- Top 100
Deadmau5 holds steady at No.4 in the poll this year, despite not campaigning whatsoever (and moaning on Twitter about others who did). But is it right that he appears at all? As he mentions below, “Ranking in the Top 100 of a DJ poll when I’ve never touched a CDJ in my life” does seem a bit of an anomaly on the face of it. But when you think of how most punters receive his music – they see a bloke (with a giant mouse’s head on) behind a rack of equipment playing electronic music by twiddling some knobs – then it’s not surprising that Joel Zimmerman is thought of as a DJ by many.
“To say you become this massive up-on-a-podium performer by playing other people’s productions at the same speed as someone else’s productions and fading between the two of them, I don’t get it.”
This was one of the Mau5′s views on DJing from a couple of years ago, and even if some of his controversial comments were tongue-in-cheek (such as likening DJs to middle men, like lawyers), he surely has a point about the future of DJing. More and more DJs are turning to Traktor, Serato or Ableton when they play out, meaning that the literal, traditional meaning of a DJ – a disc jockey, someone who shuffles discs to string some continuous music together – is evolving rapidly.
“You might have to change the name of the mag soon,” quips the Mau5, who was using a Monome controller that features a 16 x 16 grid of multi-coloured buttons and a touch-screen Lemur controller for FX over Ableton when your hack last saw him playing live. His single-minded pursuit of excellence in his own chosen field – playing 95% of his own tracks – may somewhat overlook the art of feeding off the crowd, but there’s no doubt that the Mau5 has something going on.
He’s towards the end of a massive 53-date North American tour – the Meowingtons Hax tour – when DJmag tracks him down, including four sold-out nights at the Hollywood Palladium and five nights at New York’s Roseland Ballroom. In August he became the first dance act to headline the main stage at Lollapalooza in the USA, and festival organizer Perry Farrell from Jane’s Addiction carried his son piggyback onstage during Deadmau5′s set, a tacit acknowledgement that this was a hugely significant breakthrough for electronic music in America – perhaps even more significant than Orbital’s fabled 1994 Glastonbury slot. Long-running US rock mag Spin rated Deadmau5′s set as the No.1 performance of the festival.
In the UK in June, the Mau5 sold-out his first major outdoor event, ‘LED Presents Deadmau5′, with 25,000 fans turning up to see him in London’s Victoria Park. A few months previously, he sold-out London’s 20,000-capacity Earls Court Arena.
The man who first made his name on Beatport has released relatively few of his own tracks this year, although ‘HR 8938 Cephei’ and ‘Raise Your Weapon’ (with remixes by Noisia, Stimming, Camo & Krooked and Madeon) certainly made a mark. Currently working on the follow-up album to ’4×4=12′, Joel has been putting time into his Mau5trap label this year too. He’s just signed amazing Dutch drum & bass scientists Noisia to the imprint, joining acts such as Feed Me (the side project of d&b artist Spor), Al Bizzarre, Excision and DJ Aero with Tommy Lee, former drummer in legendary glam-metal juggernaut Mötley Crüe and a long-term pal of Zimmerman. He also released some early tracks by Skrillex, who has rapidly become massive himself.
DJmag asks Deadmau5 to sum up what the last 12 months have been like for him.
“8765.81 hours of PURE FUCKING TORTURE!” he rants. “OH GOD, I HATE MY LIFE. MAKE IT STOP!”