Deadmau5 Biography: Life and Career of the Electro-House Producer
Deadmau5 Biography: Life and Career of the Electro-House Producer

Deadmau5 Biography: Life and Career of the Electro-House Producer

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
Born Joel Thomas Zimmerman on January 5th, 1981 in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, Deadmau5 earned his unique moniker as the result of finding a dead rodent inside his computer. That image has since become larger than life, as the iconic Mau5head he wears as he performs his electro-house music on-stage. Deadmau5 has come a long way since his humble beginnings using videogame systems to make chiptune music, and today he is one of the most awarded and sought-after acts on the scene. His album, 4x4=12, was a breakout mainstream success and gave him the credibility to keep pursuing his dream. In this video, takes a look at the life and career of Deadmau5.

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This artist is larger than life. And so is his head. Welcome to, and today we’re taking a look at the life and career of Deadmau5.

Early Years

Joel Thomas Zimmerman was born January 5th, 1981 in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. His unusual handle came about when he found a dead mouse inside his computer, and began using a shortened 8-character version as his screen name.


His career began at age 15, when he started using videogame systems to make chiptune music. Slowly but surely, other musicians noticed his talent. Soon, Deadmau5 was collaborating with artists like Tommy Lee.

Early Jobs

Back home, Deadmau5 worked odd computer tech jobs, and managed to make some money selling stock music he created. It was obvious even then that he was light years ahead of most when it came to editing, mixing and making music on computers.

First Records

However, Deadmau5 still considered a career in music nothing more than a dream. To make that dream a reality, he expanded on the sound he’d been making since the late-‘90s by releasing Get Scraped and Vexillology in the mid-2000s.

“This is the Hook”

Next up, Deadmau5 formed the group Blue Screen of Death, or BSOD, with longtime friend Steve Duda in 2006. The pair was convinced electronic music had become stale, so their first song was the satirical track “This is the Hook.” Ironically, while the song mocked electronic music, it became a huge hit with fans of that style.

“Faxing Berlin”

Deadmau5 took advantage of his career’s momentum by starting the label Mau5trap Recordings in 2007. He was then flying solo for the release of his next song: the trance and house vibes of “Faxing Berlin” caught the ear of famed English DJ Pete Tong, who promoted the track on his BBC Radio 1 show. Before long, it was influencing other dance music producers to mimic Deadmau5’s style.

Random Album Title

“Faxing Berlin” later appeared on his record, Random Album Title. That 2008 effort became Deadmau5’s breakthrough, and the collaboration between him and fellow DJ/Producer Kaskade was the album’s most successful song. The two had paired up previously for the successful single “Move For Me,” which was Deadmau5’s first first-place finish on a U.S. chart.

For Lack of a Better Name

Hot on the heels of those victories, For Lack of a Better Name dropped in 2009. That record included the Rob Swire collab “Ghosts ‘n’ Stuff,” which went to number one on Billboard’s Hot Dance Airplay chart.


The best was yet to come: thanks to heaps of critical and commercial praise, 2010’s 4x4=12 was his most successful album to that point. It was Deadmau5’s first record to enter the Billboard 200, and it spent an impressive 100 weeks there. Not only that, the effort also earned him the title of Best Artist at the International Dance Music Awards, and nabbed him a Grammy nomination for Best Dance/Electronica Album.

Mainstream Success

Now that he was a mainstream success, Deadmau5 and his music started showing up everywhere. Las Vegas even named January 2nd “Deadmau5 Day” in honor of his residency at the city’s XS Nightclub and Encore Beach Club. However, this outspoken musician was quick to shun his stardom.

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Without skipping a beat, Deadmau5 released > album title goes here < in 2012. Among its progressive house tracks was a sci-fi influenced song and a collaboration with My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way.

Other Releases

Aside from his official full-lengths, Deadmau5 also released a number of compilation albums throughout his career, including a record that brought together artists signed to his Mau5trap record label.


But, apart from his music, the most notable thing about Deadmau5 is his logo: the now-iconic oversized mouse head he wears while performing. The head, known as “Mau5head,” comes in various colors and sizes, some even with lights that flash to his music.


With his knack for self-promotion and epic trance-y tracks, Deadmau5 has changed electronic music, and the phenomenon has not gone unnoticed – in fact, he’s become one of the most awarded producers on the scene. By combining visual and aural elements during his live shows, he takes sell-out, cult-loyal crowds of tens of thousands on a journey. With his trademark style and undeniable skills, it’s obvious Deadmau5’s level of talent is as big as the Mau5head he wears.