Compared to beatmatching and other skills DJs have to master, choosing a DJ name should be a walk in the park, but so many get it wrong or have no idea how to choose a good one.
So, how to come up with a DJ name? That’s the question.
There are lots of methods to consider when choosing a DJ name. From using initials and acronyms to using a nickname or inventing words. There’s no wrong way to do it. But so many DJs rush it and end up choosing a name they regret later on. A DJ name needs to be symbolic of you and your sound.
The most important factor is picking a DJ name that will stand the test of time and making sure it’s not something you begin to regret midway through your career when it can’t be changed easily.
In this article, we will guide you through a few fun and creative ways on how to create a DJ name and look at some examples of what to avoid when doing so too.
Choosing A DJ Name: Use What You Know
The first thing you need to do is come up with some ideas that you like. And not just one, make a huge list! Take your time doing it and consider this process like you’re developing your own brand, which you are!
You also have to keep in mind that some names may be taken or not appropriate to your brand or style of music, which we’ll talk about later.
Start With Your Own Name
First off, it’s worth considering your own name. If you look down a list of the top 100 DJs, around half will have used their own name or a slight variation of their name.
If you have an interesting or unique first name or surname, you could simply just run with that as your alias.
Many famous DJs have used their real names, and it’s worked perfectly well for them. It keeps things simple and gives them a genuine and personal vibe.
Some examples of people using their own names are David Guetta, Steve Aoki, Martin Garrix, Ritchie Hawtin, Adam Beyer, Carl Cox, Charlotte De Witte, Jeff Mills, and Nicole Moudaber.
Some famous DJs have made it even simpler and just used one name, either their first or last name. Some world-famous examples of this are Rebekah, Boris, Anna, and Anetha.
If you’re going to choose your own name and feel it’s not unique enough or is difficult to find on Google, it may be worth adding a unique element, capital letter, or changing a letter to make your name stand out.
If you have two common names (i.e., John Smith or Jane Brown), there will be millions, if not billions of search results on Google for these names already.
The goal is to eliminate the competition and go for something striking but easy to remember.
Use A Nickname
Another great place to get ideas is with nicknames. Think back to all of your schoolyard nicknames and find one that suits you.
Be considerate of your style of music genre though, as your nickname in 7th grade may not work so well as a professional DJ handle in the Techno world!
Here are a couple of examples of DJs who have used their nicknames:
- Rezz – A Canadian-born EDM DJ whose real name is Isabelle Rezazadeh.
- Mazza – Portuguese House and EDM DJ whose real name is Diego Miranda.
How To Make A DJ Name
Even if you think your name is kind of cool, consider other options too. As we said, you’re going to want to make a list of names you like before deciding on one and never rush into it.
This will be you…your brand…your musical identity for years to come. There’s no changing half-way through your career, or there shouldn’t be!
Here are a few fun and easy ways to invent your own unique name.
Use A DJ Name Generator
There are loads of name generators online that can spit out hundreds of names in a few seconds. You could get lucky, you never know! But, these tools are often quite boring and predictable.
When you want to make a name from scratch, consider elements of yourself or your musical style that you’d like to resemble in your name.
Use Acronyms – Real Or Not!
Another very common way to create one is to use acronyms. This method is particularly common in the electronic music business, where people like to invoke some mystery.
DJ handles borne out of acronyms give them a certain element of anonymity and mystery whilst being easy to remember.
Best of all, you could take the initials of your own name or choose something completely at random. You don’t have to explain your name, just your music.
Some famous examples of acronyms used successfully in the business are AME, GTA, ATB, MK, SNTS, and MTD.
Abbreviate, Chop, And Mix It Up
Another popular method used by DJs is removing vowels or changing letters around slightly. Some examples are STNDRD, BLKDRP, and KSHMR.
You could do this to your own name or words or references that appeal to you and speak your musical language.
Your Name Is Just A Number
It’s become increasingly popular for DJs and music producers to choose more abstract or unusual names, with many choosing a simple sequence of numbers.
A good example of a standout name is 999999999 (9x nines), who is a Techno DJ amassing huge amounts of fans in recent years. It’s catchy and easy to remember.
Plus, if you type it into a Google search the DJ is the only result to come up on the first page! Remember what we said about eliminating any competition?
Another example of numbers in names is that of Italian duo NiCe7.
M83 is another famous electronica example or more on the EDM side of things there’s always Deadmau5 which was actually carefully crafted from a nickname, but more on this soon. You’ve still got some creating to do…
Create Your Own Word
Some DJs have just gone all out and invented their own words, making them unique and easy to find when people search on Google.
This method is very popular amongst the DJ circle and there are some great examples of DJs carving a niche with just their name.
When you consider creating a word as your name, be sure to keep the word representative or being in some way identifiable to your genre of music.
Here are a few popular DJs with unique or unusual words as their DJ handle:
- Skrillex (EDM, Dubstep)
- UMEK (House, Tech-House, Techno)
- Alok (EDM, House)
- Afrojack (EDM, House, deep-house)
- Diplo (EDM, Dancehall)
Choosing A DJ Name With Musical Or Environmental Context
Many DJs choose their names to reflect elements with a strong musical context. This grounds their name and often draws upon subtle elements that indicate to an audience their musical roots.
A good example is the German electronic and IDM duo Modeselektor who formed the group in 1993. They chose the name ‘Modeselektor’ from a function on the Roland RE-201 space echo analog delay effects unit.
Another great way to find a DJ handle is to draw ideas from your surroundings or environment.
Many artists use their native landscape as a reference point in their work when creating musical ideas and this can also be carried into their DJ stage name.
A good example is that of Recondite, who was born Lorenz Brunner and is a German techno DJ and music producer.
Lorenz chose the alias as it reflected elements within his working methods, drawing his inspiration from the lower Bavarian landscape.
He chose the word Recondite due to its clear Latin origin, describing something that was precious to him, whilst also enjoying the phonetic quality of the word itself.
Funny Or Memorable Names
Whilst many famous DJs have well-thought-out and serious names, there are also quite a few well-known DJs who have opted for a tongue-in-cheek approach to their DJ alias.
Some great examples that are both funny and memorable are:
- Duck Sauce – EDM duo consisting of American DJ Armand van Helden and Canadian DJ A-Trak, most famously known for their hit song “Barbra Streisand”.
- DJ Boring – Real name Tristan Hallis, who hails from Australia and has become famous for DJing house music that is far from his namesake!
- Thugfucker – Naughty but highly memorable, this DJ and production duo have never taken things too seriously and created their name to remind them to focus on making good music and not letting their egos get too big!
- Eats Everything- This jovial Brit chose the name due to his insatiable appetite… for music!
Leave It Up To The Universe
OK, we’ve all heard rumors fly around of DJs creating their names by pulling newspaper clippings out of a hat. But does this work? Of course, it could…in theory.
In practice, you’ll probably end up going through a lot of newspapers to find something you like.
Having said that, if you really are stuck and haven’t thought of anything you like this can be a good launching point. If nothing else, it’s a bit of fun and just one idea could lead to your famous and enviable DJ alias.
There have been a lot of creative and quite entertaining stories of how famous DJs got their names by the most unexpected circumstances.
Efdemin aka Phillip Sollmann is a celebrated electronic music DJ and producer hailing from Germany. While young, he heard the name and decided to use it as his professional music handle.
He got it from a character called Mikhail Efdemin, a kind of bad character from Romania. He liked the name so decided that was for him and it paid off!
DJ Names To Avoid!
So far we’ve highlighted plenty of good ways to be creative and original when coming up with a DJ name. There are also a few pitfalls to be cautious of before you commit your DJ alias to the public realm.
Avoid Racial Or Sexual Slurs Or Cliches
Names that provoke a negative sense or irritate particular social morals can significantly reduce your appeal to fans.
Always avoid using names that are racially motivated or suggest sexual cliches, or be prepared to face criticism once your name goes public.
A good example of this is the house and techno DJ and producer who was formerly known as The Black Madonna.
Her real name is Marea Stamper, and she changed her DJ alias to The Blessed Madonna in 2020 in response to a petition claiming racial insensitivity.
Avoid Referencing Existing Bands Or Musicians
Whilst it might seem like a good idea to pay homage to your favorite musical influence with your DJ handle, this should be avoided as it opens you up to all sorts of legal issues when you become famous.
Just ask The Chemical Brothers. This British electronic music duo comprises Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons who first started using the stage name of “The Dust Brothers” as an homage to a US-based band by the same name who influenced their music.
They quickly had to change their name to The Chemical Brothers shortly after their first successful commercial release as they received a cease and desist order from their revered musical heroes! Ouch!
How To Pick A DJ Name
Once you have a few DJ name ideas brewing that you like, you need to pick one that’s best suited to you, and your music.
While creativity is an important factor, you also need to consider availability and how your name works in other countries.
Make Sure Your Chosen Name Is Original And Available
One of the most important things to do is to check the names are available. You’ll want to check you can create a website with your new name, plus also set up all the necessary social media accounts and email as soon as you can.
When you’re really serious, using a trademark search is also a surefire way to make sure you’re choosing a unique and original DJ name, plus it’ll prevent anyone from stealing your trademark before you become famous!
Google it to the max. Check that there are no other businesses, products, or conflicting performers that already use your chosen name or other variations of it.
One of the most famous multi-genre DJs in living history, Deadmau5 (real name Joel Thomas Zimmerman) was originally called ‘the dead mouse guy’ after finding a mouse in his computer according to reports by father.
Unable to use the handle ‘Deadmouse’ in online chat rooms, he shortened the name to Deadmau5.
Spell Check And Language Check
It may seem like DJs are terrible spellers, but spelling is a great way to spice up a seemingly ordinary name and make it unique and interesting.
You should also do a language check on your ideas. Whilst some names may sound cool in English, they may mean something entirely different in another language.
Be sure to put your name into a translator like Google Translate, just to make sure there are no nasty surprises when you start touring or releasing in different countries.
No one wants to discover theirs is offensive, or worse, you’ve named yourself after a loaf of bread in Germany!
So, What’s Your DJ Name Going To Be?
By now you should have a few good ideas bubbling away as to what yours could be.
It’s the name you’re going to have to love and use throughout your career so it’s worth putting some thought into it and making sure you get it right.
It’s always worth road-testing some ideas with close friends before you commit, as getting some feedback will always allow you to get multiple perspectives and avoid overlooking misconceptions of your ideas.
It’s important to check your name is available on all of the social channels and website domains before committing it to the public realm, and don’t forget to check for any unfavorable alternative meanings of your name in other languages.
Finally, make sure the name sounds good to you. Make sure it’s cool and not tied to any current trends or cliches as they can quickly change.
Creating a great DJ alias is as important as the music you’ll play, as you’re defining your brand so you need to be happy with the final result for years to come!