The most impactful revolutions aren’t planned, plotted or premeditated.
They simply happen. There’s also typically an enigmatic figure at the forefront of those aforementioned creative shifts. Canadian native Joel Zimmerman, more commonly known as deadmau5 (pronounced “dead mouse”), didn’t set out to become a groundbreaking electronic artist. He just made some music and it happened to change the game and pop culture as we know it. Isn’t that the best way for it to work though?
Up to this point, his career stands earmarked by a series of firsts and shattered records. At the 54th annual Grammy Awards in 2012, he gave a monumental performance as part of the prestigious ceremony’s first-ever telecast celebrating electronic music. He’s also the first electronic artist in history to grace the cover of Rolling Stone. His sold out show at Toronto’s Rogers Centre, documented on the MEOWINGTONS HAX 2k11 DVD, and London’s Earl’s Court, documented on the deadmau5 live @ earl’s court DVD, made him the first Canadian artist as well as the first electronic artist to headline both venues.
His storied 2011 Meowingtons Hax tour smashed Rage Against the Machine’s record for most consecutive nights at the iconic Roseland Ballroom in New York with a staggering six-show run. Plus, the jaunt set up shop for four back-to-back nights at Hollywood’s Palladium. He’s even been the house artist for the MTV Video Music Awards. His chosen genre also may not be known for theatricality, but he revolutionized the aesthetic of electronic music with his brilliant and bold LED “mau5head.”
With headlining sets at Lollapalooza, Outside Lands, Sonar, Virgin Mobile FreeFest, Ultra Music Festival, and Electric Daisy Carnival under his belt, he’s in a live league of his own. Not to mention, the man has three JUNO Awards and an impressive four Grammy Award nominations to his credit as well as numerous other accolades. However, he’s yet to rest on his laurels at home with his notable cat Professor Meowingtons and hang up his “mau5head.”
Why? It’s simple. There’s a lot more music to put down.
The artist’s sixth full-length release, > album title goes here <, echoes with his alchemical brood of house, electro, and progressive sounds. However, he’s challenging himself and the genre as a whole yet again. That’s just par for the course though.
First single “Professional Griefers” sees deadmau5 team up with My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way for a rousing stadium-size anthem fueled by propulsive production and a skittering hook. Think Queen siphoned through an underground rave, and you’re only halfway there. Then, there’s a hypnotic homage to Ray Bradbury on the shimmering eight minute-plus dreamscape “The Veldt” featuring Chris James. “Take Care of the Proper Paperwork” guts a gritty guitar track into a haunting dance movement, while “Failbait” yields cybernetic rap with Cypress Hill terminating their verses on sight. Everything culminates on the ethereal bliss of “Telecommunications,” a collaboration with one of the world’s most intriguing voices, Imogen Heap.
Everything began on a computer for deadmau5. That’s his instrument of choice, and he wields it with reverence. Growing up in Niagara Falls, he possessed a deep love for all things digital. As a result, he began composing “chip tune” music. Organically, he caught the attention of Mötley Crüe basher Tommy Lee who along with Nine Inch Nails producer Steve Duda and DJ/producer Aero ended up collaborating together under the pseudonym WTF?.
However, he still had a day job as a web developer and go-to computer guy at this point in time. Joining forces with programmer and studio engineer Steve Duda [Nine Inch Nails], the budding producer began envisioning and constructing actual software for composing music. He was behind Touch Mix an iPhone app for mixing tracks on mobile and he’s got FL Studios—of Fruity Loops fame—on his resume. There aren’t many artists who actually built their own instruments. Notably, he dubbed his web-developing and technology business deadmau5, once he found a deceased mouse inside his computer.
He formally made the jump to releasing his own music in 2006. Working with Duda and utilizing the moniker B.S.O.D. “blue screen of death”, the duo cooked up “This Is The Hook.” It was their take on house music with tongue firmly planted in cheek and middle finger proudly raised to the mainstream. However, the joke was on them. It hit #1 on the Beatport chart, the first of many to come.
After a short stint with B.S.O.D., deadmau5 dropped his first solo cut “Faxing Berlin.” Embraced by BBC Radio 1 tastemaker Pete Tong, the song began turning heads globally as it piped through clubs from Italy to Miami. Merging trance and house, “Faxing Berlin” was one of 2007’s most massive dance hits.
However, 2008 was when the reign of the “mau5” officially commenced. His third full-length and first for Ultra Music and his own mau5trap label, Random Album Title, sent shockwaves through the scene. Boasting “I Remember,” a towering collaboration with Kaskade, the collection quickly rose to prominence. Its 2009 follow-up, For Lack of a Better Name, saw him infiltrate the mainstream zeitgeist even more. “FML” featured in an episode of The CW’s Gossip Girl, while “Ghosts ‘n’ Stuff” with Rob Swire of Pendulum and Knife Party appeared in Randy Jackson’s America’s Best Dance Crew, Chuck, and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation as well as video games including Need For Speed: Shift, Test Drive Unlimited 2, and DJ Hero 2.
Then 2010’s 4×4=12, solidified deadmau5 as one of the premier artists in the world. It was his first album to chart on the Billboard Top 200, spending over 100 weeks on the chart. “Sofi Needs a Ladder” featuring SOFI, showcased in The Hangover II, “Animal Rights” with Wolfgang Gartner, “Raise Your Weapon” featuring Greta Svabo Bech all became fan favorites. Today it still remains one of deadmau5’s best selling works even without the support of a video or radio smash.
Not only did deadmau5 become a cultural fixture, a culture arose around him and Professor Meowingtons. He’s got over 6.5 million Facebook fans and 1.3 million Twitter followers. His usage of “moar” (as in “Moar Ghosts ‘n’ Stuff”) has entered the vernacular amongst his following. Meanwhile, Meowingtons lent his name to the Meowingtons Hax Tour and his mug to the cover of > album title goes here <.
Still, there’s no plan.
deadmau5’s myth and influence could very well expand even further, but he’s not exactly worried or concerned about it. He’s got more music to make.
> album title goes here <
In his short story, The Veldt, Ray Bradbury exposed the dangers of becoming too obsessed with and reliant upon technology. It’s doubtful the legendary author envisioned that particular story being translated into a lush and lively eight-minute soundscape generated entirely by computers, but given his love of science and fantasy, it’s likely he would’ve dug it.
While most electronic dance music remains trapped in the four walls of sweat-soaked night clubs, platinum-selling Canadian producer and artist deadmau5 (pronounced “dead mouse”) a.k.a. Joel Zimmerman opens up those boundaries immensely on his sixth full-length studio album for Ultra Music and his own mau5trap Recordings, > album title goes here <, available September 25, 2012.
“The Veldt” functions as the perfect jump-off point for the collection as a whole. In a setting Bradbury would’ve no doubt appreciated, deadmau5 crafted the track during a 22-hour livestreaming session for fans in March 2012. The audience literally sat front row for the entire creative process online, offering a level of intimacy rarely granted to the public. There was no fear of a leak or misrepresentation. Instead, the artist opened the door to this inner sanctum so the world could watch his art blossom.
As soon as the initial track reached completion, his faithful took to Twitter, praising a vocal version that singer Chris James uploaded on Soundcloud. An official collaboration had been born, and this expansive opus introduced the world to > album title goes here < on a digital four-song EP in June 2012.
However, that’s only one facet of the record. “Professional Griefers” sees My Chemical Romance singer Gerard Way spout cyber punk musings over a spunky groove and schizophrenic synth sounds. On the hook, the singer uncompromisingly proclaims, “Gimme the sound, to see another world outside that’s full of all the broken things that I made.”
Breathing fire, it’s pensive, potent, and powerful dance music with a rock ‘n’ roll edge. Also, as soon as the track hit airwaves, major stations such as KROQ in Los Angeles immediately embraced it. Upping the ante yet again, Dave Stewart’s Weapons of Mass Entertainment produced an official music video for the track with both of these “Professional Griefers” front and center.
Then, there’s “Channel 42” which reunites deadmau5 with his “Animal Rights” partner-in-crime Wolfgang Gartner. It’s a true treat for fans as “Animal Rights” remains a live staple and favorite. Still, these two tap into something eerily magical again here.
Flipping to “Channel 42”, eerie keyboards blaze through an all-encompassing swell, making for another dance floor rollercoaster that’s as undeniable as it is unpredictable. On the other end of the spectrum, “Take Care of the Proper Paperwork” spins on guitar inertia before spiraling out into offcolor industrial warmth.
Once again breaking down genre boundaries, Cypress Hill also joins the ride. During “Failbait”, B Real and Sen Dog fire off their signature airtight rhymes as visceral and vibrant production echoes. EDM and hip hop collide and then subsequently cascade together unlike ever before.
Everything comes to a swirling conclusion on “Telemiscommunications”. Boasting divine vocals and lyrics from Imogen Heap, the track transmits an aural bliss that’s utterly sublime. It’s an appropriate send-off from deadmau5 as the sound subsides into one last buzzing hum.
In some fashion, everything has led up to > album title goes here < for deadmau5. He’s dropped three critically acclaimed albums: 4×4=12, For Lack Of A Better Name and Random Album Title and seen international chart success with singles “Sofi Needs A Ladder,” “Ghosts ‘n’ Stuff” and “I Remember.” In addition, he’s notched multiple JUNO Awards and received three Grammy Award nominations.
He also performed at the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards as part of its first ever telecast performance highlighting electronic music. His fan base speaks the loudest though. He’s garnered over 6.5 million fans on his Facebook page and over 1.3 million followers on Twitter. Plus, deadmau5 remains an impressive concert draw, headlining the biggest festivals in North America Lollapalooza, Outside Lands, Sonar, Virgin Mobile FreeFest, Ultra Music Festival and Electric Daisy Carnival.
He was the first Canadian and electronic artist to sell out Rogers Centre in Toronto. If that’s not enough, he broke a record held by Rage Against the Machine for most consecutive shows at the Roseland Ballroom in NYC with a staggering six nights at the iconic venue. He adorned the cover of Rolling Stone’s summer double issue in 2012, another first for an EDM artist.
With his cat Meowingtons gracing the artwork for > album title goes here < the music sits firmly entrenched in the deadmau5 universe. It’s open and otherworldly and welcoming of all genres, species, etc. Ray Bradbury would be proud.