The alter-ego phenomenon has been ever-present throughout history across various artistic disciplines. In music and especially dance music, a producer’s name can be a catalyst for stardom. On the other hand, an artist’s name can also limit their creative freedom as fans expect a certain, signature sound from their favorite DJs. So it comes as no surprise that many of the producers we know and love have adopted various personas throughout their careers.
Now let’s go over our top 5 DJs who have maximized the potential.
5: Porter Robinson/Virtual Self
Ever since his debut Spitfire EP in 2011, Porter Robinson has gone from strength to strength thanks to his unique style of producing. Fast forward to 2017, following the success of his track “Shelter” with Madeon, Robinson created his alias Virtual Self. The birth of his alter-ego would prove to be a resounding success as he played some of the world’s biggest festivals and venues as Virtual Self. The plaudits would continue into 2019 when the Virtual Self track “Ghost Voices” was nominated at the 2019 Grammy Awards for Best Dance Recording.
4: Oliver Heldens/HI-LO
Oliver Heldens has been on a meteoric rise to DJ stardom ever since he dropped his breakthrough track “Gecko” in 2013. Catching the attention of Tiesto and the Musical Freedom team, Heldens teamed up with Becky Hill to release the vocal version of the track in June 2014 which took the charts by storm. Just one year later, in July 2015 the world was introduced to HI- LO following the release “Renegade Mastah”. This was the first track released on Heldens’ very own label Heldeep Records and it was later announced to the dance music world that HI-LO was Heldens himself. In an interview with UKF, Heldens revealed that he created his alias to coincide with the launch of his record label and give him the freedom to try out a deeper style of music without compromising his signature Heldens sound. With the secret out, HI-LO has been releasing more and more tracks that regularly feature in Heldens’ live shows. Most recently Heldens went deep, dark, and hard when he performed as HI-LO on Tomorrowland’s United Through Music live stream series!
We all know Deadmau5 as one of the world’s biggest DJs with his signature look and distinct progressive house sound, but you may not be as familiar with his most recent alias Testpilot. Deadmau5 assumed his techno alter-ego for a release on Richie Hawtin’s PLUS 8 imprint. The track entitled “Sunspot” would be the first and only track Testpilot would drop. Despite the lack of new techno tracks, the Testpilot alter ego has been used to play big shows, including Electric Forest back in 2018.
On his way to the top, Deadmau5 (real name Joel Zimmerman) has gone by various other aliases such as; Halcyon411 and Karma K as well as his collaboration project with Steve Duda, Tommy Lee, and DJ Aero to form WTF?
2: Cajmere/Green Velvet
Since way back in 1993, the Green Haired electro-punk producer Green Velvet has been switching between multiple identities. His most well-known alias Cajmere was the very first stage name used by the Chicago native DJ. As Cajmere, he released three 12”s on Clubhouse Records, including ‘Coffee Pot (It’s Time For The Percolator)’. The track, with its ever-catchy chant, became a club classic and remains a cornerstone in the history of Chicago house music.
In 1995, the track “Flash” was released under the Green Velvet moniker which would later be included in Mixmag’s “20 Best US Rave Anthems of the ’90s” list in 2019. This would prove to be his most recognized persona, sporting goggles with a tight and a neon green Mohawk. His tracks; “Answering Machine”, “Preacher Man” and most recently, ‘Voicemail’, are just some of the notable singles released under the Green Velvet banner.
1: Eric Prydz/Pryda
Eric Prydz has gifted the world with some of the biggest progressive house tracks and unparalleled live shows ever since he released “Call On Me” back in 2004. Prydz has become a global dance music icon, headlining some of the world’s most renowned concert venues and festivals, but not always as Eric Prydz. The Grammy-nominated, Platinum-selling DJ has released countless tracks under a host of different aliases. In 2009 Prydz released “Miami To Atlanta” as Pryda which would go on to become the most well-known of his alter egos. The track showcased the infamous “Pryda snare” for the very first time, a compression technique that has been widely sampled by producers ever since.
When Prydz or Pryda isn’t performing his most notable progressive house style, he also plays a darker techno sound as Cirez D. Finally, if all that wasn’t enough, as a renounced member of the unofficial first Swedish House Mafia lineup, Prydz has collaborated with different members of the trio as AxEr and the A&P Project. With a resume like that, we have no issue crowning Eric Prydz the king of the DJ alter-ego!
Dillon Francis/DJ Hanzel
Rocking his blacked-out raybans and outfits. DJ Hanzel is Dillon Francis’ alter-ego and is a humorous character. DJ Hanzel is obsessed with Deep House Music and is his German counter part. His most memorable line by the DJ is “Go One deeper” Hanzel’s has had official releases on Mad Decent in 2016. It was a remix of Dillon Francis and NGHTMRE‘s “Need You,”
alongside Drezo. His most recent release was a remix he did for Dillon Francis’ original song “You do you.”