Right or wrong, the reality is that “ghost producing” happens more often than you would think in genres all across the board. However, often times within the EDM scene our favorite artists look to long time writers, composers, producers, mixers & sound engineers to help them complete their tracks. While this isn’t ghost producing in a sense – since these artists are receiving credit in the album details, we still feel like their work has been vastly under appreciated.
Without proper attention for their work, the consequences are that talented artists go undiscovered and the launch of their own careers gets delayed for years if not forever. The truth is some of these artists are making some incredible music but their personal projects just aren’t getting the voice they need to take off.
While we do respect that many ghost producers simply prefer to stay out of the limelight and the artists they work under have worked hard to build their careers, we also believe the world has a right to indulge in the fruits of these (till now) nameless artists.
For public knowledge, we want the fans to understand that the artists you see on stage received a lot of help to get where they are. As talented as they are, often times it takes a village to raise a DJ. Putting faces to the sounds we love, the following artists are the top 10 producers, writers, composers and sound engineers in the business right now that helped make the records we know and love.
1. Joachim Garraud – Works With David Guetta
Ghost producers are contractually sworn to secrecy as far as what their specific contributions were on an album but you can clearly see Joachim Garraud is credited on almost every track of David Guetta’s first three albums. Being that Joachim Garraud is a known producer in his own right, this is nothing new. The unfortunate part; however, is that he is never mentioned in the marketing.
Alongside Laurent Garnier, Joachim Garraud began playing at The Boy, the Parisian club that first initiated the discovery of the techno phenomenon in France. As a pioneer of the industry he created a recording studio where he was able to remix, compose and produce works for Moby, Robbie Rivera, David Guetta, Kylie Minogue and countless others.
In 2000 he teamed up with Guetta to form their GUMPROD label and then again in 2005 they created F*** Me I’m Famous records. Then the very next year, he and Guetta were nominated for a Grammy for composers of the best remix of 2006. His personal projects are readily available on SoundCloud for your listening pleasure and you can also check out the soundtrack from the movie “People” which includes over an hour of his music.
2. Maarten Vorwerk – Works With Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike
Maarten Vorwerk is probably the most infamous ghost producer of all time. He has gone on record to claim the brains behind some of the biggest electronic music artists in the industry including (but not limited to) Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike, Sandro Silva, Quintino, etc…
This weekend, Cloud 9 Artists W&W and Maarten Vorwerk hit the number #1 and #2 spot in the Beatport Top 10. W&W, who just signed their catalogue ‘W and W Publishing’ with Cloud 9 Publishing, teamed up with Ummet Ozcan on ‘The Code’, released on Hardwell’s imprint Revealed Recordings. Our producer Maarten Vorwerk was involved in Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike’s ‘Wakanda’, which premiered during the final tour from Swedish House Mafia in 2012. [Source]
Without this man’s work the world would be lacking a serious catalog of music and we would most likely see a huge shift in the Beatport top 10 artists. He hasn’t put any of his personal projects on SoundCloud for us to enjoy yet but he has a YouTube Channel you can follow, although most of the videos are works he’s done for others.
3. Jantsen Robertson – Works With Bassnectar
Jantsen Robertson has done a few known equal collaborations with Lorin Ashton including WHAT appearing on Bassnectar’s Vava Voom album, Blast Off appearing on Bassnectar’s Timestretch album and also Divergent Spectrum – another Bassnectar album. He also collaborated with Lorin on the remix for Ready2Rage for which the duo was again equally credited.
In this situation, Jantsen is not what we would call a “ghost producer” as these two gentlemen are both clearly credited in the album details, they just all happen to end up on Bassnectar albums – not Jantsen albums. We simply felt Jantsen Robertson deserved a little more credit than he’s been given for his extensive work.
Lorin supports Jantsen in all his endeavors; however, including his single “When The Beats Drop” for which Bassnectar did a remix for. They seem to be good friends who just work together a lot which benefits both of them in the long run, but since Bassnectar is used to all the attention it’s time to redirect the spotlight onto his his counterpart for a change.
4. Dave Parkinson – Works With Paul Oakenfold
Dave Parkinson has a laundry list of artists that he’s worked with, but his most notable employer has been Paul Oakenfold. He is listed as the writer and producer for Oakenfold’s single, “Full Moon Party” but his work with trance artists does not stop there. He’s also worked extensively with Simon Patterson on tracks like “Taxi” (featured on Armin van Buuren’s ASOT 2010 Album), “Mood Swing” and “Thump”.
The list of “collaborations” between Simon Patterson and Dave Parkinson continues, but as it goes – many times the owner of the track is Simon Patterson regardless of the contributions made by Dave Parkinson.
If you’re interested in checking out some of his original works, some of them are available through the label he works with, Toolroom Publishing. Most of them are incredibly outdated; however, as he’s been busy working for other artists since 2005.
5. Dennis Waakop Reijers – Works With Tiesto
Who has time to produce every note of every song when you’re busy being one of the world’s greatest DJs? Certainly not Tiesto. Dennis Reijers has contributed heavily to numerous projects under Tiesto’s name and even Tiesto’s side project, “Allure” which includes a trio consisting of Tijs Verwest (Tiësto), Wouter and Sjoerd Janssen (Showtek) and David van den Hurk.
The album I Am released in 2012 under the alias, “Allure” is an example of one of these projects that was in fact written, composed and produced by none other than Dennis Reijers although he is not listed as one of the three group members of Allure.
You can see clearly in Dennis’ biography on Discogs that being the brains behind one of EDM’s highest paid DJs is a full time job with no breaks. Since they met in 1998, Dennis hasn’t had time for any projects of his own but he has certainly done a lot to catapult Tiesto to the top of the charts time and time again.
The “unknown” producer of Tiësto. Dennis and Tijs met in the summer of 1998. Tijs asked him as a test to do a remix request for him. Since then they have worked together.
Tijs refers to them as “The Band”. In Dennis’ contract it says he can work with others, and release own material, but according to himself he doesn’t have time for it. [Source]
Dennis Reijers’ last personal project was a duo including partner Hans-Willem Mallon that called themselves “Fullfillers”. They produced two albums in 1999, Sunscream as well as Love and Kisses, after which Dennis promptly left the group to pursue a career as Tiesto’s unknown sidekick.
In decade following, Dennis contributed to the Tiesto vs Three 6 Mafia track “Feel It”, Somewhere Inside EP by Allure, Dance4Life single and many more. It gives a whole new meaning to the term “artist”, doesn’t it?
6. Christian Hirt – Works With EDX
Browsing through the album files for EDX, you see the worst side of the monster that is ghost producing – [UNCREDITED – Christian Hirt]. Now it’s one thing to participate in these underground dealings as a collaboration for which the bigger name artist will ultimately receive all the credit and in fine print list the secondary artist. It is a completely different situation when an artist who is responsible for a good portion of another artist’s production work is not being credited at all.
You can find Christian Hirt’s handiwork on EDX’s remix of “What A Wonderful World” – Axwell & Bob Sinclair, EDX’s remix of “Angel On My Shoulder” – Kaskade, EDX’s remix of “Behind” – ATB, EDX’s original track “The Sun”, as well as countless others but EDX is not the only artist benefiting from Christian’s talents. He has also worked with Nora En Pure, Croatia Squad, Daniel Portman, and Calippo.
As unfortunate as it is, this is the future of music we face when we allow ghost producing to go unexposed – hidden in the comfort of shadows and secrets where it will thrive as common practice beneath our very noses.
Christian Hirt, does keep up with his own projects on top of the work he does for others. He founded his own record label, Unreleased Digital, in June of 2007 but has yet to release any music under his own name since beginning work for EDX.
7. Alessandro “Alle” Benassi – Works With Benny Benassi
Some producers are pretty open about the fact that they’re not the only ones making the music. Take Benny Benassi for example. He and cousin Alessandro Benassi were once known as the duo “Benassi Bros”. Over time, they grew apart and Alle Benassi left Benny to claim the limelight for himself but that doesn’t mean he left the group completely. Alle still ghost produces many (if not all) of the tracks you hear behind his cousin’s famous image but these days the credit goes solely to his other half. In this case, both parties are quite happy with the end result.
Although Alle hasn’t done many personal projects since Benassi Bros became just Benny Benassi, it seems like he’s kept pretty busy working on his cousin’s career. His latest contribution was for the remix of Katy Perry’s “ET”.
8. Justin Bates – Works With Steve Aoki
Ever look at the credits on a Steve Aoki album? It goes something like Writer – Justin Bates. Sound Engineer – Justin Bates. Composer – Justin Bates. Mixer – Justin Bates. It leaves one to wonder… What exactly did Steve Aoki do?
Thus far, Aoki has elicited the help of this ultra talented artist on his Ladi Dadi EP, Wonderland EP, “Tornado” single, “I’m In The House” single, “Earthquakey People” single, “Everything” single, “She Loves Everybody” remix and the list goes on. He’s also done work composing and engineering Swedish House Mafia’s, Until Now EP.
Unfortunately, it looks like Justin Bates has his hands full working so extensively with one of house music’s favorite artists, Steve Aoki, as we’ve yet to discover any of his personal projects listed online. If you’d like to check out some of his vocal samples or guitar skills, he’s featured on the album Hexes For Exes by Moving Units a few times for those talents.
9. Eric Estornel Now Known As Maceo Plex and Maetrik – Anonymous Ghost Producer
Maceo Plex is a former ghost writer who has given up on the past time to pursue a career of his own. Since stepping out into the limelight, he has gained a worthy amount of attention speaking out on the topic of ghost producing to media outlets like Mixmag in recorded interviews.
“In a way I think it’s fucked up, but on the other hand I’ve never been in the other person’s situation” he says. “You can imagine there are some pretty amazing DJs that just can’t write music, and we’re at a time right now where if you don’t write your own music and you don’t have your own records out, it’s difficult to get any attention. So I kind of understand why there are people out there who seek out ghostwriters. It’s a really messy situation in the industry right now, because on one hand there are DJs who can DJ really well but can’t produce, putting out records under their name that are not really them producing, and on the other hand there are really amazing producers that aren’t getting the respect and the gigs and the attention they deserve because the scene is so filled with people that don’t write their own music.”
He has chosen (or was paid handsomely) to remain silent regarding the artists he previously did work for but the projects he has under his own name have taken over to the point where ghost producing is no longer an issue for him. Check out his latest mix available on SoundCloud and see how far he’s come with finally getting the credit he deserves.
10. Benno De Goeij – Works With Armin van Buuren
Immediately following the publication of this post it was brought to my attention that I may have missed a very important producer for trance music. Benno De Goeij met Armin van Buuren in 2007 after maintaining a successful solo career for a little over a decade. Their first collaboration was a project titled, “This World Is Watching Me”.
Following the success of that single, Armin enlisted Benno to help with his next studio album Imagine for which Benno De Goeij wrote and produced every single song alongside Armin except “Imagine”, “Fine Without You”, and “Intricacy”.
In 2010 he co-wrote and co-produced all tracks on Mirage except for “Minack”, and In 2013 he worked with Armin once again on Intense. The interesting part about all these collaborations is that most people have never heard of Benno De Goeij yet Armin van Buuren is the #1 DJ in the world.
Recently, Benno and Armin began producing together under the alias “Gaia” where they both can receive equal credit for the work they invest into these tracks. At this year’s Ultra Music Festival, the two producers performed for the first time as a group as part of the A State of Trance 650: New Horizons show on the final day of the festival.
Hopefully now, the name “Gaia” will gain the attention that Armin van Buuren has received over the years while at the same time – giving credit where credit’s due.
Worth Mentioning – Dash Berlin is actually a conglomerate consisting of 3 artists
While writing this post, it came to my attention that not everyone knows that certain artists are publicly displayed as one but actually consist of two or more members. Bassjackers is an example of this where Marlon Flohr is the front-man of the duo that manages the touring aspect of being an artist while Ralph van Hilst does all the production work.
Another example of this would be Dash Berlin who is actually a trio comprised of Jeffrey Sutorius, Eelke Kalberg, and Sebastiaan Molijn. The front-man for this group is Jeffrey Sutorius and the other two artists prefer to remain in the shadows. Jeffrey began writing and producing his own tracks in 1995 while Eelke and Sebastiaan were creating music under the moniker Pronti & Kalmani until the three of them met in 2006.
When they came together as a trio during that time, it was easier and made more sense to appear as one person who they dubbed “Dash Berlin”. Since then, their unconventional method of production has launched their careers to the height of becoming the 10th most popular DJ in the world, according to DJ Mag’s Top 100 so it looks like it’s working for them.
For curiosity’s sake, check out the work they did as individuals before becoming today’s super-group “Dash Berlin”.