“That was fun, that was adventurous and it was a thing unique to you in your youth. And for kids today, that’s gone. I’ll always look back at it and be, like, ‘Dammit, I wish I could get that back.’”

At 17, Zimmerman moved to Toronto, produced tracks for house music label Play Records, took freelance programming and web development gigs, and worked with an audio software company out of Belgium.

“Contrary to popular belief, I was very underground,” Zimmerman once recalled. “I was in my Mom’s basement tooling away on Impulse Tracker on a 386, just doing Nintendo music until some Loop Library company hired me as a producer.”

deadmau5 continually introduces new, self-designed software to enhance the live experience.

Independently, deadmau5 issued albums like 2005’s Get Scraped and 2006’s Vexillology that initially stirred underground interest. But once he truly struck out on his own with his Mau5trap label and a partnership with Ultra Music and Ministry of Sound, Zimmerman’s career skyrocketed. His third full-length, Random Album Title, paired him with San Francisco’s Kaskade on “Move For Me,” which topped Billboard’s Dance Mix/Airplay charts in September 2008.

Another Kaskade collaboration, “I Remember,” followed “Move For Me” to the top of the charts and entered the U.K. Top 30. “Move for Me” and Random Album Title generated a JUNO nomination and victory, respectively, while deadmau5 earned the first of three consecutive Best Electro House Artist and Best Progressive House Artist awards from Beatport.

At the time, he expressed his goal of creating “transparent recordings.” “Something that is very clear,” Zimmerman explained to Resident Advisor, adding that he masters his music as he makes it. “Where you hear every nuance in the way that it’s mixed. Transparency applies to engineering, the placement of certain sounds, the honing in on and the lessening of certain frequencies.”

His album For Lack of a Better Name assured another breakthrough year for the mau5man in 2009, bringing him Grammy attention for the first time. His remix of Morgan Page’s “The Longest Road” featuring Lissie was up for Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical. He’s since earned three consecutive nominations for Best Dance/Electronica Album, for 2012’s 4×4 = 12, 2013’s Album Title Goes Here and his latest original project from 2014, the 25-track, four-and-a-half hour while (1<2).

While (1<2) pays particular homage to one of Zimmerman’s early heroes, Trent Reznor, covering  “Ice Age” from Reznor’s How To Destroy Angels project, and Nine Inch Nails’ “Survivalism.” Deadmau5 describes the creativity behind the album in general terms.

“It’s not just about making a dance hit or a brand,” he said on his website. “I love engineering music of all time… I’ve done hip-hop tracks, glitch tracks, piano concertos, and dance hits. I think a large part of my fan base knows that, so this is for them. And if it’s not for them, then maybe I’ll attract some new fans who aren’t so EDM.”

It’s really the stage that best serves his platform, as he continually introduces new, self-designed software to enhance the experience.

For live performances, Rolling Stone notes that “Zimmerman starts by building his set on his computer, programming whatever songs he wants to play into a two-hour collection of discrete six-minute blocks. Then he starts stripping away elements one by one – a kick drum here, a bass loop there, as many as he thinks he can get away with. Finally, in concert, he puts it all back together, re-creating each sound with his battalion of synthesizers.”

How he’s done it, deadmau5 told Rolling Stone, is with “a 16×16 grid where each button will light up, and that’s it. But with that, you can build your own sequencer and have each button doing a different thing. So Steve Duda built this monster of an application called MOLAR, which is an extended version of MLR.

“Steve really has a thing for complicated machinery, so he set it up so that we can load in wav [file] data and slice that up. It basically allows you to sequence a feed, MIDI triggers or wav data playback to a channel. You can permutate it in so many different ways that you can really jam on it… I’ll make 150 loops or something, and just chuck them into the directory.”

Sampling, sequencing, looping: deadmau5 continues to be EDM’s creative genius, a musician whose inventiveness and integrity continue to redefine the genre.

And he’s just getting started.

Publisher: EMI April Music Canada Ltd., Play Records Publishing
Selected Discography: Get Scraped (2005), Vexillology (2006), Random Album Title (2008), For Lack of a Better Name (2009), 4×4=12 (2010), Album Title Goes Here (2012), while(1<2) (2014)
Website: www.deadmau5.com
SOCAN Member since 2006

Bobby Bazini, his girlfriend, his guitar and their dog were ready for their great road trip across the U. S. of A. They were headed from his native Montreal to L.A. to record Bobby’s sophomore album, Where I Belong, but he wanted to drive there so he could fill his head up with wide-open spaces, beauty and truth, stuff that would inform his work in the studio. Whether or not his Kia would make it 2,800 miles remained to be seen, but it didn’t really matter: he was well aware that the next time he travelled to L.A., it would be on a plane.

“It would’ve been a lot more romantic to take this trip in a sporty convertible, but it would also have cost a lot more in gas,” says Bazini, laughing. Since then, he’s been back in the United States to present showcases, give interviews and play opening slots for singer Lily Kershaw. “Breaking the U.S. market takes time. You have to start from scratch, and stop at nothing to make sure people come in contact with your music. Opening for other artists is hard. A lot of the concertgoers haven’t made it to the venue yet, and the ones who are there are talking among themselves because they’re not there to see you… You need to be in top shape and give everything you’ve got to capture people’s attention. After the shows, I go into the crowd of spectators to give out free downloads of my songs.”

“In the end, it’s my name and my face we see on posters. I want the decisions to be in line with who I am.”

The artist makes no bones about it: “The whole seduction game requires great discipline. I don’t have time to play rock star. When I’m on tour, I drink a lot more lemon water with a touch of honey than I do alcohol. I try to go to bed early whenever I can. I don’t want to be onstage and fear that my voice won’t make it ‘til the end of the show.”

Barely 25, Bazini does come across as a high performance race car surrounded by a team of engineers. Chief among them are Larry Klein (Joni Mitchell, Madeleine Peyroux, Melody Gardot), who produced Where I Belong and signed him to his Strange Cargo imprint before convincing Capitol to launch the album in the U.S. ; his international agent, Rich Isaacson, who’s also behind Mika’s career; Universal Canada; and, last but not least, his close entourage and local management team: Geneviève Gélineau and media personality Mike Gauthier.

Barely three years ago, following the immense success of his debut album, Better In Time, Bazini had to completely rebuild his career and team following a stormy breakup with his previous manager. (See Turning the Page, below.) “When I started my career,” he says, “I had no idea how the business worked, but now, I get involved in all the decisions about my career and marketing strategies. I get involved a lot more and I chose my team according to this philosophy: I want to know where I’m going, and I have a veto on all decisions concerning my likeness and my music,” explains the songwriter who, admittedly, finds this approach a bit difficult at times. “Sometimes, it means I get information that artists don’t always need to know, such as the offers and counter-offers during a contract negotiation, but in the end, it’s my name and my face we see on posters. I want the decisions to be in line with who I am.”

According to Bazini, a good example of this is the fact that not a single producer (besides Larry Klein) was allowed in the studio during the recording of Where I Belong. “Larry sent them the record once it was completed, and that’s I,” says Bazini. “It was like night and day compared to my first album, where management was constantly looking over my shoulder to make sure I was writing hits. This time around, I did what I pleased, such as leaving folk behind and incorporating more soul.”

This new musical direction started to germinate even as Bazini was still touring for Better in Time –  thanks to Larry Klein, who gave him the leeway to do so. “By writing my new songs on an acoustic guitar, I knew they’d take on another dimension once the soul arrangements did their thing. I’ve always loved soul music, and thanks to Larry’s rolodex, I had the incredible chance to play with soul legends, such as Booker T. Jones, who played organ for Otis Redding, percussionist Jack Ashford, who played on many Marvin Gaye records, and, above all, my favourite drummer, Jay Bellerose (Diana Krall, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Bob Dylan, Elton John). I was like a kid in a candy store.”

Quite obviously, his producers had nothing to worry about: the platinum-certified Where I Belong was the biggest selling record in Canada made by a Canadian in 2014 and is nominated at the JUNO Awards in the Album of the Year and Fan Choice Award categories. Even though he answers our questions with the voice of a kid, his album displays a newfound maturity, and his singing voice is as powerful and emotionally-charged as ever.

Turning the page
In 2012, Cesar Boestein, Bobby Bazini’s manager, filed a lawsuit against his protégé, claiming breach of contract and asking for $108 000 in damages. “I won, since he didn’t even show up in court, but after auditing his financial records, turned out it was he who owed me money. He went bankrupt and I lost a lot of money, but it’s all behind me now. I surrounded myself with a new management team, on the same wavelength as me. Our relationships are simple and very human; no one’s playing a game. During my concerts, it’s my manager Mike Gauthier who tunes my guitars backstage and hands them to me. I get a definite impression that we’re all working towards a common goal.”

Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, is home to many noteworthy SOCAN members, including award-winning fiddler Natalie MacMaster, country-folk music group The Rankin Family, Celtic/pop band The Barra McNeils, and Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Gordie Sampson. Nova Scotia is also home to SOCAN-licensed Ceilidh’s Pub – a neighborhood bar and eatery in Dartmouth, well-known for its Cape-Breton-style live entertainment and Gaelic folk music.

The East Coast business opened its doors in 2013, and has grown a loyal crew of musicians and songwriters that visit regularly to perform on both weekdays and weekends to a crowded house of Maritimers.

“I wanted to bring that traditional Maritime kitchen party atmosphere into the pub,” says owner Roseanne MacKinnon. “Music is a huge part of Ceilidh’s Pub. After all, the name ‘Ceilidh’ represents a gathering of friends and family enjoying music, dance, stories and fun.”

A variety of traditional music written and composed by Cape Bretoners can often be heard playing in the background. The pub also hosts weekly open mic nights with traditional live fiddle music on Fridays.

“Our pub is becoming the place to go within the community for great live music, and of course food,” says MacKinnon. “Being licensed by SOCAN allows us to be the place in the community where musicians and songwriters can showcase their talent and share their music.”

Another way Ceilidh’s is helping to nurture the East Coast musical community is by way of their monthly songwriting circles, where local and regional songwriters – most of whom are budding SOCAN members – gather to showcase their music and collaborate with one another.

MacKinnon adds: “Having great food and music creates longtime customers.”