DJ Snake Got His Stage Name From His Ability to Escape the Police: ‘The Name Sucks, But It’s Too Late Now’

Sometimes, a stage name you chose — or that was chosen for you — happens before you really found your stride in the face of fame has a way of sticking around despite your misgivings. Celebrity DJ snake knows that all too well.

DJ Snake performing on stage with smoke and firework effects in foreground
DJ Snake | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

For DJ Snake, the origin of his name is unfortunate, but the artist admits that it’s “too late now” when it comes to being recognized under a different moniker. 

How did DJ Snake get his name?

DJ Snake’s given name is William Sami Étienne Grigahcine, so how did he get to become known as DJ Snake? The name stuck from his early childhood days of running from the police while doing graffiti. His friends nicknamed him “Snake” because of his uncanny ability to slip away from the authorities as they chased him through the streets. 

When he was 14 and began serving as a DJ, he had to pick a stage name. Since he was used to being called “Snake,” he just ran with it, and the name stuck. The artist has admitted that it isn’t his favorite: “I was like ‘DJ Snake, OK let’s go for it.’ The name sucks, but it’s too late now.” 

Getting stuck with the nicknames we used as young teens probably wouldn’t go over particularly well for many of us, but at least DJ Snake has fame and success to show for it. 

Where is DJ Snake from?

DJ Snake was born in Paris, France in 1986. As IMDb reports, he grew up in Ermont, a Paris banlieue (suburb). DJ Snake has described the home of his youth as a rough and tumble place. As a kid, he was a graffiti artist who got into multiple scrapes with authorities as he evaded the police while wielding his artistic tools. 

This upbringing also put him in a place to benefit from an eclectic mix of influences. Speaking to Rolling Stone India, DJ Snake explained:

“To be honest with you, I grew up listening to a lot of different things. I grew up with people from different origins such as India, West Indies to Caribbean, Africa and the Middle East. We’ve always been inspired by each other.” 

DJ Snake was just 14 when he began his music career in earnest. By 15, he had dropped out of school and begun working in a record store where he spent hours studying the catalogs of artists that had come before him. 

How did DJ Snake get famous?

Since he got his start in the industry so early, DJ Snake already had years of experience as a DJ when he turned to producing at the age of 19. By 25, he had earned himself a Grammy nomination for his work on Lady Gaga’s track “Government Hooker.” His list of collaborations is very impressive and includes Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber, and Cardi B. 

Perhaps his best-known work was on 2014’s pervasive hit “Turn Down for What,” which was simply everywhere that year and was a collaboration with Lil Jon. These days — when his social media account isn’t being hijacked by Drake and Rihanna’s flirtatious banter — he’s been working on songs like “Selfish Love” with Selena Gomez.

DJ Snake pointed to the feel-good song as a way to “give some good vibes to the people. It’s been a rough year and we’ve been through a lot. We just wanted to give some positive energy to the people.” 

While the pandemic has certainly put a damper on DJ Snake’s preference for continent-hopping partying and travel, he has his sights set on a brighter future that will bring more of his culture-mixing signature style to the forefront. 

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