Trance music is one of the biggest sounds in the world, conjuring up images of packed stadiums and blissed-out euphoria. Starting in Berlin in the 90s before becoming a truly worldwide genre, trance has been dominated by just a few names. The fame of its most prominent artists is massive, often tying in with and influencing the EDM genre that has taken over dance music this decade. Known for its booming synths, pulsating bass-lines and four-on-the-floor drums, as well as building up to epic climaxes, trance rivals both techno and house in its huge popularity.

In our unique guide to Trance musicwe taught you all you need to know about the genre. Now its time to get a little more in-depth on those artists who helped shape its sound. Hailing exclusively from UK, Holland and Germany, and counting names such as  Armin Van Buuren to Markus Schulz to Solarstone, we will explain who these artists are, how they got started, and their best songs to listen to. Read on below to see who we picked as the 15 biggest trance artists of them all. Do you disagree with us? Feel free to sound off in the comment section below!

Top 15 | Best Trance Music Artists

1. Armin Van Buuren

Dutch-born producer and DJ Amin Van Buuren is probably one of the first names that come to mind when thinking of trance music. Starting in 1996, he burst to fame in the UK with the track “Touch Me, which was signed to Ministry of Sound before it was even released. He has been an Amnesia regular, his sound helping to chart the modern trance scene on the party island of Ibiza today. Every week he hosts an iconic radio show called A State of Trance, which broadcasts to over 37 million people and has been ongoing since 2001. It is often the show that can either make or break a trance artist, making it a must listen for fans serious about the genre.

2. Tiësto

Often voted the greatest DJ of all time by publications such as Mix Mag and DJ Mag, and known colloquially as the Godfather of EDM, Tiësto’s influence on trance has been legendary. The Dutch DJ developed an interest in dance music from the age of 12 and started by playing sets at school parties. Starting with new beat and acid house, Tiësto gained worldwide fame when he created two major sub-labels, SongBird and In Trance We Trust, setting the stage for trance to enter the mainstream. He is also known for ushering in the subgenre known as classical trance – popularised by his iconic track “Adagio for Strings, which is one of the most adored trance tracks of all time. Yet it’s his remix of Delirium’s “Silence” feat. Sarah McLachlan was voted by Clubglow as the greatest trance track of all time.

3. Paul Van Dyk

Trance through and through, East-German native Paul Van Dyk was one of the first ever superstar DJs. After the wall came down in 1989, Van Dyk moved to Berlin where he started a residency at the legendary Tresor Club in 1991. With his second album Seven Ways, Van Dyk achieved massive success in the UK, where rave had gained a lot of popularity. He was the first DJ to ever achieve a Grammy Award nomination for the newly created Dance/Electronic album category for Reflections. As a testament to his popularity, DJ Mag named him worlds number one DJ in both 2005 and 2006.

4. Sander Van Doorn

Sander Van Doorn is world-renowned for his innovations in tech-trance. At first a regular DJ at Ibiza’s Judgement Sunday and the Gallery in London, he gained fame with his innovative remixes, which spanned from popular trance hits to Arctic Monkeys songs. His debut album Supernaturalistic was released in 2008, its success gaining him residency at Amnesia club in Ibiza. While he has leaned more towards vocal-led EDM in recent years, his early trance tracks are some of the best in the genre. His finest songs are “Gold Skies, “Purple Haze and “Love is Darkness“.

5. Above And Beyond

Electronic music group Above & Beyond, comprised of Jono Grant, Tony McGuinness and Paavo Silijamäki, rocketed to fame with the release of their first single, “Volume One” which was quickly picked up in dance clubs such as Ministry of Sound and played by DJs like Paul Oakenfold. Leaning more to the more commercially-minded progressive side of trance Above & Beyond are frequently cited as some of the finest DJs in the business, ranked number six in the world by DJ Magazine in 2007. Their radio show Trance Around the World, which ran from 2004 to 2012, was one of the most listened in the world, reaching an audience of over 30 million listeners.

6. Markus Schulz

German DJ Markus Schulz is known colloquially by his fans as “The Unicorn Slayer thanks to the way he favours square waves and pitch bends instead of the conventional light melodies found in conventional EDM. He started in 1998 as a traditional trance DJ before quickly developing a club-friendly sound. He held a residency at The Works in Arizona for seven years and has also headlined festivals such as Electric Daisy Carnival, Electric Zoo and Love Parade. In recent years he has favored collaborations with artists as diverse as Emma Hewitt, JES, Nikki Flores and Cosmic Gate. He is best known for his remix of the summer anthem “Waves – one of the best chill-out songs in the progressive house movement.

7. ATB

German DJ André Tanneberger, better known as ATB, was something of a poster child for trance music in the late 90s. He is best known for the 1999 single “9 PM (Till I Come)which landed at number one in the UK charts. The cover art features him next to a private jet, stressing the international nature of the genre, which spanned from the basements of Berlin to the beach clubs of Ibiza. First in dance group Sequential One, ATBs solo career has been a tremendous success, leading to him being ranked number one in the world by the DJ List in 2011. On his eight studio albums he has worked with artists as diverse as Heather Nova, Moby, William Orbit and Jan Löchel.

8. Paul Oakenfold

Voted number one DJ in the world in 1998 and 1999, Paul Oakenfold is a national treasure in the UK. He became famous for his acid nouse nights at LGBT nightclub at Heaven, which introduced his sound to most people in the UK. In the 90s he infused Goa with his own sound to create his own unique version of trance music. He has produced countless remixes, his most famous collaborations including The Rolling Stones, New Order, Massive Attack, Madonna, Moby and U2. He also produced The Happy Mondays Pills nThrills and Bellyaches helping to develop the classic Madchestersound.

9. Sasha

Like Oakenfold, Welsh DJ Sasha made his name in the UK playing acid house music in the 80s. Inspired by the music played at the legendary Hacienda club, he moved near Manchester to make his name as a DJ. In the 1990s he started playing at Shelleys Laserdrome in Stoke-On-Trent, where he developed his unique blend of acid and piano house. He reached mainstream popularity with his unique remixes of Madonna’s “Ray of Light” and GusGus’ “Purple”, leading him to score the soundtracks of video games Wipeout 3 and Gran Turismo. He was voted number one DJ in the world by DJ Magazine in 2000.

10. Judge Jules

Voted best DJ in the world by DJ in 1995, British DJ Judge Jules given this nickname as he was studying law while he got started has been spinning records for over thirty years. He started his show with Radio 1 in October 1997 which played on Saturdays and was known as the “The Weekend Warm-Up”. His residency at Ibiza nightclub Eden, first entitled Judgement Sundays before being moved to a Friday, is one of the most hotly anticipated nights on the island.

11. Gareth Emery

Starting with a regular nightclub in Manchester before becoming one of the most in-demand trance DJs in the business, Gareth Emery is one of dance musics most important and influential DJs. One of the youngest DJs to ever crack the DJ Mag Top 100, he peaked at number seven in 2010. He is best known for his three albums – Northern Lights, Drive and 100 Reasons to Livewhich feature collaborations with artists such as Christina Novelli, Lawson and Janet Devlin. He has also won Armin Van Buurens A State of Trance Tune of the Year award three times.

12. Ferry Corsten

Born in Rotterdam, Ferry Corsten started DJing at the age of 15, playing at school parties. He started in the Dutch gabber scene in the 1990s before becoming more interested in club-house and trance music. He has released music under a wide variety of aliases, including Moorman, Pulp Victim, System and Gouryello, which at one point was a joint product between him and Tiësto. A truly international DJ, he has played at events all over the world, including Electric Daisy Carnival and Tomorrowland. DJ Mag has always rated him highly, ranking him at number five in the world in 2004.

13. Cosmic Gate

Trance duo Cosmic Gate – comprised of DJs Claus Verhoeven and Stefan Bossems – formed in 1999, breaking out when their single “Fire Wire” charted at number nine on the UK Singles Chart. They’ve produced many remixes for other artists, including Tiësto, Ferry Corsten, Blank & Jones and Vanessa Mae. From their third album onwards, and like so many artists on this list, they moved away from their harder trance sound towards a more commercially-oriented progressive trance style. They tour almost constantly, playing between 100 and 130 nights a year – you can catch them at clubs such as the Ministry of Sound, The Guvernment and Privilege Ibiza.

14. Rank 1

Benno de Goeij and Piet Bervoets had worked together before, but it was with Rank 1 that they achieved their biggest success. Considered one of the biggest pioneers in the Dutch trance sound, they are best known in the UK for their hit single “Airwavewhich debuted at number 10 in the charts, and was voted the second greatest trance classic of all time in the Trance Top 1000 poll. They have collaborated with everyone from Armin Van Buuren and Kush to M.I.K.E and Nic Chigall. Their track “L.E.D There Be Light was picked as Trance Energy 2009 Anthem and was played as the background music to the 2009 Electric Daisy Carnival commercial.

15. Solarstone

Despite all the changes to trance music, Solarstone is well renowned for keeping to the original sound. Formed originally as a group comprising Richard Mowatt, Andy Bury and Sam Tierney, only Mowatt is left now. Their most successful track is “Seven Cities“, which is considered by many to be the defining sound of Balearic Trance. In recent years he has pushed for a pure trance movement, which seeks to bring the genre back to its roots and away from the commercialized version known as progressive trance. You can hear this on his radio show Pure Trance Radio, which has been running since 2015.

Where Can I Listen to Trance Music?

As referenced earlier in the piece, most of the DJs on this list have their own radio shows dedicated to trance. So we would recommend checking into those every week, especially Armin Van Buurens essential A State of Trance. You can also catch his playlist on YouTube! As for more classic playlists, we would recommend Back to The 90’s – Remember Oldschool Trance Mix as a great place to get started. To find out more about trance music from how it started to how it stands today as well as learning how to make tracks yourself, why dont you check out our unique guide to all things Trance now!

Redmond Bacon

Redmond Bacon

Contributor

Redmond Bacon is a film obsessive and amateur music producer who can easily spend all day either at the cinema or making fresh beats. Catch his writing over at redmondbacon.co.uk.

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