Canadian electronic music producer Deadmau5, aka Joel Zimmerman, sounds a bit on edge when we speak to him over the phone for this interview. That’s understandable; he’s in Dallas preparing for the first night of the “Cubev3” tour, which hits L.A. this week, and he seems like he’s probably running on fumes. He’s put eight months of his life into developing this latest incarnation of the visual representation of his work and it is, he says, ready to go.
“The show is modular, so it’s constantly evolving, constantly growing, constantly adding new things,” Deadmau5 says. “It’s ready to go. I can put on a show for 120 minutes and feel good about that, but it’s going to be a different show every time. It’s a lot about creating a modular system, as opposed to making one thing and then saying, ‘OK let’s do the same thing for five nights in a row’.”
Anyone who has seen Deadmau5 perform in recent years has likely seen one of the previous two versions of the cube, and will know how spectacular they already were. Deadmau5’s trademark mouse head was already distinctive and visually stimulating — the cubes upped that ante enormously. The update sounds fascinating.
“All the content and the way the visuals are driven are now in real time,” he says. “It’s not just playing video clips anymore. All the content is done through a GPU-driven, real-time engine which is what they use in video games and stuff like that. Not for show production. I’m never seen a full show delivery system like this.”
There will be five sets at the Hollywood Palladium — five chances to see this two-hour show. Deadmau5 says that there will be some mainstays, but each set will be very different. Any super-fans planning on going to all five will have a different experience every night.
“There’s no way that there’s a Deadmau5 show without a few mainstay pieces of music,” he says. “It’s not like I’m gonna be up there just making shit up. I have a pretty magic catalog of music and not all of it can fit in 120 minutes, so there will be some set changes. But overall some chunks will remain the same. A couple of new releases that haven’t come out yet and that kind of thing, some new tracks no one’s heard of, stuff like that.”
The opening acts will change night to night as well. Canadian pop star Lights will be at ever show, and every L.A. gig will feature I_O as well. But after that, the likes of Attlas, No Mana and Monstergetdown will appear for one night only. Deadmau5 says that the acts were handpicked.
“We sat down and discussed who would be OK for which shows, which dates — you have to take that into consideration,” he says. “I’m comfy with the fit.”
The last time we heard any new music from Deadmau5, it was last year’s Where’s the Drop?, a compilation of orchestral arrangements of his tunes in collaboration with composer Gregory Reveret. The follow-up to that is about ready for release — Here’s the Drop! Coming full circle, this album will see other electronic artists remix the tunes on Where’s the Drop?
“It’s all inspired remixes from other artists, just playing off those pieces,” Deadmau5 says. “I’m looking forward to that because it’s more of a collaborative effort than it is a Deadmau5 album.”
The producer says that he was pleased with the response to Where’s the Drop?, though he admits that it was a passion project. He wasn’t expecting to sell a million copies of that one.
“It was a real selfish thing — I did it more for me than anyone,” he says. “I’m not looking to make the top 40. I wanted to do it, and if no one heard it but me, then that’s a success to me because it got done. But the response I did get from the core fans and people who appreciate that kind of thing has been great because I’m hearing it from the EDM community that generally doesn’t know fuck all about what it takes to write a symphony, and then also getting praise from people who live and breathe that shit. That’s pretty cool. All around, I’m totally satisfied with the feedback.”
Compilations and remix albums aside, we’re coming up on three years since the W:/2016Album/ album. Clearly, the man has been busy, though he promises that he has ideas for new tunes, even if planning this new show has been taking all of his time.
“I’ve been so wrapped in the show production and getting this to the point where I can feel comfortable about getting it on tour and developing it as it goes, a lot less stress free than it has been in the last six months, I haven’t had a lot of sit down time to deal with that,” he says. “But rest assured, it is coming. Shit might even be out halfway through the tour. There’s definitely a number of works in my producer spank-bank that I can release and call an album but I really want to have two or three weeks to myself. New music on top of new music, and have that full-bodied, 12-track thing as opposed to releasing reedits and saying, ‘Did we hit 75 minutes? Let’s go.’ I just need a little bit of time to do that. Of course there’s gonna be another album, just not right this second.”
Here’s the Drop!, he says, is the filler. A way to keep fans satisfied between studio albums. That’s the price for a concert experience this fully realized.
“Sure, I could have hired some tech company and some content producers and cost me a bit of money.” he says. “‘Here’s some music — slap me together a show guys and I’ll see you on tour. By the way, I’ll spend the next year in the studio so I hope when I show up for the first show it’s ready.’ I’ve obviously over-committed and really invested my own personal time into the show, but I have my reasons and that’s that.”
Deadmau5 plays with Lights, I_O and more at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, September 25, Thursday, September 26, Friday, September 27, Saturday, September 28 and Sunday, September 29 at the Hollywood Palladium. Check venue for the exact bill each night.