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11 EDM Stars Who Had Regular Jobs Before They Were Famous

The life of a EDM producer/DJ is constantly romanticized in popular culture. Hours of nonstop touring to beautiful locales, a summer residency in Ibiza, and exposure to the best food and drinks in the world are some of the ideas now associated with the most renown EDM musicians. While some of these lucky artists shot to stardom seemingly overnight, most worked for years before being recognized by the general public. To supplement their income, many current EDM stars once worked everyday jobs like us. From Diplo teaching kids in Phlladelphia to Pete Tong writing as a music journalist, here are 11 jobs some of our favorite producers and DJs had before their music careers took off. 

1) Diplo, Teacher

Kicking off the list with perhaps the most widely known example, Diplo taught kids in school before his Mad Decent days. He worked as an after-care school teacher in Philadelphia, helping kids with behavioral problems learn how to read, solve math problems, and other areas. Diplo ultimately quit teaching due to its demanding atmosphere and a lack of respect for teachers, desiring to pursue his DJ career instead. Interestingly, Diplo once retweeted a picture of a teacher twerking, which resulted in the teacher getting fired. 

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2) Calvin Harris, Grocery Store Employee

Ranked as the highest paid DJ for two years in a row, Calvin Harris spent years slaving away at various grocery stores before hitting it big. Harris revealed in an interview with USA Today that he succeeded at his job due to his height, which allowed him to help pick items off high shelves. However, he couldn't note one positive experience from his days as a grocery store employee. He also worked at a fish factory for a year but was fired on his birthday. Talk about a rags to riches story. 

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3, 4) Miriam and Olivia Nervo, Models

Okay, so this isn't a "normal" job, but it's not the same as DJing and producing music. While the Nervo twins always balanced their music and modeling careers, the two were recognized for their looks before their music. At age 16, both girls sparked the interest of modeling agencies and ultimately modeled for the Australian Chadwick Models Agency, but the two never walked on runways or modeled for campaigns. They were also accepted into the Opera Australia Academy but dropped out to pursue a songwriting career. The two continue to model to this day but music continues to be the primary focus for these two Aussies. 

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5) Destructo, Radio Personality

Music executive by day and DJ by night, Destructo (or Gary Richards) grew to love music at an early age. With a father who worked in concert and radio promotions, the HARD Events CEO pursued a career in music in his home of state of California. When he moved to Myrtle Beach, Richards became an on-air radio personality. Dubbed "the Bush Man", Richards became the youngest ever radio host for Power 98 in 1989. A rare video of The Bush Man's video aircheck was uploaded to YouTube a few months ago. 

6) Pete Tong, Music Journalist 

Perhaps the most influential radio personality in the history of electronic music, Pete Tong worked many jobs in the music industry before becoming the host of the Essential Mix series for BBC Radio 1. One of his most prominent jobs was his staff writer and editor positions at Blues & Soul Magazine. A jazz aficionado, Tong previously played soul, jazz, and funk music during his DJ sets. He got hired as a staff writer for the magazine in 1979 and was promoted to features editor. He held until the position until 1983.

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7) Paul van Dyk, Broadcast Technician & Carpenter

Paul van Dyk's early childhood wasn't easy. While he grew to love music at a young age, external circumstances initially prevented the German producer from pursuing his musical interests. He was raised in a single parent household, as his father left his family when he was four years old. To make matters worse, he lived in East Berlin, which was a part of the communist East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Van Dyk worked as a broadcast technician. When his family moved to West Berlin, he studied to become a carpenter. Both professions didn't work out, and he went on to become one of dance music's most influential producers and DJs of all time.

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8) Richie Hawtin, McDonalds Employee, Video Store Employee & Corn Detasseler 

Revered as one of the leading figures in techno, Richie Hawtin's brief stint as an employee of mega corporation McDonalds may surprise some of our readers. While little information is known about Hawtin's employment at McDonald's, the producer shared that his first job was as a corn detasseler. Detasseling corn involves removing the tassels from the tops of corn stocks for pollination control. Hawtin also worked at a video store, which is certainly a relic of the previous generation. 

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9) Moby, Golf Caddy

While new fans of EDM may not recognize Moby, the legendary producer/DJ helped lay the groundwork for many of the producers and DJs working today. Recently, he has played DJ sets at festivals like Coachella, Electric Forest, and the Hudson Project, helping introduce his classic tracks and adept DJing to new audiences. Before his rise to fame, Moby worked as a golf caddy for two weeks. In an interview with TIME, Moby revealed he took the job to raise enough money to buy David Bowie's album Lodger. Moby's love for Bowie influenced him to take up music production, leaving us with his influential discography and legacy today. 

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10) Laidback Luke, Graffiti Artist 

While not a job title in the traditional sense, Laidback Luke's foray into graffiti artistry should definitely be noted. The Dutch producer/DJ grew up wanting to become a comic book illustrator and decided to become a graffiti artist. However, his graffiti days hit a sudden end when one of his fellow crew members got caught putting up graffiti and told the police the identities of his fellow artists. Luke was subsequently arrested, and from there he decided to quit graffiti and focus on his music. 

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11) Kaskade, Church Missionary 

Known to be a devout Mormon, Kaskade's early days as a church missionary come as no surprise. He attended Brigham Young University in hopes of meeting other Mormons but was alienated due to his love of house music. When he turned 19, he spent two years in Japan doing missionary work for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After his missionary work, he transferred to the University of Utah and met his future wife, Naomi. Kaskade doesn't drink and still attends church.

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Photo Credits: Vogue, Resident Advisor, Anirudh Koul. 


Tags Calvin Harris Destructo Diplo Gary Richards HARD kaskade laidback luke list listicle Moby Nervo Paul Van Dyk Pete Tong richie hawtin


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