Joel Zimmerman, better known by his stage name, Deadmau5 took the electronic music scene by storm in 2008 with his album Random Album Title toping out at number 13 on the US Dance Music charts. It was the single Faxing Berlin however, that really got Zimmerman noticed two year prior to the release of Random Album Title. As the story goes, he sent the track to British DJ Chris Lake who then sent it to Pete Tong who ended up playing it on his BBC Radio 1 show. Tong received a flood of phone calls over the next few weeks requesting the song, and as they say, the rest is history.
Zimmerman’s rise to fame was amazingly quick even by today’s standards with the Internet being an emerging artist best friend. There are two things that are directly related to his enormous amount success. The first is the music. As muddy as the mainstream gets sometimes, Zimmerman rises to the top of the EDM industry with little to no wavering in his own sound. The scary part is he hasn’t even released a true artist album yet. 4 x 4 = 12,his most recent studio album, was supposed to be that but open its release it was comprised of mostly previously released singles. Last year Pete Tong confirmed that in 2012 the elusive artist album would finally make it’s appearance.
The second factor in the rise to the top for Zimmerman is the Mau5head. That mask sets him apart from everybody else in a similar way to that of Daft Punk back in the day. It’s a logo, it’s a lightshow, it’s his trademark. You see the Mau5head and you immediately know that it’s him. It’s genius really. The origins of the Mau5head and the Deadmau5 name also give an inside look at Joel Zimmerman, the man. As the story goes straight from the Mau5’s mouth,
“ I found a mouse, a dead one, in a computer and then I named myself Deadmau5 on an Internet chat room, just kinda as a joke. That was my trademark. My avatar was this little mouse head thing, and when I decided to do music I said, ‘well might as well use this shit.’ It just stuck. It’s a brand. It’s something you can identify a whole bunch of stuff with without having to write it out in a big paragraph. It’s not just name and a logo anymore. Now it’s just like you can show the head and everyone knows.”
If you’ve never seen a picture of Joel Zimmerman picture a skinny white guy, covered in tattoos, sporting a hoodie, and a frontward facing baseball cap. He is, for lack of a better name, a nerd. He plays Diablo 3, and Minecraft. He has a pixilated space invaders tattoo on his neck, and the Zelda health hearts on his forearm. He even has Shigeru Miyamoto’s, the creator of Zelda, signature tattooed on his arm. The point is, Joel hasn’t let all the money and the fame go to his head. He is who he has always been, from making chip tunes as kid, and going to warehouse raves. He is making music the same way he would if he never got discovered.
It’s actually what he is doing with his fame that is really special. Three years ago he started his own label entitled Mau5trap. Today there are 17 artists from all over the world recording on the label, including Kaskade, Wolfgang Gartner, Michael Woods, and Feed Me.
Last march Mau5trap hosted the first ever Mau5hax. This was an event where for eight hours Mau5trap artists collaborate with fans in a Miami studio in real time. This was an EDM first for several established producers to reach out and collab with unknown producers. At the end of the original announcement Zimmerman concluded with this statement, “shit, if mau5hax goes down well in miami… fuckit, ill HAPPILY take it on the road and make a tour outta it. could be rad! ill talk with management n shit for sure.” Exciting stuff happening over at the Mau5trap label. In May they celebrated their 50threlease with Moguai’s Lyme.
This brings us to the preforming side of Zimmerman err I mean Deadmau5 now. He hates to be called a DJ, because he’s not. There are no records up in the cube with him. There’s just an orgy of digital equipment run on software that Zimmerman help write.
A Deadmau5 show is like nothing else. He is high above the crowd in a massive cube covered in leds. In the 2011 Meowington Hax tour, there was also a backdrop for projecting images on, along with more led surfaced cubes hung from the ceiling. It is truly a cinematic experience.
Check out some of the lights from when Deadmau5 closed out Lollapalloza last year:
Joel Zimmerman has changed the course of modern electronic music since his emergence only five years ago. He has kept it about the music, and is even reaching out to his fellow producers. He truly cares about this industry, and the music that comes from it. He has all this success, and he’s just getting started. Look out for that artist album out before the end of the year.
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