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"So am I living a dream? Or enduring a nightmare? I still can't decide... because the last thing I want, or anyone else wants, is to just fade out into obscurity over a period of time and then end up shit on by the people who are near me now. That's why i have "fail" tattooed on the inside of my wrist... has a very profound meaning to me. Well, this is the short of it... another day approaches, and the pressure is more prevalent then it was the other day... I'm trying my best."
A Canadian Electronic Music producer and icon, deadmau5 (pronounced "dead mouse") is easily one of the most popular electronic artists today. Getting his professional start in 2006 when he released his first full album, Get Scraped, he is best known for the songs "Faxing Berlin", "I Remember", "Ghosts 'n' Stuff", "Sofi Needs a Ladder", and "Raise Your Weapon", as well as for wearing his eponymau5mau5head during live performances. His stage name comes from an incident in which he found a dead mouse in his computer while replacing his video card - on the IRC channel he frequented, he became known as "that dead mouse guy" after recounting the incident, and decided to change his username to "deadmau5" as a joke. The name is spelled as it is because of the character limit for names on certain IRC servers (you can only fit eight and "deadmouse" is nine), with the "5" as the "s" on the end because it's cool.Real name Joel Zimmerman, he was born and raised in Niagara Falls, Ontario (though he considers his current city of residence, Toronto, his hometown). As a child, he had a hobby of tearing apart household electronics to figure out how they worked, which carried over to his later fascination with electronic music production - as opposed to solely using plugins and software to make his sounds (which he derisively calls "laptop music"), he uses huge racks of analog modular CV equipment to produce them. After dropping out of high school, doing many odd jobs over the years (including being contracted for an IT job for two years using only his own self-taught computer programming skills), and starting a design business on the side, all while producing music in his free time as a hobby, he found himself being paid to do music for advertising until he got discovered by DJ Chris Lake. This and the appearance of his first hit as deadmau5, "Faxing Berlin", on Pete Tong's radio show led to him being signed onto Ultra Records, later creating his own label, mau5trap, and thus becoming a hit electronic artist doing music full-time.While known for his music and his mau5head image, he is also known for being one of the nerdiest musicians to ever exist, being extremely open with his fans, and causing controversy, usually by speaking what is exactly on his mind, PR and sugarcoating be damned. These, combined with his constant cursing, his sense of humor, his personal problems, and the tendency for people to take anything he says out of context, result in a rather interesting individual.
Arc Words: "United We Fail", which is the name of his upcoming graphic novel project. What does it mean, and what significance does it have in the story? We have no idea, and he's not talking.
It's also the title of his (entirely unrelated to said novel) tumblr, too, but the significance of that is also unknown.
Ascended Meme: The phrase "go to bed", usually used by fans as a response against one of his trolling attempts, was championed by him as a response to any hate Tweets he got about his outburst at Madonna.
Gratuitous Foreign Language: After enough times of using the phrase, he asked his fans on Twitter to send him versions of it in different languages. The result was him spamming the phrase to angry Madonnna fans in a variety of different languages.
Autotune: A rare electronic artist subversion. While he has several songs featuring vocals, the only vocals he's ever autotuned are his own, because he thinks that he can't sing.
Even autotuning his own vocals is occasionally subverted: his vocals in "Edit Your Friends" are only autotuned in the last thirty seconds of the song, and only the "Getting Warmer" mix for the unreleased song "Sleeping Beauty Pills" has his vocals autotuned.
And in the 1.2 Minecraft release, three kinds of tamed cats were introduced, one of which looks suspiciously like deadmau5's cat, Professor Meowingtons. This is pretty much confirmed by a Mojang staff member's tweet to deadmau5 about it:
"@deadmau5 u can play with your cat in the latest snapshot of minecraft :)"
Appears in DJ Hero 2 as a playable character. Like the CSI example, he uses turntables, but unlike that example, it's more of a case of being required in gameplay as opposed to not doing the research.
Diablo III features an amulet named "Halcyon's Ascent", which is entirely based on him. The name is a reference to his old Halcyon441 name, the icon looks like a mau5head, and its special affix makes enemies jump, which references the reaction his song "Raise Your Weapon" produces on fans upon live shows (the lore for the amulet even quotes the song).
Canada, Eh?: He's Canadian, and he really does say "Eh". His Canadian accent is much more prominent in his earlier online videos.
And true to what the page says, he really does call Macaroni and Cheese "Kraft Dinner" and is obsessed with Tim Hortons coffee. He also pronounces "sorry" as "soarhy", even when his accent is barely there. Some stereotypes are true after all, eh?
"seriously, i giveth not a fucking single FUCK for slating on Madonna for reaching an entirely NEW level of idiocy ... i can appriciate her meteoric career, and all good deeds done, but WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT? That's your big contribution to EDM? Thats your big message to ultra attendies? hipsterspeak for looking for drugs? fuck off you fucking IDIOT. fuck."
Also used in one of his Halcyon441 songs, "How To Flame"
Another came when Arcade Fire mocked electronic artists at Coachella.
As of the March 13th 2012 stream, he's actually trying to scale this back a bit, at the request of the mother of a fan who watches his livestreams.
Twitter Comment: "You should handle situations better!"
deadmau5: "Fuck you! You should handle my—" *pauses, smiles at the camera*
Darker and Edgier: while(1<2) is definitely a lot more introspective and darker than the good majority of his older songs. If anything, Joel pretty much abandoned trying to make dance music and moved towards creating a more personal, somber, Nine Inch Nails inspired sound.
Early Album Weirdness: Get Scraped is entirely different from the rest of his albums, consisting of songs spanning far more genres and sounds than his later ones. Vexillology, the next album released, also sounds different from his modern sound, though it at least has a consistent one. It isn't until Random Album Title that he finally establishes his signature sound and feel.
This trope is invoked even harder in the new bio for his redesigned website, which doesn't even mention Get Scraped or Vexillology, instead just starting at Random Album Title.
However, with the release of while(1<2), this seems to have gone full-circle as it resembles ''Get Scraped" far more than any of his projects after it.
Electronic Music: Of course. His music actually spans several sub-genres of EDM, mainly because he prefers not to stick with one style and just dabbles in whatever he feels like doing at the time.
Drum & Bass: Some of his really old stuff (mainly made before he was deadmau5). A major example of this is the original 2001 edit of "Aural Psynapse", which has far more emphasis on percussion than the final 2011 version. "Edit Your Friends" leans towards this, too.
Dubstep: A few officially released songs, such as "Raise Your Weapon" and "One Trick Pony", with several experimental demos up on his SoundCloud. Later mentioned he had no interest in making anything more.
House: Easily the subgenre he's most prolific in, as well as the one he's best known for. Includes Electro House, Progressive House, and Tech House, and contains FAR too many songs to list here; a few well-known examples are "Faxing Berlin", "Ghosts 'n' Stuff", and "Strobe".
He has a demo on his SoundCloud titled "today, im french", which is his one and only outright foray into French House music (he explained in a livestream that it never was released properly because he'd get accused of stealing fromDaft Punk.) The unreleased song "Swinged" is also really European-House-ish, if not outright French House.
Minimal: A few, though not officially listed. Examples include "Complications", "The Reward is Cheese", and "Limit Break", with "Cthulhu Sleeps" leaning more towards this genre (but listed officially as Electro House).
Techno: A few, but mostly obscure. Some examples are "Subvert", "Full Bloom", and "Secondary Complications".
Trance: While no songs are officially listed in this genre, several of his songs have "trance-y" overtones, such as "I Remember", "HR8938 Cephei", and "Faxing Berlin".
In the Joe Rogen podcast the night before the 2012 Grammys, he told the hosts that if any of them starts smoking weed in the studio, he'll be in the bathroom, shaking, waiting for the cops to show up...or his mom.
He once said on Twitter that he gets his "telling it like it is" from his mother (after a mention about how his mom said that fellow DJ Kaskade's haircut sucked).
The Faceless: Surprisingly averted for someone rather known for wearing a mask while performing. He rarely does interviews wearing the helmet, he never wears it during his livestreams, and he doesn't even wear it during his entire performance unless it's a really short one, because he gets too hot inside the head.
However, he stated in an interview on Last Call with Carson Daly that he briefly toyed with the idea of always being The Faceless, but decided against it after realizing that, no matter how hard he tried, people would eventually see his face.
And from 4x4=12, "Raise Your Weapon" fades into "One Trick Pony", though this is not present in the version of the song released as a single.
Fanservice: Entirely unintentional on his part, but the entire series of livestreams where he's moving cables and plugging in equipment had him bending over a lot, which naturally led to a massive flood of fangirls...admiring him. He's stated before that he finds the female fanbase's obsession with his butt a little unnerving.
First Name Basis: Prefers being referred to by his first name (Joel), both in real life and on the internet.
In the music video for "I Remember", there are a bunch of little references to deadmau5 sprinkled throughout - such as the car the protagonists use having mau5-themed license plate numbers.
Fun with Acronyms: One of his songs released under his BSOD alias is..."BSOD". The alias actually stands for "Blue Screen of Death", while the song title means "Better Sounding On Drugs" (which is constantly said throughout the song).
Seeya Next Tuesday could be an example of C U Next Tuesday except that the official title is shortened to just "Seeya".
On his way back from MineCon, he Tweeted "DELTA - Don't Expect Luggage To Arrive", after the aforementioned airline apparently lost his luggage.
Also, the album Random Album Title.
In an interview with Rhapsody, deadmau5 said that he and his friend Steve Duda had come up with an alternate acronym for SOFI: "Some Other Fucking Idiot".
Hearts Are Health: His nearly memetic tattoo on his left arm, which is four pixellated hearts (but are only filled in to two-and-a-half). It's a Zelda reference, though new fans often mistake it as a Minecraft one; he got the tattoo before Minecraft existed.
Heroic RROD: In July 2010, he collapsed on stage while performing at the 9:30 Club, caused by performing shows every day and a bad diet. This resulted in his hospitalization and the cancellation of the rest of the shows on that tour. It's still a sore spot for him.
"I pass out from over exhaustion in DC. YES 2 month long tours of playing shows back to fucking back MIGHT ACTUALLY DO THAT TO A HUMAN. dear media, get off my case and move on."
Hidden Depths: For someone who describes himself as a "loudmouthed, opinionated idiot", he has several moments where he displays amazing amounts of insight and intelligence. Caseinpoint.
I Just Want to Be Normal: His general, very vocal sentiment about his fame. He has stated many, many times that just wants to be someone who writes and performs music for his own enjoyment and for the enjoyment of others, and that being famous is entirely overrated and that he doesn't care for it. He doesn't like to be looked up to or constantly praised, and says that he'll never get used to being a "celebrity".
This even applies to things like awards (which you'd only likely know about from looking on Wikipedia because he never talks about them)...on the Christmas 2011 stream, he stated that he doesn't really care about the Grammys all that much because he "doesn't need a plastic statue to validate that I make music".
Idiosyncratic Cover Art: All of his album and single covers have some kind of mau5head on them. Vexillology is the only aversion, and even then the art still has a dead mouse on it.
Lethal Chef: In one of his really, really old videos, he managed to screw up making an omelette (it somehow resulted in scrambled eggs). In the 2011 Christmas Eve stream, reheating soup in a pot was considered a huge success for him ("This soup was made with magnets!"), and his caption for a picture of his newly-renovated kitchen was "the kitchen, where cooking will likely never get done". He can apparently make Kraft Dinner, though.
He's also mentioned struggling with depression and anxiety over the past year and is still reluctant about saying that he's "happy" when asked by fans ("...I'm getting there, but I wouldn't consider myself fucking blissfully happy! In my house, all by myself, looking for a Coke!")
The blog post "Falling Up" (where the page quote is taken from) also has shades of this.
Long Song, Short Scene: Is practically a Running Gag with him. He has TONS of unfinished or just plain unreleased projects in various computers and drives at home and items up on his SoundCloud, either because he simply forgot about them, got bored working on them, or thinks they are too flawed, which is a shame, because a decent amount of said songs are actually quite good. For instance, "Swinged" was mentioned in a later livestream as "too busy", and he hasn't really worked on it since he first posted it.
"Meowingtons Enables Hax", "Sleeping Beauty Pills", and various Minecraft-related projects have yet to have been released or have had new versions posted.
"To Play Us Out" is never going to get an official release because of licensing issues.
Mood Whiplash: "Careless" is a complete mastery of this trope. When the piano originally comes in, it sounds mournful, before a break happens and it proceeds to sound hopeful for the rest of the song. Each set of vocal verses start out sounding like it's about a guy loving someone regardless of their flaws before going into lines that reveal that it's actually about him being too apathetic to break up with them or even care about said person.
Must Have Nicotine: A good way to tell during livestreams if he's stressed out or depressed is to watch how many cigarettes he smokes in a given time period. The worse his emotional state (even if he doesn't outwardly show it), the more he'll smoke.
Nerds Are Sexy: He has legions of female fans professing their love to him on Facebook and Tumblr, porn stars and models who gladly talk to (and flirt with!) him on Twitter, and an ex-girlfriend who's a Playboy model. He qualifies.
Nice Hat: The giant helmets he wears, called "mau5head"s. He has several of them, including an LED one that serves as an Expressive Mask.
The baseball caps he always wears could qualify, too.
No Pronunciation Guide: Is it "dead mouse" or "dead mau five"? While the former is often considered the "right" way to say it by fans (since that was the original intent of the name), the man himself doesn't care how you pronounce it, and has even said it as "dead mau five" a few times.
Off The Wagon: Fell off hard at the end of 2011. His house renovation, lack of a studio (but majorly itching to work on music), break-up with his girlfriend of a year, and his struggle with his depression, combined with no touring to keep his mind off of things, led to him taking up smoking again, as well as far more mentions of him getting really drunk after his unhooked performances at the beginning of 2012. It looks like he's doing better now, though.
One-Note Cook: His mother, apparently. He said that she can only make really good shepherd's pie with the rest of what she makes being "shit". It would certainly explain his own Lethal Chef tendencies...
He's not only a pianist, but a classically trained pianist. He said on the Joe Rogen podcast that his parents enrolled him in "piano boot camp" since "I was, like, three".
Revisiting the Roots: while(1<2) moves Joel back into the darker, more depressing trip-hop-ish territory seen in Get Scrapped after Joel had his falling out with Electro House and dance music as a whole.
He started another one involving his new songs on SoundCloud: ever since "Cthulhu Dreams", nearly every new song's genre has been listed on the site as "[item]-step", such as "Elderstep" for "Cthulhu Dreams", "Pigstep" for "Get in the October Cart, Pig", "Catstep" for "Professor Meowingtons", "StephenSpeilbergstep" for "Closer", and "Octoberstep" for "November Second".
He generally only does this at live shows (such as sampling Daft Punk's "Harder Better Faster Stronger" in a live performance of "Professional Griefers"), but there's a rare instance of sampling at the beginning of "Moar Ghosts 'n' Stuff", using a quote from the movie The Brain from Planet Arous.
The concept art for his upcoming graphic novel is often full of them, but this image of his tank takes the cake. For one, it's very clearly a souped-up Tachikoma. Others have noted similarities to StarCraft and Tank Girl.
Sophisticated as Hell: His constant cussing combined with his large vocabulary often results in this. It's taken Up to Eleven when he's talking equipment and computers, because in those cases his cursing is mixed with tech jargon, resulting in gems such as "fucking modular oscillation".
"He's running a cracked version of Sylenth. What, DJing doesn't pay enough for you to buy a two-hundred-dollar plugin?"
During the March 26 2012 livestream, he joked that he has likely issued some kind of Take That against everyone at this point (a small list of people so far includes Avicii, Justin Bieber, Ed Hardy, Lady Gaga, David Guetta, Neon Hitch, Madonna, Pauly D, Snooki, Britney Spears, and Tiesto).
After posting a demo of "Sunspot" on his SoundCloud, he later posted "Sunspot (da eXXXXXXtreme drop mix)", a 15-second dubstep version demo lampooning all of the recent dubstep trends "of the past year", including seemingly-random effects and sampling, like the style found in Skrillex's work.
While talking about Boxx, the company that made the laptop he was using at the time: "It's like Alienware, but it doesn't suck."
Trademark Favorite Food: His love for Coca-Cola is very well-known. It's to the point that he's stated that he turned down a six-figure deal from Pepsi because he drinks Coke.
Trolling: His signature brand of humor. Examples include posting on Facebook that his agent has been fired during a venue mishap (without actually firing the guy), and Tweeting that he supposedly lost his demo Playstation Vita in a cab a day or so after he got it from Sony just to see how much trouble he would (theoretically) get into. Not to mention all the times he has fed the trolls on Twitter and Facebook just for sheer lulz.
And as if you had any doubt left, he went to the 2012 Grammys wearing a shirt that had Skrillex's real phone number on it with "u mad bro?" underneath.
Even his management is in on it, though - one instance was when his manager texted him about how the Shigeru Miyamoto who signed his arm was just a stand in...while he was getting said signature tattooed into his arm. Hilarity ensued.
Also, "Some Chords", which starts with...some chords. The trope is also arguably invoked with For Lack of a Better Name, the album released after Random Album Title, as well as the song "Lack of a Better Name", the title track of the aforementioned album.
"Ghosts 'n' Stuff" is also an odd minor example pertaining only to the song's music video. The song's video pretty much perfectly matches the song title, as it consists of a ghost doing random stuff.
He's already started joking about naming his next album IDK (I Don't Know) or IDFK (I Don't Fucking Know), after being asked about what he's going to name it by a fan on Twitter.
Writers Cannot Do Math: 4x4=12, in what is a rare example of a musician failing at math. The album name is an in-joke stemming from a live-stream incident in which he was describing his setup and said "four times four, which is twelve". After his fans poked fun at him for it, he decided to name his next album after the incident. Also lampshaded in "Maths", where the only vocal line is a faint voice saying "four PLUS four PLUS four is twelve" at a few points in the song.