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Deadmau5 uncensored: Two and a half hours with the professional griefer

Back when Joel Zimmerman first built his mau5-head, he gave Rolling Stone an interesting rationale for the new prop: “I thought it would be kind of funny to be the mystery mouse guy, like Daft Punk.”

A few years down the track, Deadmau5 is often talked about as one of the best-realised ‘brands’ in dance music. On stage, Zimmerman’s been through over 20 incarnations of that mau5 head, while the punters who come to his gigs regularly slave over their own replicas to wear on the dancefloor. One eight-year-old fan even has a Twitter account (with 7,000 followers to boot) dedicated to drawing new Deadmau5 designs every day.

But Deadmau5 never really ended up being that “mystery mouse guy.” Far from an enigma, Joel Zimmerman is always right out there. Even when he’s holed up in his studio, working on music with a cigarette in hand, he’ll broadcast it all for fans to see. Then, of course, he’s also the guy who’ll deliver a lacerating takedown of just about anything and anyone. (And yes, he’s never far from the inthemix homepage.) In recent years, we’ve seen more of Joel than ever: the good, the bad and the angry. He remains one of the most fascinating, polarizing personalities in music.

“In recent years, we’ve seen more of Joel than ever: the good, the bad and the angry. He remains one of the most fascinating, polarizing personalities in music”

So when inthemix was offered our first interview slot with Deadmau5 in three years (thanks to an incoming tour with Future Music Festival), we came to it with all these contradictions in mind.

What was meant to be a 15 minute call on Christmas Eve turned into a two and half hour talk on Skype chat (“The label were amazed we got him at all,” the PR rep facilitating the media time told inthemix after the interview).

This is the conversation we could never have predicted – it’s as freeform and unfiltered as its subject, but perhaps one of the most honest he’s ever done. And certainly the longest.

In the interest of keeping things authentic, we’ve reproduced the conversation almost exactly as it happened – lower case lettering, meme references and all. Stick through ‘til the end and you’ll walk away with an insight into Zimmerman’s thoughts on labels, his live show plans, that time he called every DJ in the world a “fucking c*nt”, the Grammys, inthemix forum users, Mozart, Giorgio Moroder and much, much more.


inthemix

hey, it’s inthemix. I think we’re second in the i/v queue

Deadmau5

k

Deadmau5

hey

just type away

I’ll answer on here

I have a cold.

not doing so great

inthemix

ah okay sure, I also have a cold

so that works

Deadmau5

canberra. fireworks and porn.

inthemix

haha! yep. home for the holidays

Deadmau5

my kinda town

inthemix

impressive knowledge

are you on another call at the moment?

Deadmau5

yeah I’m full of useless shit

no

just rather type

inthemix

okay cool I’ll start hitting you with stuff

Deadmau5

alright

inthemix

first up – been having a play on the new site the last couple of days, watching you play minecraft etc. looks cool! does the finished product match your vision for it?

Deadmau5

very close

it’s getting better, we had to roll it out in a hurry

inthemix

what’s left to be done?

Deadmau5

well, overall improvements and functionality

but the gist of it is there

music video photos chat… short of me coming over to your house and giving you a personal hand job, what else is there

so we’re doing all that

except the hand job

that will be a $200 in app purchase

inthemix

haha, well I’m glad we’ve already covered hand jobs

Deadmau5

they are of high caliber….

inthemix

I know there exists an old tumblr post of your where you said “what you need a fuckin theme park, and you and your music are the theme. you want people to come to you theme park and feel like they’re part of your world” – how close do you feel you are to that?

Deadmau5

but yes

it’s getting close to my theme park idea

inthemix

do you feel like it’s gonna eliminate the problems you have with open, established social media? (like twitter)

Deadmau5

nah

but at least alleviate my need to say something stupid to a buncha people who giveth a fuck not about me or my music

Miley Cyrus manages to find her way onto my timeline / home feed

ergo, I probably end up on hers

so some butthurt Miley fan is going to have something clever to say on the matter of 44.1 vs 96khz audio

inthemix

ha!

Deadmau5

totally relevant.

inthemix

heaps. been wondering – what’s the drawback of having that close a relationship with your fans? do you ever wish you had a little more anonymity?

Deadmau5

mmm nah, in the online “live site” capacity… I can always unplug for a sec.

I don’t leave the house

and when I do, I don’t get mobbed in malls in China

or malls in Toronto

inthemix

fair call. it’s funny though, I know once back in like 2010 you were talking about the mau5 head and said “I thought it would be kind of funny to be the mystery mouse guy, like daft punk. you could totally pass those guys in the friction k-mart and not know it”. but that’s not really want the mau5 head ended up being hey

Deadmau5

eh

shit happens

just let it happen.

embrace the shit.

become the shit

inthemix

wise words

I actually wanted to talk about your first australian tour back in 07, for kink

do you remember that?

Deadmau5

yeah

I rode a kangaroo on stage at my first AU gig

fun fact

I THOUGHT people would have LIKED that.

then I realized how annoyed id be if tommy trash dressed up as a mountie

inthemix

haha

Deadmau5

keepin it vanilla this time

inthemix

am I right in saying that was your first (or one of, at least) tour outside of canada? how different was your world back then?

Deadmau5

yeah it pretty much was

I was full of hope and excitement

and happy to be a part of something

inthemix

yeah, reading back articles and things from that time, that definitely comes across

what sort of electronic music were you inspired by then?

Deadmau5

mmm not really much of, I was in the learning stage then

inthemix

so was there a turning point where you WEREN’T so excited about everything? how long did that 07 feeling last?

Deadmau5

tillbout 08

inthemix

what changed then?

Deadmau5

no idea

that’s some me, searching me, shit

ain’t nobody got time for that

inthemix

ok, fair

let’s talk production

Deadmau5

let’s.

inthemix

when you spoke to someone from ITM before another tour in 2011, you said you were making up to five songs every studio day. are you still as prolific?

Deadmau5

well I’d like to be if I didn’t have a million things to run / monitor / approve / dictate / endure and or litigate through

but comes with the territory I suppose

inthemix

oh damn

that sucks?

Deadmau5

not really

it has its fun moments

inthemix

but you’ve been making quite moody music lately, stuff that doesn’t feel geared to the dancefloor. I wondered – is your end goal only to play headline shows where fans are going to ‘get it’, or can you still see your music working in the context of a dance festival?

Deadmau5

I’m still keeping it relevant enough in the BG to be fest. friendly…. at least with small injections of my “out there whack ass I can’t dance to this isn’t even music where’s the drop bro” shit

inthemix

IS the end goal to only play headline shows though?

Deadmau5

headline as in playing with a buncha other dudes playing other dudes shit?

not really

just do solo shows

inthemix

oh yes, that’s what I mean by headline shows

not festivals. just you

Deadmau5

I’d rather just do solo shows.

more control.

inthemix

is that a possibility for the immediate future? or are you likely to be stuck doing the festivals thing for a while?

Deadmau5

I can die happy never needing to get in a fight with Tiesto or Armin’s fuckin team over who gets to use what percent of a fuckin LED screen because all our music sucks so much shit we might as well blind them with CG we had nothing to do with

inthemix

ha!

Deadmau5

just sayin

every

fucking

festival

“WHO GETS THE SCREEN”

there’s a whole political scene

screen scene

I’m telling you

there are wars happening in the back there with production teams

that NEED to be reality TV shows

inthemix

and here I was thinking it’s billing artists fight over

I’ll pass that on to MTV. see what they can do.

Deadmau5

better than watching whiney 16 year old preg bitches

inthemix

amen

Deadmau5

almost the same thing actually.

n/m

inthemix

I can see the ratings now.

on the topic of festivals though, what incarnation of the live show are you bringing out for Future?

Deadmau5

cube “plus”

man

I love aus.

inthemix

:)

Deadmau5

I really do

but

I do not love freighting things to aus

I really do not

inthemix

ah yeah, that

Deadmau5

it costs WHAT!?

and you can’t exactly rent an “original” production there

outside of the usual product

soooo

yeah

it’s like that

inthemix

‘spose it’s our own fault for being so far away

so what’s the ‘plus’ in cube plus?

Deadmau5

wait for it

of course I have no idea what that is, and here’s me hoping our production team fuckin nails it

LOL

oh

I’m bringing that rad touchscreen shit this time

that’s new!

inthemix

haha

so it’s a work in progress?

Deadmau5

yeah actually

lol

I’m the last minute man

inthemix

well that’s cool for us, means we get something new

Deadmau5

well not to mention fucktons of new music

inthemix

and that!

Deadmau5

not like I’m gunna roll up and ghosts n stuff you to death

inthemix

haha

Deadmau5

might mash it up with Levels this time

inthemix

boom tish

what sorta stuff is gonna be in your set then? ALL new?

Deadmau5

technically that meets the “new” requirement

win win

inthemix

that will definitely go down well

so they would burn effigies of me in the street if I didn’t ask whether you will do any sideshows..

…you there?

D:

Deadmau5

that’s it?

lol

inthemix

no!

not it

I got heaps more

can we talk about the ultra split?

also, with live. deadmau5.com, are people not supposed to be able to see the chat unless they’re in it? cause all I get in that section is white screen

Deadmau5

k one sec

bogged down

inthemix

all good!

I’ll be here, scrolling through instagram on my phone

Deadmau5

lemme know if you see any good manicures

yo yo honey singhh

inthemix

all just photos of coffee

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