For diehard fans of EDM, there are few word pairings quite so odious as celebrity and DJ. After all, when critics already enjoy deriding EDM and DJs for "just pressing play,” phony performances and prerecorded sets do nothing but harm.
As long as the electronic music and festival scene remain a super-star industry, there will always be posers. This list, however, is dedicated to those celebrities who buck that trend and have at least some business being behind the mixers.
1. Idris Elba
When he’s not guarding the Bifrost Bridge, Idris Elba has no problem manning the DJ booth. Far preceding his stint on The Wire, Elba started on the turntables in his teens and has quietly maintained a DJ career in tandem with his acting career. Elba self-describes his style as a “techy, progressive, sort of almost bassy house.”
2. Elijah Wood
Elijah Wood is one half of the DJ act Wooden Wisdom. He and his DJ-partner, Zach Cowie, perform on vinyl, and though their genres are eclectic they tend to maintain a psychedelic disco vibe throughout. The pair cite Aphex Twin, Flying Lotus, and Four Tet among some DJs that have inspired them.
3. Kristian Nairn
Before he was this generation’s favorite friendly giant, Kristian Nairn, A.K.A. Hodor from Game of Thrones, was already a prolific DJ in Ireland and the U.K. Having been involved with DJing and music for over 20 years, Nairn is experienced with progressive house and progressive trance. He held down a residency for over a decade at Belfast’s Kremlin, and has performed at some of the largest clubs and music festivals around the world.
4. Shaquille O’Neal
Though one of the newest celebrity DJs to join the ring, Shaquille O’Neal is no stranger to the turntables. Recently taking to the stage as DJ Diesel, O’Neal says he started mixing music in the late eighties. Since breaking into the EDM industry, O’Neal has collaborated with artists like Diplo and hosts his own music festival, Shaq’s Fun House.
5. Sasha Grey
Though it may come as a surprise to some, Sasha Grey (real name Marina Ann Hantzis) deserves top marks in the category of celebrity DJ. Retiring from her adult film career in 2009, she has since accrued credits over a variety of different mediums. Clearly having a taste for electronic music, Hantzis has provided vocals for groups like Infected Mushroom, Death In Vegas, Throbbing Gristle, and Current 93. Hantzis also collaborated with Jayceeoh, and has toured in festivals and clubs around the world. Most importantly, however, Her mixes aren’t half bad.
Brian Baker is a writer, photographer, and designer based out of St. Louis. You can find his portfolio here.