Deadmau5 fails hard.

I don’t usually post rants, but THIS THING really got my blood boiling. The full rant is coming right away, but in case you want the contained and concise version of the thing, here is what I wrote on about it:

In a recent post on his personal tumblr blog, Joel Zimmerman aka Deadmau5 writes a spell-check-free rant admitting that the best part of his live shows is sequenced beforehand and that all he does is to press play on his MacBook. He goes as far as to say that absolutely every electronic music performer does it and that nothing else exists. (*EDIT*: He’s also recently published this. See what I think at the end of original rant)

“its no secret.  when it comes to “live” performance of EDM… that’s about the most it seems you can do anyway. It’s not about performance art, its not about talent either (really its not) In fact, let me do you and the rest of the EDM world button pushers who fuckin hate me for telling you how it is, a favor and let you all know how it is.”
“my “skills” and other PRODUCERS skills shine where it needs to shine… in the goddamned studio, and on the fucking releases. thats what counts… because this whole big “edm” is taking over fad, im not going to let it go thinking that people assume theres a guy on a laptop up there producing new original tracks on the fly. becausje none of the “top dj’s in the world” to my knowledge have. myself included.”

… Which of course means he’s showing a vulgar amount of disrespect to at least half of the worldwide EDM community. Myself included.


Here’s my real take on it:

First off, I know the guy shouldn’t be taken seriously, especially in public statements and spontaneous rants.  He’s basically a 12 year old with some fame and really expensive toys, and, to my knowledge, he’s never considered himself to be wise or even the least bit mature.  He’s famous for being as ignorant as to bash all DJs as a rule, even though his own live shows are almost fully sequenced, so at least from a purely intellectual standpoint I really shouldn’t even give the guy the time of day.

The problem comes when he bashes all electronic music performers an calls them people who press play on a laptop. I’m an electronic music performer and I’ve worked my butt off during the last few years at doing much more than that. Creating live music for an audience and making them see the correlation between what you do and the sounds coming out of the speakers is respecting the audience, as well as respecting yourself. It’s respecting your craft. It’s true satisfaction. I’ll admit that pressing a play button and acting like you’re doing something other than that is bull and should be punishable. But failing to recognize talent, innovation and possibility in the musical realm that’s in my honest opinion one of the best realms for growth in today’s music is ignorant at best, and really insulting not only to me as a performing musician, but to the entire craft. And that ticks me off like few things do.

Joel Zimmerman seems to have gotten so big and reached a place so high up that he can no longer look down and see the huge numbers of talented electronic music performers that blow him and his sets out of the water, musically.   Starting as high up as Aphex Twin, going through Moldover and Jeremy Ellis and ending as low as myself, there are examples of people doing so much more than he thinks it’s out there. He’s minimizing the importance of live performance and naming music production as the only talent to be recognized in EDM (which is a really stupid thing to do – music has been around as live performance millennia before any recording – if the Apocalypse comes tomorrow and a handful of people survive, they’ll be singing and clapping to each other, not writing records as entertainment). The problem is that he’s not even looking for anything better than himself, which to some might mean that he’s definitely at the highest point of his career.

I’m trying really hard to not just collapse under the anger his post has caused me and just start calling him names, so I’ll end by saying that whether he endures for years up there at the top or is forgotten tomorrow, I’ve lost all the respect I had for him as a person. It wasn’t too much there to begin with.



“Im a reasonable man, and i know what “controllerism” is. i also know that there are MANY groups and individuals out there who put in serious work and effort to bring a live or CREATIVE element into EDM performance. And if you didnt know that those people were exempt from my argument, then you need to get off the boat too.”

Oh, right, so we were supposed to understand that by “when it comes to live performance of EDM, that’s the most you can do.” and “we ALL do it”, Joel doesn’t mean electronic music performers per se, just David Guetta and Swedish House Mafia.

In my honest opinion, not owning up to what you say is a bad thing, especially, if you’re a celebrity. You can’t just go blatantly accusing EVERYONE of something and then going “wait, I actually meant this guy and that other guy, but not these guys and these guys”. In fact, this whole thing wouldn’t have been such a s**tstorm if the guy would have just taken the time to think his post through for about 30 seconds instead of just blurting it out.

Anyway, I obviously didn’t know he wasn’t talking about controllerism, so I’m (quite happily) off the dedmau5 boat. For a long time.


7 thoughts on “Deadmau5 fails hard.

    1. It’s still up for review, actually. I sent Justin a message about it a few days ago, but I guess it’s a busy time for him.

      *EDIT* It’s up now.

  1. I have to agree with the Mau5 says. He as well as many others never claimed to be DJs. And he is also correct that the real talent shines where it needs to, in the studio for those types of musicians. It just sounds your thread is a lot of hating on Deadmau5. The guy has gotten big really fast and he is a bit arrogant, so what. If you can’t deal with it, you definitely should get off the boat as he says. The point is, everyone brings something different to the table in their own and creative ways. Don’t hate the guy for what he does or the way he does it because I am sure someone could find something wrong or judge the way you do your craft as well, so it is just easier not to hate. That makes you no better than anyone else that does it. Even these so-called “button-pushers” with controllers are not cheating in my opinion. So what if an artist pre-sequences his set before-hand. The ability and bar of a DJ isn’t whether or not they can match 2 beats together. The bar has been set so low at that standard for too long. There are so many more possibilities in music if you don’t have to worry about the beat matching part if your set is pre-sequenced. DJing is about playing music, and what is coming through those speakers, if your music sucks, you suck. I don’t care what type of DJ you are or what your using. Live mash-ups, multi-layering, effects, etc are where it’s at now. How deep can you go into your music? There is a lot of creativity still being done in that way. I think it is one thing to pre-sequence your set and not having an understand of what is happening or how to really beatmatch as opposed to using it as an entire solution because you don’t know how to beatmatch. I paid my dues on turntables back in the day and still have them today. It just doesn’t make sense anymore to use them, that isn’t where my art as a performer is going. You guys really need to take a step back and appreciate each artist for who they are and what they are bringing to the table, and in the way that they bring it, rather than pre-judge and hate. Sorry, it’s just my take on it.

  2. Who made all these rules? If you call yourself a DJ, then be a DJ and DJ during live performances. I can hang with that. But when a musician is not claiming to be a DJ, why hold him or her to that standard? I’m not EDM, so granted, I’m not the EDM expert, no matter how much I listen to it, but I do create a good bit of Ambient music. If I ever perform live, I promise I will not be creating everything from scratch on the fly. It would be more than just a little awkward to bring in trucks, birds, plumbing, etc. and process the sounds on the fly while working on sound engineering other sounds from scratch. The field recordings and preset sounds will have to do, lest the audience be thrown into absolute chaos. Sometimes creating the music beforehand and making a show of it live is preferable to starting from scratch live. It all depends on the situation. People go to see Deadmau5 and expect to hear the same music he’s already released. People go to see you and expect something entirely new. It is what it is; just different approaches to the same genre. Perhaps he should have thought things through more before posting and perhaps he should not have expected anyone who read that to be a mind reader, but we all have moments of stupidity. His was just more public than most.

    1. I never bashed Joel for not making live music or DJ-ing, and what he does with his shows is really not the point of the article.

      The reason I wrote this is because his blog post ticked me off. It shouldn’t have and I know that, but it did. I’m bashing him for bashing all electronic musicians, for his moment of stupidity (as you very adequately call it), and most of all, for not owning up to it. Thanks to him, I’m now going to have a harder time explaining to some people that what I do is live music, because they love deadmau5 and how “refreshingly sincere” he is and they know for a fact that everyone presses play because he said so. That ticks me off.

      1. Absolutely agreed. The thing is, I’ve come across people who claim to understand music and still make obvious mistakes in judgement. For instance, the ‘experts’ who say silly things like ‘ZOMG, that’s Techno, not Electronica’ or ‘Duh, if you use synths and stuff and do a live show that’s not all prerecorded, you’re a DJ’ or ‘Ambient? That’s like that Led Zeppelin song I heard on flute in the elevator, right?’

        I don’t get angry so much as I feel like weeping for humanity. A musician understanding so little about his own genre just makes it worse. Generally, no one should ever make assumptions that ‘all’ of any group does things in one particular way. Anyone who does (Deadmau5 in this case) is bound to be wrong. The best thing he could do right now is make yet another update to that post, in which he lets his readers know he was just being derp.

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