Joel Thomas Zimmerman (born January 5, 1981), better known by his stage name deadmau5 (pronounced "dead mouse"), is a Canadian progressive-house music producer and performer based in Toronto now in Las Vegas. deadmau5 produces a variety of styles within the house genre and sometimes other forms of electronic dance music. His tracks have been included in compilation albums such as In Search of Sunrise 6: Ibiza, MixMag's Tech-Trance-Electro-Madness (mixed by Zimmerman), and on Armin van Buuren's A State of Trance radio show. His debut album, Get Scraped, was released in 2005, followed by others in the next few years.
As well as his own solo releases, deadmau5 has worked alongside other DJs and producers, such as Kaskade, MC Flipside, Rob Swire of Pendulum, Wolfgang Gartner, Bighorse and Steve Duda (under the alias "BSOD").
Origin of "deadmau5":
Zimmerman's father claims that when his son was in his early teens, he was chatting with a friend on his computer, which abruptly shut off. According to Zimmerman's father he said that it smelled like burnt wire and had a strange odor. Zimmerman started to dismantle his computer and found a dead mouse. Zimmerman then became known as the "dead mouse guy" among friends. Joel tried to change his name to "Deadmouse" in the chat room, but it was too long, so he shortened it to "deadmau5", which is a form of leet. In an interview with CBC Television, he mentioned that when he started making music, he went by the name "deadmau5". Joel created the original logo while learning how to use some 3D modelling software. The "mau5head" appears in many different colors and designs, and has been shown on the cover of most of Zimmerman's albums, with the exceptions of At Play and Vexillology. He was given the idea to wear a headdress based on the logo by one of his friends, Jay Gordon of the industrial metal band Orgy. In an interview with CBC Television, Zimmerman said that he wants his logo to be an "icon". Fans often attend deadmau5 concerts sporting their own copy of the mau5head.
In 2002, he began producing and uploading songs to SectionZ under the alias "deadmau5" and created "deadmau5.com".
Zimmerman was born in Niagara Falls, Ontario. His mother, Nancy (née Johnson), is a visual artist, and his father, Rodney Thomas "Rod" Zimmerman, is a General Motors plant worker. He has two siblings, Jennifer (older) and Chris (younger). His ancestry includes German, Swiss, and English. He received his first keyboard for Christmas when he was a teenager. His career began in the late 1990s, with a chiptune and demoscene movements-influenced sound.
Three self-released compilations, Project 56, deadmau5 Circa 1998-2002, and A Little Oblique, were finished in 2006, with Project 56 seeing an official release in February 2008.
"Just Before 8bit", "Nice Try, Kiddo" and "Uploading and Downloading" from Project 56 were edited and expanded upon in Zimmerman's 2005 debut album Get Scraped and renamed "8bit", "Try Again", and "Unspecial Effects", respectively. It features tracks of a variety of genres, including IDM, ambient/downtempo, noise pop and trip hop. Tracks "Bored of Canada", "Intelstat" and "I Forget" reappear on this album as is, as well as "The Oshawa Connection" from deadmau5 Circa 1998-2002.
mau5trap label and Random Album Title:
In 2007, Zimmerman began his own record label "mau5trap", which, along with Ultra Records and Ministry of Sound, released the 2008 album Random Album Title, which saw the collaboration of deadmau5 and San-Francisco producer Kaskade with I Remember. Random Album Title, saw a digital release in September 2008 via Ultra Records in the United States and Ministry of Sound in the United Kingdom and Europe. Physical copies of the album were released in November 2008.
In the United States, deadmau5's collaboration with Kaskade, "Move for Me", reached No. 1 on Billboard magazine's Dance/Mix Show Airplay chart in its September 6, 2008 issue.
Since then, deadmau5 has seen three of his tracks, all collaborations ("Move for Me" and "I Remember" with Kaskade; "Ghosts 'n' Stuff" with Rob Swire) reach number-one on Billboard's Dance/Mix Show Airplay chart, making him the only Canadian on that chart to achieve that status. He is also the fifth Canadian to top that chart, following Deborah Cox, Nelly Furtado, Dragonette, and Justin Bieber, with one apiece.
In 2009, he was the best-selling artist on Beatport with more than 30,000 digital downloads with his singles "Not Exactly", "Faxing Berlin", and "Ghosts 'n' Stuff".
For Lack of a Better Name:
Information on his album For Lack of a Better Name was posted on his official MySpace page.
"On September 22, 2009 (U.S only, rest-of-world release October 5) deadmau5 launches his brand new mix album, the Grammy-nominated, Juno Award-winning electronic music sensation who has racked up more than 5,000,000 hits on MySpace will unleash his second album for ULTRA Records - titled 'For Lack of a Better Name' - and then set off on a massive fall tour throughout North America.
In the fall of 2009, deadmau5's performances were recorded and made available for sale immediately following the concert on USB wristband flash drives.
For Lack of a Better Name includes two of Zimmerman's most popular songs, "Ghosts 'n' Stuff" (featuring Rob Swire) and "Strobe".
MTV named deadmau5 as the house DJ for the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards and MTV PUSH artist of the week on August 16, 2010. He expressed gratitude towards Lady Gaga and David Guetta for bringing dance into the pop music scene and paving the way for him to the mainstream. At the awards, deadmau5 performed with Jason Derulo and Travie McCoy. His song "Ghosts 'n' Stuff" had been featured on the soundtrack for the MTV reality series Jersey Shore earlier.
His fifth studio album, titled 4×4=12, was released on December 6, 2010 in the United Kingdom and December 7, 2010 in the United States. Singles "Some Chords", "Animal Rights", "Sofi Needs a Ladder" have been released and have been featured on the album, with "Raise Your Weapon" released in 2011. "Some Chords" was featured on an episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation where deadmau5 made a cameo appearance, and an instrumental version of "Sofi Needs a Ladder" was featured in the film The Hangover Part II.
Album Title Goes Here:
On August 9, 2012, deadmau5 announced his upcoming sixth studio album, Album Title Goes Here, which was released on September 24 of that year. Singles from this album include "Maths", "The Veldt" (featuring Chris James) and "Professional Griefers" featuring My Chemical Romance singer Gerard Way. This collaboration was announced on Facebook prior to release. In December 2012, FUSE TV named "Professional Griefers" one of the top 40 songs of 2012
Video game appearances:
deadmau5 is a playable avatar in DJ Hero 2, a video game released in October 2010. The game featured several tracks by the artist, including a mix of Ghosts 'N Stuff with Lady Gaga's Just Dance.
His music has been included in more video game titles, including Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, Saints Row: The Third, FIFA 13, Grand Theft Auto IV, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, Midnight Club: Los Angeles, GoldenEye 007, Wipeout 2048, The Sims 3, and Sound Shapes.
While at his home in Toronto, Zimmerman spends much of his time broadcasting his work in his home studio (where he produces much of his music) to Ustream.
On July 30, 2010, at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C., deadmau5 collapsed on stage, suffering from exhaustion and vomiting. deadmau5's set was cut short as he was rushed to a hospital, and his collapse also led to the cancellation of the nine shows following the event.
Zimmerman met Lindsey Evans, an American model and Playboy Playmate of the Month for October 2009, at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards in September 2010. They began dating soon after, and Evans moved to Toronto to live with him. They broke up in September 2011. In September 2012, Zimmerman began dating American tattoo artist and TV personality Kat Von D. They broke up in November 2012, but they got back together soon after. On December 15, 2012, Zimmerman proposed to Von D over Twitter, and she accepted. The two have announced that they will be getting married in August 2013.
One of his songs, a remix of Reegz' "That's True", entitled, "That's Not True" is included with FL Studio. It notably differs in style from some of his more recent songs, and it features IDM elements rather than progressive house ones.
There has been much debate about which Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) Zimmerman uses. On April 27, 2012, during a webstream, Zimmerman revealed his history of DAWs he has used in the past. Zimmerman was in the process of producing a track in his home studio, and was expressing his frustration of note editing in Steinberg Cubase, a DAW he had recently started learning to use. The following is a direct quote:
"You know what, if I was doing this in Ableton Live, it would be done by now, in terms of the logical note editor, it really would. Like note editing in Steinberg Cubase, unless you're not like super used to it.. like I'm not saying it sucks, it's probably pretty good, but I'm just so used to doing it in Ableton Live, that I've pretty much lost touch. I used to use Nuendo a lot, like back in the day, we're talking like 2001, 2002 or 2003, or something like that, and I used to be a whizz at it. Then I started using Fruity Loops now FL Studio, and then I got used to that key editor. Then I started using Ableton Live and then I pretty much forgot all about that other shit. And then I used Ableton Live for the last... nearly a decade, and then now I got to go back to this shit i.e. basic note editing"
The majority of work he has produced since his rise to prominence was produced almost exclusively with Ableton Live and several electronic MIDI instruments and controllers, as well as modular instrument setups. His use of Ableton Live can be seen in many of his live screencasts.
In December 2007, Marcus Schossow, Maor Levi and Dj Eco created a project named Deadrat6 as a joke on deadmau5, claiming his tracks sound alike. A similar faux project was also created under the name of Sinterklaa5.
Comment about DJs:
Zimmerman dislikes being referred to as a DJ. In an October 2008 interview with the Irish Daily Star, deadmau5 was quoted as follows:
"It puts me to fucking sleep, to be quite honest; I don't really see the technical merit in playing two songs at the same speed together and it bores me to fucking tears and hopefully, with all due respect to the DJ type that will fucking go the way of the dinosaur, I'd like them to dis-a-fucking-ppear! It's so middle man, they're like fucking lawyers! You need them, but they're fucking cunts. God bless them, they're my number one customer right, so I'm not gonna go diss every fucking DJ. But to say you become this massive, "up on a podium" performer by playing other peoples productions, at the same speed as someone else's productions and fading between the two of them, I don't get it..."
Zimmerman apologized for his comment on November 4, 2008. He explained that the interview was bad, and that it did not express his opinion about DJs correctly:
"Let me start by admitting ... I did not grow up in the EDM scene. I don't consider my career to be about "being a DJ". I don't have "DJ roots". I never had any intention of becoming a DJ, and my conception of "DJ's" in general from this standpoint has always been being forced into some nightclub when I would have rather stayed home, and watch some dude mash the "play/stop" button and occasionally move a pitch slider. Love it or hate it ... that's just been my conception of the traditional "DJ". Mind you, I'm not a total fucking idiot, and I recognize talent when I see it ... and there are many talented DJ's out there for sure. In my eyes, those would be the individuals who utilize technology to deliver the music in ways that are both skillful and innovate, more-so than my vision of the "play/stop/pitch" DJ. To me, the club is about "the party"; the people make the night; the DJ obviously needs to use that to his advantage, it's give and take."
Dutch music producer and DJ Afrojack has also taken exception to comments made by deadmau5. In an interview with Billboard, Afrojack responded to the comment by deadmau5 that many DJs "just press play", arguing:
"You're never just pressing play. If you're a guy in a cube with a mask on, you can press play. Deadmau5 also said himself he's not a DJ -- don't talk about stuff you don't know about. I don't know shit about LED walls and giant mouse heads; I can't judge it. But if you put four CD players in front of me or Sebastian Ingrosso or even Skrillex, we've been DJing for so long, we can do a lot of things with those CD players."
In 2008, an artist called DirtyCircuit claimed to have been threatened with legal action after using a sample called "LP_Faxing Berlin C_128bpm" that came bundled with FL Studio, and to which deadmau5 claimed copyright. The sample was a direct clip of a full bar of the song. deadmau5 provided a "Demo Track" which came bundled with FL Studio, along with several loop samples. The case caused a slight discomfort among the users of FL Studio, and some have pointed out potential inconsistencies in the EULA of the software.
In 2012, deadmau5 voiced his disapproval of a statement made by Madonna at the Ultra Music Festival. Her comment, "Has anyone seen Molly?" was believed by deadmau5 to be in reference to the drug MDMA. In response, Madonna said later during a live tweet session that,
"From one mouse to another. I don't support drug use and I never have. I was referring to the song called 'Have You Seen Molly' written by my friend Cedric Gervais who I almost worked with on my last album ..."