deadmau5 IS VANISHING in a fog of cigarette smoke on a sunny day in Los Angeles. He’s just wrapped a cover shoot for this magazine, and has removed his signature mau5head helmet—which resembles a bloated, bug-eyed Mickey Mouse—to take a few solitary pulls beneath palm trees. Over the next hour he’ll puff no less than 10 bones. Colorful splashes of body ink, which plaster him from head to toe, occasionally peek from the cloudy haze ensuring the notorious potty mouth is still there.
deadmau5 (pronounced “dead mouse”), born Joel Zimmerman, stumbled on his moniker the day he pried open his computer to swap out a video card and found a rodent resting in peace within. But he’s made his name by crafting high-BPM melodies and spinning massive concerts and festivals. Today, he’s boasting about his yet-to-be-revealed new live setup. “It will be a game changer,” the pale skin 32-year-old insists from within the plumes, one day before announcing that in March he’ll be headlining two sets during the 15-year anniversary of Miami’s acclaimed electronic dance fiesta Ultra Music Festival.
For now he only grumbles. “I’m tired of talking about Ultra. It’s the same thing every fucking year. And so is Lollapalooza.” Festival gigs have become auxiliary to Zimmerman’s list of triumphs. The five-time Grammy nominee—including one for 2012’s >album title goes here<—is also performing at ’palooza’s inaugural Chilean and Brazilian installments. His aforementioned latest LP packs well-oiled tunes crossing the spectrum of sound, complete with cameos by genre-varied artists ranging from Gerard Way (of My Chemical Romance) to Cypress Hill.
deadmau5’s rise to fame began over a decade ago in Toronto, when the Canadian producer released an electronic dance music ditty for the first time. It was meant to be a joke, a parody proving the genre so simplistic that anyone can make a hit record. Ever since that first trick-track, Zimmerman has been chuckling all the way to the bank teller. One thing is clear: No amount of smoke or smack-talk will be fading out this mau5 anytime soon.
VIBE: This is the first time you’re talking to VIBE…
deadmau5: So, let’s talk about bitches, hoes, fucking bling and Crystal.
Or Cypress Hill’s inclusion on your new album?
That’s probably what did it, isn’t it? Is this what this is all about?
No. Just wondering, why them? You’ve said in the past that every artist approaches you to collaborate.
I thought it was cool. I like fucking hip-hop and the hands-on technological stuff. It was an exercise to see if I could do a hip-hoppy track, and they just so happened to be there, and they’re nice guys. I was like, “Do you guys want to rap on this?” They took it home, came back and gave me the vocal.
Any other rappers you really want to work with?