TuneAttic: find music, know music
TuneAttic: find music, know music
TuneAttic: find music, know music
TuneAttic: find music, know music
TuneAttic: find music, know music
TuneAttic: find music, know music
Deadmau5 Deadmau5 is a prolific and influential Canadian electro, progressive house producer and DJ, though his style and performances challenge neat categorization. With well over 50 singles and 8 albums released since 2006 Deadmau5 creative output is vast. His style fuses elements of electro, techno, house and progressive trance with often experimental melodies and track structure that stands as a refreshing contrast to the often predictable mainstream of dance.  His live performances fuse on-the-fly live production, extravagant light shows and the always present large mouse mask.
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Deadmau5 early yearsEarly Years: 2006-2008

Joel Zimmerman was born on January 5th 1981 and grew up in Naigara Falls, Ontario in Canada.  Obsessed with computers as a child he progressed to working in local studios, co-producing local radio show ‘The Party Revolution’ and contributing to the 1999 rap metal album of Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee. 

His first release was an electro house track in 2006 with Steve Duda entitled ‘This Is The Hook’ under the alias B.S.O.D. (Blue Screen Of Death). Although the track was intended to ridicule the formulaic tendencies of mainstream house, featuring a synthesized voice announcing each component of the track, it proved to be an unexpected success.  ‘This Is The Hook’ went to number one in the Beatport download charts and even resulted in B.S.O.D. remixing a Christine Aguilera track. 

During this early stage of his career Zimmerman continued to utilize his tech skills, working for music software company Image Line (now FL Studios) and set up his own web developer company that he called Deadmau5.  He had come up with the name after finding the body of a mouse that had crawled into one of his computers and had died. He abbreviated it from ‘dead mouse’ to Deadmau5 for use as a log in for an online chat username. 
In 2006 he started producing his first solo tracks released as Deadmau5: ‘Cocktail Queen’ and ‘Faxing Berlin’.  ‘Faxing Berlin’ (which would be re-released in 2009 and enjoy significant success). 

The two tracks gave an early indication of the wide range of styles that Zimmerman would build his Deadma5 career upon.  ‘Cocktail Queen’ shows his upfront house side, with pounding kick drum and snare underpinning a fierce analogue bass riff. ‘Faxing Berlin’ is more understated and melodic and feels more like a trance track than it does house.  Zimmerman’s ability to straddle the house and trance genres - whilst also often incorporating techno elements – have been key to his success, with his tracks just as home in the set of a big room trance DJ as that of an underground house DJ.

Though Zimmerman returned to his BSOD collaboration with Duda in 2007 for a number of releases the momentum of his Deadmau5 alias soon took hold.  ‘Faxing Berlin’ had - via DJ Chris Lake - arrived on the desk of Radio 1 DJ Pete Tong and who promptly played it on his show and helped propel it into being one of the big dance tracks of the year.  In July of the same year Zimmerman set up his mau5trap label.

By 2008 the momentum really began to build, seeing Deadmau5 enter the DJ Magazine readers’ top 100 poll at #11 and become the most awarded artist at the Beatport Awards.  2008 also saw Deadmau5 record a BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix and release no less than 28 tracks plus numerous remixes.  The releases were typically diverse, ranking from the up front electro of ‘Dr Funkenstein’ through the big room party house of ‘Hi Friend’ to the blissed-out tech house of ‘I Remember’ with Kaskade.  Also in 2008 Zimmerman hooked up again with Mötley Crüe’s Tommy Lee as part of the electro four piece outfit WTF?

Deadmau5 peak yearsLater Years: 2009 to Present

If 2008 was the year of momentum for Deadmau5 then 2009 was breakthrough.  It was in 2009 that Zimmerman created some of the most accomplished and successful Deadmau5 tracks to date, including the haunting and unpredictable melody of ‘Strobe’ and the dance floor smash ‘Ghosts ‘n’ Stuff’.  Both were included in the album ‘For Want of A Better Name’. ‘Ghosts ‘n’ Stuff’ has become Deadmau5’s signature track and stands out as the perfection of his analogue synth driven upfront electro house sound.

By the end of the year Deadmau5 had become the biggest selling artist on Beatport, nominated for a Grammy (for his remix of Morgan Page’s ‘The Longest Road’) and headlined and performed festivals around the globe. 

2010 followed on in the same vein with Deadmau5 picking up three awards at the Beatport Music Awards, a Juno Award for the ‘For Want Of A Better Name’ album and a live performance at the Winter Olympics.  Whilst Deadmau5’s success has grown Zimmerman has worked hard to build the accompanying branding and image including turning the grinning mouse head from the Deadmau5 logo into a mask with lights to perform in. 

The oversize mouse head has become synonymous with Deadmau5 performances with more than a little hint of Daft Punk.  Zimmerman continues to work hard to ensure that Deadmau5 shows are a audio visual spectacle with sophisticated light shows.  But he is careful not to let the visuals distract too much from the performance and utilizes touch screen technology (Lemur), Ableton Live and various pieces of hardware to bring a genuine live element to his performances. 


Joel Zimmerman’s career is only in its infancy but he has already established himself as one of electronic music’s key creative forces.  Though the elements of Deadmau5 tracks are not necessarily always original, the quality of the production coupled with the originality of composition and arrangement make them stand out from the pack.  A highly prolific output coupled with a broad range of genres has enabled Deadmau5 to cross multiple dance genres with ease. No mean feat in these days of rigidly defined dance music genres. It’s a pretty safe bet that the man from Canada with the big mouse head will continue to impact and influence electronic dance music for some time yet.