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31.03.2016 | Words by: Tammo Hesselink.

I remember the first time I bought a record by an anonymous artist and hearing the rumors it came with well. It felt really exciting having a piece of music seemingly hard to find, with no clue of how this music was made and felt like nothing I had heard before. Now, a couple of years later, after seeing multiple similar cases of mysterious records, I do not know how to feel about it. On the one hand the "just listen to the music without any outside influences for a pure experience" attitude seems like a reasonable one, but on the other hand the fad of blurry press shots of producers dressed in all black, whose identity is revealed a couple of months after their first success, sometimes just doesn't feel right.
The trend of releasing music under anonymous names seems to have started as a counter-movement against the minimal scene during the first half of last decade. The music got slicker and slicker and a lot of DJ's seemed to care as much about their personal image as they did about the music itself. This led to a lot of DIY techno labels releasing in a less flashy manner and in obscurity like Underground Resistance did in the 90's. Horizontal Ground artist 19.454. kept its identity hidden because of a dislike for careers with many mandatory activities to stay relevant and a preference to work in freedom. Northern Electronics founder Abdulla Rashim stayed low-key because of discomfort with having himself as a person exploited on the internet. Short-lived techno label Seldom Felt described it clear: No minimal, no Ibiza, no sunrises, no ketamine, no MySpace, no repress. 

The anonymity is not always maintained forever: Redshape, the man who emerged masked in 2006, made his real name public after a couple of years, the dubstep forum investigation squad reached a consensus pretty quickly about who the Unknown Artist behind the 2011 hit record Sicko Cell was, but there have also been a lot of artists who have come out publicly. Shifted remained anonymous while transitioning from Drum & Bass act Commix towards the techno he makes nowadays, but has revealed his identity since then. Rush Hour released two edits as ##### in 2014 which evoked a lot of speculation about the artist behind the music. The record sold out everywhere quickly and the artists behind the records were announced a couple of months later. Was the objective for this of change of mind, or smart publicity?

A recent example of mystery is Giegling artist Traumprinz, who is also active under the names Prince of Denmark and DJ Metatron. While the prince has had his fair share of super-functional dry club tracks, his tear-jerking melancholic belters made the most impact. His names rarely show up on line-ups, and when they do, he might just as well send a Winamp-playlist with some new music instead of appearing in person. He described his reasons behind the mystery as being sensitive to sharing such personal things. This image of a shy man not wanting to be the center of attention at huge raves fits the atmosphere of his music perfectly. But for as much as we know, he could just as much be any of the other artists on Giegling's roster just toying with us. As interested as we are in seeing this man perform and getting to know the person behind the music, it seems like his identity will be kept secret forever. But is that not the beauty of the anonymity in the first place?
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