In the world of electronic music, a DJ’s name is more than just their moniker. With their name, they might carry a brand, an identity, a label, or even an entire genre. Considering how poorly fans can react when their favorite artists start spinning a different style, it’s easy to see why some of the industry’s superstar performers perform under different names. Other DJs simply have too much style, panache, and creativity to be contained by a single alias.
In honor of these surreptitious or prolific performers, below is a list of DJs and their side projects, supergroups, aliases, and alter egos, both past and present.
1. Barclay Crenshaw … A.K.A. Claude VonStroke
House aficionados know him as the big boss of Dirtybird, but when Claude VonStroke isn’t spinning his signature tech house and self-described “tech funk,” he produces under different titles – including his birth name, Barclay Crenshaw. When performing as himself, his vibe is distinctly more exploratory and psychedelic than the party-ready house hits of Claude VonStroke.
2. Pryda, Cirez D, Tonja Holma … A.K.A. Eric Prydz
Rising to fame in 2004, Eric Prydz has left a strong and lasting impression on the electronic music industry. Not only was he a founding member of the unofficial first incarnation of the Swedish House Mafia, but his 2009 song “Miami to Atlanta” featured a snare drum that would take the world by storm. Now called the "Pryda snare," by 2013, this signature sound preceded the drop of nearly every big room and music festival anthem across the industry.
When he’s not performing his more commercial style, Prydz plays under Pryda (progressive house) and Cirez D (darker techno). Though he did not join the Swedish House Mafia when they became official, Prydz has collaborated with different members of the trio as AxEr and the A&P Project.
3. TESTPILOT, WTF? … A.K.A. deadmau5
deadmau5 (real name Joel Zimmerman) is one of today’s big names in progressive house. Just like any other seasoned veteran of the game, Zimmerman has gone through several aliases who all produce a little differently.
Zimmerman has previously collaborated with Steve Duda, Tommy Lee, and DJ Aero to form WTF? The group has released two EPs, Chicken and REDIC / CEABA55555. His most recent side project is known as TESTPILOT, the techno-driven alter ego whose most recent appearance was at Electric Forest 2018.
4. Silk City, LSD, Major Lazer, Jack Ü, Thomas Wesley … A.K.A. Diplo
EDM playboy Diplo (real name Thomas Wesley Pentz) is no stranger to pseudonyms. Having been deeply entrenched in the music industry since before the turn of the century, Pentz’ legacy is wide and varying. At the start of his DJ career, Pentz spun vinyl with DJ Low Budget under the name Hooked on Hollertronix. Pentz went on to release his first solo project Florida under the name Diplo (short for DJ Diplodocus) in 2004.
His career, which is hallmarked by continuously producing for the biggest names in the music industry, has also seen a great number of collaborative projects. The most famous being Major Lazer, originally a project with DJ Switch, and Jack Ü, his project with Skrillex. Among his most recent experiments in the music industry is his country music persona, Thomas Wesley.
5. From First to Last, Jack Ü, Dog Blood … A.K.A. Skrillex
Bucking the trend of his peers, Skrillex (real name Sonny Moore) has kept his name consistent throughout the years while his sounds have grown and changed. First performing as Sonny Moore, the lead singer of post-hardcore band From First to Last, Moore would go on to don the Skrillex mantle as a producer and solo performer in 2008. In 2010, Moore released his first Skrillex EP, My Name is Skrillex.
While Moore hasn’t changed his performing name since those early days in Los Angeles, he has performed and produced under collaborative monikers Dog Blood and Jack Ü, with Boys Noize and Diplo, respectively. In an interview with Westword, Moore said Skrillex was simply a “stupid old online AOL screen name.”
6. Gouryella, System F, New World Punx … A.K.A. Ferry Corsten
Ferry Corsten has been releasing music since 1989 and has been a mainstay in the world of trance since the '90s. Undoubtedly one of the most tenured acts of the genre, Corsten has a list of artist names rivaled in length only by his production credits. Corsten’s early releases saw names like Moonman and Pulp Victim, while he has helmed collaborative projects like Gouryella, formerly with Tiësto (now a solo project), and New World Punx with Markus Schulz. Presently, three of Corsten’s most visible personas are Ferry Corsten, System F, and Gouryella
7. Clockwork, Henry Steinway … A.K.A. RL Grime
King of the halloween mixtapes and perennial favorite of the melodic trap scene, RL Grime (real name Henry Alfred Steinway) hasn’t always been the spook-meister supreme. From 2011 to 2014, he produced music under the alias Clockwork. Whereas RL Grime is heavily trap-infused, Clockwork (perhaps surprisingly) stands firmly within the big room and dutch house genres.
8. Anjunabeats, OceanLab … A.K.A. Above & Beyond
A trio of trance titans, Above & Beyond (real names Paavo Siljamäki, Jono Grant, and Tony McGuiness) have been a powerhouse in the electronic music industry for two solid decades. Originally starting as a duo called Anjunabeats, Grant and Siljamäki would soon change their name to Dirt Devils and Free State to differentiate themselves from Anjunabeats as a label. Later, McGuinness would employ the help of Grant and Siljamäki to remix Chakra’s “Home,” that the three would release together as Above & Beyond.
Two alternate aliases for Above & Beyond are OceanLab, for releases that specifically involve Justine Suissa, and Tranquility Base, which is self-described as their “club tracks alias.”
9. Seventh Stitch, Spor … A.K.A. Feed Me
A man of many projects, Feed Me (real name Jonathan Gooch) has produced several different genres under several different names. Initially known as the drum and bass producer Spor, Gooch would go on to produce IDM as Seventh Stitch, and most famously, electro house and dubstep as Feed Me. Gooch has used the Spor moniker most recently in 2015 to create the studio album Caligo.
10. Virtual Self … A.K.A. Porter Robinson
The first true king of the modern EDM-weaboo crossover movement, Porter Robinson of Worlds fame has produced many different sounds since his early years as a bedroom DJ. While his early tracks were main stage-friendly big room, it was his then-electro house stylings would catch the eye of Skrillex around 2011.
After the success of his and Madeon's "Shelter," Robinson took on the alias Virtual Self in 2017, playing at festivals and shows around the world. In 2019, the Virtual Self track “Ghost Voices” was nominated at the 2019 Grammy Awards for Best Dance Recording, marking Robinson's first nomination. As of January 2020, Robinson returned to using his real name with the surprise release “Get Your Wish.”
Brian Baker is a writer, photographer, and designer based out of St. Louis. You can find his portfolio here.