Toronto DJ Deadmau5, aka Joel Zimmerman, has entered the mainstream massive hits like "Ghosts 'n' Stuff" as well as his many Twitter beefs and the broken engagement to LA Ink star Kat Von D. But he's more than just a guy who's at the forefront of modern EDM. There's many sides to Deadmau5 an in honor of his new album while(1<2), we take a look at the man behind the mouse.
Interestingly enough, Deadmau5 is a cat person - a proud “dad” to a tuxedo cat named Professor Meowingtons and a younger Russian Blue named Miss Nyancat. Here’s Meowingtons with Zimmerman's "I Remember" collaborator Kaskade. Pretty cute, huh?
Are auto wraps tacky and passé? Sure. Is the Nyan Cat meme best left in the Internet archives now that we’ve finally gotten that song out of our head? Probably. But Zimmerman’s customized Ferrari 458 is so obnoxious we can’t help but love it.
The “Purrari” has a prancing cat logo instead of the classic horse, and a sticker that says “douchebags coming through.” The d-bags it refers to are Deadmau5 and Tori Belluci of MythBusters, his driving partner in the Gumball 3000 rally from Miami to Ibiza. The French police took Zimmerman's license away en route, but the pair nabbed the "Spirit of the Gumball" award.
A diverse list of guests has joined Deadmau5 for these rambling, unedited chats, where they discuss current projects and answer questions like “How many phones do you go through per year?” Passengers have included Pharrell, Zedd, Tommy Lee, Skrillex, Vanilla Ice and his lawyer Dina LaPolt.
Deadmau5 Live, a subscription fan site, launched last December and the (currently IOS-only) mobile app was released in May. Anyone can gain limited access to the site and download the app for free, but $4.99 a month “All Access” gets you exclusive videos, live streams, unreleased music and a VIP room on the “MSG Bored.”
The biggest draw is that Zimmerman can—and does—jump into the site’s chat room at any moment to talk directly with fans. A lot of musicians offer apps these days, but few offer direct, immediate interaction with the artist themselves.
i have fixed the New Gas City MTL situation. :) amazing news for everyone in 45 minutes. Lookin out for you, horde! :D youll love this.— deadmau5 (@deadmau5) December 19, 2013
Upon learning that a Montreal venue was charging $100 plus hefty fees for a January 2014 show, Zimmerman broke a self-imposed Twitter hiatus to inform his fans (a community known as "the horde") that he was “just as pissed as you are.” He quickly got the ticket prices slashed in half and even added a second night.
Forbes' "World's Highest Paid DJs 2013" list valued Deadmau5 at $21 million, just behind Swedish House Mafia but slightly ahead of Avicii. While that figure doesn't include management fees and other operational costs and he disputed the list's accuracy in 2012, there's several reasons why Deadmau5 is far from poor.
In addition to a six-figure performance fee, Zimmerman also earns income from his fan site, multiple apps, DRM, and creative merch items like these super-cozy looking footie pajamas.
Deadmau5' infamous social media rants have sparked feuds with everyone from Tiesto to Arcade Fire, and his comments about EDM as an ultimately overblown trend have been particularly inflammatory. He blasted David Guetta's "two iPods and a mixer" sets in Rolling Stone and suggested even he is being overpaid: "there’s still button-pushers getting paid half a million. And not to say I’m not a button-pusher. I’m just pushing a lot more buttons.”
He certainly pushed fellow DJs' buttons with a subsequent Tumblr post titled "We All Hit Play," saying an EDM star's artistry lies solely in their production skills and "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."
Zimmerman tweeted that his two-disc, twenty-five track release is "the first album I've ever done that i would even call an album...it's put together like an album. not a compilation." Fans of his 6 previous studio albums may disagree with the "first album" assessment, but the statement and new 9-minute album track "Phantoms Can't Hang" have definitely piqued our interest.
The iconic Mau5head is the visual cornerstone of Zimmerman's brand, inspiring thousands of homemade knockoffs and a legal inquiry from Disney. But the idea to turn the one-dimensional logo into wearable art actually came from a friend, Jay Gordon of the L.A. band Orgy.
After seeing a photo of the logo placed on his head as a joke, Gordon told Zimmerman he should really construct a Mau5head to wear during gigs so people would remember him. Four years later he took Gordon's advice, and the rest is Mau5-story.
Deadmau5 played a DJ on TV twice in 2010, working the decks during a fashion show on Gossip Girl and again while a shark attacked a pool party on CSI (though reality star Holly Madison truly steals the show in the above clip).
The supernatural drama Grimm also featured a character based on Deadmau5 in a 2011 episode, a shady DJ sporting a cat head named...Retchid Kat.