DJing used to be a young person’s game -- and then the early movers in dance music kept getting better with age. Still, it wasn’t considered a family business until recent years, when the adult children of long-running DJs started establishing their own positions behind the decks.
Considering how many offspring of traditional musicians follow in their parents’ footsteps -- Miley Cyrus, Jeff Buckley, Shooter Jennings, Charlotte Gainsbourg, etc. -- it is not unusual for electronic musicians’ kids to do the same. Here are five DJs whose children chose the same professional path.
Bushwacka! and Oliver Moon
Bushwacka! has been a fixture in the global electronic dance music scene for so long, it's difficult to recall a time when he wasn’t part of the landscape. One-half of Layo and Bushwacka!, the DJ was part of London’s defunct (but no less legendary) The End family, and in later years made moves as Just Be. Bushwacka!’s son, Oliver Moon, has been making his own moves on the decks.
“Ollie has always had an amazing ear for music,” Bushwacka! says. “It doesn’t surprise me at all that he’s making his own style and sound, proving his skills and talents as a fantastic DJ.” The two played side-by-side at the Glastonbury Festival this year. “There is always an element of aspiration I have in music, which is a direct result of my dad’s career,” says Moon. “I hope to continue his legacy in a positive and impactful way.”
Kevin Saunderson and The Saunderson Brothers
When your parent is one of the originators of techno, you would think the expectation to carry on the legacy would be engrained in the offspring. This was not the case with Kevin Saunderson and his sons Dantiez and Damarii. “My boys were brought up playing sports,” says the elder Saunderson. “Creating music was never a part of their interests, so it caught me totally off guard.” Say The Saunderson Brothers, “When we got a bit older, traveling and experiencing the parties our dad was playing first-hand was a game-changer for us. It inspired us to start on our own musical paths.”
The Saunderson Brothers are actively keeping the Detroit techno torch burning with stellar DJ sets and inventive original productions. Sometimes they’ll even go back-to-back with dad, as they did at this year’s Movement Music Festival.
Kenny Ken and Crissy Criss
While some kids are sneaking into their parents’ liquor cabinets, Crissy Criss was sneaking into his stepdad Kenny Ken’s studio. An original don of jungle way before the genre had a name, Ken has been a foundational artist for drum ‘n’ bass. “I didn’t have your average upbringing,” says Criss. “It’s a bit different when your parents are involved in the rave scene. The music Kenny was playing was different and more interesting -- plus, his influences from reggae to acid house grew on me massively.” Gifted a set of turntables by Ken at the age of five, Criss starting working on his mixing skills. By age nine, he was filling in for Ken. At 13 he began his formal DJing career.
“All Crissy was interested in as a kid was music,” says Ken. “He used to make beats on his Playstation and look to me for approval.” Criss is also a champion of drum ‘n’ bass on the airwaves in the U.K. and worldwide on the web hosting a number of shows. Additionally, he is a prolific producer, recently launching his own War on Silence label.
Pete Tong and Becky Tong
If there’s one DJ whose footsteps you would expect their offspring to follow, it's Pete Tong: The voice of dance music on BBC Radio 1 for many years, the hugely influential DJ’s impact is felt on a global scale. Tong has managed to impact his own household as well, as his daughter, Becky Tong, has been an active DJ since the age of 18. “I’ve always been very inspired by Dad’s drive and ambition,” she says. “It’s been the best growing up, watching him break barriers.”
You can find Becky providing the soundtrack for music-savvy clubheads as ably as she does for branded events. Her personal style goes hand-in-hand with her music style: with expert knowledge in both worlds, she is the force behind the Bad Vegan fashion line and the Juicebox music promotions company.
“I didn’t see the move into DJing coming,” says her father. “She did ask me if I had any old turntables knocking around, but the leap to getting out and doing it successfully in public was all Becky’s own doing.”
Robert Hood and Lyric Hood
Robert Hood is already pulling double duty as a pioneering entity in minimal techno and a practicing minister. He is also mentoring his daughter Lyric, who in the last five years has become Hood’s partner-in-production in his Floorplan project.
Floorplan, which leans toward the disco and gospel house side of things, got its start in the ‘90s, before Lyric was born. It is only since Lyric’s inclusion that the project has ramped up, with a second album and numerous EPs.
“That was not on my radar,” the elder Hood says of the project. “My wife and I planned for Lyric to go to college and live a ‘normal’ life. We also could see the light in Lyric’s eyes whenever she talked about music. In 2009, she introduced me at the I Love Techno Festival in Belgium and electrified the audience. It was definitely a sign of things to come.”
“My dad’s skills for techno, seasoned with my mom’s flavor and respect for the spirit of gospel music, is definitely in my DNA,” says Lyric. With her DJing and production skills getting a non-stop workout, Lyric recently released her own two-track EP, Nineteen/11:11 -- a double A-side, if you will -- on Hood’s M-Plant imprint.