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Who Is Marshmello? An MTV News Investigation

The mysterious EDM star can’t really be a human-size marshmallow ... or can he?

Looking around the kandi-colored crowds at Electric Daisy Carnival New York last month, a notable fashion trend stood out: Lots of fans were wearing necklaces featuring the logo of the masked performer known as Marshmello. Clearly, people here were more than willing to break the unwritten rules against wearing an artist's merch to that artist's show. Marshmello was one of the festival's marquee acts, performing in his trademark white helmet mask and all-white outfit. It's a clever visual joke, distilling the blur of all-white producer bros at any big EDM event into their purest, blankest essence.

Last week, during his set at EDC Vegas, the mysterious producer finally took off the mask to reveal that Dutch trance king Tiësto was the one pushing the buttons, not the beloved human edible treat we all expected to see. It was a funny way to mess with his fans — but it left us no closer to knowing who really lurks behind the Marshmello mask, all jokes aside.

This is a question with real stakes, because Marshmello's music is actually great, particularly last month’s caffeinated energy ball of a track, "Alone." The time has come to sift through the evidence and make a stand. Could Marshmello be, like, Skrillex? Could he be ... you? Let’s find out.

The Suspects

Tiësto

The fact that Tiësto performed as Marshmello that one time almost certainly means the decades-in-the-game producer isn’t the man in white. Sure, it would be an amazing late-career reinvention for him, but it's hard to imagine Tiësto working with anything like the video-game-nostalgia-mining tunes that Marshmello has perfected. This was a fun one-off gag, but he's not our man.

Odds: 1:1000

Callie Reiff

A friend suggested this theory: Maybe, instead of being just another bro, Marshmello is actually a smartass teenage girl trolling her way into the upper echelon of EDM stardom. The first name that came to mind was 16-year-old Callie Reiff, who earlier this year produced a really great mix of music from Skrillex’s Nest label. On the other hand, Reiff is barely old enough to remember the Nintendo 64, much less the NES or SNES that seem to inspire so much of Marshmello’s music.

Odds: 1:120

A sentient Twitter bot

If ever a member of the #Mellogang chooses to tweet about their favorite artist, they get a special treat: The hottest all-white Edible Arrangement in the game rewards them with the pink heart of a "like." This happens with such regularity that the possibility that Marshmello isn’t a person at all, just some kind of IRL Twitter bot, feels increasingly sensible to me. A lot of being a DJ in 2016 is just pressing play; surely the lines of code needed to get all those faves and likes done could accomplish such menial work.

Odds: 1:25

Dotcom

Internet sleuths recently claimed to have traced Marshmello's identity back to Philadelphia producer Dotcom. Based on tweets, snaps, and other social media snitching, this is probably the dude, which is fine – one relatively successful EDM DJ is also another reasonably successful EDM DJ. OK, cool.

Odds: 2:3

The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man

But wait! Hold on just one sec! Not to diminish the amazing work of Dotcom(arshmello), but wouldn't it be more fun if the producer was secretly the big bad guy from a beloved 1980s comedy?!

Odds: 1:1984

Avicii, in a deep, cosmic sense

What if, at the next EDC or similar event, Marshmello took off his helmet to reveal he was Avicii? What if Avicii then took off his head to reveal a giant bag of marshmallows? And what if, then, the real Avicii crawled out of that bag — but, like, a tiny, soft, mini-Avicii? Think about it: Isn't Avicii a delicious sugary treat conflicted about his place in society, attempting to find meaning in the baking aisle of the grocery store? And when you put it like that, aren’t we all just Aviciis in a world of Marshmellos?

Odds: 1:30

Me, David Turner, the author of this article

David Turner

Odds: 😝:😝


VMAs 2017