He’ll be flying through a string of festival dates, including the recent Coachella and London’s upcoming We Are FSTVL, but we’re certain that Claptone would still bring with him an unparalleled level of energy to his prime-time Mysteryland set.
Last month, the deep house producer took time off his surreal touring schedule for an email interview with Daily Beat about David Bowie’s barrier-breaking influence, the history behind his golden-beaked mask, and why he isn’t actually “anonymous.” Like his entrancing tracks, which pull in elements of funk, new wave and indie-pop, Claptone’s responses unfold like stories that you don’t want to end. On his signature mask, he says, “The beak, with its bird-like shape, is giving me access to perform beyond human abilities… The resemblance to a plague doctor’s mask is not by accident either. It prevents me from becoming affected by the plagues of our times.” I’m left with the urge to question him on what exactly he presumes to be the plagues of our times. Or maybe just an urge to have a park-bench conversation, one-on-one. However, with an email interview being our only option for communication due to his (respectfully) unnamed persona, a real-time conversation with Claptone is only a far-off dream for now.
Claptone’s popularity continues to rise alongside the mystery surrounding his identity. In March, he released “Heartbeat (feat. Nathan Nicholson)” from his debut album, Charmer, as a single, solidifying for the artist another chart-topping spot on Beatport. Previous high-ranking tracks include “No Eyes (feat. Jaw)” and his remix of Gregory Porter’s “Liquid Spirit.” His shows have turned into special events: in 2015, he debuted his audio-visual live show, “Immortal,” revealing not one but two figures clad in black and gold behind the decks. If Claptone decides to bring “Immortal” to Mysteryland, fans are in for a jaw-dropping treat.
DB: You’ve been anonymous for years. What is music about to you? Why do you prefer anonymity?
Claptone: Music to me is everything: Life, Love, Emotion, Meditation, Relief and much more. This already shows that it’s not about me as a person, but about my music: the sound I create to reach out and get in touch with you. My person can not be the focus because I don’t even know what I am. I use making music to find out more about myself and the human (?) being I might be.
What made you decide on the gold mask that has become your signature?
This mask is part of my personality, one of my many faces. It being Venetian for me hints at the rich history and culture we all share and of course at the masquerade balls we hold since centuries. A social tradition which allows us to explore our identity and to fathom our freedom as individuals in performative play. One aspect of it is being able to question authorities and hierarchies, structures of self-sustaining power, question the ones we kneel down before. Gold for me reflects the treasure that I found in music. It simultaneously ridicules the greed and materialism of your average “rock star” or “hip-hop hero.” The beak, with its bird-like shape, is giving me access to perform beyond human abilities. At the same time it makes fun of “pop idols” who think they are more than just human. The resemblance to a plague doctors mask is not by accident either. It prevents me from becoming affected by the plagues of our times.
Several of your tracks have dominated the charts of Beatport for several weeks or months at a time. Describe how that felt, knowing that you were one of the few “anonymous” artists topping the charts, and also somewhat of an up-and-coming artist.
I feel very honored and filled with a deep feeling of happiness, but I am not anonymous – I am right here, I’m Claptone.
David Bowie’s unfortunate passing let down much of the dance music community. How did you take it?
You have to admire David Bowie for showing the world that pop music is a playground. You can invent and reinvent yourself. He realized that you can’t be authentic in this micro cosmos and has been a genius when it came to create the images that he saw fit for himself, always being in charge of his image. Popular music has learned a lot from Bowie.
Gold for me reflects the treasure that I found in music. It simultaneously ridicules the greed and materialism of your average “rock star” or “hip-hop hero.”
You frequently collaborate with artists from different genres, such as Peter Bjorn and John (“Puppet Theatre”). I thoroughly enjoy hearing these artists transform into your signature tech-house sound. What inspires you to decide to work with a specific artist?
My aim is to work with character people and voices. Artists that sound different, make a difference and have something new to say and to contribute. Something you don’t hear in other club tracks.
What’s coming up for Claptone? What can we look forward to this year, with festival season coming up?
I have a show packed summer including an extensive Ibiza- and Festival- season including Coachella, Glastonbury and many more ahead of me. On top of that I will launch my very own party series, “The Masquerade” in Berlin, Barcelona, Ibiza, and London, to take it to the States later this year. “Heartbeat” from my album Charmer has just been released as a single and made Top 10 Beatport Deep House. There’s Mat.Joe and Technasia remixes of this to come. Meanwhile, I’m working on new productions, and I just finished two new remixes for New Order and Peter Björn and John that are going to drop soon.