Deadmau5 in the house

We find him in Camps Bay talking about glow sticks, dubstep and his Cape Town show

There’s a dead mouse in town. Well there are probably quite a few dead mice in town, but coincidentally Deadmau5, Joel Zimmermann, is in town too. Which means business for local otolaryngologists is bound to…well boom. So what is it that makes the Canadian megastar tick.

And a megastar he is, raking up award after award, playing shows at a breakneck pace the world all over and with five studio records under his belt. Put this together with his signature (dead) mouse head (which he originally created while learning to use a 3D program) and you have one of the most identifiable DJs in the world.

And yet the man at the helm of electronic music in its current form is a bit of an enigma. An uber geek who’s more in love with technology than the music it makes. “I really don’t listen to music” he says, revelling in the irony. He may be a rock star but he’s no Pete Doherty, once saying that his ideal techno event would be Richie Hawtin in a theatre.

Haters gonna hate


When one hits the electronic music stratosphere like Deadmau5, haters be lining up en masse. It’s a cliché Deadmau5’s seems to tug at playfully – the inner sleeve of his latest album 4x4=12 has a picture of him wearing a t shirt saying ‘Your Ad Here’. Sell out? Well if the bangers keep rolling out should it really matter?

So what can we expect at the Cape Town show? A liberal serving of his old gems for the diehard fans as well as his latest tunes for an all round experience. ‘I’m not going to come out the gate going full throttle – you can’t do that, the tracks have their place, you know, with the set building up.’

How does he feel about the ever so trendy dubstep? ‘ “If you want to be popular then just make dubstep remixes of everything,” he says with a chuckle. “Dubstep is like doo-bop in the 40s; hot for a few years and then off the map. It’s simply about whether it sounds good or not.” It’s not so much about following trends, it’s about what sounds good to him, and that’s why tracks like ‘Raise Your Weapon’ don’t contradict his views on Dubsteb in its all too often one dimensional manifestation. The beats shouldn’t be limited by sub-genre specific parameters. And that’s why he touches so many sides from tech, electro, trip hop, to dubstep all nestled into his signature progressive style.

Talking about taste for good music he says that he wants to be, ‘a conduit for artists who have their shit together’ point in case being him help kick-start Scrillex’s career. ‘With ‘Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites’, at that time there was just no market for those warped crazy sounds.

What about the mask, is there a new design for Cape Town? Deadmau5 smiles, he’s clearly been asked this type of question a thousand and one times, “We hope so,” he says with a grin on his face. There are problems with some stupid LED chip. Making the masks used to be real simple about four years back, the first was made perfectly, but now we actually use the same company that makes the costumes for the Muppets.”

If you go see him live, bring glow sticks. Lots of them. It’s how he judges a gig’s success once the lights go down. “Glow sticks. I love them,” he says emphatically. “And checking out all the crazy stuff that’s strewn around the dancefloor.  The more glow sticks the better the party.

When asked about his first impression of Cape Town and being in a third world country, he gazes out the window overlooking Camps Bay on a perfect summer day and says: “Well I just don’t know how you guys do it.”

Mr. Mau5, you have my vote and I have your ticket, now to get some glow sticks.

By Julian Sendin

Don't miss the Deadmau5 show at Cape Town International Convention Centre on Thursday 1 December.

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