EDM.com Spotlight

EDM.com Spotlight

11 EDM Acts Who Rocked Before They Raved

And to think, there was life before EDM.

The internet has been buzzing with videos of a younger Zedd being a prodigy on various instruments, but let’s not forget that he isn’t the only producer that’s risen from the mosh-pit to the heights of the EDM scene.

Skrillex has sung his heart out on Warped Tour, Borgore was in a politically-charged death metal group, and now they’re all head-banging to a different beat. It’s not surprising that many of these names now produce the heaviest of tunes, but there are even traces of funk and jazz in this DNA lineage. Let’s take a scroll down memory lane.

Knife Party/Pendulum

Rob Swire and Gareth McGrillen - also the minds behind Knife Party - got their extra aggression out in a metal band called Xygen. Fans of Tool and other early millennium rock will dig it, maybe not so much the drum and bass fans.

Steve Aoki

In his college days, Aoki was quite the punk rocker. His home there, famously known as the Pickle Patch, was the site of many shows. Also, he was in a few bands, notably as the singer for This Machine Kills. Dim Mak even started as an indie-punk label.

Big Gigantic

When the two dudes who make up Big Gigantic met they were each jamming out in funk and jazz bands. Considering their sound now, it's not too much of a surprise. Despite the genre shift, they’re still bringing a soulful flavor.

Paper Diamond

Back in the day, Paper Diamond was getting groovy on a bass guitar for a trippy livetronica band called Pnuma Trio. They had a brief moment of rising success, but each member has moved on to other projects.


This Firepower Records young-gun actually sold his guitar and drums to invest in production gear, but his metal influences still shine through. Good move, Getter. Good move.


Borgore used to play drums for an Israeli death metal band called Shabira. Let that one sink in for a moment. These days, politics have been traded for PLUR (and a love of woman), but the affinity for rhythm hasn’t faded.

Big Chocolate

The man behind the chocolate, Cameron Argon, used to front a death metal band called Burning the Masses. He now keeps that dark spirit alive with a side project Disfiguring the Goddess, of which he is the sole member.


Before Bassnectar was destroying amphitheaters, he was shredding in a metal band called Pale Existence. Here’s footage of a 16-year-old Ashton at one of his first shows, and yes, his hair was just as unruly.


This ambassador of bass started out on the guitar, saxophone, and piano. He nabbed a degree from the Leeds College of Music in the U.K., and if you’ve ever had a good listen to the lad you can attest that it’s done him well.

Nick Tsang of Modestep

Before leaving Modestep earlier this year—and before he was even in the genre-pushing group—guitarist Nick Tsang was a member of a fairly successful pop-rock group called Go:Audio. At their peak, they reached U.K. Top 40 charts and were nominated for a Kerrang! award.


Ten years ago, Sonny Moore was on Warped Tour as the singer for From First to Last. Times have changed (as has his hair), but what hasn’t is Mr. Moore’s obvious love for music.

Written by Hunter Mulich

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