Skip to the content

Masked : depictions of anonymity in electronic dance music

Cookney, D 2015, Masked : depictions of anonymity in electronic dance music , PhD thesis, University of Salford.

Download (75MB) | Preview


This thesis explores anonymity as an aspect of identity construction within electronic dance music (EDM). Its specific focus is on the production and control of image within genres that have arisen since the development and expansion of the club scene in the UK from the latter part of the 20th century and, then situated in visual culture and performance research, its examination of anonymity represents an area that, to date, has been overlooked in EDM. As part of this investigation, the thesis’ chapters notably analyse elements that are external to music recordings including record sleeve design and press interviews: components that are essential elements in the development and distribution of these performative identities. Following Thornton (1995), Rietveld (1998), Hesmondhalgh (1998a) and Gilbert and Pearson (1999), the research critically reviews a range of issues that are determined as associated with these representations – including the influence of technologies, a resistance to mainstream assimilation and the impact of collective ‘scene’ – while explaining some of EDM’s distinctions and hierarchies within a post-subcultural setting. To do this it uses case studies focusing on the approaches of Daft Punk, Burial, Zomby and SBTRKT: examples that are presented as unique demonstrations of image construction within the field. It also places the role of identity within a more expansive history of electronic music by aligning contemporary practice with the earlier presented image of Kraftwerk. Ultimately, and while observing this lineage of often counterintuitive practices, the thesis argues that the EDM producer’s separation from the high visibility ‘star system’ model favoured by pop and rock performers reflects commitment to a marginal status: a commitment also communicated through its visual aesthetics that reinforce an underground cultural context to celebrate the peripheral whilst, simultaneously, highlighting the EDM producer’s perceived condition as that which is inferior to his or her rock counterpart.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Themes: Media, Digital Technology and the Creative Economy
Schools: Schools > School of Arts & Media > Arts, Media and Communication Research Centre
Funders: University of Salford
Depositing User: DJ Cookney
Date Deposited: 09 Nov 2015 15:02
Last Modified: 09 Nov 2015 15:02

Actions (login required)

Edit record (repository staff only) Edit record (repository staff only)


Downloads per month over past year