound to it that will forever stick with you. Truly a majestic song. Music is life. Thats why our hearts have beats.”

HONORABLE MENTIONS:
Jordan Andrew – Mayday, TYuS – City Of The Rose (Wheathin Remix), NOAHPLAUSE – Runnin’ (Ray Volpe Remix), Said The Sky -Darling (Ft. Missio)

WIN & WOO

WIN & WOO

Members: Austin Gahsen, Nick Winholt
2015 Highlights & Affiliations: House of Blues, Spinnin’ Records, United Talent Agency

TRACK OF THE YEAR:
Sam Feldt – Show Me Love (EDX ‘Indian Summer’ Remix)

“It’s just perfection.”

HONORABLE MENTIONS:
Calvin Harris – How Deep Is Your Love (Original and Remixes), Kaskade – Disarm You, Dada Life – One Last Night On Earth (Speaker of the House Remix), Big Wild – Aftergold, Kiso Armic – Shades of Grey (Kiso x Win & Woo Remix)

XONIC

XONIC

Member: Jeff Roehl
2015 Highlights & Affiliations: Spring Awakening Music Festival, North Coast, Freaky Deaky, supported Kaskade, Oliver Heldens, M Machine, Steve Aoki, Cedric Gervais

TRACK OF THE YEAR:
Hi Five & Xonic X Drake – No Pain

“I chose this track that I co-produced, only because I wanted to recognize and acknowledge the talent of my collaborator on the track, Hi Five. He designed a nasty bassline to go along with a chopped and sampled Drake line from “Over,” (‘One thing ‘bout music, when it hits you feel no pain’), a sample idea that I had wanted to use in a track for a long time. Over a few sessions, the tune came together nicely and ever since, it consistently gets great reactions on almost any dance floor. It’s definitely the release I’m most proud of being a part of in my career thus far.”

HONORABLE MENTIONS:
Autograf – Dream, My Digital Enemy – Shamen (Bentley Dean Remix), Servante – Mr. Bliss, Gregori Klosman – Red Lights, A-Trak ft. Jamie Lidell – We All Fall Down (CID Remix)

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Kris What's up, readers? Kris Kish here - Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Sights and Sounds. Been doing this music writing thing for 7+ years and loving every opportunity it's brought along. Shoot me an email if you have any suggestions for the website, comments, or if you just want to chat. Cheers!