How DJ Snake Went From a Paris Ghetto to Being a Global Superstar

DJ Snake
DJ Snake at Echostage in Washington, DC on March 3, 2018. (Source: Facebook)

Since his breakout anthem “Bird Machine” in 2013, DJ Snake has become one of dance music’s biggest and most prolific artists. He’s scored three Billboard Top 10 hits, played the world’s top festivals, and launched his own label, Premiere Classe. The 32-year-old has come a long way since his days as a hip-hop DJ in Paris.

In a rare interview with Billboard, Snake opened up about his youth and rise to fame.

Growing up in a poor suburb of Paris:

“[Ermont is] just like every ghetto in the world … A lot of poverty. Drugs. Criminality. No hope. You just feel like no one cares. All they give you is a few soccer fields in your hood, and everything is closed. So you just play soccer. You don’t have nothing else.”

Transitioning from being a hip-hop DJ to an open-format DJ and producer:

“I remember the first time I dropped a couple of house records, someone threw an Air Force One in my face. So I decided to stop, … I was like, ‘I want to be able to play everything.’ People were like, ‘You’re crazy. You’re going to lose all your credibility and fans.’ But I wanted to try new things and make my own music. So I became a producer.”

Going from producing other people’s tracks to producing his own:

“The good thing about not speaking the language is you just listen … You listen to everyone, every producer, every writer. Then one day I said, ‘Yo, f#ck that sh#t. Now it’s going to be my vision. I’m not going to listen to anybody, no A&R, nobody. I’ve seen this. I get it. This is greatness. But now I’m going to bring my f#cking greatness, my sound.’”

Hustling at Ultra Music Festival:

“We went backstage and I met RL Grime, Flosstradamus, and Baauer … I got all their phone numbers, and I was so excited that the day after, I was sending all my music. I was the worst — like, 10 emails each.”

Embracing styles from around the world:

“Paris influenced me a lot back then, but now the world has a big influence on me … There’s no way I’m going to sleep on the new things that I’m hearing in Brazil and India.”

Being a role model:

“You don’t need money to be creative … The ghetto builds champions every day. I just want to show the kids in every ghetto in the world that we can make some hot sh#t. We can change the world.”

Related: The 5 Best Remixes of DJ Snake’s ‘Magenta Riddim’