For a long time, pop music was about being somebody else. Pop music was about escaping into another form, about shifting persona, about becoming something new under those lights and up on that stage. It was about performance and pantomime, affectation and acting. David Bowie, Alice Cooper, Captain Beefheart, Marilyn Manson, Eminem, Madonna, Gorillaz, MF Doom - these artists, and a tonne other besides, believed that the thrill in music lay in its otherworldly mystique, in the enigma of costume change and alter-ego.

But then reality TV and the internet happened, and now we know everything about everybody all the time and forever. For a while, this seemed like a new democratic future, whereby the fans and the artist could be instantly connected, communicating direct and unhindered. The playing field was leveled, not so much to make us all stars, but so as to make us all ordinary. Like with The Libertines, Arctic Monkeys, The Others. There’s a lot to be said for grit and realism, but glamour and mystery are not two of them. Pop stars may be people too, but so are postmen and binmen and IT technicians. I don’t want to aspire to any of those things. I can get ordinary and normal from speaking to the person behind the counter at Tescos, I don’t necessarily want it in the CDs it sells too.

It’s not surprising then that a trend is emergent in new music in which artists are contriving to conceal their own identities, to speak to the world without having to show the world the mouth that made the noise. The possibility for this can be attributed to new and easier home recording technologies, meaning anyone can make music in their room and show it to the world through the internet. That’s probably why anonymity appears more prevalent in the electronic world where these kind of technologies are more central (see Burial or Zomby, even Kode9). But this technology has been available for years now. What has changed is the desire to make music in the bedroom while actively maintaining anonymity. Artists want to communicate, but they don’t want to give away everything about themselves.

If music was once about being someone else, now it’s increasingly about being no one at all.

Here’s a few examples of artists trying similar things right now. Some of it is bullshit marketing facade, some of it is willfully obtuse posturing (oh the irony), and some of it generates genuine intrigue. If you’re in a band and you don’t exist online yet (which means you don’t exist full stop, duh), then it might be worth taking heed of some of these approaches.

Am I the only person in the world to think that WU LYF is bullshit? Probably not. But if you were to pay attention to the internet or listen to the eager babble of A&R scared of missing The Next Big Thing, then you’d probably be convinced otherwise.

So what’s the deal with WU LYF? Some guys in a band posted some songs on the internet. Big whoop. But what makes it intriguing is that they did so through their own website without revealing their identity. Couple this with some choice ambiguous and iconic imagery and you’ve an internet sensation on your hands. WU LYF certainly look impressive, that’s for sure. But as for how they sound, I can’t help but wonder if all of this has been done in an attempt to disguise that they’re what Animal Collective would be if they were a lot worse and had a Godspeed! You Black Emperor fetish.

So ambiguity noted, what do we actually know about WU LYF?  Firstly, they’re from Manchester and have played live, which resulted in a kind of embarrassing industry scramble. Secondly, their name is an acronym for, wait for it, World United Lucifer Youth Foundation. Thirdly, like supposed internet sensations Arctic Monkeys before them, they’re represented by a PR company, in this case XL Records’ in house agency, Technique. And finally, they apparently pressed 500 copies of a single 12″ which they sold for £50 £15 a piece. It’s alleged that the record sold out before most people were even aware it was available to buy. They’re now recording a debut album using the money generated from the sales. That’s pretty smart. The people that bought it are pretty dumb.

What happens next with WU LYF is certainly going to be interesting, but for me at least, that will be more because of the process than what’s produced. It seems a lot of people have suspended their critical faculties when it comes to WU LYF, because the shroud of mystery means it’s hard to judge them properly and desperate A&R are afraid of being bitten on the arse. And I’m aware that even writing about them here is playing exactly into their hands and admittedly, cynicism aside, they do at least warrant some discussion. But from what I’ve heard, it sounds a lot like it’s a good job they’ve got careers in marketing all lined up.

World United Lucifer Youth Foundation - looks like the Devil doesn’t have all the best tunes after all.

WU LYF - “Heavy Pop”

WU LYF - “Heavy Pop”

Being a bedroom based artist with social anxiety issues is one thing, but being a a Swedish babe backed by a team of producers is another entirely. The less cynical side of me wants to believe that staying anonymous is a sincere trait adopted by new artists in an attempt to keep their music free of visual artifice. I’d like to believe that. Whether it’s true or not, it’s hard not to romanticise people like Burial and Zomby. But it’s inevitable that such a blog friendly approach to promotion would result in large scale appropriation by major labels. I guess the reasoning is if it can work for Burial, why not for everyone else?

The campaign for iamamiwhoami is the perfect encapsulation of that attitude. Ethereal videos with snippets of music and hazy imagery were posted to key tastemakers in an attempt to build intrigue and rivers of tedious blogger speculation. And, for the most part, it worked. Rumours surfaced that the person behind the music was Little Boots or Lykke Li, and some not particularly sharp people even thought it was Christian Aguilera - this I don’t get. Christina Aguilera has been pretty much showing off her entire vaginal cavity for the whole of her career, why cover her face now?

Sadly, the reality of iamamiwhoami’s identity was far less interesting. It was Jonna Lee. You know, Jonna Lee? Oh right yeah, who the fuck is Jonna Lee? Unsurprisingly, such an underwhelming reveal meant no one really cared as a result. In fact, I hadn’t even realised that the identity of the person behind the project had been revealed until I started writing this article. All hype, no heart. Welcome to the blogosphere.

iamamiwhoami - “t”

iamamiwhoami - “t”

I posted a song by E A S Y on the Platform music blog about a week or so ago, alluding to the mystery surrounding it. And that mystery remains, as I still know very little about who is behind the project. There’s some associations with Vondelpark, another relatively obscure blog darling that’s been getting props on a lot of the major blogs, but that’s as much as I can find. They might very well be the same person (people?), and the songs floating around have been tagged in a confusing way. Apparently they used to be these guys. It’s all unclear.

In many respects, the one track I’ve heard by E A S Y, and the associated few songs by Vondelpark, possess the same generic characteristics of a lot of 09/10 chillwave, post-dubstep. There’s not really anything particularly new or outstanding about them, other than the enigma that comes with being created by an unknown. But these songs feel a lot more raw and affecting than anything produced by, say, WU LYF or iamamiwhoami. Amongst the gloom and haze, there’s genuine depth and emotion, as if they’re haunting the internet with their faceless presence. They’re like white sheets with two eyeholes spooking the blogs.

But if this music does possess generic characteristics, it’s not really surprising. A lot of this stuff sounds hypnopompic - the feeling of being awake but still in a dream (like my Bloody Valentine).  Of not really knowing who you are for a second or two just after you wake up. I mean, I don’t think anonymity in music works if the music itself were to sound like ABBA or Chipmunk, yknow. And I guess that’s where E A S Y and Vondelpark have got it spot on.

E A S Y - “Venice Beach”

E A S Y - “Venice Beach”

Vondelpark - “California Analog Park XXX”

Vondepark - “California Analog Dream”