Brains and beats: Dance music's academically-inclined

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While you don’t need a qualification to hit the decks (or even musical talent, as the cast of Jersey Shore have proven), plenty of DJs nonetheless have academic credentials to their name. So who are these intellectual beatmakers? We’ve compiled a list of some of the most noteworthy scholarly music types to serve as a reminder that with dedicated study, you too could grow up to be a rich and famous DJ!*

Armin van Buuren
Before Armin took up his position as the reigning king of trance, he studied Law at Leiden University in his native The Netherlands. When his DJing started to take off, Armin deferred his studies but went back to finish his degree in 2003 – you know, just in case the music thing ever falls through.

Before he was collaborating with the likes of Skream, English rapper Example was busy getting a degree in Film Directing from the University of London.

Diplo, who recently published his book 128 Beats Per Minute, studied Film at the University of Central Florida before transferring to Temple University to complete his degree.

Kaskade (or Ryan Raddon, as his degree reads) studied at the University of Utah after serving two long, pious years in a fulltime mission for the LDS Church.

Steve Aoki
Well, this is surprising: prior to founding Dim Mak, Steve Aoki received two bachelor degrees, one in Sociology and one in Women’s Studies. For serious.

Turns out bro-stepper Rusko learnt the fine art of the drop at Leeds College, where he studied Music Performance.

Fatboy Slim
Before he became Fatboy Slim, the Hawaiian shirt-wearing, Future Music Festival-headlining Norman Cook received a BA from the University of Brighton, majoring in English, Politics and Sociology.

When it comes to intellectual DJs, it’s hard to go past Moby. The politically-outspoken vegan began studying Philosophy at the University of Connecticut, but dropped out to work at a record store – before becoming super famous. What a dude.

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EgosXII said on the 16th Feb, 2012

Armada has one of the most intense contracts in dance music- Armin went back to finish his degree so he could figure out how to write the tightest, most artist-raping contracts in the world :p


Wowk said on the 16th Feb, 2012

Steve Aoki makes perfect sense now: his whole persona, his music, all the rest, it's actually an incredibly well thought-out social experiment using people with terrible taste in music as its subject pool.

Some other notable intelligent DJs: Matt Hardwick used to be a lawyer (and pro-footballer for Sheffield Wednesday), and I believe Kid Kenobi has a PhD out there somewhere. Dan Sicko, although not a DJ, wrote a treatise about the history of techno in Detroit (and a bit about it worldwide) and is widely respected in the techno community.

I'm doing an Honours in Psychology, so add me to the list :P


pomrocks said on the 16th Feb, 2012

Max Cooper has a PHD in genetics


LifeOnMTV said on the 17th Feb, 2012

Not sure if he'd count.. but Girl Talk is a biomedical engineer


jamesyo said on the 17th Feb, 2012

george fitzgerald is studying a degree in physics or something like that. a few of those on the list neither produce nor dj so they are kind of irrelevant to this list

Dave Scully

Dave Scully said on the 17th Feb, 2012

didnt a-trak do engineering or something- hes a smart dude


katiecunningham said on the 17th Feb, 2012

Added Girl Talk in - keep the suggestions coming and I'll sniff 'em out


discotheque said on the 18th Feb, 2012

If I recall correctly, drum and bass producer John B has a degree in Organic Chemistry from Durham University.


lawlietskyy said on the 27th Feb, 2012

After hearing the sh*t rusko produces, I would of thought he had a degree in sheer retard.


MescalKid said on the 29th Feb, 2012

What about Judge Jules being a lawyer?
Wonder where he has a degree from..

And, what's with the whole:

*Probably not though



Yasoda said on the 20th Mar, 2012

2 of these Studied film, one music performance, and one believes in god and wasted 2 years on a mormon mission. Hardly Academics...