You probably know his music from the promo for “America’s Best Dance Crew” and might even have fallen in love with the sinister sound — but who is behind the infectious beats and anthemic sounds? Meet deadmau5. Pronounced “dead mouse” and known to his family and friends as Joel Zimmerman, the Canadian born, Grammy-nominated producer is one of the hottest dance acts around, and his headlining appearance at the Winter Music Conference’s Ultra Music Festival in front of 100,000 fans has only further solidified the fact that the Mau5 is here to stay. But who is the man behind the mask that has become so iconic in the dance-music community?
“Long story short, a mouse went into my computer and died, and I found him in there when I was changing my video card,” he explained. After word spread on the Internet through various chat rooms and blogs, “everyone just statted calling me ‘that dead mouse guy’ because of he story, and it just stuck. And the 5 was because I couldn’t spell out D-E-A-D-M-O-U-S-E because it was too long to have as a name in the chat room, so I had to trim a character, so I was just like, whatever, and I put a 5 in there and it stuck.”
A computer buff turned international dance-music superstar, deadmau5 has had a rapid rise to success. Just four years ago at Winter Music Conference 2007 he was peddling his CDs and stickers on the street like scores of other DJ and producer hopefuls do each and every year.
“It’s incredible to see someone catapult from obscurity to stardom in less than two years,” said David Waxman, longtime DJ and current Ultra Records executive. “He’s taking art to a new level. He’s not just a DJ remixing on the fly, but more of a musician and a producer — he makes it a lot more interesting.”
Indeed, deadmau5 has not only become an icon to the electronic music novice and fanatic alike, but he is also redefining what it means to produce dance music. And his shows have become legendary in the dance-music community, as he works with a lavish intricate array of mixers, MIDI devices and computer software — all while wearing his unmistakable evil “Mau5Head.” With the massive success of “Ghosts N Stuff” from the “ABDC” promo, deadmau5 insists there’s more to him than that one track.
“I’ve just got to keep doing new and cool things and being on par with that, because I really, really don’t want to be this ‘Ghosts N Stuff’ guy, you know what I mean? So I really got to, like, I keep setting the bar for myself and sort of, like, screwing myself because I’m like, ‘Oh man, I’ll never do that again, something on that level,’ and that’s kind of cool because it just pushes me to come up with something like that.”
Coming off of a massive year with his smash release For Lack of a Better Name with singles like the aforementioned “Ghosts N Stuff” along with “Strobe” and killer Kaskade collaborations “I Remember” and “Move for Me,” ‘Mau5 has solidified himself as an electronic music star whose frenzied fans have put him on the top of his game, often imitating his signature mau5head.
“Dude, I’ve been at some shows and some kids rock out these mau5heads that are better than mine!” he said. However, he’s planning to debut his brand-new, one-of-a-kind mau5head at the upcoming Coachella festival in Indio, California. “It’s just like an HD, LED matrix that’s insanely huge all in a big mau5head, so it’s, like, no longer a mau5head — it’s a compound spherical video surface. It’s the only one in the world!”
With his new album on the horizon and set to be released before summer, deadmau5 assures us he has some surprises in store. Unveiling Tommy Lee as his surprise drummer at Ultra Music Festival at the end of March, who will he pair up with next?
“I’m working on my wish list right now and I don’t want to give it away, because I’m working with these artists and everyone knows who they are and everyone is going to go, ‘WHAT!?!?’ but it’ll sound good — don’t worry, it’s not Justin Bieber or anyone crazy!” ‘Mau5 joked.
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