Masked musicians are a rare breed. If fame is the ultimate goal in recognition of talent – why hide your face when you get there? Looking at some famed examples of masked musicians working in the industry today such as the French duo’s Daft Punk it’s easy to see the logic behind their ‘robotic persona.’ Their commercial success with their newest album (Random Access Memory) just goes to show what anonymity can do for musicians. Random Access Memory went platinum even after the duo’s musical absence for quite a few years. When their album did come out no one was talking about how old they looked or what they had been doing for the previous few years because quite simply – nobody knew. Daft Punk’s anonymity meant that people could only focus on one thing – their sound. The popularity of Daft Punk’s album doesn’t affect their personal lives because with their masks they are able to separate their life from music. Daft Punk have said the reason for their decisions to take the mask was a straightforward one – shyness. This may be a simple reason for daft punk’s donning of masks but the few musicians who do mask themselves tend to escape all the nasty side effects of fame. Deadmau5 is another ‘unknown’ musician whose progressive house music is world famous, his mouse persona is not exactly a discrete one – the large mouse head he continuously wears states his musical persona before he’s even mixed a record.
The perhaps biggest charade of musical identity is the animated quartet Gorillaz- these guys can’t really perform unless they have an entire team of animators working behind them- not that it takes away from their massively popular sound. They must have been a serious amount of dedication when the collective collaborators behind gorillaz decided to totally elude human presence and take the form of four cartoon characters instead. This hiding of original identity allows for the musician to transcend their personality by allowing them to become a performer. Do we like these musicians more just because they hide their face? It must be said that there is a certain level of humbleness to be had from just letting your music say what you want rather than just gaining recognition from band antics or publicity stunts. In this fame hungry world maybe we anonymity to counteract our celebrity culture – look at blue man group, slipknot, KISS or the more recent SBTRKT. Do they mask themselves because they want their sound to be the ultimate statement?- the be all and end all of their musical career? We now live in a time when celebrities are so fame hungry they will literally go to the extent of having someone publicly vomit on them on stage (ala Gaga) in order to achieve notoriety. It’s humbling to see some musicians who are simply there for one reason -the music. Maybe we need more masked musicians in the world.