There’s something refreshing about a musician wearing a mask. In the age of social media, where fans are more connected to their favourite artists than ever, certain producers and DJs have decided to take a different route. Not only do they get to hide their identity by wearing a mask, but they also put the focus solely back on the music. Wearing masks as a musician isn’t a new thing, but in the age of social media, it’s come more into vogue.
Ian Kerr, a professor of law, ethics and technology at Ottawa University, offered his explanation on the phenomenon to The Washington Post, saying “Previously, the default position was to be anonymous in society. You’re walking up the street and nobody necessarily knows who you are... Now, more and more, as we move into electronic environments and network environments, we’re switching into a default of position of being identified.” As artists use social media to promote themselves more and more, certain musicians have rallied against this notion. Rather than be constantly known, and seen, these artists can fade into obscurity, choosing instead to focus on their music.
For fans, and artists, that want to put the music back in focus, rather than any sort of visuals/branding, then anonymity can be extremely appealing. The concept of celebrity is one that many artists struggle with, and hiding your identity can be a way to circumvent this. Here’s some of the best electronic musicians right now, that don’t get seen without a bit of fancy headwear (and some that have since taken it off).
Golden Features is a producer hailing from Sydney, and started out wearing a mask. This fuelled speculation – with many people believing early on that Golden Features was Flume – but the truth is much simpler. Thomas Stell, as Golden Features is otherwise known, has been around since 2014, and in a relatively short time has made huge waves both in Australia and internationally. Last year, he released his debut album SECT to critical and commercial acclaim, and he’s only set to get bigger.
The producer started out with next to no details surrounding him. However, despite this, he almost immediately received widespread support, being dubbed by Australia’s next big thing by the media, getting triple j play and even being recognised by one of the biggest names in electronic music, Porter Robinson. Eventually, the producer revealed details about himself, due to the intense speculation around his identity, but he doesn’t regret the mask, saying "it became a gimmick and people became more interested in who is making the music rather than the music itself. So I cut it off and put my face up everywhere. The initial idea was let the music speak for itself, it backfired but I stand by it." He still performs in the mask, as shown in the video below, and after watching it we’re left wishing we had a mask as cool as Golden Features.
American producer Marshmello, also known as Christopher Comstock, has made a name for himself in a short amount of time. Drawing inspiration from another member of this list, Deadmau5, when it comes to his now-iconic helmet, Marshmello has been entertaining crowds all over the world since 2015 (and making people really want some s’mores).
Initially uploading his music to SoundCloud, he soon found support from musicians like Skrillex. While it was initially speculated correctly who he was – with the man himself ‘confirming’ back in 2015 that his name was Chris - it was only in late 2016 that Skrillex essentially confirmed that Marshmello was the same musician behind Dotcom. Take a listen to both, and see if you would have picked it yourself…
Claptone continues to go from strength to strength as a musician, and is on the path to superstardom. This, of course, is due in part to being able to play gigs in two places at once, a feat that is part of the air of mystery surrounding Claptone.
Not much is known about Claptone – apart from the fact that he (they?) is/are a German DJ/s. However, Claptone has/have been entertaining crowds all over the world, and it’s clear to see that people enjoy the mystery behind the mask – even if they’re not quite sure what that mystery is. Claptone is set to play a couple of his famous Masquerade gigs in Australia soon, so maybe you’ll be the one to find out who’s behind the mask.
If you’ve ever been to a Halloween party, chances are you’ve seen at least one person dressed like this DJ. Known as Joel Zimmerman, Deadmau5 has been around for over 20 years, and while he technically never hid his identity, the mask is still a huge part of who he is. Why? Because during Zimmerman’s live shows, the head takes on a life of its own. Here’s what we mean:
Deadmau5 has inspired countless DJs and producers to don a mask in order to improve their live shows, gain notoriety, or just hide their identity. However, that doesn’t mean he’s happy about them doing it. Note that this is not a guy you want to get into a Twitter feud with, as Marshmello found out when Deadmau5 outed his identity on Twitter.
We're pretty sure you’ve heard of a little act called Daft Punk. The duo, who are behind countless hits like Around The World, One More Time, Get Lucky and lots, lots more are arguably the most famous muscians to ever don a mask. Whilst they’re not exactly known for their prolific output or heavy touring, they are undoubtedly incredibly influential, in both their aesthetic and musical style.
Known as Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter, the duo have always been interested in anonymity-granting uniforms, with their iconic helmets an evolution of that idea, first revealed in 2001. The pair see the funnier side of their masks, too, saying to Rolling Stone, “We’re not performers, we’re not models – it would not be enjoyable for humanity to see our features.” We’re just glad that they got rid of the black bags they initially wore on their heads.