Since he started releasing tracks last year, Joytime Collective-affiliate Marshmello has stubbornly refused to reveal their identity. Although internet sleuthing suggests that Philadelphia producer Dotcom could be behind the project—speculation is based on what appears to be a matching thigh tattoo, first name, and birthday—this hasn't been confirmed.
Whoever the producer is, he certainly took advantage of this built up elusiveness for some top notch trolling this weekend. Yesterday, during his performance at day three of the EDC Las Vegas megafestival, "Marshmello" stopped the music to dramatically remove their helmet and reveal… that he was Dutch dance music veteran Tiësto?
Of course, it was all a joke. If the dissimilarity between Tijs Michiel Verwest and Marshmello's respective sounds doesn't convince you, a quick gander at their upcoming, divergent tour dates confirms that they probably aren't the same person. But even if Marshmello was just having a laugh, it still brought us a few realizations about spectacle, anonymity, and music festival culture.
1. This was a joke about the trope of the anonymous producer
At this point in the history of dance music, if you choose to be an anonymous dance music producer aiming for mainstream success, you've got some famous predecessors: Daft Punk and Deadmau5 being just two. In this EDC joke, Marshmello made fun of the trope of the anonymous producer, and implicitly himself, by theatrically playing up the drama associated with it only to diffuse the tension with a playful trick.
2. It played with the overwhelming spectacle of dance music festivals
Sometimes it feels like music festivals focus too much on getting the craziest lasers and fireworks, and forget to actually focus on the music. Maybe Marshmello is trying to remind us what really matters at music festivals by making a joke about onstage gimmicks.
3. Or maybe it was a joke about nothing at all
It's also possible that Marshmello was simply trolling for no reason at all except to get a response out of people. If this was the case, the response on Twitter suggests that it certainly worked.
4. Even EDM celebrities can have self-awareness
While the common stereotype of a celebrity DJ is macho and self-serious, even someone as popular as Marshmello—or Tiësto for that matter—can be down to make jokes about the spectacle of huge dance music festivals.
5. Dance music is supposed to be fun
All of these things point to one thing: whether he's trolling with a purpose or simply for the sake of laughs, Marshmello is clearly just trying to have a good time and inject some levity into a culture that can sometimes take itself a little too seriously.
Follow Alexander on Twitter.