A look at Deadmau5's rise to fame
The Canadian DJ and producer set for Braehead Glasgow show with Magnetic Man and Calvin Harris
How the hell did Deadmau5 get so big? The Canadian DJ and producer has been a powerful force on the commercial end of the dance music circuit for a couple of years now of course, but this month is set to prove he’s no longer just another face in a crowd of new breed big-room DJs. Deadmau5 is now rock star huge. He’s massive. Just like that light-up mouse head he wears at his shows.
The evidence will be presented at this very event, the second last date of his new UK tour, when he takes to the stage at Glasgow’s Braehead Arena. Braehead, of course, is the kind of venue which only hosts proper big-deal international stars, including the likes of Beyonce, The Strokes and Marilyn Manson in the past, and that’s before you take into account the calibre of artist who will be playing second fiddle to Deadmau5 on the night: new heroes of dubstep Magnetic Man, BBC Radio 1’s Zane Lowe and a DJ set from the pretty-famous-in-his- own-right Calvin Harris.
Then consider the array of DJ talent queuing up to fete his presence at the aftershow party at the O2 Academy on the same night, including Harris and Lowe once more, Magnetic Man’s Skream and Benga, and Radio 1’s forefront dance ambassadors Pete Tong and Annie Mac. Highlights from the later event will be broadcast live on Radio 1 on the night, ahead of the really big news – a nearly sold-out headline show at London’s Earl’s Court the next evening, following in the footsteps of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Oasis.
Undoubtedly a lot of the 29-year-old man behind the mouse head Joel Zimmerman’s success is down to concept and marketing. That distinctive headgear stemmed from the name (apparently the result of telling friends on techy dance forums about a mouse which crawled into his computer and died – they started calling him ‘the dead mouse guy’, and his own spelling emerged when another forum would only allow him an eight-character login name), yet one cute hat doesn’t make a star.
He’s released three compilation albums in the last three years (Random Album Title, For Lack of a Better Name and this month’s 4x4=12), and each one has drawn greater praise outside the dance mag circuit. His latest is ‘Formulaic? Undoubtedly. Enjoyable? Unquestionably’ according to the Independent on Sunday, while The Guardian declared him ‘a master at doing simple electro house music very well.’ More than that, his records and his live shows appeal to the dance faithful’s lowest common denominator in the way exceptional pop music finds favour with all but the most purist or ungenerous. They merge house, trance and electro so as to enjoy mass appeal among those who enjoy their electronic music unpolarised by extremes.
The Washington Post described Zimmerman as a ‘party-eschewing programming nerd, more Mark Zuckerberg than Daft Punk’, and there’s something in that as well. With a Playmate girlfriend, guest appearances from friends like Tommy Lee and Pendulum on his tracks, an onstage collapse with exhaustion earlier this year and a forthcoming appearance on DJ Hero, he’s nailed many of the key rock star tropes. Yet that damn mouse’s head ultimately casts him in the unknowable boffin role so favoured by many superstar DJs of recent times.
Braehead Arena, Glasgow, Fri 17 Dec; Official Aftershow Party at O2 Academy, Glasgow, Fri 17 Dec.