Analyzing DJ/Producer Names For Success

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More than just a name, the title associated with your DJ or producer performances can set the tone, create ideas about your style or the experience of hearing you perform, and help fans remember you down the line. Today we’re taking another look at how names work and fail within our industry, as well as what patterns and science you can use help make yours a success.

BEING MEMORABLE

We’ve all known some great DJs that never see the limelight. Despite strong efforts, they just can’t seem to get a viral grip on the young party people. Ultimately, a DJ’s (or producer’s) success is based on how many people are talking about, sharing, and spreading your music. If people can’t remember what to call you, or what you sound like, they most likely won’t be telling anyone to check you out.

Alternately, if your name is really easy to remember, it will most likely come up in a lot more conversations. But more important than being easy to remember is the science of being memorable. For example, the name “DJ Beat” is easy to remember, but easily gets lost due to its generic vibe, but “DJ Beat Off” is memorable, albeit crass. One is milk-toast, the other causes a stir (for the record, I don’t endorse/enjoy either of those names). Certain names just beg to be talked about. What is its exactly that makes something memorable, easy to remember, fun-sounding, and cool?

NAMES CREATE MEANING

When thinking about words, most humans have internal visualizations of them.

For example, when you encounter the word “banana”, perhaps an image of a yellow fruit appears in your mind’s eye and you remember everything you have ever associated with banana, perhaps a monkey, or Mario Kart, or a memory of that one time you wore a banana costume to a music festival. Suffice to say there’s a lot of questions when it comes to a name:  Is it easy to remember? Is it memorable? Does it sound fun? Does it conjure a distinct visual element? Does it make you want to tell someone about it?

I began my hunt by looking for patterns in successful DJ names. What makes them special? Why has my 12-year-old brother heard of Skrillex? Why is my mom asking me if I’ve heard of Deadmau5?

In order to understand and analyze what makes a good DJ name, I’m going to get a bit geeky and scientific. But the bottom line is that all technicalities aside, a good name should sound like a fun event to go to, keyword to Google, or just to generally remember. Particularly in a world of a thousand bands where “everyone wants to be a producer,” you will need to be very calculating in order to peg yourself into people’s memories. There are a variety of techniques for achieving this.

THE PATTERN: COMPOUND NAMES

The first, and most validated pattern in successful DJ names is a compound name – a two-syllable or two word name. The pattern (which of course can be broken!), uses two syllables or “beats”. The first word is an attitude-oriented spin, the second word is typically an icon or symbol that people can relate to and already have ideas about, or that brings imagery to mind.

Why this pattern? The purpose here is to latch on to some idea or concept that people are already well familiar with and put an unexpected twist on it that causes a thought-provoking or emotion-evoking response.

Before we look at some real life examples, let’s use a hypothetical, extreme, and mildly offensive demonstration name that I’ve just made up to show how this compound naming scheme works so well:

That’s right, Crack Nun. I expect to see them on the Coachella lineup next year.

So first you’re going to think of all the lovely, harmless nuns you’ve ever known – every movie with a nun, perhaps some vague childhood memories of going to church, and so on. But then: crack? Is she smoking it? Suddenly you’re picturing a nun smoking crack!

Imagine how easily this name could rise to public popular awareness – next thing you know Crack Nun is being discussed on conservative television and your grandma is calling you asking you if you’ve heard of this atrocity. Teens, loving the rush of endorphins they get whenever they talk about “Crack Nun” begin spending all their allowances on your overpriced shows, and college students create internet memes and pioneer the movement, proudly wearing Crack Nun merch. Boom, household name.

But of course Crack Nun is a terrible example so let’s look at some real life DJ names that use this technique.

REAL LIFE EXAMPLES + ANALYSIS

DeadMau5 (dead – mouse): The name originally came from a dead mouse Joel Zimmerman found in his computer, there may be another reason why this name sticks. Here we take one of the most iconic characters of the 20th century (Mickey Mouse), kill him, and send him to a rave. You can’t get any closer to a total loss of innocence and devilish iconography. This is a brilliant name because nearly everyone knows about Mickey Mouse – and can also draw him. Suddenly everyone, from a grandma to a middle schooler (and everyone in between) can identify, draw, and remember Deadmau5.

Diplo (dip – lo): Here we combine a unambiguously sexy term “low” as in “get low,” “low down,” and add the additional swagger factor of dipping. The term “dip” is usually only used by very cool members of society to communicate they will be leaving shortly. It implies a carefree ambivalence, which is a typical attitude of cool people.

A-Trak (a – track): We all know DJs play tracks, but do they play the “A” tracks? This name adds a classic, choice, and prime vibe to the well known word, track. Simple and classic, don’t try too hard.

Skrillex (skrill – x): Gangsta or slang term for money (skrilla!) meets straight edge emo kid. The resulting image is one of 50 Cent infiltrating Hot Topic with a lazer gat.

Ill Gates (ill – gates): Of course, the whole family knows about Bill Gates. So when Bill turns Ill someone’s sure to take notice and tell a friend. “Did you hear about Ill Gates??” This is an increasingly popular style of taking a familiar proper noun and reversing or modifying it very slightly (Mord Fustang is another great example).

Bassnectar (bass – nectar): Brilliant imagery of dripping bass. This name clearly states its two intentions: to load you up with bass, and melt your brain till it drips, like nectar.

Flosstradamus (floss – tradamus): This one is longer in syllables, but still has a compound word framing – the freshness of dental floss with the prophetic ramblings of an ancient seer. Take a traditional recognizable name and put very modern word on it!

THE SCIENCE BEHIND COMPOUND NAMES

The two word name pattern in the examples above is important from a psychological perspective because it taps into a pre-encoded memory stream. By piggybacking on a memory that people already have (and share with much of the rest of the world), you can secure a place in the collective conscious that will already be deeply ingrained.

I’m not making this up – in fact, the two word/syllable model is such an important part of early human development and thought that there is even a psychological term for it:

Telegraphic speech,“is speech during the two-word stage of language acquisition in children, which is laconic and efficient. Researchers have noted that this period of language acquisition occurs some time between the ages of 18–36 months and is present not just in English-speaking cultures, but can be found worldwide.” – Wikipedia

In layman’s terms, the two-word name is balanced and short. This means that by using a two word name, not only will you be tapping into one of our most primitive and early adopted speech patterns, but one that is shared around the world, across all cultures and languages. It is the single most efficient way to communicate a big idea, and can be used to great effect.

Of course you are, based on analytic data from users of this site, you are probably (but not definitely) a male between the ages of 14 and 35. Which puts you in a position of great potential inebriation. According to a scientist, drinking alcohol (a common and arguably critical element of partying, dancefloors, and DJ culture) breaks down frontal lobe functionality, reducing the drunk person to a more simple state of cognition. The frontal lobe is the part of your brain that controls impulses, judgment, language production, and working memory.

When the frontal lobe of the brain is inhibited, as by alcohol, even the most responsible adults will revert to telegraphic speech patterns. According to Wikipedia, “regression to telegraphic speech may indicate a neurological problem such as multiple sclerosis… or other damage to the posterior-inferior frontal lobe.”

As a result, drinking, and a party environment will best be remembered and communicated with a speech pattern in line with the same type of telegraphic speech used by small babies. In a study by Bryn Mawr University, it was determined that “individuals who consume alcohol can show impulsive and reckless behavior similar to those with frontal lobe damage.”

Semantic Relations

Further insight into successful DJ names can be derived from studying the way infants string together their two word sentences. In a 1973 study, psychologists were able to distinguish that, “75% of children’s two-word utterances could be summarised in the existence of 11 semantic relations:

Eleven important early semantic relations and examples based on Brown 1973:

  • Attributive: ‘big house’
  • Agent-Action: ‘Daddy hit’
  • Action-Object: ‘hit ball’
  • Agent-Object: ‘Daddy ball’
  • Nominative: ‘that ball’
  • Demonstrative: ‘there ball’
  • Recurrence: ‘more ball’
  • non-existence: ‘all-gone ball’
  • Possessive: ‘Daddy chair’
  • Entity + Locative: ‘book table’
  • Action + Locative: ‘go store’”

When you’re building your two word name, experiment with these different relationships, brainstorm words that work with your image, and plug them into these semantic relationships. If you can’t help but smile when you say it, you might be onto something.

Compound Themes: The Cute Punk Trend

In additional to creating compound names that imply juxtaposed meaning, a lot of artists see success in creating a theme that memorably aligns two divergent concepts.

The cute punk trend is one of the most enduring and successful juxtapositions because appeals to both genders (remember, it ain’t no party without the ladies!). The fusion of cute and punk represents a loss of innocence which humans inescapably associate with sex (a rather popular subject amongst the partying crowd). Simultaneously, they are hardwired to be attracted to the cute (read more about the science of cute in this HuffPo article). It is playful and balanced.

Let’s look at an example: Feed Me (logo at right). This is a great example of the of cute/punk fusion. Here we have a cute little monster with a grin and body language that say he’s going to kill and eat you. The ladies (and snuggle-forward men) want to pick him up and squeeze him till he giggles, but the grin represents a feisty nature that also gives them a sense of being seduced. The contrast makes the character memorable and fun. The best part is that the name, “Feed me!” totally plays into the cute baby-like appearance, while also suggesting a unique appetite for blood, evil, or sex. You can picture him saying “feed me!” in a little monster voice.

When your mind can easily start to make up a story about the artist or brand without ever even hearing the music, you know you’re onto something. 

IN-CONCLUSION

That’s definitely enough theory and speculation, now it’s time to start drafting up some ideas. Unfortunately, the more I dial in the exact formula for creating the ultimate name, the harder for me it is to come up with one. A good strategy is to make a list of icons or symbols that could work, look for anything that is already in the public consciousness. Do your best to find one syllable words.

It might help to start with a character or image, and then try to describe the image with your name. This ensures that you’ll be creating the proper synergy between you visuallly and your name. In other words, the name should describe the character, so sometimes you’ll want to start with the character. But when you’re creating the character, of course, you’ll want to consider your audience:

HOW TO TEST YOUR NAME

Excuse me, sir, do you have any Circuit Rage?

Too often I hear my friends coming up with names that sound painful, technical, or downright off putting. Remember, you should be crafting this brand based on what output you want and what genre you’re looking to rule. Do you really want to play to a dark room full of sweaty men on ketamine, or would you prefer a more gender-balanced party? If the latter, then proceed, if the former, pick a name like “Circuit Rage.”

The name should also feel right for the style of music you plan on releasing and mixing. For example, “Death Bro” doesn’t really work for a house artist, although it might be great for a dubstep artist.

Whenever you come up with a new name idea, don’t just ask your close friends, go out into the world and ask your target audience (attractive women? swing dancers? free jazz aficionados?)  if they would want to go to a ______ show, or if they’ve heard of ______, or even if they think it sounds cool and interesting. By judging their interest in the subject, and willingness to investigate, you can deduce if your name has the right kind of viral potential.

BREAK THE RULES! 

Remember, you don’t have to follow these rules to make a great name. There are boundless examples that refute the compound name theory, however the patterns remain, leaving it a clear and rapid route to becoming a household name.

Agree? Disagree? Want to share your own speculation on what makes certain names really stick in the DJ/producer world? Let’s chat in the comments.

  • Amit Chakraborty

    I’m looking for a DJ NAME for me that covers house, trance, dance, psychedelic, hip hop, dance, electronic dance music etc.

    Any suggestion guys??.

  • Diktator

    Also for EXAMPLE, Zeds Dead and Yolanda be cool, quotes from movie “Pulp Fiction”

  • dj gaurav fulauna sultanpur

    dj gaurav fulauna sultanpur
    pravesh mix 9450906765

  • cmthornt0n

    But what about like short slang for words. For example, SCNDL ”Scandal”. I was thinking about doing SHRK. is that bad?

  • Had a name change recently and I would say that I agree with most of these. My main reason for the change was wanting to focus on my original tracks and shifting from the “DJ” aspect.

  • Pingback: Choosing your DJ Name | MMMMAVEN()

  • Elijah Logan

    My name is Maztrpeac3 because it is to syllables, it was a childhood nickname, and it sounds like it would be a perfect piece of art

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  • Drew Gavin Bixel

    Excellent article mate, good speculation

  • Ibzzzz

    Hi i am looking for a music production name for myself i came up with flashback it kind of relates to me because i get them sometimes but i am not sure if this name is taken if it is i can add a extra word but what could that extra word be

  • bob

    DJ Matterhorn

  • capone

    how about “two balls” ?

  • Anonymous

    Up until a few months ago, I thought Skrillex was actually “Skill Rex”, which IMHO is much better.

  • Austen Smart

    Thanks Zach, you’re article came to us at a perfect time. We DJ/Produce under the name of Brodanse which we picked at the time because it was: two syllables and was connected to us and what we do (brothers who make house music)…

    However as we have grown bigger and hear our name mentioned more and more, there seems to be a lot of mispronunciation… it should be Brodance (said as one, O is almost silent, not like Row, Tow’… “Brdance”

    We considered changing our name, we considered recently to put a space in between the words, but if we do that we think we could lose a lot of traction e.g. all the music we have released under that name, all of our Facebook likes, Soundcloud etc etc…

    Soooo I think your article affirms that we stick to it. BUT I would like your opinion!!!

    Thanks for the article, really good!

  • david

    some kids in the neighboring locales know me from rumor as ‘the legendary Dishwasher Dave”.

    is Dishwasher Dave too humble?

    ABRAZADERAS is my other option. too saffron?

    DJ 4play. DJ hatfoot. Dj Tunebag. DJ loofah. DJ Ketchup. DJ Kcuf Nips (Spin Fu__) Dj Hairtomb. Papa Hop. Dj Flypod. Phlyphoan. Bamborgeeny. The Roants Of Elyppides.

    Texsoy. might use that. DJ Sex Toy is too up front and guys couldn’t justify coming to see me. plus texas. threat of litigitation from soy protein processors such as Tex Soy.

    sex market. what lets women know they can confidently imagine that some ridiculous caricature of a male is engaging with them in a way that satisfies the desires that they have been conditioned towards seeking? “oh he’s the DJ, hormone, i’m just like the girls on TV!”

  • Airrik

    Well my dj name came about from a play on spelling. My name is Erik and I go by Airrik which was a combination of air from being an on air radio personality with my name. Names can be a bit important. I always run into the problem that mine is hard to spell and to talk about so when I’m performing I go by Airrik Live. But in the end the music is most important. But from an advertising perspective the name does matter.

  • Krish

    i go by KRISHENDO , short version : Krish
    im a Producer/Dj
    what u think peeps ?

  • Luke

    Hrrr, Will my name “Lukas Kasper” be okay as a DJ / Producer? :<
    I've been thinking ages of a name now…

  • Anonymous

    I actually have been thinking a lot about my DJ title, “Spontaneous Mixx,” which I have been using for 10 years. Descriptively, it does exactly what it supposed to do, adjective verb combo that perfectly describes my style, but it’s a lot of damn syllables… and a lot of people misspell it. This makes me feel like it has a side effect of making people feel stupid, and I’m not sure WHAT kind of “memorable” score it gets being that long.

  • Colton

    I REALLY love this logo. One of my buddies who’s been producing for a while, but recently got into producing electronic. http://www.mrbootsauce.com

  • Synthagmatics

    Rob Swire (Pendulum/ Knife Party) said we should change our name “Synthagmatics”to something else. Do you agree? if so, why should we change it?

    • kaboozleheimer

      i agree, that name is a mouthful and a half. it’s counterintuitive to read and the “ag” part is a bit unattractive. also, before you ask, kaboozleheimer is not my production moniker.

  • Will Divide

    I always appreciate an insightful take on things. Tutorials are great, but sometimes its just nice to take a good look around.

  • Anonymous

    Calgar C 😀 i wonder how memorable that name is lol, agian great article

  • Bob

    God I hate to be a negative commenter but sorry, the name just does not matter. Your name could be “Wackoff” or “Shlong” or “Eye Suck” and you could make it to the top. MUSIC is the ONLY thing that matters. This article is just silly. You could have an AMAZING name and still have bad production. Then you will go nowhere.

  • DJ Daddy Ball

    So is Daddy Ball the best theoretical DJ name for infants into house music? I’ve been trying to pull a few from that demographic for a while now. But seriously, really educating article Mad Zach! Mad Ups!

  • ryvm dillaz

    Ryvm dillaz!

    look us up on soundcloud

  • dion mavath

    Awesome analysis, never thought of it

  • Anonymous

    One thing is for certain – If you want to be a trance dj park a ‘van’ in between your first and last names. If you like techno make sure it sounds German whatever you do.

  • InPhamousOne

    very interesting, i have fallen into this without trying i had changed my performance name about 5-6 years ago, dropped the “dj” and ended up a 2 syllable word, it was taken better by the public/promotion companies

  • asdf

    Diplo’s childhood favorite dinosaur was the diplodocus

  • Raphael

    I came up with the name Reyification, since my username was always something with Rey, and my name starts with an ‘R’.
    So far I’ve gotten good feedback and I’m also the only one in the world with that name. I googled it

  • Cosmos

    Totally needed this to boost my confidence about the recording name I use. Thanks man!

  • Gregg Ashley

    No offence mate, but personally I think this article is talking utter shit. There are a few fair generalisations, i.e. having a easily memorable name (top priority), or self contradictory double barrel names that work (but these are really more of current a fashion/trend than a “successful” naming formula).

    Different styles of music/genres have different naming conventions that are quite blatant when you look at them, whilst at the same time there are the odd exceptions that break these patterns. For instance, a lot of indie bands would be called “The” Something, e.g. The Killers, The Kooks, etc etc, the majority of House/Trance DJs would just have a normal regular name i.e Pete Tong, Armin van Buuren, Jamie Jones, David Squillace. But again theres numerous exceptions. It used to be cool to have the prefix “DJ” in front of your name, but now if you do that most people just think you’re a douche

    Using your theory, personally I think the names that roll of the tongue quite nicely are two part consisting of 3 syllables in total (one word with one syllable, the other with two… doesnt matter which way round). E.g. Loco Dice, Jamie Jones, Seth Troxler, Gregg Ashley (haha). But then again thats bollocks, think of Luciano, Richie Hawtin, Marco Carola. Or how about Magda, even?!

    The truth is, there really is no formula to a name other than being unique and original, perhaps hold some relevance to you in some way or another, and not be cheesey. (Plus you can either follow naming trends or break them, both work)

    But what REALLY makes a name cool, catchy and memorable, is the Musician / DJ / Producer behind it. They need to be extremely talented at what they do, and if they are, they can have the shittest name in the world, and it would still be cool and memorable. Whereas if your a shit dj/producer or whatever, having the “best” name in the world is… well, frankly a complete waste of a good name.

    Its all part of marketing and branding (and building a reputation), and that is done by simply being seriously fucking good at what you do, and creating a strong positive image of yourself in peoples minds.(When I think of Deadmau5 I dont think of a dead mouse, I think of a bald recluse musical genius, which is exactly what he is) And the only way to achieve THAT, is through constant hard work and effort day in day out. In this cut throat industry there are no shortcuts, and the (all too common) expectation of “instant gratification” will get you nowhere. Nothing comes easy. (also remember you are never as good as you think/claim you are).

    The only way you’ll even have a remote chance of making it is by constantly striving to be the best at your trade (in this case, music). How good you are, defines how good your name is, not the other way round

    So keep your eye on the ball and get back to work! 😉

    PS Zach, A-Trak simply named himself after the old digital tape format called A-Trak, nothing to do with playing the “A” tracks 😉

  • Alexandre De Joncaire Narten

    Finally and article to help me with my struggle for finding a cool and catchy name. Cheers Buddy!

  • Surprised that this article doesn’t mention availability of the .com domain for whatever you decide to call yourself…

    !!! AWESOMER !!!
    (who owns awesomer.com … :D)

  • Angelo Atreyu

    I used to be Dj Swagga… changed after because it wasn’t very open to other styles of music (when I played Dubstep or DnB worked perfectly but for a house set? no sir) then I started with “Loserkid” but with almost 25 keep calling myself Kid wasn’t a good idea… so I finally changed to FuckZilla… I’m happy with it, people do remember and it’s working great with what I’m playing.

  • DJ CLeaR

    Mine totally fails on the two word or even two syllable level. I made it from my full name. Christopher Lee Riley = C.L.R. = DJ CLeaR. Unfortunately there are a few other DJ Clears but one is a huge award winning scratch DJ, and the other more on the Hip Hop level in New York, and i spin nothing but Techno (what EDM used to be called before corporate America rebranded it EDM, remember the Electronica fad in the 90s, so silly). I spin many genres, Electro House, Minimal, Industrial, 80s, new wave, punk, basically whatever will get the crowd moving. So my name needed to be able to cover many genres. Anyways. Not sure I want to change my name because of all the branding changes that would come with it, website, business cards etc.
    Great article ZACH. You bring solid content to this site. Plan to share this with our Verbal and Branding team at the design agency I work at.

    http://www.dj-clear.com
    Soundcloud link to free sets.
    https://soundcloud.com/djclear-1

  • Frank Lemon

    Sorry guys, but now I have to ask:

    What do you associate with FRANK LEMON?

    • Anonymous

      House Music.

    • Having a Frank Lemon party?

    • DJ Ball Touch

      A lesbian who tells it like it is?

    • DJ Scrotus Operandi

      Annoying Orange’s sensible sister?

  • Metaphysica

    I used to go by MissRed but got tired of being misunderstood so changed it to Metaphysica. I play funky / dark / progressive / psy breaks usually with some sort of message relating to cosmic consciousness and that sort of thing.
    Any thoughts?

  • MashMuzik

    i think i did pretty good

  • I’ve been ‘DJ Quest’ for years. Generic? Maybe. So I’ve mixed it up with ‘A DJ Called Quest’ on and off for the past year. Thoughts, anyone?

    • Maebyn La Fey

      “DJ Quest ” is used by at least 2 other famous DJ’s . Might want to abandon that one. Copy right issues. You can be sued. “Plastician” used to be Plastic Man. But had to got to court over copy rights from Richie Hawton.(Although I thought that was unfair – because they both stold it from a comic book.)

      • At least 2 famous DJ Quests? What world are you living in?? Questlove doesn’t count. Hows my rename?

  • jnsy

    Pretty sure A Trak is a play on the 1970’s tape machine called the “8 track” isn’t it?

    • sandor

      yes, it is also a play on the fact that A-Trak started djing by scratching vinyls and still typically playes vinyls which come with an A and B side, back when vinyls were the most common medium for listening to music, the A side generally contained the “hits” or singles on a record, while the B side usually contained experimental tracks or lesser known tracks, the name A-Track conveys the sense that he plays bangers, which is ironic due do a-track’s unique and often experiental style

  • boys noize so good they put it twice

  • J

    i love the article, but hasn’t this been posted allready like a year ago?

  • nayami
  • Phil Bass

    My real name is Phil Bass….
    Do you think i could keep it as my dj name?

    • Bletch

      With such a great name, you don’t even have to be a DJ.

    • InPhamousOne

      Honestly, Bass Phil works better for me, Cheers

    • Fishy Biz

      Fill Bass

  • Dimo P

    Why my belief is that if you make good music…the rest is b@$#? 🙂 no offense…but if u listen to something good, the name comes second…

    • surely it does… However there are plenty of good music producers out there et zach is just sayin that to get known by msses (and not just a few folks), pickin a good name is always a good start

  • DJ_ForcedHand

    I’ve been using (and liking) “Forced Hand” as a moniker for a while as it describes the darker, electronic, heavy-hitting, dance music I like to play. It has both the iconic image of the phrase “to be left no choice (by other peoples’ decisions) but to take this (often very strong) response” and the second one being one of the most powerful psychological symbols, the human hand. I use the hand print (which looks like it’s wet with some fluid) as my symbol (which also has it’s own symbolism). I’m interested in having my DJ name critiqued (if people are open to it).

    I get a little chided from my DJ friends with “Forced Hand Job” because the name seems to sound a little strong (I know it’s all in fun) but if that’s the best they can come up with, I think I chose well. What do you think?

    • David De Garie-Lamanque

      that’s a cool moniker! quite heavy hitting

      • DJ_ForcedHand

        One bonus item about the “Open Hand” logo I use, is that it works well as an animated symbol (when used as a visualizer on a video screen… I’ll do my best to describe this). The hand “drums to the beat” of the music when I synch the visualizer to the music, it quickly scales up (for the downbeat) and returns to its normal size when off the beat.

        I’d suggest a simple logo you can use on a visualizer that looks good when throbbing to a beat. (Yes, I learned this from playing the old Harmonix game “Frequency” on the PS2… I was a Beta Tester for this game, BTW).

        • David De Garie-Lamanque

          cool tip!

    • DR. Abra James Kadabra

      Forced Hand is an Amazing name. Very mature with a hint of double entendre of the actual meaning of that term, mixed with your hands spinning as a DJ. Wish I’d thought of it. Only suggestion I’d lend to you (only cus you asked) was to think about dropping the DJ and just going with Forced Hand. The DJ kinda cheapens it or robs it its mystery (despite the fact thats what you do). I’d say if not now then when or if you can get your brand to where you want it to be, definitely think about going with just Forced Hand. Minus the DJ in it, it sounds like a movement, like you’ve got an entire army behind you…… Just my opinion. Cheers!

      • DR. Abra James Kadabra

        *Of its mystery

    • DJ Dick Turnip

      Good name. It does sound a bit like the excuse of a pervert tho

  • Gino Jocko

    my DJ name is SocksNFlops, i like it cus it promotes a trend, is fun, and kind of encaptures the way i play my sets which is with high energy…..honestly would like some feedback from u guys on how u like it tho, figurin this is a good opportunity for it haha

  • Jfox

    Check out Acid Smoker

    It’s not what the name suggests.

    This guy should think about a name change

    http://m.soundcloud.com/acid-smoker

  • David De Garie-Lamanque

    My artist name is Apoplexia…does that sound too cerebral? The initial intent when choosing the name is the effect i want my music to have on people’s brain….like a brutal stroke. I think it works considering the pretty hard strain of DnB i like to make, but what do you folks think?

    • DJ_ForcedHand

      I think it just might be a little cerebral. Just try saying the name when you’re (really) drunk… or listen to someone trying to pronounce it when they’re (really) drunk. I’m convinced words like this were designed to be impossible to say correctly when drunk. I think you’ll find people will shorten the name and that means it’s awkward. I think my moniker is borderline “too complicated” (people might call me “for sand”) but drunk women will use a hand gesture to push at someone to make the point and it’s the involvement of a body gesture that brings me back from being “too obtuse”… barely. Most people don’t know what Apoplexia means (Sudden impairment of neurological function, especially that resulting from a cerebral hemorrhage)… and it’s kinda’ hard to say while drunk… and the word doesn’t have a natural play to it. This is one of those times where what you say has to be tempered with how you say it.

      I think you’re looking for something more like “Drain Brain” which plays off both the fact that they rhyme, they mean the same thing when their order is reversed and it has a natural melody to it. When someone gets drunk and tries to say it (wrong) it becomes “Brain Drain” and that’s exactly what you want people to recognize.

      • David De Garie-Lamanque

        well a few years ago (i think it was in 2009 or 2010) when i started listening to dubstep (back when Skream and Benga were on top) i noticed a lot of producers indeed had short snappy names. I then thought it might be a good idea to shorten the name to Plexia, which fitting within this 2 syllable paradigm..

        • DJ_ForcedHand

          I like Plexia better. Some of the awesome things about coming up with your own moniker is that it doesn’t have to make sense, it doesn’t have to follow the rules of grammar and it certainly doesn’t have to do anything that catch someone’s fancy and make them remember you… OK, there are probably some things you can’t do, but those might fall under “Decency Laws.”

          • David De Garie-Lamanque

            yeah….i wouldn’t really listen to an artist named “snot nazi” for instance…:P but once you eliminate decency the options range far and wide… take Excision for example. That’s probably the stupidest and most offensive artist moniker i’ve ever seen

  • DJ Master Baitor

    Awesome read! Perfectly suited for the target audience here – unemployed wanna be DJs! Let’s pick a good name, let’s make this happen, you and 1M others here… WTF seriously. Get a life.

    • and I’m guessing you’re one of the “real” DJs haha funny I’ve never heard of You.

      • I for one believe people have the right to try to be whatever they want to be. If they want to make up a cool name and try to learn to be DJs or producers or whatever and it makes them happy go for it. I will never understand bitter people who hate people just for pursuing what makes them happy.

        • Aqualad James

          Right On…. Right On….

    • David De Garie-Lamanque

      and i’m guessing you’re just a troll wth way too much time on your hands playing games all day long? then stick to mastering your Joystick like a fisherman masters bait 😛

    • InPhamousOne

      ^ wow what insight, glad u shared, now ill just walk my ass into oncoming traffic and end it all, and to think most of us just do it for the love of it, not the fame and possible other things that come along, not one person i have ever met said; Hey how bout i be a dj and i can be rich and famous but i suck so much ass ill never make it, and then Paris Hilton and Pauly D got gigs…..

  • Future Dollar$, pleased to meet you

  • Double Dash

    Diplo was named after his favorite dinosaur

  • Marcus Lampley

    My name is Marcus but as a child i always had a lisp so it would aslways sound like Marcush which those around me whether they be my friends or followers on social media has always known me as marcush. “DJ Marcush”
    Thumbs up or down?

    • NinoSamurai

      It doesn’t sound really appealing.

    • Pill Collins

      Your original name is cool

  • DistortionBass

    What visual does the Name Distortion Bass give off? I’m trying to figure out a dubstep/trap name and this is what ive been going by for a lil while

    • Pill Collins

      lil while is better

  • VL

    Purple Monkey Dishwasher

  • Pierre de la Mer

    Totally against the theory presented I just us a nickname friends use for me for ages. And it rhymes too: Pierre de la Mer (my Dutch name Frenched-up).

    • Mad Zach

      thats a great name for other reasons, as I said, this is only one angle, there are loads of other great names that do not fit this pattern

  • Love your articles, they are relevant and constructed exceptionally well. What do you think about the name “Mannequin & Cydonia”? > We’re in the midst of producing our artist page but we capture a specific theme. Here are some photos, however more photos will on the way once our costumes and a photographer is in place. http://www.facebook.com/mannequinmuzic

    • DJ Sack Grasper

      Nah man it’s too gay/complicated

  • I wonder how many DJs are considering changing their name after this.

    • Aqualad James

      I’ve Changed My Name 5 Times, Boom.

  • well… I don’t know why names are all that important. Can’t you just let the music do the talking instead? Honestly though, I think my first DJ name was quite crappy. (its “DJ Muzaffar” if anyone wants to know) But after changing it to “Madoka?” (or MadokaHime) it seems more fun that way. =)

  • B.Boot’

    Good article ! Really enjoyed it ! I already have a DJ name but it’s interesting !

    My friends have found B.Boot’
    Because i made bootleg and i wrote “(Thibault B. Bootleg) So i kept B.Boot’ haha For me it sounds good 🙂

    • B.Boot’

      Great Name or not ? What do you think ? 🙂

      Thanks !

    • Bob

      It’s a great name but it DOESNT MATTER. STOP wasting your time thinking about ur name. Open up your DAW and produce. This article is retarded.

  • Guest

    Pretty sure Diplo is based on his favourite dinosaur the Diplodocus. It’s in an interview somewhere… not dip-low. But no matter.

  • crowDSource

    Thanks Mad Zach for the article! feeling better about my recent two syllable two word name choice now 🙂

  • DJ Osok

    Dont forget acronyms

    O.S.O.K.

    One Short Overweight Kid

    • Anonymous

      F.K.O.A.D.

      Fat Kid On A Donut

      • DJ Osok

        F.K.W.M.E.

        Fat Kids With Massive Egos

  • Woody Aki

    Dunno about you lot, but Skrillex to me is redolent of some ointment used to heal rashes or STD’s…

    • LoFi

      ^ 100% ace reply !

  • Von Royale

    this was great!!

    -Von Royale.. out…

  • Joseph Crenshaw

    I have an idea.. how about you write ANOTHER Article about names. Way to supply the site with original material… Good lord.

    • Dennis Parrott

      sigh. this sort of comment is so predictable on DJTT.

      how did we get negative like this? and why do we stay negative?

      somebody once said “be the change you want to see”. instead of criticize Zach for what he wrote how about writing something for us? seriously, Zach has done amazing stuff — giving away remix sets and loops, writing tutorials — and it pains me to see him getting slagged for this.

      Zach – great article. i have seen the two-name/syllable thing but never really understood its significance. Thank you. (now if only somebody could help me figure out how to spend more time with my music and practicing… oy!)

  • David Schroeter

    Attributive-Agent: ‘Mad Zach’

  • MarkQuest

    i think he was deconstructing the impact it would have on our sub-conscience by hearing the name & how you would think of the artist, not stating that this is the origination of how the artist picked his name

  • I’m pretty sure “beat off” means to masturbate 😀

    • Dennis Parrott

      hmmm. good thing i didn’t let that wanker use my gear!!!! DOH!!

    • Marquee Mark

      proving that it works – you got all the way to the end of the article and you remembered that name 😉

  • Kieran

    ‘Diplo’ is actually a shortened word for Diplo’s favourite dinosaur when he was a kid, which was a Diplodocus. Other than that, decent article.

    • Mike

      Glad someone else picked up on that, I always figured that was pretty well known

    • Mad Zach

      I am aware of that, there are

      • Mad Zach

        I am aware that there are back stories for a lot of names (for example: deadmau5 and the dead mouse in the computer). However, my analysis is based not on the source of the name, but the psychological effect the end result has on people who are unfamiliar with the back story.

    • Xyloe

      Noisia likes that dinosaur too

  • Last Resort

    Are you serious?

    • Mad Zach

      no not really 🙂

  • Steve

    Good article, but Zach I wish you’d do more tutorials! youre a funny writer, but i think that its best in your videos when you’re teaching as well

    • Mad Zach

      thanks Steve!

      • Anonymous

        i second the videos comment 😀