10 Things You Didn’t Know About deadmau5
Those who aren’t hardcore fans of EDM star deadmau5 probably only know the basics about the 32-year-old performer: He was born Joel Zimmerman, he wears giant mouse ears on stage, and he’s become a worldwide star. But how does he feel about his peers? Which teen drama TV show did he once appear on? And how did he get his name? Keep reading for the answers.
His headlining set at Lollapalooza in 2011 was a turning point for electronic music, taking the genre from the side stages to the main stage, front and center at one of world’s biggest festivals.
As we prepare for deadmau5’s main stage sets at the 2013 Ultra Music Festival, let’s check out some of the little-known facts about the EDM star.
deadmau5 says that years ago, he found a dead mouse inside his computer while changing the video card. When people started referring to him as the “dead mouse guy,” he embraced the moniker, using a numeral to shorten the name because “deadmouse” was too long for the internet chat rooms where he hung out. Thank goodness for screen name restrictions!
Dozens of graphic designers and artists sent in ideas in 2011 for the contest, which deadmau5 set up in partnership with Talenthouse. The winner was the “cheese head,” a yellow mask with holes and indentations designed to look like Swiss cheese, with a white mouth and eyes that lit up. He debuted the cheese ears during a performance at New York City’s Roseland Ballroom. Of course, he played his track ‘The Reward Is More Cheese’ early in the set.
Either that, or he’s into minimalist irony. In 2008, he released a record called ‘Random Album Title.’ That was followed a year later by ‘For Lack of a Better Name.’ In 2010, he went with the confusing title ‘4x4=12,’ and two years later he released ‘>Album Title Goes Here<.' Maybe deadmau5 eschews proper album titles because he wants to keep the focus on the music. If so, mission accomplished. The last two of those albums earned Grammy nominations.
Some DJs and EDM artists go out of their way to insist that they’re doing more than simply pressing buttons on a laptop during their live concerts. deadmau5 admits otherwise. In a Tumblr post titled “We All Hit Play,” he wrote, “I think given about 1 hour of instruction, anyone with minimal knowledge of ableton and music tech in general could do what I’m doing at a deadmau5 concert.” He said that because of his tightly-sequenced light show, there’s not too much room to improvise musically. He added, "My 'skills' and other producers' skills shine where it needs to shine… in the godd---ed studio, and on the f---ing releases. That's what counts."
deadmau5 talked smack about several artists in his recent Vibe cover story.
On Kanye West: “I f---ing hate him. He’s just trying too hard. But the problem is he’s succeeding at it. It’s like, 'Oh, I’m so hate-able.' And everyone is like, 'Yeah, I hate him.' Ah f---, he wins!"
On Mumford & Sons: “Boring folk s---.”
On EDM performer Avicii: “He’s a real nice kid, but Avicii has got this ‘Le7els’ thing, and I almost feel bad for him… It was catchy, but I, Dead-f---ing-mau5, cannot name another Avicii track. I s--- you not.”
On hip-hop and fellow Ultra headliners Swedish House Mafia: “I’ve seen so many hip-hop acts where there are 12 of them on the stage. What are you all doing? It reminds me of Swedish House f---ing Mafia. There’s three of you and one f---ing CD with the track on it. It’s all show pony s---." But he's actually friends with the Swedes: "They’re great people. I always feel bad, but I think they get it when I say s--- like that... When I start gacking on about what they do or their stage thing, they understand.”
deadmau5 provided the music during a trendy fashion show scene in a 2010 episode of the CW teen drama. "Yeah, the 'Gossip Girl' thing was kinda cool and all," he later said. "I didn't have much of a clue at the time about what I was getting myself into, and had a laugh when they sent hair and makeup to my trailer. They looked at me with the [mouse head on] and turned straight around. All the people there were really cool. Had a long day, though — about 14 hours of shooting for probably 20 seconds of TV. Glad I don't have to do that every day."
Forbes magazine reported that Deadmau5 was worth $11 million in its rundown of the top-earning electronic artists, which he seriously disputed. “I called my manager and was like, ‘Yo, what the f---? I’m nine million short, dude!,’” he said. “Just cause some guy said 11 million does not put 11 million in my bank account. Why is Forbes writing about electronic music, first of all? Because it’s a money issue now.”
It’s fitting that the guy who’s always been a technology geek chose to pop the question online. In Dec. 2012, he tweeted, “I can’t wait for Christmas so…. Katherine Von Drachenberg, will you marry me?” He added a photo of the ring, which included the text, “Changing the diamond to a black diamond FYI. Sorry for the jpg… they’ll finish the actual ring soon i hope. i love you :)” She said yes – via Twitter, of course.
Anyone who has seen deadmau5 knows he possesses a lot of ink. His many tats include a green robot character on his neck, hearts on his left forearm, and a scantily-clad woman on his right forearm. He even personally gave Kat Von D some new ink, despite the fact that he had never used a tattoo needle in his life. Afterward, she wrote, “My new tattoo may look like a drunken third-grader did it, but I sure do love it!! Thank you, Joel."
Not necessarily the genre, but the label, which he derides as “Event Driven Marketing” because of all the hype surrounding it. He's also impatient with other EDM artists and laments the fact that not enough of them are visionary: “It’s interesting to see that not too many people are forward-thinking about electronic music. They’re just, ‘Do it, do it, do it.’” He adds that many people get into the genre because it’s “minimal work for maximum profit.” He even compares EDM to disco and doesn’t rule out that the whole scene will suddenly collapse.
Even if deadmau5 isn't rushing to become the spokesperson for EDM, he remains one of its brightest stars.