It’s increasingly common for artists to disguise themselves in anonymity. Some artists such as Burial, Route 94, Zomby, Unknown, and Neckface successfully keep their face and name hidden. They fight the age of information going head to head with the internet, removing all traces of themselves on the web. In return a name stamped on their creativity lets the listener create a sort of character to identify the art with. There is a compelling romanticism within this approach. It nostalgically ties to the classic comic book hero living their everyday life as average joe until they get to their secret lair (probably just a bedside studio) and create great, emotive music. This has no doubt added to Burial’s magic and his music is far more enjoyable because of it. Anonymity takes away judgement of the creator and allows the imagination to spin with curiosity and plug all the holes in with its own details.
Other artists such as the Weeknd, SBTRKT, Slipknot, and Captain Murphy used the anonymity initially to create a character. As their fame began to roll in so did their, intentionally or not, true identity. To me this completely ruins the character created. I can’t help but imagine Aaron Jerome (I’m sure he’s a lovely guy) standing over a pair of decks dressed like an asshole sweating into that wooden mask. The music suddenly is compared next to the persons flaws and it’s impossible not to judge where their inspiration for all of it came from; not to mention their revealed musical background can be quite a let down…
Unfortunately both sides can arguably be blamed on using the anonymity as a tool to hype their name. This absolutely takes away from the magic. It’s nice to believe the mask is to let the person truly express themselves. Putting a wall between them and the music frees up a lot of creative space but of course, in the end they are only human and some traits still shine through. For example recall Zomby’s history of no showing gigs and pissing off a good amount of his supporters.
Catch the mysterious Route 94 at the Audio Doughnuts 2nd Anniversary on 30th November 2012 - Tickets and info here.
By Ian Massoth