Deadmau5 talks new music, VR game and unleashing his Inner Yoko Ono

Joel Zimmerman, better known to electronic music fans as the cerebral and controversial Deadmau5, is never at a loss for words or opinions. It’s what makes him one of the most interesting figures in all of music – that and the fact he backs up his brazen candor with a deadpan sense of humor and intelligence.

Deadmau5 performs during the Austin City Limits Music Festival. IMG: Stephen Spillman / American Statesman.

Deadmau5 performs during the Austin City Limits Music Festival. IMG: Stephen Spillman / American Statesman.

So when asked about interviewing him in relation to a new virtual reality game, Absolut Deadmau5, where fans get to experience what it’s like to spend a night rolling with Deadmau5 on the way to play a gig at a club, it was a no-brainer yes. He spoke to us about the game – which includes an exclusive new song, “Saved,” that’s just the beginning of new music he promises – as well as musicians he admires, his cutting-edge new stage show, and what he’d do if he ever decided to leave music behind.

Do you have a ton of new music ready at this point?
Oh yeah, there’s a good ton. I’m pretty confident I have an album ready; I’m just actually waiting for a few vocal snippets from some singers TBA, so I can get mixing. But it’s this guy’s schedule, that guy’s schedule, my schedule. I’m done, for the most part, I’m just waiting for the machine to catch up.


Any hints on collaborators?
Nobody crazy famous [like] Bieber. Nothing like that.

How exciting is it to showcase new artists?
I love it, I love meeting new talented artists that don’t already have their thing going on and are blowing up millions, because, to me, that just feels like a money play. I can find a guy that’s way more talented, “OK, sure, I won’t sell a billion copies overnight because they’re not…” I don’t give a s—, if it works, it works. And if it’s a good sound, then we make it happen.

Are there artists you really admire the way their careers have evolved?
Artists that are doing more than music – say, Richie Hawtin. He produces music, but he’s also pushing technology, he’s developing mixers. Guys like Richard Devine, who’s just so into the modular machine with synth, tech, and art installations and stuff like that. Not that I want to be f—ing Yoko Ono and start screaming at s—, but little derivatives that you can take from your field that usually intersect with what you do, but are always handled by other people. I like to go that way too. I know more about stage production, from engineering to hardware to the lighting systems to the desks and video delivery systems, than any artist should know.

Would you sound like Yoko Ono if you just screamed at stuff?
I probably would. I haven’t actually tried to do any vocal lead things on my stuff yet, just ‘cause I haven’t bothered. It would sound like that.

Would you ever want to produce a stage show for someone else?
Absolutely, yeah. I could do this 24/7, I could retire the music thing and just get on this production thing. I like it, it’s fun. It’s a good break and it excites me. I’m always learning new things, like I was at the beginning of learning to make music until I hit… not the wall, because you never really do, but you start to incline up towards the plateau a bit after you’re 10th, 20th year of making music, where all of the pipelines and methodologies become very routine and you’re not really learning lots of new things all at once. You might pick up another new way of engineering music or instrumentation, stuff like that. but with something new, I’m learning every 20 minutes doing this stuff. That’s what challenges me, and I like a challenge.


Is VR the next level of where production goes?
Yes and no. It’s a great fun exercise. I’ve been getting into that a lot lately. I’ve been keeping a lot of these cards up my sleeve, and that’s part of it. I think my type of music, or my genre, kind of lends itself to video gaming and that kind of technology too. It’s a perfect fit for me, so what we’ve been doing recently is starting to get our feet wet with this Absolut Experience that we’ve just done for mobile. Now, of course, it’s scaled down and doesn’t run like the greatest game I’ve ever seen, because it runs on a cell phone. It’s cool because it’s portable – you can get it out really easy, you don’t have to have a $10,000 computer, a thousand-dollar headset to experience virtual reality. You can do it on your phone, so we dumbed a lot of the technology down to get it like that, but it’s immersive and it’s a proof of concept. So that’s just our little way of coming in.

You say “your genre.” What is your genre?
It’s called “EDM” when you have three million f—ing kids on Twitter hanging off your s—. You call it anything else, you’re gonna get 2.5 of them saying it’s not. I just don’t want to deal with that.

So what other artists would fit into the gaming world with you?
I think Flume would do really well, in terms of sound design, composition, variety, within their realm. Whereas you’re gonna get another A-liner, he who shall not be named guy, who’s just gonna play the same style, the same BPM and almost the same freaking track. And they’re kind of locked into that small area, the producer. Richard Devine has just done it all over the place, where he’s produced for games. There are a whole fistful of capable producers in what would be considered EDM realm that could make that crossover into whatever they wanted in terms of the triple-A game market.

Tell us about the game.
For the person who just has a cell phone and Google cart board who’s never experienced VR, it’s really quite the little immersion thing. It starts out with the cheesy me in the studio getting ready, but then you’re called into VR land from there and it’s more of an experience, so it’s kind of following me into a little fantasy world into a club and then going on a car ride, chasing my cat around – who’s also been generously modeled. It ends up in a club; I play a show and you watch a 360 video of that.

Who would you want to go to a show with in a VR experience?
I’d have to say GWAR or Bjork. That’s a hard one. Bjork would be cool because she knows a lot of really great digital artists. So even though it’s not 100 percent her doing things, it’s usually her direction. Not the biggest fan of her music, but holy s–, am I such a huge fan of her visual presence and media. So I think she’d nail it.


Via: Yahoo Music

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