When COVID-19 hit in 2020, everyone was wearing masks — but celebrity DJ Marshmello was ahead of the trend way back in 2015.
Even those who don’t know Marshmello by name likely know of a few of his popular collaborations. His songs are almost always trending on the charts, and he’s paired up with some of the biggest names in music.
The Billboard Music Award nominee is responsible for some of the hottest singles of the last decade, including “Wolves” with Selena Gomez, “Silence” featuring Khalid and “Friends” with Anne-Marie. In 2018, he teamed up with British band Bastille for the hit single “Happier,” which spent 27 weeks in the top 10 of Billboard’s Hot 100.
The electronic music producer and EDM star is known for wearing a white helmet over his head that looks an awful lot like a marshmallow. The accessory has two Xs for eyes and a big wide smile. Since he first joined the scene in 2015, the artist has never removed the helmet in public.
Masked DJs aren’t necessarily new to the electronic music genre, but Marshmello gets a lot of credit for standing by his attempt to remain anonymous. “I don’t take my helmet off because I don’t want or need fame. I’m genuinely trying to create something positive for people to connect with,” the artist tweeted in August 2017, adding in a separate post, “The helmet makes me marshmello and also makes you marshmello…we are all marshmello.”
In addition to never taking off his headpiece, Marshmello still has never officially confirmed his identity. However, as his star continued to rise, fans and reporters alike began to dig for clues about who was behind some of pop music’s biggest hits — and his identity slowly became an open secret.
For some, the anonymity shtick might get old, but Marshmello has managed to make it feel new and inventive with stunts and pranks. The artist regularly trolls his fan base by pulling off his mask during performances as if about to reveal who he is — only to surprise them with the faces of random celebrities instead.
Scroll down to uncover more clues about the man behind the marshmallow head — and to find out how Skrillex almost blew the secret entirely:
1. How the Internet (Probably) Unmasked Marshmello
Aspiring artists might want to follow Marshmello’s strategy of anonymity. The “Leave Before You Love Me” hitmaker managed to amass a huge audience in a relatively short amount of time.
Within just one year on the scene, Marshmello secured a gold-certified single and released an album that peaked at No. 5 on Billboard’s Dance/Electronic charts. This success all came despite being on a relatively small Canadian label, which is impressive in an already crowded genre.
2. Marshmello’s Journey to Fame
Like many DJs, Marshmello’s music career started on Soundcloud. He uploaded an original song and a few remixes to the platform in 2015 and quickly caught the attention of EDM legends like Skrillex, who reposted one of Marshmello’s songs.
In 2016, the artist released his first studio album, Joytime, through his self-owned record label, Joytime Collective. The 10-track record included his first big hit, hip-hop/EDM hybrid “Keep it Mello,” which featured Mexican rapper Omar Linx.
Since then, the artist has collaborated with huge pop stars and rappers. Along with performing at festivals like Electric Daisy Carnival, the musician has appeared at athletic events like the 2021 UEFA Champions League Final and at virtual events. Marshmello’s 2019 Fortnite performance was the most watched concert ever on the platform, with more than 10 million fans tuning in to hear him spin some of his biggest hits.
3. Skrillex’s Infamous Slip-Up
Marshmello has stayed relatively mum about his actual identity — but not all of his peers have managed to do the same. In 2015, Skrillex was being interviewed by Katie Couric when his phone rang mid-conversation. Couric said, “It’s Chris,” to which the record-breaking DJ replied, “Oh, Marshmello,” before picking up the phone and putting it on speaker.
Sure, a first name — and especially a common one at that — probably shouldn’t be enough for anyone to identify Marshmello’s true persona, but one Forbes writer seemingly cracked the code.
Natalie Robehmed discovered Marshmello’s name by searching through the BMI music royalties database, which lists every individual who contributed to the making of a song, from the producer and the songwriter to the mixer. On each and every Marshmello song, a name appeared that seemed to match Skrillex’s contact: Christopher Comstock.
More research appeared to confirm that Comstock was the sole owner of a holding company called Marshmello Creative, LLC. The American DJ also plays under the name Dotcom and happens to be verified on Instagram.
4. An Open Secret
EDM insiders have called Marshmello’s identity an open secret within the community for years. Many internet sleuths and social media superfans have also matched the stage name Marshmello with the artist’s real name by the time Forbes published its expose, and they’ve since compiled a lot more evidence that supports the outlet’s findings.
For example, many have pointed out that Marshmello and Comstock have the same leg tattoo, which is visible in a photo of the former wearing ripped jeans. Others have noticed a similar mole on their necks and have matched up photos of their hands.
No matter how much evidence has been compiled, however, Marshmello continues to honor his vow of silence. Despite Forbes’ report about the DJ’s identity, neither Marshmello nor Comstock have addressed the speculation.
5. Why Does Marshmello Stay Anonymous?
To understand why Marshmello has chosen to keep quiet about who he really is, fans should look toward the electronic genre’s long history of masked DJs, with Daft Punk leading the way and deadmau5 introducing the idea to a new generation.
The motivation for many artists is to keep people’s attention on their music rather than their personal lives. Daft Punk’s Thomas Bangalter once said, “We want the focus to be on the music. If we have to create an image, it must be an artificial image. That combination hides our physicality and also shows our view of the star system. It is not a compromise. We’re trying to separate the private side and the public side.”
In the age of social media — which leaves so many celebs accessible to millions of fans and haters alike — it’s not hard to understand why someone would want to keep their image to themselves.
6. Marshmello’s Not Interested in Fame
The artist seems to have followed in Daft Punk’s footsteps when it comes to their philosophy toward fame. In 2017, Marshmello tweeted, “I don’t take my helmet off because I don’t want or need fame. I’m genuinely trying to create something positive for people to connect with.”
One year earlier, he tweeted, “If I wanted the fame that 90% of you crave, I would take off my helmet. But I don’t care about that s–t. I care about making a difference.”
7. He Has Too Much Fun Trolling
Though his identity is all but confirmed, it seems like the recording artist is having too much fun trolling his audience to give up the gag anytime soon.
Marshmello has pulled multiple stunts over the years where he brings in celebrity friends to dress in his iconic mask and remove it Masked Singer-style. He famously brought out Tiësto during 2016’s Electric Daisy Carnival, but fans soon put together that it wasn’t the real Marshmello under the helmet.
The DJ also got Shawn Mendes involved in one of his pranks at the 2018 iHeartRadio Much Music Video Awards. When “Marshmello” took the stage to accept an award, Shawn pulled off the mask, shocking everyone and saying, “Woah! Hot in there. Well, thank you so much!”
He then thanked Moe Shalizi, Marshmello’s manager, before running off the stage.
8. Forget the Mask — It’s All About the Music
At the end of the day, the reason fans love Marshmello is that he regularly puts out incredible songs, collaborating with some of the world’s favorite pop and rap artists. If Marshmello wants listeners to just focus on his music, he’s been pretty successful on that front.