Most people are under the misconception that popular artists suddenly ‘blow up’. It seems these instantly famous talents come out of nowhere, magically propelled into superstardom by the sheer viral nature of their music. This is a total myth. Most of today’s biggest DJ’s have either been pursuing their craft for MANY years or they’ve transitioned from another career as a different artist.
We’ve rounded up a fat list of famous DJ’s with incredible past lives. No matter what you do in life, if you are discouraged by your lack of success, let this be your inspiration to never give up and never stay the same! Roll forth…..
By now you know Skrillex was in a semi-famous post-hardcore band ‘From First To Last’. He eventually split from the band, went solo and played some harsh techno vibes before going full Bro Step. Watch below as a baby Skrillex sings a sweet lullabye, tells the crowd how to experience dance music and plays for 30 people.
BOYS NOIZE / DOG BLOOD
Before he was producing with Skrillex as Dog Blood, rocking beats for Spank Rock and touring as Boys Noize, Alexander Ridha was rocking dark Techno as Kid Alex. Here he is blasting 5 co-workers at a radio station in 2006. Rave, rave, rave!
Before the Mau5 was a millionaire, Joel Zimmerman was rocking khandi and Happy Hardcore. Back in his Toronto days, our own ill.Gates used to know Joel as the local ‘raver synth bro’. Listen below to the first DEADMAU5 tune ever from 1995.
The first known DEADMAU5 tune, circa 1995.
Before the masks, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter were rocking 90’s crowds as Disco House masters. While not many people know what’s under the masks now, the video below gives us a glimpse of their younger, fresh-faced selves. Watch them whip a ’96 crowd into a frenzy and blow a skin-head’s mind.
Ah Tiesto, perhaps the most beloved/behated DJ on the planet. Say what you will, but Tijs Michiel Verwest was rising to global fame when most of todays DJ’s were discovering their private parts. Before he was the renowned king of Trance, he was rocking Happy Hardcore as Da Joker (the pun is incredible). Peep the picture below as Tiesto mugs it up with young Ferry Corsten and Armin Van Buuren. Then watch some Euravers do the ’90’s noodle to the hardcore vibes of Tiesto Da Joker!
This will blow your DJ mind: David Guetta was born in 1967. To put that in perspective, we had not even put a man on the moon yet. He began Djing in the early 80’s and had a 20 year DJ career before landing his first hit “Just A Little More Love”. In the first video below, watch DG in 1990 busting some early DJ maneuvers for a French rapper with bug eyes. Then watch him in 1992 crate-digging for funky peeps with the French Harry Potter. Selecta!
Steve Aoki has been at it since the 90’s. His father is the multi-millionaire owner of Benihana restaurants, which probably didn’t hurt Steve’s career. Before he was caking people in the face and semi-famously jumping off of things, he was in a punk band called This Machine Kills! Listen below to the screaming glory.
Hands down, Alain Macklovitch (aka A-trak) was one of the dopest turntablists in the game. In 1997, at the age of 15, he won the DMC world championship and became an honorary member of the infamous Invisibl Skratch Piklz with Qbert, Shortkut and Mix Master Mike. He also joined The Allies alongside DJ Craze and went on to claim 5 world champ titles. He’s fkng legendary, and his older brother is 1/2 of Chromeo. Watch below as baby A-trak takes his first title!
Much like A-trak, the world’s most famous maker of cute-music is also a former turntablist! Watch him compete as ‘DJ Final’ at the 2009 DMC world championship!
Before they were knifing you with Electro House and Dubstep, they were famously rocking Euro fans as a Drum and Bass band called Pendulum. Watch them slay these early century crowds!
There’s no shortage of Drum and Bass DJ’s who abandoned there genre and gained fame for it. Before Jon Gooch was drawing monster teeth and expertly weaving Electro House, he was a famous Drum and Bass bro named Spor. Here he is in 2006 with a young Excision, Ewun (Kill The Noise) and Troy Beetles (Before he was Datsik) by his side.
KILL THE NOISE
Before he was a world renowned OWSLA artist, Jake Stanczak was killing the Drum and Bass scene as EWUN. Watch below as he lays down the DnB vibes with some screaming MC bro’s in 2009.
As mentioned above, 12th Planet is yet another DnB-gone-Dubstep DJ. Here he is in 2006 going deep under the moniker ‘Infiltrada’.
Before he was everyone’s favorite Trap bro, Nick Weiller was part of the Atlanta based, underground DnB trio EVOL INTENT. Watch below as they play for 20 people and chat about their future moves.
Bassnectar has been head-banging since the ’90’s. He began his illustrious career in High School on the scary Metal Core tip. At the turn of the century, he turned down for the West Coast hippies, then gradually turned up as the Dubstep vibes took hold. Watch below as he works out the teen angst in his High School band ‘Pale Horse’. Then peep a young ‘Nectar gently slaying some West Coast hippies. Apparently, it was his first live show ever?
Download the new Bassnectar album HERE!
THE GLITCH MOB
Before they were the Glitch Mob they were a collective of DJ’s including edIT, Ooah, Boreta, Kraddy, Kitty-D, Ana Sia, myself (R/D) and more. I lived with them during their formation and definitely have some incredible old pics/footage somewhere, but I will save that for another article. Peep edIT and Ooah laying down the baby-makers at a hippy-fest in 2009!
Ah yes, our very own ill.Gates was also once another DJ entirely. In the early part of the century, he was rocking Funky Break Vibes as The Phat Conductor! Watch below as he rocks the 1’s and 2’s. Then peep a young ill.Gates interviewed by Bassnectar!