The Cheese Stands Alone: The Reward is Deadmau5

Deadmau5 is the reigning monarch of the Land of Electronic Music and his kingdom is the international dance floor of Right Now. In less than a year a certain young Canadian by the name of Joel Zimmerman has gone from a relatively unknown music nerd to a music nerd who is the most lauded and in-demand producer in the world. If you haven’t heard the music of Deadmau5, you’re wrong- you have heard it, and you just didn’t know it because at the time you were dancing too hard to ask somebody who made the music that was rocking your world.

Deadmau5 produces almost everything and he does it all very, very well. He dabbles in techno, winks at minimal, dips his toes in trance, plays footsie with progressive, makes overtly amorous glances at electro, and screws house’s brains out. Versatility and quality are rare bed partners in the music world, but Deadmau5 proves the stereotypes wrong like a good artist should- and he does it while wearing an enormous strobing red and white mau5 head with LED eyes and a goofy, open smile. Somebody fax Berlin.

The diversity and depth of the talent of the Mau5 King is confirmed by the ridiculously long list of awards he has received in the last year. From Beatport he claimed Producer of the Year, Best Electro House Artist, Best Progressive House Artist, Best Single (“Not Exactly”), 3rd Place for Best Remix (“Burufunk’ Carbon Community ‘Community Funk”), as well as earning the kick-ass title of Most “Influential, Forward-Thinking, and Relevant” Person of the Year. Deadmau5 was also nominated this past May for two Juno awards (akin to the Canadian Grammies), was included on no less than fifteen compilation albums, and had more downloads, number one hits, and held the number one spot longer than any other artist on Beatport. Ever.

And it was ever since Pete Tong played the track “Faxing Berlin” on BBC’s Radio One that the music of the shy, 28 year-old Torontonian who sleeps on a futon has spread across the world like a colony of rabid mice, taking up residence in the brains of beat-freaks from Seattle to Sydney. His collaborations with Steve Duda (BSOD) and Kaskade have received widespread acclaim as has his work with Tommy Lee, resulting in a musical WTF? (Google it). Deadmau5 is rearranging the very idea of what a live electronic music performance should be, raising the standard and setting higher expectations of visual engagement. His inventive approach is welcomed by his subjects as are the driving melodies and powerful rhythms that characterize his productions. Deadmau5 headlined almost every major electronic music festival in 2008 from DEMF to Ultra Music Festival and began a fifty-city world tour September 1, with plans to destroy every giant dance floor along the way, including one at the upcoming 2008 Decibel Festival in Seattle.

But Deadmau5 is more than sweet beats with a fun delivery- his party music is set beyond the boundaries of easy name tags and is tinged with the dark breath of the absurd. His theatrical approach and even his rise to fame symbolize Right Now; Deadmau5 and his music exist on the very edge of the modern world, the place where the electronic arts community dances and pushes forward innovations in technology and creative expression. The high BPM at which Deadmau5 came to prominence in the international club scene is indicative of nature of the community behind the electronic arts, a group whose very existence owes itself to communication via computers. Creative expression has always been dependent on technology, ever since a Neanderthal picked up a stick to enhance the ooh-factor of her cave paintings. Our uber-modern community is a contemporary collective not defined by the traditional elements of geography or family, but by a shared interest in artistic production through electronic media. We share stories not around a campfire but through a monitor; we tell of our heroes not with sweeping gestures but in kilobytes per second. We create an ongoing wild frenzy of information trade that can result in the near insta-fame that Deadmau5 has enjoyed, impossible in any other time in human history.

Deadmau5 reminds us that Right Now is also the Age of the Nerd. Boys and girls alone in front of their computers pressing buttons are conquering the planet, and mad computer skills are trumping social skills as the go-to characteristics to possess in order to succeed in the world. Thankfully for the extroverts, Deadmau5 takes his magic OUT of the home studio and leaves the realm of the socially awkward. Armed only with a laptop, a Lemur touchpad, and a custom-made mau5 costume, he delivers a unique and forceful sound in a way that no one else is doing, convincing every soul on his dance floor that this isn’t just some rat fink shtick.

With so many awards, accolades, booty-moving hits and jam-packed dance floors around the world, the only thing that any one even to say against Mr. Mau5 is that his music is pure party music for fun times; his productions do not invoke any series of serious emotions. Damn straight. It seems that many people, artists in particular, give more value to the expression of negative emotions that positive ones; a movie or song that takes you on a head-trip through your last life-destroying experience always ranks higher with the critics than a happy ha-ha story. This is why you always see poets on the back of their book jackets looking so serious, hand to chin, furrowed brow. Well, this is 2008 and all bets are off. It is a post-post-post-everything life and bliss, euphoria, ecstasy, and joy are the most valuable emotions around. When you share them with another human being, whether beside you on the bed or the dance floor, you transcend together. Bliss inspires us; joy changes lives. And no one creates dance floor euphoria right now better than Deadmau5. Nothing says screw your somber brooding shit better than a twitchy music-maker wearing a big red mau5 head and clapping and jumping and laying down twisted beats.

Just below the surface of Deadmau5′ party music is, however, the slightest ribbon of black; underneath the stomping beats lays an almost imperceptible razor-sharp edge of disillusion. But the nihilism is there, and the uncertain tenor of the modern world slaps you in the face as you recall the absurdity of our present tenuous situation on this planet. Deadmau5 is party to the absurd, and like any good existentialist he laughs at it with a macabre smile. From behind the strobing eyes Deadmau5 is commanding you to live it up, to put on your happy fun-time hats and party because this could be it; in fact this is it. His music is a soundtrack to this liminal era and his beats bounce up and down on the thresholds of music genres, resisting all categorization. Deamau5 produces the music for Right Now, for a time when human beings are on the threshold too, up in the air between there and here, both on the brink of destruction and salvation. Nothing fits easily into categories anymore including us; the labels have all been used up and we exist now as random players in an unsorted world. There is only one thing left to do. Dance.

There is a time and place for evoking a serious series of emotions, and there is a time and place to get down, party, revel in the absurdity of modern life, and dance to the hottest producer in the world who performs dressed like a raver who went on the Magic Mountain roller coaster at Disneyworld with one too many glow sticks. Guess which time and place is in the realm of the Mau5 King?

Find the kingdom for yourself on Friday September 26 at the Dirty Dancing Showcase on the dance floor of Neumos, when the influential musician headlines yet another electronic arts extravaganza: the 2008 Decibel Festival in Seattle. His new album, Random Album Title, drops today (September 2), look for it online or find it old-school style in record stores on September 4. Enjoy a slice of the absurd with your life, and come celebrate the bliss of Right Now in the Age of the Nerds with your Mau5 King.

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