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"Don't overthink it" – 6 DJs share the stories behind their stage names

Experiencing a DJ identity crisis? Here's how six artists overcame the challenge of choosing a name.

Coming up with a distinctive stage name is an important part of building your brand as an artist, but finding the perfect name to represent your music can be tricky. How do you come up with something original that also feels like it’s instinctively ‘you’? To help you in your quest to nail down your musical identity, we asked six artists about the stories behind their names. Here’s what they had to say...

The Lady Machine

dBs alumni The Lady Machine

“The story behind my artist name is very spontaneous. A friend of mine drew a picture of me and he signed “The Lady Machine” on it. He got inspired by the lyrics of a song called Automan from Newcleus, which tells the story of an automaton/machine that fell in love with a human. Many years after I had a hiatus from music I revisited that drawing and decided to use it since it really suited the way I play records. Fast beat-matching, on the fly mixing, machine-style!

“I choose this name because it not only captures the spirit of what I do but also because it is such a striking name that there would be no misspelling or confusion about it, it’s quite a remarkable one.” 

The Lady Machine aka Cami Milieme is a graduate of our Music Production and Sound Engineering BA, who recently participated in our online panel: From Education to the Audio Industry. Find out more about The Lady Machine:

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Delay Grounds

dBs Graduate Delay Grounds

“My name started out a bit of a pun on ‘playground’, with the twist in meaning coming from the word ‘delay’ and its link to electronics. Reflecting on it, I am only just realising how relevant this is to how I approach making music now. In other words – creating a set of limitations that almost act as toys and using them to create a sonic environment, the environment itself being dictated by what I’ve given myself to play with. Over time this name manifested into my sonic identity.”

Delay Grounds aka Patrick Tipler is a graduate of our BA Electonic Music Production. Read about his final project ‘Upcycling’ which has been recently been released digitally and on vinyl via Tropopause Records, or find out more about him using the links below:

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Monoke

Electronic music student at dBs Institute Monoke

“My progression as a DJ and my personal growth are in conjunction with one another. When changing my name, I wanted an alias that represented me on a personal level and referred to the kind of sets I would be seaming together for listeners. Spirituality is at the root of my new alias choice, with reference to there being no restrictions on music representation and also to my own journey. If I look back to my first alias and how I strictly played breaks and techno, Monoke represents growth and expansion that is reflected in the choice of music I choose to play today. 

“When thinking of an alias that represents this, I turned to a character who inspired my younger self due to everything she embodies, her drive and ethos, so it was a bliss feeling to show homage to Princess Mononoke. Even though the film was made over 20 years ago, the political undertone to the story is still so relevant to society’s relationship with the land – if you haven’t already, set aside some time to watch. 

“So big ups to Princess Mononoke for representing the fluidity of being and dedication to the place we all call home.” 

Monoke aka Ellie Gillan will be starting a degree in Electronic Music Production at dBs this September. Find out more about her:

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Berwick

Berwick on choosing a DJ name

“I decided to change my alias over lockdown, It was a pretty swift swap-over from my former alias CNCPT13. My grandfather's lucky number was 13, it was adopted by him after his plane was shot down in the second world war. His plane was taken down and he managed to bail out whilst it was on fire. It’s a pretty wild story that stayed with me, and so the 13 became part of my name. As for the CNCPT (short for concept) I added that as I used to be so unsure of what I wanted to play and would pull together so many different concepts and styles in one set. 

“This said, the name change to Berwick felt like a fairly comfortable yet large step. For me, it looks better on the back of a record and on line-ups and better fits the person I am now. A lot has changed since the beginning of lockdown and the new name reflects where I am, who I am and where I want to go. I’d been thinking about switching for a while and finally after an evening of my friends calling me by my second name, Berwick, all night long, it seemed right to just go for it.” 

Berwick aka Adam is a 1020 Radio Resident who is currently studying our MA Innovation in Sound. He also produced the track in our 'Driven by Sound' video, which is due to be released next month. Pre-order the track now..

Find out more about Berwick:

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Eksish

Eksish shares the story behind her DJ name

“I wish I could tell you that my moniker has a deeper meaning to it, but I basically just wanted to make sure it sounded original and had a European/Romanian feel to it, to fit with my sound at the time. (I used to mainly play Rominimal). I guess I’ve learnt that your stage name will ultimately acquire whatever meaning you bring to it, so if you are currently trying to work yours out, don’t overthink it too much!”

Eksish is a Bristol-based DJ and resident on SWU.FM. Find out more about her:

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Mr Vinyl

Electronic music production tutor at dBs Institute Matt Ward playing on modular synthesizer

“It was September 1993. I was learning to drive, I was 17 years old. It was my birthday and the day of my first driving lesson. 

"I told my driving instructor I had recently started DJ-Ing. I had one belt-drive Technics turntable and one 1210 mk2 I had brought from a mate. I could only mix one deck to the other as it was a nightmare to use the belt-driven turntable. Anyhow, I was now a 50% mix DJ so this warranted me telling the driving instructor of my new career direction. He said... “What you gonna call yourself Matt Vinyl?” So I did.

“I was a resident at Claire’s in Torquay and played all over the southwest for two decades (not planning on stopping either). I did a series of mix albums called Emulsion, Primer, Undercoat, Gloss and infamously added .com stickers to a bunch of paint pots in the Trago Mills paint department. I then grew into an adult and decided to lose the ‘Matt’ and go with Mr Vinyl.

“My mates have often called me various names like Mr Mp3, Mr CD etc. as formats changed over the years. I'm definitely sticking with Mr Vinyl though. For nostalgic reasons and I still own a LOT of vinyl…” 

Mr Vinyl aka Matt Ward if the Course Leader for our Electronic Music Production BA in Plymouth. Listen to his latest album, read his tutor profile or find out more about him using the links below:

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For more help establishing yourself as a DJ/ producer, check out our DJ & Electronic Music Diploma.


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