Pseudonyms appear frequently throughout the arts. Literature has George Orwell, Mark Twain and Oscar Wilde. Film has Boris Karloff, Marilyn Monroe and (sigh) Nicholas Cage. And those are but a few examples from areas that are positively overflowing with aliases. But with such a rich lineage of artistic pseudonyms, what is the reason for the rejection of given names and the embracing of alternative identities? It can be argued that alter egos can elevate a bland and unexciting title to the realm of the household and memorable, destroy class-based associations or even reflect the individual’s creativity and artistic philosophy.
And music, as one of our most innovative and dexterous mediums, offers a lot of scope for such performance and theatricality as well as the need for a name that will get you noticed. Always a platform for experimentation and exploration, music and lyrics afford the artist the chance to lose themselves behind the mask and play up to a constructed character.
There’s a hell of a lot of musicians that could have made it on to the list but I’m not naming names. So you’ll have to agree with who I’ve picked!
This article was first posted on December 19, 2013