In this edition of How Artists Chose Their Names we’re shining the spotlight on the hometown heroes of Alberta and B.C. So often, we focus on headlining acts, and lose sight of the people right in front of us that are making our own local scenes thrive. Vibrant Festival, taking place May 27-29 in Invermere B.C. is a festival focusing on just that.
Although it’s the first official year of Vibrant, this event has in fact been flourishing in Invermere for years. Under a different name in years past, little by little, the event has expanded to include more and more of the inner circles of the interior, as well as Alberta. Starting off small and intimate, this year sees Vibrant’s first year kick off with a bang. A massive stage built by Shambhala’s Pagoda Stage carpenter will play host to a solid crew of DJs and producers that live and breathe music and festival culture. No doubt, with these guys at the helm, it’s sure to be a real banger. Tons of fun in the B.C. sun! A perfect way to kick off the summer!
Below are a few of their stories. We can’t wait to party it up with these movers and shakers, and go into festival season with a giant homie fest from across the west!
Donald Bump: My DJ name Donald Bump is a play-on words of Donald Trump. I’ve been using this moniker for about five years now – before Trump was running for president and everyone hated him. I also think Bump works great with dance music and even with Trump running for president and people not liking him, people in the scene still think its a great DJ name.
Freddy J: The name came from a my best bro Chris Caleffi in high school. I’ve gone by the name Alex my whole life, which is my middle name. It came known in school that my first name is actually Frederick. and so is my dad and and his father as well. He started calling me Frederick Jr the 3rd as a joke. Over time it morphed in to the name we know now, Freddy J.
Esette: I chose my latest DJ name after deciding that I didn’t want to deal with the vandalism and negative impacts that having the name ISIS was causing. Esette means nothing. I wanted a one word, feminine style name. My friend Kris made me a giant list of ideas because I was struggling with the concept and I just went through them all and looked up internet URLS to see if any of them could be my little corner of the internet. Esette came up the cleanest and it worked for me. I wasn’t going to pick a new name until early 2016, but when Bass Coast festival approached me in late November 2015 to do a free track as part of their 12 days of Bass Coast music giveaway it seemed like a good opportunity and good timing to launch the new name along with something impactful that would reach a greater portion of my community.
So far, it’s going really well aside from local Canadians thinking I’m silly for changing it. But I feel good about it and the tracks it’s given me an opportunity to sort of shift the sound I’m making, and slightly draw a bigger line between who I am as an artist and as a person. As I get older I find the difference is important sometimes with online personas.
DJ McTwist: Well, the story of my DJ name is really uninspiring. I guess its kind of hard to place where it all stems from. At the time I was 16 and thinking I was an insanely creative person which, as it stands, is fairly true. However, really being into sports and what was then extreme sports such as snowboarding and the not so extreme but just as dangerous skateboarding, I was drawn to the names of the tricks that these amazing athletes were pulling off. So when a friend and I were sitting around one day and were thinking up some cool DJ names associated with some snowboarding and skateboarding tricks, I stumbled upon Tony Hawk’s infamous “McTwist”. Mainly as the name for a duo was Alley and McTwist kind of short for alley-oop mctwist. The duo of my friend and I never evolved into anything as our paths went separate ways, but I kept McTwist. I looked online to see if there was a DJ with that name already and since nobody had taken it yet, I felt like being original and decided that’s what my name would be. Now I don’t really know if it has brought me any kind of “notoriety” or infamy for that matter and don’t get me wrong there was a time where I thought about changing it to evolve myself into something else, but when I look back I am glad I did not. There’s only one me and there’s no need to try and re-invent something that isn’t broken. And really if someone could think of something that suited me that was different I may look at having an alter ego, but why?
Ohm Girl: So my name was actually gifted to me by a good friend of mine. I struggled with choosing my own name … I chose a couple but nothing stuck. Ohm is in the context of the music, not meditative and girl, well that’s obvious.
Ninjette: Ninjette is a name that has been with me since my very early rave days. I adopted it probably back in 2006. I grew up in the Winnipeg electronic music scene in the mid 2000s.
Well before I began my DJ career, I was very intrigued by rave scene history and wanted desperately to get involved in the organizing of things, and went out of my way to rub elbows with the crews who threw the first parties I ever went to. Shortly thereafter, my love affair with promoting and networking became all life consuming. The first event I ever hosted took place in a massive industrial loft in the old exchange district of Winnipeg. The folks who lived there had racks upon racks of old thrift store clothing lying around. We had this silly idea to make it a ninja themed party by collecting all of the black clothing we could find, cutting up strips of fabric and encouraging our patrons to play ninja dress up. I will never forget that space… the old brick walls and rickety fire escape entrance up to the third floor … the musty smell of the place. I guess you could say that is where things really started to take off for me. I believe I was 19 years old at the time.
We had created a little family of friends with common goals and interests. The ninja party was such a huge success that we went on to create Shadow Productions and hosted an array of other similar events. Looking back on it now it seems like child’s play, but at the time we thought we were building an empire. I was the only female organizer and thus, adopted the name Ninjette. When I started DJing a couple years later, it was the only name that made sense. There are so many fond memories attached that I don’t think I will ever change it!
Sonny Chiba: So I’m a big cinema buff. I had a big kung fu and Asian movie phase in my late teens. My favorite martial arts actor was none other than “Sonny Chiba”. When I first saw the film The Street Fighter, which he starred in, I was instantly a fan of the man and the incredible physicality he brought to his choreography and character’s persona. It was also the first movie ever to get an X rating for violence and is a staple cult classic within the grindhouse cinema genre. Naturally I loved the role and the character he played, so much so that I made it my DJ moniker.
I wanted my name to be of a fantastical and alter ego nature. I see and approach DJing as not just playing records, but as a live performance. Interaction and connection with your audience and the space are just as important. So for me, it has to coincide with whatever musical vibe I’m heading into for that set. And i think the name “Sonny Chiba” helps to translate that to the crowd.
Dr. Dance: My DJ name was actually given to me at my first Burning Man in 2011. I was going through the Rockstar Librarian music guide and making a list of all the artists I wanted to see for that day. My camp mates were so thrilled and asked me kindly if I would post my list up in the kitchen. Since the music guide is so big and most people had no idea what was good, they were excited to see that I was making it easier for them. Considering everyone knew that I had great taste in music, they trusted my opinion. The following day I got woken up early and was asked to do my music guide for that day. As it Turned out, word of mouth had spread. Random people not from my camp were so stoked on my choices, they wanted to follow my guide again. So I made the list and the following day I had an even higher demand. My campmates then decided I needed a “playa” name. We were brainstorming and nothing really stood out to me until Dr. Dance came about. I could not stop laughing and figured it would be perfect! Considering it was totally like I was prescribing the people of burning man with my daily dose of dance music haha. We had a good laugh and from that point it just stuck to me. People I didn’t even know were coming up to me, asking me if I was Dr. Dance and complimenting my taste in music. I got back from burning man that year and felt very inspired so that’s when I decided I wanted to take Dj’ing more seriously. I had been messing around teaching myself how to DJ for a few years prior so it just felt right to move forward. I played a few little shows under the DJ name Char Star since that was my nick name growing up. In the summer of 2012 I got offered to play the Ministry of Sound party here in Calgary. Since it was a pretty big deal for me, I didn’t want to use Char Star as my DJ name because I knew that for the most part female DJ’s were never taken seriously. I wanted to start building an image but I had no idea what my DJ name should be. I asked many people and the majority said I was Dr. Dance. So I just went with it! 5 years later it’s still growing on me but i think I love it that much more because it was given to me. there has been so many times where I truly felt like I was Dr. Dance, I really feel like it has become a part of me now and we’ll see what the future has to hold!
Low Profile: I wanted a DJ handle that I could identify with on a personal level as well as musically. I’m a private guy and don’t always like the spotlight and the phrase, “keep a low profile”, kept on popping into my head. My sound has always represented the low end of the frequency spectrum, and I decided on Low Profile.
Painted Foxes: The name Painted Foxes came from when I was painting and illustrating – I own a custom airbrush business. I’ve been a music producer since the mid ’90s, but never took it serious till my early 30s when friends started recommending I put my name in for shows – that’s when I came up with the name. I was painting a series of candids: wolf, coyote and fox. For some reason the fox stood out to me the most. I found that it in some ways, it reflected my character … not to mention my music. I like to produce fun, funky and at times silly music. I have always been a musician, and music is half of my creative process in life. I’m just fortunate that it’s taken off in the way that it has, and has allowed me to work with artists like Defunk (Westwood records), Distinct, Freelikz as well as other artists I work with on a regular basis. Being a studio musician is great!
Tickets for Vibrant are just $80, and can be purchased online. Come party in the woods with us! See you on the dancefloor!