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How on earth did they come up with that artist name?


It’s a question that crosses our minds every time we first hear of a new artist with a weird name - "what the hell kind of name is that?" Many solo artists will take the safe route and just use their birth names however it doesn’t always work out and groups are out of luck from the beginning. We compiled a list of some serious heavy hitters with interesting artist names and found out the origin behind them.




We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect name origin than for Joel Zimmerman AKA Deadmau5. It’s especially amusing given just how much of a self-declared nerd he is all over the internet. Joel found a dead mouse inside his computer one day when upgrading the video card. He adopted the moniker “deadmouse” after people started calling him “dead mouse guy” but there was a problem… internet chatrooms didn’t allow so many characters, so he had to shorten it to “Deadmau5”


Believe It Or Not Deadmau5 Will Be Appearing In The New Family Guy Game


Above & Beyond

The trance-trio stumbled upon their iconic name when hanging out in Jono Grant’s studio before submitting a remix. They had just finished a remix for Chakra titled "Home" when they realised they didn’t have a name for the mix. Tony McGuinness looked around Jono’s room and saw a piece of computer paper printed off the internet posted above his bed. Jono had typed his name into a search engine and come across a motivational guru whose slogan was ‘above and beyond’. They used the name for that specific mix to Warner Music and as the work kept pouring in, the name stuck.


Infected Mushroom

The Israeli psytrance/electronica act consisting of Erez Eisen and Amit Duvdevani had really been into a punk rock/new wave band with the name of ‘Infected Mushroom’. Unfortunately for fans of the band… they broke up, fortunately for Erez and Amit the name was up for grabs when they started making music together.


Knife Party

Australian electro duo of Rob Swire and Gareth McGrillen (Knife Party) are two members from Pendulum who were desperately in need of a name that wasn’t linked to Pendulum. Swire even called their first track preview ‘Not Pendulum’. The eventual name itself was derived from a Deftones song of the same name. Funnily enough some people complained that it supported knife crime (ridiculous right?) Swire hit back with: "...we’re not advocating any type of knife-related crime any more than Swedish House Mafia were advocating organised crime”.



Nick Leonardus van de Wall is the real name of ‘Afrojack’. A cool name, but maybe not the greatest stage name. The Dutch EDM heavyweight claims that his artist name was derived from his former hairdo and a style of dancing. Let’s break it down: Nick had a massive fro when he was younger + Jacking (a form of dance associated with house music from back in the day) = Afrojack.


Fatboy Slim

Norman Cook has been in the DJ game for so long that his artist name has changed before. In the early days he was known as ‘DJ Ox’. We couldn’t find the inspiration behind that moniker but the change to ‘Fatboy Slim’ came from a desire by him to name himself after a major contradiction in the aspects of the world. What better contradiction than ‘Fat Boy Slim’?


Daft Punk

Arguably the most iconic electronic act of all time, Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo are better known as the robotically dressed duo ‘Daft Punk’. But what’s with the name? The two Frenchmen were originally part of a rock group called Darlin'. Their band had gotten a negative review in a now discontinued music magazine called ‘Melody Maker’ which dismissed two of their tracks as “daft punky thrash”. When the band disbanded, Thomas and Guy-Manuel began experimenting with drum machines and synthesizers and ‘Daft Punk’ was born!


Watch Our Film About The World's First Daft Punk Tribute Act


Aphex Twin

An absolute living legend in electronica, Aphex Twin has inspired so many artists in the scene today. He was born in Ireland as Richard D. James and his name derives from a much more touching word combination than Afrojack’s stage name. Richard combined his love for ‘Aphex Systems Limited’ a brand of audio processing equipment and his older twin brother who died at birth (also named Richard James).



We saved the most disappointing for last. Sonny Moore AKA Skrillex: “It was a stupid old online AOL screen name. There really isn't a meaning behind it”. Or so he says…


Words: Jon Davidescu




About the author

Matthew Francey

Head of Content

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