I happened to miss a majority of the Grammy Awards this year. I can’t quite recall what I was doing, but perhaps at that moment reading War and Peace was more important than sitting in front of the television to listen to musicians deemed “superstars.”  Seriously, how often are a majority of your favorite musicians, especially within EDM, included in the lineup? And I don’t just mean a DJ or producer that teams up with some big name rapper using auto-tune (ugh, are we still doing that?)

Usually DJs and producers within the EDM category aren’t present at the Grammy’s, but this year Deadmau5 and David Guetta were two of the big names represented.  However, when I first tuned into to the Grammy’s and saw David Guetta DJ-ing, I didn’t quite recognize him at first. Yes, he is an international DJ sensation, but he doesn’t stand out. There isn’t a unique quality about his fashion sense that screams, “Hey, I’m DAVID GUETTA!” By no means is that a bad thing. It just leaves room for DJs like Deadmau5 to show off by wearing a mouse head. Which is exactly what he did at the Grammy’s, and when my mom said, “Why is that guy wearing a mouse head?” it was at that moment I realized that Djs are becoming branded personas.

There has been an evolution in the art of DJ-ing and the way music is produced, yet, the overall presentation of the Djs and EDM artists are changing. Mouse heads, tribal masks, and dinosaur-inspired digs are replacing the days of wearing a Kangol, some fresh sneakers, a graphic tee, and perhaps glow sticks. No longer is music just being associated with an artist’s name, but it’s parallel with the fashion statement. When I think of Deadmau5, I immediately think of a guy who wears a dead mouse head. And not just any plain old mouse head, but a huge mask depicting a mouse with a sinister smile. Dude, have you seen that smile? It’s so creepy! Yet, it’s kind of cool. So when I listen to his music, it makes sense. I often expect it to be dark and sinister.

Now some artists may not be as extreme and enjoy parading around in a dead mouse head. But just because they don’t celebrate dead mice, it doesn’t mean they aren’t constantly trying to brand themselves. Lets analyze another innovative fashion statement: dinosaurs. Take a look at Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs. His name of course has an amazing character to it, so would you expect him to perform live just wearing a tee, some jeans, and perhaps fresh kicks? Sounds boring. When I listen to TEED and watch his performances, I expect to see…dinosaurs. And he does precisely that. TEED has quite an impressive collection of original dinosaur inspired outfits. Rarely will you see a picture or performance of him where he isn’t rocking something that screams “Ah, dinosaurs!”

TEED brings forth the dinosaur vibe and Deadmau5 rocks the dead mouse (which was probably stomped on by a dinosaur). But what about the other fashion trends going on within EDM? Oh yeah, that’s right, the tribal mask. I’ve seen a few artists attempt to brand themselves with some type of mask, but SBTRKT has got that fashion statement on lockdown. Not much is ever really discussed in regards to his real identity, but many have come to know SBTRKT (Aaron Jerome) as that amazing DJ who wears tribal masks, combining a primitive vibe with the sounds of his post-dubstep movement. The tribal masks are a nice addition to the overall persona and innovative live performances of SBTRKT. So that’s a fashion statement that I hope he continues to embrace.

Mouse heads, tribal masks, and dinosaurs are just a few of the unique fashion trends that DJs and EDM artists are embracing. But don’t mistake this for yet another new trend within the EDM community. If I had to seriously think of one of the most popular artists that have branded themselves based upon an avant-garde fashion statement, I’d have to choose Daft Punk. There is no way you can think of Daft Punk and not even begin to visualize their futuristic robot costuming. The robot suits have become their signature persona. In actuality, Daft Punk’s robot suits are more than persona, but a movement in pop culture. Think of the movie Tron Legacy and Daft Punk’s presence in the movie. My point exactly; Daft Punk is a great branding technique.

I definitely credit Daft Punk for introducing the American audience to not just a unique form of EDM, but the reality that DJs, producers, and artists are more than just talented folks that create good music. EDM artists are eclectic fashion enthusiasts waiting to spread their style to the masses.  Whether a DJ decides to opt for a tribal mask instead of dinosaurs or perhaps the mask of some dead animal (I hope that doesn’t become a trend), one thing that remains the same is this constant innovation within the EDM community to push the boundaries and to be known for more than just “cool” music.

EDM is a lifestyle; artists make statements by taking conventional fashion ideas, tossing them out the window, and being bold. DJs and artists want us to remember them. So the next time an artist or upcoming DJ thinks of performing live wearing just jeans and a tee shirt, take some pointers from Deadmau5, TEED, and SBTRKT. Find something unique that will make fans remember not just the music, but also the overall persona. Once an artist can do that, then they really have something worth bragging about, even if it is a dead mouse head with a sinister smile.