Hidden behind a golden bird mask and white gloves, the DJ and producer known as Claptone is a mystery. Asked about the story behind the mask, the Berlin-based house-music savant remains coy. “The mask is an integral part of me since I accepted it as a gift, which happened so long ago that I can’t even remember who handed it to me,” he says. “Or maybe I was dreaming and this is my face — the face of the Earth.”
Though there hasn’t been a definitive investigation into his civilian identity, one Spanish-language website believes Claptone is two people who take turns behind the golden masquerade. In an interview with New Times, he perpetuated the illusion that Claptone is one person smitten with every genre of music, from dub to reggae to indie rock to hip-hop. But there is one form of music that really gets his beak wet: house music. “Few things in life are undeniable. Endless pink sunsets, a full moon, a cold drink, real love. I would say that house music falls into this category. Try and try to resist if you will, but it is impossible not to start moving to a killer bass line accompanied by a big kick drum.”
Claptone is hard at work on a new album for 2018, a process he (or she?) finds just as enjoyable as arriving at the final result. “The beautiful thing about creating music is that it is never the same. Sometimes I will fiddle and tweak away in my lab, like a fine Swiss watchmaker assembling a piece, and other times there seems to be something supernatural guiding me at my workbench, bringing full songs to light in a matter of moments. I have been many things over the centuries — a dentist, a philosopher, an astronaut, an explorer, and chef, to name a few — but writing music and playing it to the people is the best of the bunch. I love my job.”
Beyond creating original music, Claptone also remixes other artists’ work. A recent track that made him particularly proud was a reworking of the Gorillaz song “We Got the Power.” “I only remix songs that I love in their original form but somehow feel they could benefit from a little shade of gold,” he says. “I knew that with a couple fine, intricate changes, it would be a big record in my DJ sets.”
Those who wish to see if the song indeed makes them dance will have their chance this Saturday at America’s Backyard when Claptone headlines Corona Electric Beach. The show is free with RSVP, and the masked one is eagerly looking forward to it. “When it comes to my DJ sets, I prefer to let the spirit and energy of the people guide me in the moment. I have loads of new Claptone music that I have been perfecting, modifying, and adjusting, so I hope that the people at Electric Beach are ready.”
Corona Electric Beach, With Claptone. 2 p.m. Saturday, January 13, at America’s Backyard, 100 SW Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 954-449-1025; myamericasbackyard.com. Admission is free with RSVP via eventbrite.com.