From Deadmau5 To Your House
THE FIRST THING YOU see when you enter Joel Zimmerman’s downtown Toronto apartment is a doormat in the entryway, telling you to piss off. YOU READ MY DOORMAT, it announces in fat white block letters, THAT’S ENOUGH INTERACTION FOR ONE DAY. Zimmerman, better known as the electronic-music producer Deadmau5, lives in a $1.5 million tricked-out penthouse — a retro-modern bachelor pad that’s all shag carpeting, poured concrete, leather this and cherry-wood that. But his favorite spot in the place is a dimly lit box of a room just off the entrance, guarded by a heavy closed door and the unwelcome mat. There are no windows in the room, just three large, glowing screens — two PC displays side by side, a television tucked into a cubby above them. The walls are bare of decoration but lined with gear: Prophets, Moogs, MIDI keyboards, effects boxes, remote controls, a circuit-bent Speak & Spell and a five-foot-tall rack of rare modular synthesizers that cost Zimmerman around 870,000.
So what if his apartment gets stellar views of the illuminated billboards and gazillion-foot LED screens of Yonge-Dundas Square, a few blocks away? The more you look at Zimmerman’s crib, the more you see the markings of a shut-in: That minimalist dining table? Littered with bags of chips and empty Cokes. The living room, down a seductive step from the rest of the place? A cluttered pit of video-game consoles. Up a spiral staircase is Zimmerman’s bedroom, where he sleeps on a Tempur-Pedics lab, and which opens out onto a vast patio. “lt’d be a great place to throw a barbecue,” he says. “If I had any friends.”
Zimmerman isn’t really kidding. He isn’t home enough — or, for that matter, outgoing enough — to sustain friendships in Toronto, unless you count his cat, a rescue named Professor Meowingtons. Among dance musicians, Deadmau5 is a phenomenon the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Nineties electronica boom of Daft Punk and the Chemical Brothers. He commands $100,000 a show, he says, and grossed “at least $2 million” in ticket sales in 2010. That figure doesn’t include revenue from merchandise, all of it themed around his marketing mas- terstroke: a dementedly grinning mouse-head logo, a helmet version of which he wears live.