The 25 Producers Who Defined The Year 2023

today14/12/2023 10

share close

The creators who brought joy to dancefloors and kept the evolutionary wheels of dance music turning

  • Words: Patrick Hinton, Megan Townsend, Gemma Ross, Becky Buckle, Tibor Heskett | Design: Keenen Sutherland, Tomi Tomchenko
  • 14 December 2023

We’ve saluted our DJs and Breakthrough DJs of the year, and now it’s time for the backbone of the scene: producers. Where would dance music be without the creators that keep the evolutionary wheels of its umbrella sounds spinning, and the crates of vinyl and USBs well stocked with bangers. In the list below, we give flowers to our top 25 producers of the year (in alphabetical order).

Credit: Ireoluwa Osagie


Andre Vibez

Kicking off the year by securing an RIAA Platinum certification for his production work on Rema’s viral sensation ‘Calm Down’, Andre Vibez is a driving force behind Afrobeats’ global domination. He’s a GRAMMY-nominated producer and prolific name in the game. Growing up in Benin City, Nigeria, Andre was surrounded by musical influences such as his father Sir Victor Uwaifo – a popular Nigerian musician – as well as his childhood friends and now musical stars Rema and Alpha P. Being so deeply rooted into the culture, it’s no wonder that he’s everyone’s go-to Afrobeat producer, with his catchy riff creation helping bring the genre through to the next generation. This year we saw him drop the ‘Calm Down’ remix featuring pop sensation Selena Gomez, ‘How Many Times’ for DJ Big N, ‘Chop Time, No Friend’ for Mr. Eazi, and several tracks for Crayon. On top of his worldwide production, Andre launched his event series The Vibezzz Party in the heart of Lagos. The free event allows Andre to shine a light on up-and-coming local talent and provide a space for an Afrobeat community to grow.

Credit: Karla Del Orbe

After DJing for a decade and become one the best-loved selecotrs in New York where she’s now based, Ayesha’s recent jump into production has only proven her sonic palette even more effervescent. With the release of her debut album ‘Rhythm Is Memory’ on Ma Sha’s Kindergarten Records earlier this year – entirely written, produced, and mixed by Ayesha – the Brooklyn multihyphenate is stacking up the skills in her artistic arsenal. ‘Rhythm Is Memory’ is a captivating release, and comes complete with 10 tracks marking each year of her career so far, exploring drum-led club and bass music with inflections of South Asian percussion, all hinting at the “sonic direction” she hopes to reach into next year and tipping her off as one of the most inspiring new producers of late.



BADSISTA is revered for shelling blistering club heaters behind the decks, and their productions are equally as hot. The Brazilian artists’ releases this year included a four-track EP of baile funk bangers made to play at Rio de Janeiro Carnival in February, and a selection of hot and heavy club tracks for release on TraTraTrax, ‘GUETO CLUB’, a five-track record doused in influence from the sound of Brazil. The EP also landed a few remixes – one from kuduro specialist DJ Marfox, the second from UK techno innovator Batu – making for an all-timer release on the Colombian label and paving the way for the new sound of Brazil club music.

Credit: Henry Gorse


Barry Can’t Swim

The Edinburgh-born, London-based Barry Can’t Swim has erupted into the limelight in 2023. After building up a huge following in the past few years, his debut album has caused a commotion with rocketing ticket sales to hear it live. Blending the genres of jazz, dance and house, Barry’s album ‘When Will We Land?’ is more relaxed than his electrifying DJ sets and showcases a more emotional side to the artist. Tracks such as ‘Always Get Through To You’ saw Barry record and conduct a choir to achieve the perfect sound he was going for, and it even made it onto the EA Sports FC 2024 official soundtrack. On top of this, ‘Deadbeat Gospel’ contrasts atmospheric harmonies and a distorted phone recording of poet somedeadbeat, who happens to be a friend from university. Not only has Barry smashed his first album but he has also revealed a more sensitive side to himself with a knack for production that’s connecting to audiences far and wide.

We’ve all been going through something of a speedy g renaissance in the last few years, so it’s no surprise that DJs and music fans alike have begun digging through the archive of the undisputed Queen of Bassline herself, Big Ang. With her ridiculously rich catalogue of wobbly basslines and straight-in-the-feelings piano bangers being rinsed by Job Jobse, Chrissy, Jaguar, Interplanetary Criminal, she’s even responsible for some of those massive stream moments — with her track setting all gun fingers a-blaze at Conducta’s Lab LDN appearance, while her Akon ‘Locked Up’ bootleg started a veritable frenzy during Eliza Rose’s Boiler Room at AVA festival. This year crowds have heard primo Big Ang slammers everywhere from Glastonbury to Dekmantel, Ibiza to Sheffield, The Warehouse Project to Corsica Studios; all would be enough to surmise that the First Lady of Niche is finally getting her flowers – but, Ang is never one to put her feet up and enjoy her moment in the limelight. Instead, she’s continuing to captivate the music world with a string of bounce-inclined riddims, dropping remixes for the likes of Driia, Bella Dee, L’Adila, Eliza Rose and even Borai and Denham Audio’s big summer slammer ‘Make Me’ – reaching listeners on BBC Radio 1, Kiss FM and NTS with equal impact. We predicted in January, that our dancefloors were going to get bigger and Ang-ier than ever, and we couldn’t be happier that we were right. Big Ang Forever!

Credit: Danny Voicu

Ciel has blown us away with the levels she’s hit as a producer this year. The crowning moment has been her debut album ‘Homesick’, a really special record that not only sounds stunning but made us feel things about the power of music and what it can represent. You can tell the Toronto-based artist poured herself into its creation. The introductory text revealed a personal and vulnerable backstory, including her self-image as “DJ first, producer second” who never thought she’d find the confidence to record an album, until lockdown and some government arts funding gave her the opportunity to hone the craft. While that represented a positive aspect to the pandemic, Ciel was also making it in the environment of intensifying Sinophobia against Asian people and her country of birth China. On the album she uses the eight types of traditional Chinese instrument as a framework with traditional Chinese players hired to contribute, merging this with the clubbier sounds that pepper her blistering DJ sets. The effect is creating something sonically idiosyncratic but with a universal appeal — we defy anyone to not enjoy a track like closer ‘Silk’, a beautiful blend of hypnotising textures grounded in delightfully warm bassweight. The album marked a way for Ciel to not only connect to her identity, but rebel against ignorant hate and flip the sadness and anger it provoked into something joyful and celebratory. Lots of producers made ‘pandemic records’, but the nuances to ‘Homesick’ feels like it captures a moment in time with all the pros, cons, self-reflection and self-evolution better than any.

Three other releases landed across the past 12 months, including a ravey nine-track anthology release that was the inspiration for Eris Drew to launch her Ecstatic Editions label. “[Ciel’s] work was the impetus for the label because many of her amazing productions, collaborations and remixes have never been pressed to vinyl,” explained Eris. Ciel remains a first-rate DJ, but she should be assured that her producing is by no means second-rate to that.

Credit: Yassine Meddeb Hamrouni


Deena Abdelwahed

Renowned for her ability to weave elements of traditional Arabic music into modern, club-facing production, Deena Abdelwahed’s stripes as one of electronic’s most exciting producers have long been assured. However, upon first listen of ‘Jbal Rrsas’ (Mountain of Lead) – released in September – it was clear this Tunis bass and techno maestro had entered the next phase in her mission to transform our understanding of sounds from the Arab world, carefully interpolating percussive and vocal elements into a tapestry that doesn’t so much as mimic well-worn dance genres – such as footwork or electro- but tear them down and build them back up again. Deena has played with the idea of her music existing to connect young people from the Arab world since 2018, wanting to inspire decolonisation through rediscovering their identity within a modern context — so in a year where so many artists from the MENA region have found their footing in connecting electronic with the sounds of their youth, it feels like she has achieved just that.

Credit: Nicolas Strabulsi


DJ Babatr

The raptor house pioneer DJ Babatr has been at the forefront of the Venezuelan genre for over 20 years but this year has been one his strongest both in terms of output and recognition. The international experimental dance music community has clocked onto Pedro Elías Corro’s immense talent, earning him stages at some of the pantheons of the scene like Tresor, Panorama Bar and Unsound, but it is through his unrelenting productions that he has truly shone in 2023. Last year ended strongly with the lauded TraTraTrax EP where the raptor house legend teamed up with Nick Léon for the irresistible ‘Xtasis’, remixed by Pearson Sound, but this year Corro has doubled down and delivered an extensive, and free, raptor house free compilation December 2023, the huge L‘as Lomas / Fuma Con Los Panas + Remixes’ compilation which combined DJ Babatr’s productions with flips from BADSISTA, Florentino, Kode9, Logos, quest?onmarq, Regal86 and more, plus the luscious ‘Tripe (Baila)’ EP which compiles Corro’s productions from 2001-2005, including collaborations with DJ Lemad and a Nick Léon remix. On top of that, DJ Babatr released the psychedelic ‘Let’s Dance (electric sensation)’ which portrays raptor house at its most enchanting, and the outrageous ‘Sex and Groove’ track that he released as a double single with DJ Deep RH’s ‘Virus’ in the summer. As you can tell, Babatr’s list of incredible releases this year goes on and on, a reflection of his enduring artistry and work ethic, but top of the list is ‘Mk3tref’, his iconic linkup with fellow Venezuelan Arca for a dancefloor destroyer that tore up clubs and took over Bandcamp with its piano stabs, vocal chops and rolling percussion. The guy doesn’t miss.

Credit: Tim Buiting

Minted in 1998, DJ Bone’s Subject Detroit is one of the defining labels of 21st century techno, designed to rep techno that honours the innovation, soul and politically-motivated energy that’s intrinsic to the sound, as its manifesto laid out. While there’s been releases from peers, Juan Atkins for example, it’s generally been a showcase for DJ Bone and a catalogue that confirms him as one of the best. This year he called time on the influential imprint after 25 years, but not before blessing it with one final release: the 12-track album ‘Further’, which affirmed that in the label’s fourth and final decade of existence (if we’re talking eras). the MO of sounding like the future remains intact. It’s a sleek yet unconventional record, that dispels any idea that the OGs of this sound are gatekeepers, fully embracing artistic evolution with unpredictable production flourishes melded into the timeless framework. Since that landmark release his next era has already launched, with the FURTHER label ready to showcase a harder and more transcendent sound. As with Subject Detroit, it’s also being run as a non-profit with all proceeds donated to help homeless people. DJ Bone is one of the kindest, purest souls in dance music, and his music is also out-of-this-world good. What more could you want.

Credit: Wayne Campbell

When it comes to UK club music innovation, arguably the most significant developments are happening in the sphere of Afro house. A variety of linked but distinct styles are developing, merging influence from the peerless South African scene with a wider melting pot of global club sounds and the UK’s own distinct takes on these genres. DJ IC only represents one strand of that umbrella, but the year he’s had has been something to behold. He’s put out numerous releases, pushing a UK spin on spiritual Afro house and amapiano that underscores why the globe-conquering sounds will not be falling off anytime soon. He also showed a more intimate side to himself, bringing forth his most introspective and personal offering yet with ‘My Story’. DJ IC’s work as a curator has also been impactful, with his All Shades Of The Drum label and radio show platforming all the essential sounds and selectors you need to hear.

Credit: SUCIA!


DJ Manny

House music has many evolutions and footwork, which has been developing since the late ‘90s, is among its most potent. This year marked 10 years since ‘Double Cup’, the DJ Rashad album that felt like a tectonic shift in music. A perfect album which was duly awarded a 10/10 in the pages of Mixmag, his untimely passing not long after its release has been hard to bear. A comfort is the way his peers have kept the fire burning and cemented his legacy as an all-timer, as well as building their own. Previously unheard tracks and collabs from the industrious producer keep emerging, including on the latest album ‘Hypnotized’ by DJ Manny, which pushes footwork into the future with deep, hypnotic takes on the sound alongside the more hype moments. DJ Manny’s work-rate across the year as whole has been typically prolific, with other releases including the ‘Control’ EP, which contorts footwork with styles such as R&B, jungle and half-time exploration, the spooky ‘Alert Unit’, and deep and jazzy ‘Ragga R&B’. With DJ Manny hitting these levels, we can rest assured that the future of footwork is in safe hands.

Credit: Marcelo Mudou



This year Brazilian viral sensation DJ Ramon Sucesso has taken over the internet with raucous DJ clips which feel a bit like watching a baile funk meteorite oliberate the earth. But it’s no mistake that we’re giving him flowers as a producer instead of DJ. He uses a controller as an instrument, with a singular style that transcends DJing into live music production. You may recongise some sounds or samples within, but there’s no way you’re Shazamming anything, as he hammers samples on a MIDI pad with pneumatic fingerwork and wildly chops, manipulates, tempo shifts and swirls the EQs of beats and vocals with all the stability of an unexploded world war two bomb. This year he was tapped by Lugar Alto to channel this into his debut physical release, ‘Sexta dos Crias’, a two-sided showcase of this unhinged style that deploys his own productions alongside MC shouts, mainstream tracks and uncleared samples with a laissez-faire attitude to copyright. These hybrid mix-tracks represent a radical release that’s reconfigured our brains and made us think differently about music.

Credit: Karli Evans

With the inch-perfect ‘CALENTÓN’ featuring collaborations with Coffintexts and DJ Teck Turna, the duo’s irresistible London linkup with local soundboy Logan_olm for ‘MIAMI 2 LONDON : SOUND CLASH’, and their sumptuous ‘LATIN BASS EDIT PACK’ offering track of the year contenders across the board, it’s no wonder that INVT productions have been hot property this year. Blending UK soundsystem flavours like acid, dubstep, grime, jungle, and UKG with closer-to-home sounds like dembow, guaracha and jersey club is no mean feat and it is a testament to Miami-based Luca Medici and Delbert Perez’s skill that each track indistinguishably sounds like an INVT tune. Beyond the studio INVT have brought their invigorating productions to light with their live shows that Catch One, fabric, Public Records, Standard Time and more have had the pleasure of hosting.Alongside the likes of OSSX, the duo are also one of the leading lights of a new wave of artists, who prefer to self-release their work on Bandcamp with little bureaucracy involved and complete creative control retained.

When IZCO isn’t smashing up the club with his infectious brand of UK garage, you’ll find him producing heaters on the down-low. This year he was in industrious, putting a spin on the MC-and-DJ dynamic by partnering up with rappers and jazz musicians alike, often cherished members of his Brighter Days collective – always putting his collaborators at the forefront. IZCO kicked off the year with the release of a sublime dub-influenced single, ‘Heavysoul’, featuring soul singer Liam Bailey and Brighter Days producer FELIXCW, followed by the release of two separate EPs, ‘Wun 2’ and ‘Join Forces’ featuring London rappers Reek0 and Capo Lee, shining a light on the insatiable flow of each MC.

Credit: Jofre Oliveras


Kiss Nuka

Known as an audiovisual artist-producer and activist Kiss Nuka is a visionary for the future of dance music. Playing with ambient soundscapes, Nuka has explored inspirations from Bollywood to hindu mantras. What makes her productions so unique and emotive is her attention to detail, particularly with the frequencies behind her music. Working on her latest EP ‘Raat Rani’ Nuka wanted to share her passion for healing the planet. In ‘Harvest’ we see her transform the folk songs of Assam into a driving track with a thumping beat. While ‘War Cry’ depicts a darker side of her productions which fall close to gritty techno as she unravels sounds from the Amazon rainforest into a bellowing beat. Some tracks however, are more literal as we see with the sample in ‘The Seed’. Nuka embeds a speech from the Indian scholar and environmental activist Dr Vandana Shiva into the track. As a producer, Kiss Nuka has delivered an inspiring level of work which we are certain she will continue to advance on.

Credit: Terna Jogo



M1onTheBeat has seen producing turn his life around. In over half a decade he has gone from living in a hostel to elevating the scene of UK rap. Now championing the charts, his productions are in high-demand. This year saw M1 drop ‘M1onthebeat: The Mixtape’, which he’d been crafting for three years. Working with some of the biggest names in UK rap such as Digga D, Headie One, Knucks, K-Trap reflects the respect he has in the game. Mainly working on drill, his beats are skillfully curated for each artist’s rap style, but also see him play with a variation of basslines. MCs have been the most visible artists of UK drill, but M1 is the living proof that you can stand out as a producer and reach the same respect as the people holding the mic.



MDU aka TRP’s impact on dance music can’t be overstated. As the creator of the famed log drum beat, heard on almost every amapiano track giving the sound its own unique flair, MDU has helped to pioneer one of the most celebrated genres to come out of electronic music in recent years. This year, the producer-turned-DJ was gifted more than $50,000 USD by artists including DJ Maphorisa and Major League Djz for his contribution to amapiano, publicly thanking the producer on social media. It’s a heart-warming reversal of the exploitation and lack of credit we’ve seen for some originators previously, with the most shameful example being Gregory C. Coleman, creator of the most used drum loop in history, the amen break, reportedly dying homeless and in poverty. 2023 also saw MDU aka TRP release solo singles and collaborative efforts alike, from tracks alongside Musa Keys and Mashudu, to a full-length release in collaboration with MFR Souls that won the hearts of amapiano fans everywhere, ‘The Game Changers’.


Nikki Nair

Regardless of how you feel about it, or the number you would prefer to keep your heart rate at, hard, fast dance music is here to stay. And no one can do 160 BPM quite like Atlanta speed king Nikki Nair. Whether your breakneck dancefloor footing has come by way of his HudMo collab EP ‘Set The Roof’, his downright delicious speed garage creations on ‘Extra Playtime’ alongside Breaka, or his hair raising turn with DJ ADHD on ‘Golden Monkey’, we guarantee Nikki is responsible for a good chunk of your most frenzied club moments this year. It would be far more difficult to name DJs who haven’t rinsed his tunes behind the decks this year than dig into the hundreds who have, but you can bet everyone from Bored Lord to CoCo Cobra to Baalti have been dishing them out all summer long. Nikki Nair’s ability to infuse so much feeling into his speedy creations is one of the reasons he has earned so much adoration from the music world; between his turbo-charged percussion and wobbling basslines, there’s a distinctive humour and catchiness. All in all, we charge you to find anyone who has earned more rollercoaster faces from crowds, and more DJ Bandcamp purchases this year, than Nikki Nair.

Credit: Brian Whar



You could ask a UK festival goer or a Fox weatherman what was the song of 2023 summer and you’ll still get the same answer. And you can’t talk about this year in dance music without talking about Pangaea. Kevin McAuley’s sizzling single ‘Installation’ and the rest of his ‘Changing Channels’ full-length is the perfect embodiment of a dance music shift towards fun in the last few years. Rejecting notions of pretension and posers, the Hessle Audio member delivered seven cuts of dancefloor heaven which references breaks, Latin influence, house, pop, techno and UK garage while still retaining his essential “mangled” sound. Off the back of the album McCauley has had a flurry of shows in the US and Oceania, plus performances at Bangkok’s DIAGE Festival and Eat Your Own Ear’s Skrillex-curated Warehouse Project night, reflecting the worldwide appeal of one the strongest producers in dance music right now.

Credit: Pheonix June



Salamanda really meant business in 2023, both individually and as a duo. Hailing from Seoul, South Korea, Salamanda are always trying something new; ambient productions with dream-like textures that build a cosy and nostalgic world, always experimental in their craft, and expertly put together. This year, the duo returned to K-Lone and Facta’s Wisdom Teeth imprint with a full-length album, ‘In Parallel’, a prized project stripping club music bare and adding some pop sensibility, as well as releasing a handful of remixes for the likes of Melati ESP, Anchorsong, and On Man, taking each original cut slightly left-of-field. It’s safe to say Salamanda have had a whopping year, and if you didn’t catch them on their determined touring schedule somewhere in the world in 2023, their productions might offer an insight into the playful world of Salamanda.

Credit: Gregg Bréhin


Simo Cell

The fact that Simo Cell is one of the most exciting producers around isn’t a uniquely 2023 statement. The genre-bending French bass aficionado has been doling out some of the finest eclectic underground creations since, at least, his debut on Wisdom Teeth in 2016. Though in some ways, this year’s album ‘Cuspide Des Sirènes’ feels like a magnum opus of sorts – a declaration of intent, demonstrating his ability to create earth-shattering music that doesn’t necessarily have to find its home within the club. Still containing all that playful deconstruction of bass, juke and trap that we have come to know and love, his focus on the record’s concept – a fantasy RPG where he is on a quest to find a hidden lake – introduces a plethora of ambient, ethereal elements to his sonic palette. In a way, it feels like we’ve been introduced to a whole new version of Simo Cell, and yes, we still want to hear it all on a big soundsystem in the club.

Credit: Dan Medhurst


Sofia Kourtesis

Blessing us with her debut album, 2023 saw Sofia Kourtesis release a truly inspiring body of work. Already known for her production skills with the likes of her tracks ‘By Your Side’ and ‘La Perla’ – this year we saw Kourtesis take her music to a new level. The album ‘Madres’ from the Berlin-based Peruvian involves less sampling compared to previous work, bringing more complex drum beats, more of her soft vocals and lots of contextual inspiration. As a protester and campaigner for gender equality, protection of the LGBTQ+ community as well as for safer abortions in Peru, Sofia uses this album to promote these messages. For instance, the track ‘Estación Esperanza’ has the only feature on the album which is from French singer Manu Chao and includes the chanting from an anti-homophobic march sung throughout. As a body of music, this album is truly innovative and colourful, however, behind the album is much, much more. Named ‘Madres’, which translates as mother, the lead single doubled as a public plea for Sofia to gain the attention of world-renowned neurosurgeon Peter Vajkoczy to perform surgery on her mother. With this, Vajkoczy agreed to operate and successfully helped further the life of Sofia’s mother. In fact, a track on the album is also dedicated to the surgeon. This debut from Sofia has a kaleidoscope of reasons for being so astonishing which go even beyond her refreshing production skills.

Credit: Federico Hurth


The Martinez Brothers

The Bronx-hailing Martinez Brothers have won DJ of the year awards, collaborated with Chic and sold out Printworks, but this year they’ve dived deep into the underground and asserted they can still kick it with the nicher side of the scene. Since their release of the tantalising ‘KILO’, a favourite of Ben UFO’s, late last year, and the enrollment of the likes of Nick Léon and LSDXOXO for remixes, even clubland chin strokers have been dialled into the irrefutable fact that The Martinez Brothers are sick. Bringing their pop-oriented persuasions from recent years and adding an extra dash of sexy, shout out to vocalists Tokischa, Eliza Rose and Tommy Genesis, to their trademark tech-house groove has formed a hit-after-hit combination which we won’t get bored of anytime soon. Combine their universally popular productions with a whopping 57, according to RA, shows across the globe this year and it’s impossible not to recognise the Martinez Brothers as one of the leading producers in the game.

Credit: Baha Suleiman

Off the back of his first vinyl release with Hypnic Jerks late last year, a great EP which outlined his unique sound and burgeoning promise, Toumba has delivered two 12”s of sublime quality for two of the last decade’s biggest record labels in underground dance music. Combining sustained low-end pressure with Levantine microtonality and rhythms for projects on Hessle Audio and Nervous Horizon, plus an equally impressive self-release in aid of the ongoing Palestinian struggle, have made Yazan Zyadat one of the most talked about producers in 2023, and rightly so. The range in tempo, tone and timbre originality between Toumba’s ‘Petals’ and ‘Janoob’ EPs, where you can bop your head to the chugging Jordanian wedding-inspired ‘Istibtan’ or fist-pump to the heavyweight peak-time riser ‘Rashash’, reflect an artist that has mastered a sound as original as it is breathtaking. The Jordan-based curator, DJ, producer and sound designer is by no means letting up, with Zyadat determined to push his artistry to the limits as evidenced by the recent debut of his live show at Unsound Kraków. Figures like Toumba invariably improve the state of dance music, adding diversity with original voices inspired by their diaspora to create a more varied, enthralling and representative range of sounds.

Credit: Zeng WU



There have been few electronic albums this year that have captured our collective imaginations quite like Tzusing’s ‘绿帽 Green Hat’; and it’s no wonder why —brimming with angst and internal conflict, the record – and indeed much of Tzusing’s wider discography – speaks to a global community on edge. In April, we described ‘绿帽 Green Hat’ as being “a perfect example of applying high-concept, introspective artistry while still keeping things club-friendly”, and that remains true — he is at the forefront of a new generation of artists utilising familiar club tropes, but forgoing the traditional euphoria for something more disquieting. In the case of ‘绿帽 Green Hat’, a record heavily inspired by toxic heteronormativity within Chinese culture, he lets that aggression and intensity bubble to the surface — interacting with it head on. Tzusing’s ability to bring this fresh-yet-slightly-horrifying perspective to the club sphere is just another example of his production mastery, and we expect many other artists will be inspired by his approach in the future.

Written by: Tim Hopkins

Rate it