Deadmau5 life and biography

Deadmau5 picture, image, poster

Deadmau5 biography

Date of birth : 1981-01-05
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Niagara Falls, Canada
Nationality : Canadian
Category : Arts and Entertainment
Last modified : 2014-06-20
Credited as : dead mouse, musician, artist, electronic music, progressive house, cartoon mouse head

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Born and raised in Niagara Falls, Canada, Joel Zimmerman aka "deadmau5" - pronounced "dead mouse" has become one of the most sought-after artists on the electronic music scene in recent times. He is known for his highly entertaining live gigs, often performing wearing a large cartoon mouse head. His tracks have been included in compilation albums such as In Search of Sunrise 6: Ibiza, MixMag's Tech-Trance-Electro-Madness (mixed by deadmau5 himself), 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.

He first started his career as co-producer of the Niagara Falls radio show “The Party Revolution” (101.1 The Planet). After gaining exposure to all the many facets of electronic music, Joel then moved on to collaborate with many other artists and record labels around the world.

In 2005, deadmau5 released his first album, “Get Scraped.” His latest album is “4x4=12,” released in 2010.

He has worked with a number of artists both underground and mainstream - including Melleny Melody, Orgy, Kaskade, MC Flipside, Rob Swire of Pendulum, Skrillex, and Steve Duda.

‘Deadmau5’, Zimmermans’ DJ name, originates from an incident where a mouse crawled into his computer and died. He then posted on an internet forum of his shenanigans, and the members began calling him TheDeadMouseGuy. ‘Dead Mouse’ was too long for an IRC login name, so he abbreviated it to “deadmau5”.

He has also done collaborations with top names such as Chris Lake, Glenn Morrison and Wolfgang Gartner. On January 2, 2012, Deadmau5 began his year long residency at XS Night Club in Las Vegas, NV.


- Deadmau5 was ranked #6 on the DJ Mag Top 100 DJ Poll 2009, and #4 in 2010; Top 100 DJs – 4th Place (2011)
- Beatport Music Awards:
2008: Best Electro House Artist ; Best Progressive House Artist; Best Single
2009: Best Electro House Artist ; Best Progressive House Artist
- Grammy Awards (nominated):
2009: Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical
2012: Best Dance Recording ; Best Dance/Electronica Album ; Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical

Zimmerman is still a technical whizz kid. While he was earning his dance music stripes, he worked as a web developer. Together with long-term collaborator Steve Duda, a programmer and studio engineer from Los Angeles whose CV includes Nine Inch Nails, Zimmerman writes music making software, including one of the programmes he uses in his live show; he describes it as “like a drum sequencer and sample player on crack”. From 2006 to 2007 he worked for Image Line, the Belgian company behind the Fruity Loops virtual studio programme, now know as FL Studios. Add to which, he helped write an iPhone app called Touch Mix, which allows you to mix tracks on your mobile. He’s not at the cutting edge of music technology so much as creating it.

However, in the early ’00s, when he tried to convince local recording studios that they needed to embrace computers, no one was interested. “They had an old school approach to recording music. I was telling them, You’ve got to get a PC. But the mullets as I call them, the proper studio engineers, were really in denial about that kind of thing. It was rocket science to them. They didn’t get it.” Zimmerman did. Eventually he managed to convince a small studio in Toronto to let him install new technology and he helped record numerous local bands.

Zimmerman says that his dream at the time was to be a producer, working on other people’s music. He wrote his own material, “IDM (intelligent dance music) like Aphex Twin, that kind of thing”, but it was more a hobby, “just very obscurely in the background, nothing to do with the kind of thing I make now.”.

His first proper release in 2006 started out as a joke. It was called This Is The Hook, written together with Steve Duda, under the name B.S.O.D. (which stands for ‘blue screen of death’, computer jargon for the Windows error message). They took a house beat and added a digitised voice explaining what was happening. They were taking the piss out of how formulaic house can be and they thought it was hilarious. What they hadn’t counted on was it going to Number 1 in online record store Beatport’s chart.

They decided to write more B.S.O.D. material, not least because as Zimmerman candidly explains: “It was at a time when I was pretty financially strapped. I was earning $1000 a month. My rent alone was $800. Money was pretty tight. We were like, If we can make some money doing this, we should play along with it.” They made a whole B.S.O.D. album and remixed Hurt by Christina Aguilera, but the money ran out and Duda had to return to LA. “We may do some more B.S.O.D. stuff in the future,” says Zimmerman. “And we’re still working on software together.

One of the first things Zimmerman wrote after Duda left was Faxing Berlin. He released it under the moniker Deadmau5, using the same name as his one-man web developing business, which was itself named after a dead mouse he found in his computer one day (the unusual alphanumeric spelling is so it can function as a user name for online chat-rooms). He sent Faxing Berlin to British DJ Chris Lake, who passed it to Pete Tong, who played it on his Radio 1 show. The subsequent exposure turned it into one of the biggest records of 2007. The clever fusion of trance chords and house beat spawned a series of imitators. “It was quite a buzz to know that I’d influenced the course of dance music,” says Zimmerman with a smile.

Tracks such as Not Exactly, Sex Lies And Audiotape and The Reward Is Cheese followed. Last year, Deadmau5 was the biggest selling artist on Beatport. However, Zimmerman’s next masterstroke was to do with his image. Part of the Deadmau5 logo was a grinning mouse head with oversized ears. He decided to turn it into a mask. He contacted a firm in Toronto who made props for films, who agreed to build it. The first time he wore it at a club in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the audience were stunned. “I remember putting it on and looking out of the visor and seeing everyone in utter bewilderment,” he says. “They were like, Who is this guy? Is he for real? But they warmed up to it real fast. When the lights came on in the helmet and they started blinking to the beat, the place went crazy.” It was a stroke of genius. Dance music is often accused of lacking a sense of theatre. Not Zimmerman. There are shades of Daft Punk about the Deadmau5 head.

He tells a story about wearing a crystal encrusted variant of the mouse head to the 2008 Grammy Awards ceremony, where he was nominated for Best Remixed Recording for his version of The Longest Road by Californian house producer Morgan Page. "Even though no one knew who I was, as I was walking up the red carpet, all these reporters and TV crews were stopping me. In the end I actually missed the award because it took so long. although it didn’t matter because sadly I didn’t win."

No Grammy just yet, then, but you wouldn’t bet against him winning one in the future. Deadmau5 is on a dizzying upward trajectory. Dance music just got very exciting again.

On August 9, 2012, Zimmerman 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.

On January 7, 2014, Zimmerman announced via his Twitter account that his much-anticipated new album is complete. "In other news...i finished my album today," the tweet read. "2 discs. 2 continuous mixes. 25 tracks. and something im proud of." On May 10, 2014, Deadmau5 announced through his subscription service that his upcoming album will be titled While(1<2) and it's released on June 17, 2014.

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