Some do it for the anonymity, others do it for marketing, and some do it for both. No matter the reasoning, masks can transform DJs into something bigger than simple music artists -- they become icons.
Masked DJs are maybe the closest thing we have to real-life superheros. By donning a mask, these ordinary individuals become otherworldly beings possessing awesome powers beyond our comprehension.
Here's a list of our favorite DJ masks.
13. JAGUAR SKILLS
Like the moves of a ninja, Jaguar Skills' mixes are swift and merciless. After effortlessly flowing through drum & bass and dubstep, we wouldn't be surprised if after his set, Jaguar Skills silently does backflips off a roof and disappears into the night.
Despite the fact that he's making no effort to hide his identity, Norway's Aleksander Vinter rocks a Guy Fawkes mask, the preferred disguise of the international hacktivist group Anonymous. Savant says he's a big fan of V For Vendetta, "as well as the idea of unity/anonymity." Plus, the dude actually looks like his mask in real life so, in his words, "it's funny either way."
Funtcase's mask accurately characterizes his music: menacing. A ruthless producer, Funtcase perhaps is better off wearing the mask, because if he took it off he might be persecuted for aural assault.
WHO IS ƱZ? Where is he from? Is this the side project of another well-known DJ? Questions about ƱZ's true identity continue to tease our imaginations. Not only does his complete head coverage successfully hide his face, that gold commedia dell'arte mask is freaking baller.
9. DJS FROM MARS
With their cardboard box disguises, this Italian duo prove that you can make an awesome DIY performance costume with supplies you probably have laying around the house. Plus, they make us nostalgic for Gumby.
Interpretations of real-life native society ceremonial masks, SBTRKT's tribal face-wear is designed by the creative company Hidden Place. Aaron Jerome, the man behind the SBTRKT, has stated he aims to eliminate his personal identity from his music (thus the name SBTRKT - 'subtract', get it?) making the masks perfect for his on-stage persona.
This dude is scary! Kind of a crossbreed between Spawn and Predator, Zardonic would fit right in at a supervillain convention. Zardonic's style of heavy bass metal and frantic dubstep is as dark and evil sounding as you'd expect from a performer who could fill in as a Mortal Kombat character.
If Daft Punk and Iron Man had a baby, it might look like Myndset. Complete with LED headlights and a frontal air fan for ventilation, his mask kind of looks like what a Lucha Libre wrestler would wear in the Tron universe. While Myndet's real identity is unknown, we do know that he's based out of Los Angeles and lays down some of the heaviest electro your ears have ever heard.
5. DEADMAU5 - MOUSE HELMET
This list would be incomplete without deadmau5: the man who opened the door to the mass merchandising of DJ iconography. One of the word's most recognizable DJs, Joel Zimmerman has immortalized his moniker through the complex LED threaded masks he dons for the greater portions of his sets.
4. THE BLOODY BEETROOTS
Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo, the man behind the Venom mask, is shrouded in mystery. Distinguishable only by the "1977" tattoo on his sternum, Bob, for a time, only permitted black and white photos to be taken of him. Recently, Bob gave the mask an upgrade: it now has bright LED lights that become vibrant at climactic moments of the Bloody Beetroots show. Very cool indeed.
Squarepusher pushes the definition of a stage persona by literally syncing his face with his light show. To see it in action, check out this video for "Dark Steering" off of Ufabulum. Unlike other DJs masks, Squarepusher's helment doesn't portray a cartoony, marketable persona. Instead, it serves to compliment the on-stage spectacle of surrounding LEDs -- a futuristic glitchy light show that perfectly suits his genre-defying music.
Cazzete's self-referential headwear is not only awesome but also interactive; the lower half of the mask contains LEDs that spell out messages to their fans. When we first heard of these guys during their pre-mask era, we wondered why they didn't have something like this. Looks like they caught on -- or else they're monitoring our genius thoughts.
1. DAFT PUNK
All hail Daft Punk and their amazing helmets. It should be no surprise that they top our list. These sleek, ever-evolving LED-lit masterpieces have no doubt been the envy of every masked DJ since Daft Punk started rocking them during their Discovery era in the late '90s and early 2000s.
Not only are these helmets awesome, they truly personify the human-meets-machine aesthetic of Daft Punk's music. Just as Daft Punk bring an undeniable organic quality to digitally-created music, each helmet embodies a unique individualistic personality. In the same way that Daft Punk's signature vocoded melodies -- like the unimpassioned mechanized vocals on "Digital Love" and "Instant Crush" -- evoke a distinct vulnerability, their masks remind us that these androids really are "human after all."
For some really cool facts about Daft Punk's outfits and a complete timeline of their evolution, check out The Daft Club's "Visual History of Daft Punk's Helmets."
Think our list is bogus? Did we forget to include your favorite masked DJ? Leave a comment and let us know!