Most of us never had any say in what people call us. We have to go through life with whatever someone else decided was a good name for us. DJs on the other hand have a chance to extend their persona into their name. Who wouldn’t love to have the chance to choose what millions of adoring fans are going to call you? But with great power comes great responsibility. When they choose their stage name it’s like choosing a band name: creativity is key! Whether it is an old nickname; or its origins are from an awesome story from your past; or just something you think is rad, it is a great insight into the person. So, if you’re as curious as we are about why DJs choose the names they do, enjoy this new ongoing series from us here at AYNiB.
Evol Intent (Atlanta, Georgia)
“(K)Nick came up with the name initially. Back centuries ago when we were getting started, we kept hearing these live mixes online and tape packs from folks like Renegade Hardware (anyone else remember those?), and when a really heavy dnb tune was dropped the MC’s would say something like ‘THIS ONE’S EVIL!’ With various accents it would sound a bit like the MC said “evol.” So Knick came up with the idea Evol Intent, which we both really liked and initially used for our record label name. Shortly thereafter we started using “Evol Intent” for the group project when Enemy joined. Since evol spelled backwards is love, the original bleeding heart logo was excellently designed by AJ (Enemy).” -Gigantor
ill.Gates (Toronto-born, San Francisco-based)
“I changed my name from the Phat Conductor because it was too long and confusing to spell for people. And its just hard to remember. Ill Gates, everybody already has a mental pathway for Bill Gates burned into their brains and if you say Ill Gates it triggers the same pathways, its hilarious, everybody remembers it and are like, “Aaaahh I get that joke” instantly. I was going to choose Tao Jones (pronounced: da-oh) because i’m a taoist. But nobody reads books so everybody just kept saying Tayo Jones. And I was just like, “man read a fuckin book”. And then I found out that there was this jam band that was awful that had the same name so I just got the fuck out of there. But Ill Gates is one that everyone can remember. Its mostly so people can remember it and its kinda funny and goofy. I’m a pretty goofy person.”
Shortee (Los Angeles)
“I’m short! haha! Shorty & Shortcake were my nicknames growing up cause I was always the shortest one in class. When I was choosing a DJ name, there weren’t any other Shorty’s at the time and I knew I could find it on record in order to be able to scratch my name so it was a perfect fit. I anticipated other DJs wanting to use the name in the future so I spelled it SHORTEE with two ee’s just to be safe. Sure enough, I was right and now there are a ton of short DJs out there now (Short-e, Shorty, Shortie etc)…but I was the first!!!! One of the perks of being older I guess, haha”
Bitchin‘ (Calgary, Alberta)
“I’m always so bad at retelling these stories, but basically we started out as a trio, and i think we were called M:cubed or something like that because there were three of us and we all had our first names start with the letter M. But, as time went on the third member stopped DJing, so Miche and I were left up to our own devices…We had played a few shows together, just the two of us, and had managed to figure out that we were ridiculous/awesome together, so we needed a name that would match that…something cheeky but also something to let people know we weren’t there to just be the token female DJ’s. We threw around a few different ideas, and then Miche blurted out Bitchin’. It was perfect, a couple of bitches being rad and playing bad ass music together….I couldn’t even imagine us DJ’ing with any other name.”
Neonlight (Leipzig, Germany)
“We came up with the name Neonlight after looking after a better one as “nize5ive & Pitch’n’Sulphur” (our first solo djs names). In a magazine for graphics, I saw the word neonlight in big block letters… I thought, that can work and after 4 years with that name our music turned more and more to the name. It fits quite perfectly in my opinion.”
Silent Killer (Brooklyn, New York)
I used to go by the name Sean Killer but I decided to change it to Silent Killer because it sounded much better. And it evoked a reaction.There is not much story behind it to be honest. It was an Instant Messenger name and I just stuck by it. I went through several name changes like Ghost Man Killer and so on… different variations but I realized out of all of them “Silent Killer” sticks in your mind.
OpenEnd (Calgary, Canada)
OpenEnd came from a few things, it was actually a scramble to find a name at the beginning. I was booked for my very first show in the city, and the promoter wanted a name to put on the poster. I’ve been a part of various music cultures, and I’ve been ragged on for it, but i believed no one could ever shut me down for what i love. I wanted something with a ” no limits on what you can do ” kind of mentality , so I saw “Open ended ” which means “no fixed limits, unrestricted ” , decided to shorten it to OPENEND. The way I see it is there’s no dead ends to what you want to do in your life, just be yourself and have no limits!
Dreadnought (Edmonton, Canada)
I picked the name out of the dictionary, actually. I had my first gig coming up after I’d started DJing and needed one so because my name is Donovan and started with a ‘D’ I was looking in the dictionary under D and came across dreadnought. The meaning was “a heavily armed battleship” and I play pretty aggressive and heavier so it was the perfect choice.
Phutureprimitive (Portland, Oregon)
“I like duality. But I also like the idea of mixing 2 opposing things together to see what happens…. hybrids. Particularly when the project started (and sometimes still), I was really into the idea of mixing very organic sounds with very electronic sounds. I also see many people in modern cultures as Phutureprimitives… we have so much technology around us with so much potential to do good and help those in need, and yet too often we seem to end up using it for our own selfish purposes without regard to the repercussions or in many cases to bring harm (mentally or physically) to others. I also like the fact that when people ask me about the name, they often share their own ideas of what it might mean…… the name seems to inspire ideas in people and I like that most of all. Why did I spell it with a Ph and all as one word?…… I like the way it looks. And I like playing with words… sometimes different spellings can bring you back to thinking about that word and what it means to you…. rather then falling back on your normal assumptions about it and passing it by.”
If you have a favorite DJ you would like featured on our next How DJs Choose Their Names then leave us a comment below! Or, if you are a DJ please contact us with your story.