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Joel Zimmerman is clearly grinning, as he talks to DJmag from a far-flung airport lounge, midway between a manic schedule of tour dates and recording commitments. It's another typical day in the life of the DJ/producer also known as Deadmau5, and being between time zones is second nature. He's in high demand.
In 2008, Deadmau5 was the young firebrand whose genre trashing electro-trance-house chimeras were making everyone from Pete Tong to François K sit up and take notice. In 2009, he's released two albums ('Random Album Title' and 'For Lack Of A Better Name'), signed to Virgin Records, and currently commands huge crowds of Mau5-mad fans with his outlandish, freaky mouse-head mask, replete with flashing eyes and rictus smirk.
It's safe to say his visual prop has become just as iconic a symbol as Daft Punk's robots and Orbital's lamp glasses, and Deadmau5, like them, has risen vertiginously to become one of the biggest stars of dance music. Zimmerman realises it's important to have a good image, and the infamous mouse head is a work in progress, with a new sci-fi model being designed to accompany his ever-more elaborate live shows and DJ sets.
Joel reveals: "I went into the designer's workshop the other week, and we got some of the LEDs working and receiving data. It's all coming together now, but I have to leave it to [Deadmau5 tour VJs] The Pixel Addicts to work out the software that's gonna run it. Hopefully it's gonna be fun!" he gleams.
But while the new prototype may still be in development, Deadmau5's shows this year have shifted up a gear, and now his dazzling technical trickery has been augmented by further visual additions.
"We've spent a lot of time trying to come up with new visual ideas for the tour. The focus this year has been creating an audio-visual experience for the shows. That required a lot of my input and a lot of back and forth with these guys.
"When you do more shows, you end up putting a lot more work into the production. There have been little upgrades, but in the new year we'll start talking about a custom stage."
It's in 2009 that we've seen a different side of the mighty Mau5. Playing live at Barcelona's leading experimental electronica fest Sonar allied him with other future dreamers, while tracks like his Kaskade collaboration 'I Remember' garnered daytime radio play from Radio 1. Deadmau5's curious blend of the populist and plain weird writ large, then.
'For Lack Of A Better Name', the latest longplayer from the obscenely prolific music maker, seemed to muddy the waters still further; just when we think we've got him twigged, he'll hook up with drum & bass metaller Rob Swire of Pendulum, as on the Gothic electro lead single 'Ghosts 'n' Stuff', or deliver the big room minimal masterclass 'Word Problems'. But according to Joel, this is just the tip of the iceberg, and his debut album proper, due early next year, will show his true colours.
"'For Lack Of A Better Name' is a continuation of what we did with the first one - if it worked once I'm sure the kids won't mind hearing it again! But as far as the true artist album, I'm trying to get a good portion of January off so that I can work on it. I have a little more than half of it already finished.
"There's a couple of collaborations on there. Musically it's gonna be a 180 degree shift from what everyone is used to - stuff that I enjoy doing, stuff that challenges me."
Indeed, a quick perusal of the Mau5's myspace reveals that there's a lot more to Zimmerman than meets the eye. Lesser known tracks like 'Seeya Next Tuesday' have a Daft Punk, low down disco funk thump, while 'Failbait' is abstract wonky hip-hop - both possible portents of what he might be cooking up in those furry sleeves.
The rise of Deadmau5 looks to continue unabated, and with non-stop touring taking him into 2010, expect an even stronger position next year.
"We're going to finish up this year with the UK tour, head back to North America, do Australia, and finish touring this album, while playing some new music," he says.
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