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DJs wear masks for various reasons, but the main one is to protect their identity. The mask acts as a tool to keep their private lives separate from their DJ personas. Some DJs make the masks part of their story. Others do it just to stand out from the crowd.
DJs Wearings Masks
DJs sporting masks is a trend that is relatively new to the scene. The most prominent masked DJs that come to my mind are Daft Punk, Deadmau5, Marshmello, Claptone, Bloody Beetroots, and Boris Brejcha.
While most of the masked DJs fall under the EDM umbrella, they all have very different styles of music, and the masked personas have become part of their musical identities.
All of these artists have different reasons for donning their masks.
Some DJs wear masks for privacy, distinction from the crowd of other DJs, and branding potential.
Every DJ has their own reasoning and backstory for why they hide their identity. For example, going from being a bedroom producer or DJ to performing to huge crowds can be daunting.
Some DJs Want Privacy
Since DJs can become popular quite quickly and gain a lot of attention from the public, some of them choose to wear masks during their performances to keep their private lives separate from their performances and public personas.
Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter, otherwise known as Daft Punk, wore masks for that reason. Their robot heads protected their identities and gave them privacy.
There are people in the world who dream of being famous and recognized on the street by fans. However, some people have fantastic art and music to share with the world but would like to maintain some level of anonymity. In the art world, a great example of this is Banksy.
Some DJs and producers may be shy. Having a masked alter ego allows them to step into a character they can curate and feel empowered by on stage.
Daft Punk reportedly started out wearing bags over their head due to this shyness about being on stage.
A secret identity may allow the DJs to step into their performer persona by adopting a Clark Kent/ Superman distinction.
Distinction From Other DJs
Wearing a mask is also a great way to set yourself apart and make your performance memorable.
There are so many DJs out there. But if you want to gain attention for your music quickly and stand out from the rest of the crowd, a mask is a great way to do that.
Boris Brejcha, the man behind the Venetian mask, created an entirely new genre of music for himself. He calls it “High-tech Minimal.”
He wore his mask at his first-ever live performance at a music festival in Brazil.
Brejcha was inspired by the Carnival in Rio and wanted to set himself apart from the rest of the DJs playing there.
Boris Brejcha will often remove his mask halfway through his sets. He noted in an interview that it is a way of breathing refreshed energy into his performances.
He doesn’t wear his mask for anonymity but to separate his performances from those of other DJs.
More and more, the trend of wearing a mask is turning into an easy way to set yourself apart from other musicians and bring your own mystery story to the music.
The alter ego that comes with wearing a mask as part of your brand can live on forever. Even if the people behind the masks get old, the alter ego and brand are timeless.
In that way, you never have to worry about your appearance changing.
In show business, it is well-known that attractive people may get further ahead, and some don’t want to participate in that level of social scoring.
Wearing a mask can be a commentary and rebellion against our society’s beauty standards.
Many masked DJs have successful merchandise sales in this spirit of creating a tribe centered around the brand.
Some people find it easier to buy merchandise from a producer with an established character brand, somewhat like a Marvel character.
Marshmello, who many people believe is actually Christopher Comstock, has a YouTube channel in which he does other things such as gaming and cooking videos.
He creates a more comprehensive brand for Marshmello that isn’t limited to just producing music.
Letting The Music Speak For Itself
Wearing a mask can also be a message from the DJ to let their music speak for itself.
By removing the human ego aspect from the musical performance, DJs can place all of the attention of their fans on appreciating the music.
For example, Claptone aspires to create a shared experience where the mask is a metaphor for our human masks.
During his sets, he encourages people to get lost in the emotions of the music and let their masks fall away. You will see many fans also wearing his trademark gold bird beak masks during his sets because of this belief in his message.
Masked DJs can just be hardcore music lovers and want their tunes to speak for themselves.
DJs like Marshmello and Malaa can never be seen speaking or saying anything during their sets. They prefer for the focus to be solely on the music.
Current COVID Times
In today’s world of dancefloors and social distancing, some DJs and club patrons can be seen wearing the protective blue surgical masks we have all become familiar with throughout the pandemic.
Dance music establishments are currently adjusting to regulations in their respective regions, and I have been to many events where I have seen patrons and the DJs performing wearing masks.
It would be pretty funny to see an already masked DJ like Marshmello wearing a blue surgical mask over the Marshmello head.
The last event I went to before the first lockdown back in 2020 was a Steve Aoki show in Brooklyn, New York. I remember being surprised at how many guests and patrons had on the masks.
It’s become normal to see face coverings out and about in the club scene nowadays.
Who is the DJ that wears a mouse head?
Deadmau5 is the sensational mouse head mask sporting DJ. His name is Joel Zimmerman, and his reasoning for wearing the mask is about doing something different and not about keeping him anonymous.
Can you act differently as a DJ with a mask on?
Yes, I suppose you could definitely act differently from your usual self wearing a mask. Your identity is shielded, and you could project an entirely new personality.
Some DJs do this to lower their inhibitions and act more performance-focused without needing to feel shy.
Why are masks so popular in dance music?
In my personal opinion, masks allow people to come outside of themselves and enjoy the music experience of dancing and getting lost in the music without worrying about how they look.
This is why I fell in love with electronic music, the vibes people create and share on the dancefloor, and the DJs performing.
Who started the mask trend?
Daft Punk was the first DJs to start the mask trend in the late 90s. They began wearing their robot head masks in the early 2000s.
Does Daft Punk still exist?
Daft Punk released their goodbye video in 2021, announcing their split. Their publicist confirmed their ending to BBC as well. However, their music and legacy will, of course, live on as they were massively impactful in the dance music scene.
What other musicians wear masks?
The rock band KISS wears face makeup that functions as a mask. Insane Clown Posse is an example of another musical group that wears masks. In their case, it is scary clown makeup.
Do DJs wear headphones under the masks?
This has been a question of mine for some time. I imagine it must be pretty uncomfortable to wear headphones under a mask for the entirety of a DJ set without taking the headphones off.
In the case of Daft Punk, I think their headphones were built into the helmets along with some comms system so they could talk to each other.
There are so many different reasons DJs wear masks.
The list could really go on from privacy concerns to standing out from the crowd, branding benefits, and vision for the music.
The main point to remember is that everyone has their own unique backstory and logic for making a mask part of their persona.