It’s been a restless couple of weeks for the ‘Skeleton Clique’, the fans of pop/hip hop/rock duo Twenty One Pilots. Since April, Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun have been dropping hints by posting grainy photos, handwritten messages and special videos on their website and social media. Their new logo was also spotted on several billboards in London. It’s a scavenger hunt 2.0. One with meaningful clues and a special message, as it turns out after doing some Sherlock Holmes-like detective work. I’ll piece the puzzle together for you step by step.
Let’s start with the big news of 11 July where in a press release, the men announce that they will release a new album on October 5: Trench. They will also go on the ‘Bandito’ world tour starting on October 16. As if this isn’t enough for excited fans, Twenty One Pilots also dropped two new singles: Jumpsuit and Nico And The Niners. Two tracks of which the lyrics and accompanying music video are riddled with symbolism. The clues that the Pilots gave in the past year are fi-nal-ly in place!
After more than a year of travelling around the world with the Emotional Roadshow World Tour, the tour as part of the latest album Blurryface, the men posted a message on Twitter on the 7th of July 2017 stating ‘And now I just sit in silence’. This was the beginning of a one-year radio silence.
For a year we heard nothing, except for one (first) hint. Josh appeared at the Alternative Press Music Awards alone that year and when he picked up the Award for Most Dedicated Fanbase, he said: “Tyler wishes he could be here, but he’s actually severing ties with Dema.”
Fervent fans investigated, and found out that ‘Dema’ could stand for the ‘Tower of Silence’. In Zoroastrianism (an ancient Persian religion) Demas were built for funeral rituals. They were round buildings where the deceased were exposed to the sun and vultures.
Of course, this was not meant literally, but it did indicate that at the time, Tyler was in a less pleasant place to say the least.
In April this year, a long silence was broken when they put a video on their website with a link to dmaorg.info. This website showed a 404-error with the following warning:
‘you are in violation. thEy mustn’t know you were here. no one should ever find out About this.’
At the bottom of this message is a ‘violation code’. When you add this code to the URL, you will end up on a page where, in the subsequent weeks, several instructions will be added.
On this website, a letter from ‘Clancy‘ is shared, he appears to be the main character in the story of the album Trench. Fans guess that Clancy is Tyler’s new alter-ego. In the letter, he writes about Dema, which can be interpreted as a metaphor for Tyler’s gloomy worldview.
Twenty One Pilots’ earlier work is considered to be quite dark. In an interview with AP in 2014, Tyler indicates that he suffers from ‘seasonal depression’. He speaks light-heartedly about his depression, but on the autobiographical album Blurryface you can definitely hear that he’s going through dark times.
The album is about the character Blurryface, Tyler’s alter-ego, and his world of experience. In an interview with MTV, Tyler says that Blurryface represents everything he’s insecure about, including the music he recorded.
When this uncertainty creeps over him, he feels as if he is suffocating. That is why he can be seen with black grease on his hands and neck in the videos and during performances.
The men were previously accused of promoting depression, possibly discouraging vulnerable fans from seeking help. Although this new album refers to the dark Dema, Trench seems to have a (more) optimistic message.
In a passage from his diary we are able to find out more about Clancy. He describes his life and the past nine years in Dema.
The most important finding seems to be the following:
‘It was upon my ninth year that I learned that Dema wasn’t my home. This village, after all of this time, was my trap.’
On Twitter, fans make the link that Tyler has been active in the music industry for nine years now and that it is becoming more and more likely that Dema indeed represents Tyler’s personal world of experience.
In this fragment of his diary he writes about nine bishops, they are the ones who lay down the law in Dema. Furthermore, there are two grainy pictures and a proof for a failed attempt to escape from Dema. From all these hints, it could be concluded that Clancy is fighting the battle and wants to leave the dark Dema.
A hum of wonder
Another message follows in which Clancy once again indicates that Dema has never been his home. He also emphasizes his hope for a better life:
‘But, somewhere between the iron order and infallible [p]rec[i]sion of Dema, a hum of wo[n]der exists, It’s the quiet wonder that my mind tends to [g]ets lost in.
This hope of discovery alone has birthed a new version of myself; a better version, I hope, that will find a way to experience what’s beyond these colossal walls.’
Some more hints follow such as (hand)written messages, images and videos, but the only way we’re getting more clarity is when the Pilots release the first two singles.
One of the two new songs, Jumpsuit, is accompanied by a meaningful video clip. In this video you’ll see Tyler walking through a vast landscape with ups and downs and a man in a red cloak on a white horse galloping towards him.
The lyrics seem to describe Tyler’s struggle with his place in the music world:
I can’t believe how much I hate
Pressures of a new place roll my way
Jumpsuit, jumpsuit, cover me
‘Jumpsuits’ were once developed as suits to wear when parachuting. They offer good protection while also being very suitable for a big jump or… escape.
Tyler seems to describe his mental state in these lyrics:
Spirits in my room, friend or foe?
Felt it in my youth, feel it when I’m old
Jumpsuit, jumpsuit (cover me)
The next part of the music video shows a confrontation between Tyler and the man in the red clock. Is this terrifying man, rubbing black grease on his neck Blurryface; the old state-of-mind of Tyler? Or maybe one of the bishops?
For a moment, Tyler seems to be overpowered by him (once again), he follows the man on the horse. But then we hear the bridge:
I’ll be right there
But you’ll have to grab my throat and lift me in the air
If you need anyone, I’ll stop my plans
But you’ll have to tie me down and then break both my hands
If you need anyone, I’ll be right there
Jumpsuit – Twenty One Pilots
They can overpower him, but he will be sure to resist! How? The clue probably lies in Tyler’s reference to his throat and hands. He uses these to make music, the weapon against Blurryface or Dema.
Colour code FCE300
In the video, you’ll see that Tyler is not alone in his resistance against Dema. This is depicted by a group of people throwing yellow petals down from a cliff. To decipher what it means, we have to go back to the previous GIF with the title ‘they can’t see FCE300’, which was posted on July 6th:
FCE300 is the colour code for yellow and stands for sunshine and warmth – something that is difficult to see or feel while suffering from depression. Yellow, which appears in many of the hints shared so far and in the new logo, seems to be a defense against the men chasing Clancy.
In the video, the petals scare the horse of the man in the red cloak, giving Tyler the chance to flee.
Nico And The Niners
The lyrics of the second released single Nico And The Niners, deepen the message of the fight against depression.
We are able to obtain more information about Dema from the title ‘Nico And The Niners’. This is explained in the next GIF, previously posted on Dmaorg.
If you put the letters one after the other, you get the next sentence:
U N STILL I DONT C KNOW O HIS N REAL I NAME C DO O U?
When you remove the separate letters between the words, it says:
U STILL DON’T KNOW HIS REAL NAME DO U?
And the individual letters together form NICO twice.
The ‘Niners’ would stand for the nine bishops mentioned above, Nico is one of them. The names of the bishops would be composed by the titles of the nine tracks of Blurryface, which are all a metaphor for different internal struggles.
In the intro of the song, we get to know the ‘banditos‘ for the first time. This would be a group that help people escape from Dema. Clancy joins the banditos.
We are banditos
You will leave Dema and head true east
We renounce Vialism
‘Vialism’ is mentioned in one of the previous letters on DMAorg. It would stand for a mandate, or order, from the bishops with which they deprive the inhabitants of Dema of all hope.
In the hook it becomes clear that Nico And The Niners is definitely a battle song:
East is up, I’m fearless when I hear this on the low
East is up, I’m careless when I wear my rebel clothes
East is up, when Bishops come together they will know that
Dema don’t control us, Dema don’t control
East is up
Nico And The Niners – Twenty One Pilots
‘East is up’ because the east is where the sun rises. A symbol for better times. Whether Tyler will indeed reach the east, is not entirely clear in this clip.
Did you get all these messages from the new Twenty One Pilots tunes? I think it’s really unique that they share their powerful message about this relevant and heavy subject in such a special way! An extra shout out to Tyler because of his vulnerable position and for opening up about his personal struggle with depression. Hopefully, this will also lend a hand to fans who struggle with their own Dema.
Was this the end of the scavenger hunt? Or can we expect more clues in the run-up to the release of the album Trench and the start of Bandito World Tour? To quote our colleague Sherlock Holmes: “Never theorize before you have the data” – It remains to be seen!
The video of Nico And The Niners has just been released. Which message and clues are you able to extract? Let us know in the comment section below 👇
Did we miss a clue, or do you think we misinterpreted something? You’re doing us a huge favor if you let us know in the comment section below!
We’re often looking for the meaning behind special songs like these. If you liked this article, you probably want to know what This Is America by Childish Gambino is about and why Apeshit by The Carters is the shit!
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