20 UK-based DJs breaking through in 2023
A handful of local acts to turn your attention to in 2023, here are 20 vital UK-based DJs pushing the envelope of electronic music.
2022 saw the post-pandemic return to clubs, DJs playing harder to make up for lost hours, combined with the tightening of belts in the face of inflation.
Many questions percolate about what may define the upcoming months. How many more will harness the power of reggaeton? Is UK garage on its way out? Are we due a minimal revival?
One trend is certain: as each year goes by, the genre-lines get increasingly blurred as DJs take a more adventurous approach to their craft, weaving a patchwork of sounds and styles traversing across long lineages of dance music history.
It’s this free approach that is arguably what makes the UK scene so exciting. So full disclaimer, we don’t mean to pigeon-hole those listed below as a ‘[genre] DJ’, merely to associate them with a scene you might be particularly into.
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1. Two Shell
Okay true, this one is not much of a tip unless you have been living under a rock for the past year – the duo are swiftly becoming a household name, in equal parts thanks to their ultra-earworm ‘Home’ and their cheeky stunts, such as sending two masked performers to play their Primavera Boiler Room set, armed with a pre-recorded mix (not that this made a difference to the crowd of ravers).
What they’ll do next is uncertain, but one thing’s for sure; the future looks like Two Shell.
2. Al Wootton
The Trule boss has already garnered a firm following thanks to his unmistakable deep UKG-techno hybrid sound, as well as his electrifying dub excursions as Holy Tongue with Valentina Magaletti.
With two new albums on the way, the unstoppable Al Wootton is top of our watchlist for 2023.
3. Jay Carder
When in club mode, Jay Carder is sure to put your stank face on. The Rinse resident recently dropped her excellent debut EP, led by the heady, bass-heavy stomper ‘Eva’s Stoned’, which continues to tear up clubs across the UK.
Also one of the best radio DJs in the UK game, we’re sure it’s only a matter of time until she's a familiar voice representing the best of UK dance music on the BBC.
Fresh off the back of an excellent 5-tracker for Hypnic Jerks’, Tombua announces he has a new Hessle Audio EP on the way. If the cornerstone UK label’s backing isn’t enough, this Jordanian-born artist has his first gig at Panorama bar next month too.
We can’t wait to catch this one in the flesh.
5. Nikki Tesla
Ever seen anyone karaoke over a track on HÖR? Chances are it was Birmingham’s Nikki Tesla; co-founder of Selextorhood, a platform supporting gender minority and female DJs and producers through talks, open deck sessions and their agency.
With a new Soho Radio residency and having shared the bill with the likes of Ben UFO, DJ Storm and Eclair Fifi, we highly recommend you get down to see this dynamic DJ in action.
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We cannot understate how much class oozes through Amaliah’s sets, with her eclectic taste that is often described as 'mixed bag energy'.
Predominantly playing underground techno, house and breaks rhythms, there's another side to Amaliah which sees her play like the first DJs she went out to: disco, funk and soul DJs in the UK.
Up till now she has often supported some of the best in class from Shanti Celeste to Joy O, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see the Borne Fruits boss headlining clubs across the UK and beyond as she continues to grow.
Manami‘s sense of euphoria, which we all crave from club music, is what marks her out as a seriously special DJ. Like many of the greatest musicians in the electronic sphere, the Japanese-born artist shed her classical music background to embrace turntables and CDJs instead.
Much like her own productions, her sets are trance-infused, full of tension, ecstatic moments and a great sense of a party.
Hailing from Brighton, this producer/DJ has been steadily putting out quality release after quality release. His new Banoffee Pies EP demonstrates just this – goblin basslines and organic percussion that puts his own twist on UK club and wider influences. Moreover, his track 'Unearth' (out via Peach Discs) was picked up by Nicola Cruz for his recent fabric presents mix.
Behind the decks, Syz shows the same flair he applies to his production, melding a fierce array of leftfield techno with precision.
9. Will Hofbauer
Will’s sets are a breath of fresh air, perfectly toeing the line between cerebral chin-strokery action and no-nonsense party tunes. A self-professed lover of silly dance music (check ‘Pollen Count’ out via Rinse FM’s imprint or his take on speed garage ‘Multiple Restarts’),
I’ve been tipped off for a couple hot releases to come in 2023 from the Hof, so keep your eyes peeled. Where did all the hay go? Still don’t know.
Undoubtedly one of the most gifted producers and UK techno DJs rising through the ranks right now, Yushh has made an expansive impact on the Bristolian sound already. The Pressure Dome founder’s uncompromising approach has earned her wide support, international bookings and an enviable Freerotation residency.
Catch this exciting and adventurous DJ live, defying tempos and styles with ease.
La Cheetah’s resident Matthew Arthur Williams has a wonderful ear for rich, warm grooves. Drawing on classic house, italo, modern breaks and beyond, be sure to catch him if you’re up in Glasgow for the weekend.
Check out his Clyde Build Radio residency too which is always filled with downtempo/home listening gems.
Few early-career young DJs in the UK have as slick a sound as Keplrr does – his mixes are weighty without being in-your-face, impeccably flowing through extended, tripped-out blends.
With a handful of impressive releases out already and new music on the way, he is definitely one to keep your eye out for.
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13. Angel D’lite
You can next catch Angel D’lite playing for Eris Drew’s Temple of Dreams night at Corsica. Very much cut from the same cloth as the queen of the Motherbeat, few can play with such infectious energy – watching her, you always get the sense she’s channeling some kind of rave paradise.
Of all the sets I saw last festival season, Angel D’lite working the forest at Draaimolen may have been my standout set from 2022.
14. K means
Stockholm-born, Bristol based, Trish aka k means might be one of the most exciting up-and-comers on the scene.
Here’s a DJ who plays it like not many can – completely unhinged selection and fearless blends. If you don’t believe me, check out her latest Fact Mix, which spans 'dread techno, ghost footwork, deepest, darkest dub and everything in-between'.
The jungle and hardcore newcomer Mixtress has been impressing with her signature contemporary bassweight sound. ¼ of all-female selector crew Team Woibey, she also works with Sisu – a community providing a platform to educate, inspire and showcase aspiring women and non-binary DJs and producers.
Tipped as one of DJ Mags ones to watch, we’re in full agreement here.
One of the finest drum and bass DJs in the UK, Dwarde also spans jungle and breakbeat hardcore behind the decks and in his productions. With a recent critically-acclaimed collaboration with Tim Reaper under his belt, we're looking forward to seeing what 2023 holds.
Catch him supporting Squarepusher live – The Interdimensional Rave Experience.
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Over the past couple of years, Oblig has really come to the forefront of the UK scene. Anyone who has tuned into Rinse between 7-8 on a Tuesday will be familiar with his sound. His sets are often grime heavy, but he is definitely not one to pin-down to a genre, comfortable playing across the spectrum of UK underground.
You can catch him demonstrating his breadth at fabric when he goes b2b with Skee Mask.
Last year may have been the year reggaeton firmly crossed over into the dance music world, but Manchester-based Florentino has been pushing this sound for a fair bit longer.
Being one half of Sangre Nueva with DJ Python (who dropped Florentino’s outrageous edit of Coki's 'Night' when I last saw him), having released on XL, remixed with the Martinez Brothers and with an increasingly busy touring schedule, you can expect to see much more of him in 2023.
19. Saint Ludo
Named by El Formosa as one of the female DJs pushing the grime scene forward, picking up radio slots on Rinse FM, BBC 1Xtra and recording feature mixes for Dazed, Solitude and the notorious HÖR series, Saint Ludo is fast becoming one of the most promising club, drill, rap, grime DJs in the UK.
Catch Saint Ludo monthly on foundation.fm.
20. Manuka Honey
Over the past couple of years, Manuka Honey has cemented herself as of the most exciting Latinx dance music DJs on the circuit.
Profiled in an RA Breaking Through feature last year, which explores her love of astrology, she describes her approach to DJing as ‘sexy, unpredictable and hard’. You get this when you catch her in action – a stream of the steamiest, hip-shaking grooves that encapsulate everything there is to love about contemporary reggaeton.
The British music scene's diversity is it's charm. Some of the best drum and bass, trance, edm, house, techno and hip hop DJs are in the UK right now, and some of the future best, are breaking through at the same time.
Working towards achieving more diverse sounds and practitioners in radio and clubs across the UK music industry, are hundreds of organisations and collectives, training and creating opportunities for new UK DJs.
Black Artist Database, founded in 2020, expanded in 2021, launched a series of production lessons and parties to further support and showcase Black producers and Black DJs in the UK and globally in 2023. Their exciting work continues to make sure more Black artists profit from Black music year-on-year.
2023 is arguably the year to turn attention to new and local acts who are pushing the envelope over global international stars you’ve seen countless times. At one point even Four Tet or Peggy Gou were playing small rooms full of dancers who didn’t know who they were, catch the DJs listed above before they get to main stage level.