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The event’s most enigmatic attraction has covered its face with a kind of marshmallow-shaped bucket since it began appearing at festivals in 2015. Websites specializing in the genre link its identity to that of American DJ Chris Comstock, known as Dotcom, but that’s not all. of a rumor never confirmed.
The musician, who blew up with a remix of “Where are ü now”, by Jack Ü and Justin Bieber, gives few interviews and almost nothing is known about his origins. In an official biography, he is sparing in explaining why he decided to hide his face:
“I just want to make good music. And for that you don’t need to know who I am.”
Marshmello emerged in the wake of other masked DJs, including Canadian Deadmau5 and French duo Daft Punk. They all follow a long line of artists who make mystery their biggest merchandising – there are names like Sia, Kiss, Slipknot and Gorillaz. But what is behind the riddle?
The American band Kiss performs at Monsters of Rock 2015 — Photo: Flavio Moraes/G1
What an expert says
Most masked people cite privacy or “appreciating art over image” as motivation. But for Thiago Soares, professor and researcher of music and pop culture at the Federal University of Pernambuco (UFPE), it is impossible to define a single element that explains the behavior of all these artists. He does some analysis.
“In the case of Kiss, for example, the strong makeup hides even their age. They get older, but they don’t suffer the repercussions of it. The mask also redeems this place a little”, he evaluates. “About Sia, I believe there is indeed a poetic strategy. There is also a critique of the pop music format, of the artist as an emblematic and central figure.”
“Every artist builds a trajectory in the media. The mask is a playful component in this narrative, it is a call to unveil.”
But what about Marshmello? “One interpretation can be the criticism of the overvaluation of DJs, of this popstar DJ thing”, analyzes the researcher. “It seems to me that he also uses an aesthetic linked to digital culture, of emoji. The logic of the masked person, of the anonymous, is also very present on the internet, with elements such as the ‘V for revenge’ mask, the fake, the anonymous post .”
Soares also recalls that the cult of masks is much older than any pop star. “It’s not a contemporary thing. The circus, scenic dimension that flirts with the theater is part of the entertainment tradition”, he explains. “Actors used masks to act out emotions. This idea of hiding the face grew out of increased visibility.”
A masked man’s point of view
Zangado is successful on the internet with videos about games — Photo: Jamile Alves/G1 AM
If the masks are all about the internet, it is clear that the celebrities of this universe would not miss the opportunity to create their own riddles. Thiago “Zangado” is one of the most famous anonymous Brazilians among youtubers. He has been hiding his face since he started his channel – now with 4 million followers.
“I live in a small town and I’m an engineer. I didn’t want fame to interfere with my life and work”, he justifies when g1. “I also agree with the point of view of Slipknot and Daft Punk, who want the fans to focus on their music. In my case, the things I say and the example I set.”
Zangado says he believes that “ideas are more important than image”, especially when talking to young people. So he thinks the mask helps to get the right messages across. “Every artist must have a legacy. When I go to an event, I always try to show the importance of studies, family relationships, respect for differences… It’s my legacy.”
“Whether I have small eyes or big eyes, straight hair or not, it doesn’t matter. That’s my identity.”
For the UFPE researcher, it is necessary to be careful with the discourse of “I don’t want to be famous”, especially on the internet, where the relationship between masks and real life is even more blurred. “In the case of youtubers, it seems a lot like a personal marketing discourse, of wanting to differentiate themselves from others”, he evaluates. “The artist has a stage. For the youtuber, the stage is his life. We are entering a moment of such visibility that the private has become scenic. It is the tyranny of intimacy.”