Throughout the course of music history there have been select artists who choose to create intrigue by concealing their identities behind a mask.
These veiled musicians are often mysterious and theatrical, wishing to create visual spectacles whilst captivating audiences with their unique personalities. The reasons why these musicians wear masks arae often revealing and interesting.
Let’s find out about some of the famous musicians who wear masks and why they wear them.
10. Orville Peck
Orville Peck is renowned for his unique blend of country, rock and Americana, rising to fame in 2019. Using his rich baritone voice, Peck’s music evokes a sense of longing and vulnerability alongside the trials of love and loss.
Under his cowboy hat, Peck typically wears a classic bandit style mask across his eyes, decorated with tassels or other fashion appendages.
“If anything, I think that my mask helps eliminate pretence,” the masked musician insists. “And this idea of having to go onstage and perform as someone or something I’m not.”
Electronic dance music phenomenon Marshmello found fame in 2015 and is instantly recognisable for his iconic marshmallow-shaped helmet. He has amassed a huge following with a blend of catchy melodies, infectious beats and uplifting vibes.
He is one of the most famous and successful EDM producers in recent history. The artist wears a tall, marshmallow-shaped helmet – which features crossed-out eyes and a big black smile.
“I don’t take my helmet off because I don’t want or need fame,” the masked musician said in 2017. “I’m genuinely trying to create something positive for people to connect with.”
8. Insane Clown Posse
Controversial and influential rap duo Insane Clown Posse hail from Detroit, Michigan featuring members Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope. They have built a dedicated following known as the “Juggalos.” Their work is notoriously dark with horrorcore-inspired lyrics.
Arguably misunderstood and often criticised, Insane Clown Posse’s loyal fanbase adore their music for its elements of escapism. The group’s masks take the form of face paint, each of them wearing a black and white design that is regularly mimicked by their fans.
Australian singer-songwriter Sia began as an acid jazz vocalist before stints as Jamiroquai’s backing singer and then fronting Zero 7. In 2014, Sia’s notoriety was on the up, yet she moved away from the spotlight, wanting to protect her privacy.
Her hits including ‘Chandelier’ and ‘Elastic Heart’ have become anthems amongst her adoring fanbase. She took to wearing masks onstage but then switched to elaborate blonde wigs that covered most of her face.
“I don’t wear this if there aren’t cameras around.” Sia explained. “I only wear this to maintain a modicum of privacy.”
Deadmau5, also known as Joel Zimmerman, is a highly influential figure in the electronic dance music scene. Releasing his debut album in 2005, Deadmau5’s meticulous production skill and intricate live performances have attracted a massive global fanbase.
Wanting to create an instantly recognisable image and stand out from other DJs, Joel crafted an oversized mouse helmet that quickly became iconic. There have been several versions over the course of his career with LED light-up designs and gold iterations.
Virtuoso guitarist Buckethead began to build his career in 1988. He has an impressive discography that combines rock, metal and avant-garde music stylings.
He has established himself as an innovative force in the music industry. Buckethead’s lightning-fast guitar playing and diverse range of musical genres showcase his immense talent. He wears a white mask that covers his entire face and a signature KFC style bucket sat on top of his head.
“I could do everything I liked doing as this character that I’m totally scared to death to do otherwise,” the masked guitarist has explained in interviews.
Shock Rock band GWAR formed in 1984, famed for both their outlandish stage presence and elaborate costumes. By 1988 they had risen to prominence with a blend of thrash metal and punk.
The band’s music is built on aggressive guitar riffs and guttural vocals. GWAR serves up both theatrical and gory live shows. The band member’s masks are an incredible hybrid of different styles including vibes of steampunk and mythical creatures.
3. MF Doom
MF Doom has left an indelible mark on the world of hip-hop. He is known for his intricate rhyming structures, clever wordplay, and signature mask. Making his debut in 1999 with album Operation: Doomsday, he showcased exceptional storytelling abilities and unconventional production techniques.
His chrome mask is reminiscent of a Roman warrior which the artist claims is largely to build a persona.
“I decided the mask would just add to the mystique of the character as well as make DOOM stand out,” the masked rapper has said. “I thought it’d be an easy way for people to see and differentiate between characters, sorta like when an actor gains weight for a role. Throwing on the mask was just a good way to switch it up.”
One of the most famous mask-welding bands ever is Slipknot. The iconic nu-metal band formed in 1995 and found fame four years later with their self-titled debut album. Known for their aggressive sound and intense live act, Slipknot pushed the boundaries of metal with their fusion of heavy guitar riffs, pounding percussion and haunting vocals.
The band members wear a mish-mash of different mask styles, from metallic coverings to disfigured pieces from the realms of a horror movie. The artists regularly discuss the fact that masks are a natural representation of the band’s image.
“I had gotten a version of this mask when I was 14. I just never knew why it was in my world but it was always around me,” Percussionist Shawn Crahan explains. “Then one day, it just so happened, it was that moment of clarity to decide what I want to project. This thing has no f***in’ limits.”
1. Daft Punk
Legendary French electronic music duo Daft Punk revolutionised dance music with their innovative sound. From their early hits like ‘Da Funk’ to their global sensation ‘Get Lucky,’ the pair combine catchy melodies along with a fusion of disco, funk and house music.
Daft Punk’s masks are best described as robot-inspired helmets. They evoke futuristic dystopia with their clean and technological feel.
“The helmets provided a narrative point for the audience within a musical genre that often lacks a real storyline.” the masked musicians explain. “We’re interested in the line between fiction and reality, creating these fictional personas that exist in real life.”
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