Zimmerman has received six Grammy Award nominations for his work. He has worked with other DJs and producers, such as Kaskade, MC Flipside, Rob Swire and Wolfgang Gartner. He has also collaborated with Steve Duda under the group name BSOD (Better Sounding On Drugs), and was part of the group named WTF? with Duda, Tommy Lee, and DJ Aero. In 2007, he founded his own record label, Mau5trap. Deadmau5 is currently one of the highest paid electronic music producers in the world, and is a masked music artist similar to Marshmello and Daft Punk.
In 2000, an early 12" single produced on vinyl titled "I Don't Want No Other" was released by Joel Zimmerman and Derek Caesar under the group name Dred and Karma. A 2006 compilation album titled Deadmau5 Circa 1998–2002 was self-released under the alias Halcyon441. His debut studio album, Get Scraped was released in 2005, with follow-up Vexillology in 2006. His breakthrough, Random Album Title, was released in 2008 and was certified gold in Canada, and silver the United Kingdom. The album includes seminal release "Faxing Berlin", "Not Exactly", and moderate chart hit "I Remember" (with Kaskade). In 2009, his fourth studio album For Lack of a Better Name was released to critical acclaim, featuring Rob Swire collaboration "Ghosts 'n' Stuff", "Hi Friend", and the critically acclaimed "Strobe". His fifth studio album, 4×4=12, released in late 2010, supported by singles "Some Chords", "Animal Rights", "Sofi Needs a Ladder", and "Raise Your Weapon".
In 2012, Zimmerman released singles "The Veldt" and "Professional Griefers" (featuring Gerard Way) to commercial success. These singles were featured on his sixth studio album, Album Title Goes Here. Following departure from long-time label Ultra Records, Zimmerman released his seventh studio album, While(1<2) through Astralwerks and Virgin EMI in 2014. The album's release was supported by its four singles; "Avaritia", "Seeya", "Infra Turbo Pigcart Racer", and "Phantoms Can't Hang". After a brief hiatus, Zimmerman's eighth studio album, W:/2016Album/ was released in late 2016, with singles "Snowcone" and "Let Go".
Zimmerman was born in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. His mother, Nancy (née Johnson), is a visual artist, and his father, Rodney Thomas "Rod" Zimmerman, is a General Motors plant worker. He has two siblings, Jennifer (older) and Chris (younger). His ancestry includes German, Swiss, and English. He received his first keyboard for Christmas when he was a teenager. His music career began in the late 1990s, with a chiptune and demoscene movements-influenced sound with the Impulse Tracker. Zimmerman graduated from Westlane Secondary School in Niagara Falls. He then worked with an online music licensing company and as a programmer. He adopted the name Deadmau5, which referred to a dead mouse he found in his computer.
1998–2006: Get Scraped and self-released compilations
Zimmerman released his debut studio album, titled Get Scraped on July 26, 2005. The tracks "Just Before 8bit", "Nice Try, Kiddo" and "Uploading and Downloading" from Project 56 were edited and expanded upon in Get Scraped under the names "8bit", "Try Again", and "Unspecial Effects", respectively. Tracks "Bored of Canada", "Intelstat" and "I Forget" reappear on this album as is, as well as "The Oshawa Connection" from Deadmau5 Circa 1998–2002.
Three self-released compilations, Project 56, Deadmau5 Circa 1998–2002, and A Little Oblique, were finished in 2006, with Project 56 seeing an official release two years later.
2006–08: Vexillology, Mau5trap, and Random Album Title
In 2006, Zimmerman released his second studio album, Vexillology, on November 6, 2006 through Play Records.
In 2007, Zimmerman founded his own record label, Mau5trap, which, along with Ultra Records and Ministry of Sound, released the 2008 album Random Album Title, which saw the collaboration of Zimmerman and Chicago producer Kaskade with "I Remember". Random Album Title, saw a digital release on September 2, 2008, via Ultra Records in the United States and Ministry of Sound in the United Kingdom and Europe. Physical copies of the album were released in November 2008. Singles "Faxing Berlin" on October 25, 2006, and "Not Exactly" on August 27, 2007, were released prior to the album's release. Single "I Remember" (with Kaskade) was later released on September 15, 2008, before the album's release.
In the United States, Zimmerman's collaboration with Kaskade, "Move for Me", reached number one on Billboard magazine's Dance/Mix Show Airplay chart in its September 6, 2008, issue. Since then, Zimmerman has seen two more tracks, also collaborations ("I Remember" with Kaskade and "Ghosts 'n' Stuff" with Rob Swire), reach number one on Billboard's Dance/Mix Show Airplay chart, making him the only Canadian to have three number-one tracks on that chart. He is also the sixth Canadian to top that chart, following Deborah Cox, Nelly Furtado, Dragonette, Justin Bieber, and The Weeknd, each with one apiece.
2009–11: For Lack of a Better Name and 4×4=12
On September 22, 2009, Ultra Records released his album For Lack of a Better Name in the United States, and October 5 internationally. On a subsequent tour in the fall of 2009, Zimmerman's performances were recorded and made available for sale immediately following the concerts on USB wristband flash drives. For Lack of a Better Name includes two of Zimmerman's most popular songs, "Ghosts 'n' Stuff" (featuring Rob Swire) and "Strobe". "Ghosts 'n' Stuff" was released on November 25, 2008, before the album, while "Strobe" was released on February 23, 2010, after the album's release.
MTV named Zimmerman as the house DJ for the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards and MTV PUSH artist of the week on August 16, 2010. He expressed gratitude towards Lady Gaga and David Guetta for bringing dance into the pop music scene and paving the way for him to the mainstream. At the awards, Zimmerman performed with Jason Derulo and Travie McCoy. His song "Ghosts 'n' Stuff" had been featured on the soundtrack for the MTV reality series Jersey Shore earlier.
His fifth studio album, 4×4=12, was released on December 6, 2010, in the United Kingdom and December 7, 2010, in the United States. Singles "Some Chords" on May 3, 2010, "Animal Rights" (with Wolfgang Gartner) on September 6, and "Sofi Needs a Ladder" (featuring SOFI) on November 1 were released and were featured on the album. "Raise Your Weapon" (featuring Greta Svabo Bech) was released later on May 23, 2011. "Some Chords" was featured on an episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation where Zimmerman made a cameo appearance, and an instrumental version of "Sofi Needs a Ladder" was featured in the film The Hangover Part II. That year, he also released two non-album singles "Aural Psynapse" and "HR 8938 Cephei".
2012–14: Album Title Goes Here and While(1<2)
Deadmau5 performing at Rock in Rio in Madrid, 2012 On August 9, 2012, Zimmerman announced his sixth studio album, Album Title Goes Here, which was released on September 24 of that year. Singles from this album include "Maths" on February 17, 2012, "The Veldt" (featuring Chris James) on May 8, and "Professional Griefers" (featuring Gerard Way) on August 14. Singles "Channel 42" (with Wolfgang Gartner) on February 12, 2013, and "Telemiscommunications" (with Imogen Heap) on March 12 were released in 2013, after the album was released. His collaboration with Gerard Way on "Professional Griefers" was announced on Facebook prior to release. In December 2012, FUSE TV named "Professional Griefers" one of the top 40 songs of 2012.
In November 2013, Zimmerman deleted three years worth of music from his SoundCloud account, replacing them with an EP of seven melancholy piano sonatas, simply called 7, named after the Latin translations for the seven deadly sins: "Acedia", "Avaritia", "Gula", "Invidia", "Ira", "Luxuria", and "Superbia". Also in November 2013, Zimmerman left longtime label Ultra Records and signed with record label Astralwerks, the famed NYC-based imprint that houses artists such as Swedish House Mafia, David Guetta, and The Chemical Brothers. Speaking on the partnership, Zimmerman admitted, "I found a place that knows what to do with my music."
On January 7, 2014, Zimmerman announced via his Twitter account that his much-anticipated new album is complete. "In other news... I finished my album today," the tweet read. "2 discs. 2 continuous mixes. 25 tracks. and something I'm proud of." On May 10, 2014, Deadmau5 announced through his subscription service that his upcoming album would be titled While(1<2) and would be released on June 17, 2014. The album was preceded by the release of four singles: "Avaritia", "Seeya" (featuring Colleen D'Agostino), "Infra Turbo Pigcart Racer" and "Phantoms Can't Hang". Starting on the week of May 20, 2014, each single was released weekly for a total of four weeks leading up to the release of the album.
2015–16: Depression, return, and W:/2016Album/
On January 13, 2015, it was announced that Deadmau5 would be a headlining act for the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, in Manchester, Tennessee, which was held on June 11–15, 2015. On February 2, 2015, it was announced he would appear at Reading and Leeds Festivals. On July 23, 2015, Valve announced that Deadmau5 was creating a series of sound clips to be featured in their video game Dota 2. The music pack was released alongside the announcement. On August 8, 2015, Deadmau5 performed live at KeyArena in Seattle at the conclusion of the Dota 2 competition The International 5 (TI5). On October 7, 2015, Deadmau5 officially announced that he was leaving his then label Astralwerks and going entirely independent with his own label Mau5trap.
On December 17, 2015, it appeared that Zimmerman was either taking a leave of absence or ending his career altogether after deleting both his Twitter and Facebook accounts. His Instagram account, however, had not been deleted. On December 21, 2015, Zimmerman reopened his Twitter account and posted an apology to his Tumblr account explaining his disappearance from social media, saying that he was suffering from depression and would be returning to producing music after the new year.
On May 27, 2016, "Snowcone", the first single from Zimmerman in nearly two years, was released as a digital download. This track was later revealed to be the first single from his next album. On November 4, 2016, Zimmerman announced his next studio album, W:/2016Album/, which was released on December 2, 2016, digitally, with a vinyl and CD release on February 17, and March 17, 2017, respectively.
2017–present: Stuff I Used to Do, Where's the Drop?, Polar soundtrack and Mau5ville
On January 7, 2017, Zimmerman announced a compilation of his earlier work ranging from the years of 1998 to 2007 on Twitter, titled Stuff I Used to Do. Zimmerman also stated that the compilation would release in February of that year. On February 24, 2017, Zimmerman released a limited version of Stuff I Used to Do on WeTransfer. The edition, available until March 3, featured three tracks less than the full album. The album includes tracks from Get Scraped and early compilations, in addition to an alternative mix of "Creep" from While(1<2). The album was officially released on Mau5trap a week later, on March 3, 2017.
On March 25, 2017, Zimmerman began a concert tour with his new "Cube 2.1" stage set entitled Lots of Shows in a Row to promote the release of W:/2016Album/. Zimmerman toured around North America for two months, before touring the rest of the world from June 3, 2017, and Canada from October 6, 2017, with the tour concluding on October 31, 2017.
On August 25, 2017, Zimmerman released a stand-alone single entitled "Legendary", featuring guest vocals from rapper Shotty Horroh. A music video for the song was released on Mau5trap's YouTube channel on September 11, 2017.
In September 2017, Zimmerman confirmed his next studio album is "on the way".
In March 2018, Zimmerman announced a compilation album comprising orchestral performances of previously released music, titled Where's the Drop?. On March 30, 2018, the album was initially released exclusively on the music streaming service Tidal for a period of three months. On June 29, 2018, the album was officially released on other digital download and streaming services, as well as vinyl.
On July 3, 2018, Zimmerman announced an EP and compilation album titled Mau5ville: Level 1, featuring "Monophobia", a collaboration with Rob Swire, as well as tracks from Getter and GTA. It was released on July 13, 2018 through Mau5trap.
On September 18, 2018, Zimmerman announced that he was in the process of producing his first ever original film score for the Netflix film "Polar" directed by Jonas Åkerlund.
In October 2018, the track listing of a follow-up EP, Mau5ville: Level 2, was leaked, showing featured collaborations with Lights and Mr. Bill, with no release date confirmed at the time. The EP was released officially on November 16, 2018 through Mau5trap.
On January 25, 2019, Polar premiered on Netflix, with Zimmerman releasing the soundtrack album, Polar (Music from the Netflix Film), through Mau5trap.
On February 1, 2019, the third installment in the Mau5ville series, Mau5ville: Level 3 was released through Mau5trap. The Compilation EP featured collaborations with Shotty Horroh, Scene of Action as well as tracks from No Mana and C.O.Z.