He’s the mau5 that continues to roar.
And rule. If the maxim “he who has the most toys wins” needs a living example as proof, then EDM superstar deadmau5 – a.k.a. Niagara Falls, ON, native son Joel Zimmerman – is it.
Zimmerman’s recent relocation from a pricey downtown Toronto condo to a gargantuan, custom-sized mansion on an 118-acre rural farm, about 45 minutes from the city, is one such extravagance.
Presumably, “Maus Mansion” is also the location where Zimmerman intends to build a 45,000 sq. ft. recording studio for what he calls “real musicians.” Though this could be bluster, considering he’s also publicly expressed an interest in buying Marineland, an amusement park attraction in his hometown.
deadmau5 is the first Canadian musician to headline and fill Toronto’s cavernous Rogers Centre.
Another sign of his immense success is his growing collection of six- and seven-figure-priced cars. His McLaren 650S (or are there two of them?), a BAC Mono, which deadmau5 told the BBC “is kind of like a street-legal Formula 3 car”; a McLaren P1; a Bentley Continental GT Supersports; a custom Jeep Rubicon; a Range Rover; a Honda Fit; and a signature model Ferrari that Zimmerman had transformed into a “Purrari,” which he drove in the transcontinental Gumball Rally race.
But bling accumulation is only one measure of deadmau5’s popularity. The 2012 Rolling Stone magazine cover boy is easily the most recognized figure in electronic dance music (EDM) history, both for his music – a multiple Beatport and JUNO Award-winning, Grammy-nominated mix of progressive house, techno, trance and repetitive beats – and for creating a memorable visual presence in a usually faceless genre.
Zimmerman performs in his electronically-illuminated mau5head, a piece of headgear that remotely resembles a blissed-out Mickey Mouse. When the folks at Disney noticed, they requested that the United States Patent and Trademark Office investigate its stature as a trademark.
Laced with LED lights that react to the music he’s performing live, this ingenious signature has enabled Zimmerman to bridge the gap between underground and mainstream recognition. He’s hip enough that EDM lovers hunger for his next release, and cool enough that a cameo in a mainstream TV series like Gossip Girl or CSI doesn’t damage his street cred.
He’s certainly not averse to courting mainstream attention. “It’s fun to play along,” Zimmerman told Resident Advisor in 2008. “And if playing along means it’s gonna get you exposure to a six-million-wide audience that might have, by chance, been blissfully ignorant to the music you make, or to electronic music in general and then, in turn, tune in two million new fans… who are going to support new acts and new talent…”
In fact, playing along has found deadmau5 transforming himself into a dancefloor superstar that reportedly no longer performs for less than $100,000 USD a night. The first Canadian musician to headline and fill Toronto’s cavernous Rogers Centre (capacity 54,000), he’s rocketed to the top of his game in an impressively short amount of time, as per the title of his current compilation, 5 Years of Mau5.
How did he do it?
In his Niagara Falls hometown, Zimmerman took piano lessons, but the tide turned when he first became immersed in computers. “My uncle, who was more or less the black sheep of the family, was into all things technical,” Zimmerman told Resident Advisor. “He did some university stuff with computer programs when they were only a little bit more powerful than a pocket calculator. He was always the guy that the family would call to fix the computer.”
Weaned on Skinny Puppy and Steely Dan, Zimmerman began to toy with gadgetry – pulling things apart, putting them back together, and absorbing it all like a sponge. “Clocks, appliances, all that shit. I had a whole graveyard under my bed,” he told Rolling Stone in 2012.
According to Toronto Life, Zimmerman’s grandmother introduced him to video games, and that magic combination of technology and music helped set him on his way. Deadmau5 music has since appeared in DJ Hero, the Grand Theft Auto series, FIFA 13, Need For Speed: Most Wanted and even The Sims 3.
As a teen, he dabbled in computers and digital music tools and started attending raves held in secret locations, a period of time that Zimmerman longs for nostalgically. “The only bad taste left in my mouth is that there’s no more grey area with electronic music anymore,” he told Resident Advisor. “You buy your ticket to the big ‘rave’ at SkyDome [Rogers Centre] through TicketMaster and Live Nation. Dude, I really miss the meet-up points at Union Station and going to some dodgy thing that will very likely get shut down by the cops.