Why deadmau5 Is The Goat lord (25 Years Of deadmau5)

Leah Sems

Whether you love him or hate him, deadmau5, real name Joel Zimmerman, is a household name (at least in the electronic music world).

While he has been caught up in many controversies, deadmau5 has helped innovate the electronic music community in ways no one has before. With a career spanning from 1999 to now and continuing to thrive today, he must be doing something right. 

With hundreds of listening hours under my belt, thousands of miles traveled to see his shows, and many documentaries watched, I find myself continuing to want to learn more about his music and legacy every day. I fully believe his music, and the memories I have made because of it has shaped the course of my future. 

Now with this platform, I want to highlight why the masses should continue to root for him to win.

Maddie Whelan

Getting His Start

To stay relevant and creative for 25+ years in the music business is a feat that is almost unheard of in this modern era.

Born in Niagara Falls, Ontario on January 5, 1981, Joel Zimmerman has been making music in the public eye for more than half his life at this point. While he began producing in 1999, it was his hit “Faxing Berlin,” released in 2006, that shot deadmau5 into the spotlight.

This led to deadmau5 pioneering his signature sound (that to this day is never mistaken for another artist) focusing on the darker, more somber side of house music.

In 2006-2008, I had started to hear his songs, but never told my friends about listening to them. Since they sounded so different than the popular music at the time, I would save the songs on my iPods and listen to them whenever I was alone, growing my support for deadmau5, but still in fear I’d be made fun of at school.

Years later, reflecting on this period, I realized every kid in my classes felt this way in some capacity when finding out what they liked and disliked in life. I have since connected with other deadmau5 fans who felt this same way growing up.


Dark humor is a driving force of deadmau5 and his brand, even getting his stage name after finding an actual dead mouse in his computer processor in 2002. He couldn’t fit all the letters of “dead mouse” onto his screen name on an internet chat room, so the iconic deadmau5 stage name and brand was born.

His style of humor and jokes have always related to me, and one of the reasons I love him most. While his jokes are not always seen in the most positive light, I always try to look underneath what he is saying and laugh at the point he is making.

He is direct and outspoken, which I appreciate. He has helped teach me to take what people say with a grain of salt and appreciate the humor within the jokes.

Many of his songs and album titles do not seem to make a lot of sense. Random Album Title, 4×4=12, and > album title goes here < are just a few of his album title names. These names, to me, represent the idea that deadmau5 takes his art seriously, but not himself.

His use of humor within his art helps bring it to life and why I appreciate his music even more.


As deadmau5 began to create more music, he was also familiarizing himself with technology. His fascination with crafting beats was just as strong as his desire to learn how computers and other technology worked.

In the late 2000s, artists were communicating with their fans mainly in person and at shows. But deadmau5 utilized streaming services and social media available at the time to build a community behind him online. He began live streaming and creating videos of his production process, his everyday thoughts, and more.

He became a more relatable creator and producer than others at the time. He captured the attention of fans drawn to online chatrooms, Reddit, and Twitter (where the Goat lord username exists to this day) and was the first producer to do this effectively.

As an early Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit user, I related to him a lot. Although I am not as technically savvy as deadmau5, I appreciate his effort to make his art and music-making process relatable to fans like myself. I’ve never wanted to make my own music, but have continued to be fascinated by the art of song creation, which he has continued to capture, unlike any other artist.

One of the most feel-good moments that was forever captured on a stream was when deadmau5 discovered the singer Chris James for his song “The Veldt.”

He noticed that an unknown singer at the time (James) sent in a vocal pack through Twitter for the instrumental he was working on. In the now-viral moment, he opened up the Twitter message, played the vocals live, and loved them.

James sang about the early childhood story “The Veldt” and integrated his soulful voice into the energetic deadmau5 sound. James was immediately contacted through DM live on the stream, and later added to the song to become one of deadmau5’s beloved records to date.

Sticks To His Values

deadmau5 has been vocal about his gripes with the popularized parts of the music industry. Early on in his career, he knew he did not want to “sign his life away” to a music label, and decided to create his own in 2007, mau5trap.

He was confident in his abilities to not only make music, but spot exceptional producers that did not have the proper recognition they deserved yet. The record label has been home to many artists we know and love today, such as Skrillex, REZZ, Speaker Honey, and many more.

deadmau5 helped to discover Skrillex after the LA producer came up to deadmau5 at a show with a USB of his songs and ended up signing his breakout album Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites onto his label.

He predicted that the U.S. would cling to this new sound, and they did, with Skrillex now being even more famous than the mau5 himself.

His ability to recognize trends and knowledge of the state of music in the world is astonishing to me, and one of the reasons I admire him the most. I had Skrillex’s album saved on my early playlists, along with almost everyone at my school.

He has had his fair share of controversies between fellow artists. deadmau5 is protective of the art of music and is extremely vocal on videos/streams about his issues with some of the business tactics in the music industry. He is very vocal about his gripes with Justin Bieber, explaining how Skrillex is the brain behind “Where Are Ü Now,” yet Justin had been taking all the credit for the song’s success.

It is admirable that he is never afraid to speak his opinion for fear of getting “canceled” and deadmau5 is the voice I often rally behind when issues are brought up in the music world. I can always count on deadmau5 to keep it real and protect the art of music creation.


deadmau5 has not only gone up against others’ opinions online, he has gotten into legal disputes to stand up for what he believes in. A great example of this is when he submitted a trademark for his mau5head to be used as his official brand and got into a legal battle with Disney.

The entertainment giant believed his mau5head was too similar to their Micky Mouse logo, and fought him in a long-winded legal battle. Even though his brand was way smaller and he had minuscule resources compared to the Disney corporation, he still studied everything he could about trademark law and was able to settle the case outside of court, while keeping his mau5head trademark.

Many brands and corporations have tried to go up against Disney and lost, while deadmau5 was able to keep his brand and legacy intact. He fought for his trademark and what it meant to his fans, instead of giving up easily.

I appreciate hearing that there is an artist that could theoretically pass the law BAR exam, yet choose to focus on making music instead. It shows how dedicated he is to his music creation and how intelligent he is. He appeals to deeper intellectual sides of myself, which I appreciate and align with greatly.

Music Is Art

The main reason deadmau5 is one of our generation’s best producers and DJs, in my opinion, is the music he creates and showcases at his performances.

Songs like “Strobe,” “Ghosts N’ Stuff” with Rob Swire, and “I Remember” are songs that not only have millions of listens, but are cited to be the reason many producers began to make music themselves. “Monophobia” was my most listened-to song of 2023, even though it was released in 2018. As I grow older, I feel like I resonate with his songs more and more.

“Sofi Needs A Ladder” with vocalist SOFI Toufa was a major part of the 4×4=12 album, even helping the LP land its first Grammy nomination.

SSOFI said in an exclusive quote about working with deadmau5 back in 2007, “Before writing and recording ‘Sofi Needs A Ladder,’  I had provided vocals for a project called WTF that Joel was part of in 2007. Fast forward to 2010 he asked me if I could think of anything for this track he had been working on. I ran upstairs and threw the instrumental on my headphones to have a first listen.”

She continued, “It was one of those songs that almost wrote itself. I printed – (yes printed!) out the lyrics, ran back downstairs to the studio and we started tracking my vocal immediately. About a week later we found ourselves at ULTRA performing the track…I was pretty confused considering when he asked me to join him in Miami I thought we’d be playing a club. It was especially gratifying to do it again a year later with everyone singing along to the lyrics now.  I felt that we had created something special but I never anticipated that it would lead to people asking me to this day why I need a ladder.”

His collaborations with powerful women such as SOFI, REZZ and Hayla inspire me to work hard and follow my dreams.

As a fan, hearing these songs live brings emotions out of me I cannot put into words. Seeing the deadmau5 show and production come together each time leaves me in awe.

From the stage designs, such as The Cube, to the insane visuals, to the crisp nature of each beat in each song, deadmau5 has a hand in it all.

When does this guy sleep? I am not sure.

When COVID hit, most artists were bummed about the lack of live shows they’d be able to play. deadmau5, on the other hand, made lemonade out of lemons and was able to thrive. He used the break from live performing to create new music and the creation of my favorite project of his, the Kx5 collaboration with Kaskade.

deadmau5’s producing abilities and beats backed by Kaskade’s songwriting and vocal abilities made this group a collaboration for the ages. The two producers decided to team up because of the pandemic but chose to create the Kx5 album in their prospective studios (which are in separate countries).

The pandemic presented challenges to the music industry as a whole, and these producers chose to use it to their advantage, which is inspiring on many fronts. The release of “Escape” with Hayla marked a new era in their careers and helped them prove to the world that time is only making them better. The Kx5 album earned deadmau5 his seventh Grammy nomination, marking a highlight in his career.

The Kx5 LA Coliseum show was one of the best shows I have attended in my entire life.

Maddie Whelan

Why I Root For His Success 

While I have not, and cannot, touch on every single part of deadmau5’s 25-year history and how he has impacted me, I can confidentially say that he is my favorite artist and performer.

deadmau5 continues to be a representation of the people who genuinely care for the art of music. The music industry is a business and I have noticed many artists have fallen into the marketing machine the music business can be. I am guilty of making these decisions sometimes, but looking at deadmau5 always reminds me of why I love music in the first place.

The community deadamu5 has built behind him all understand the deeper meaning behind his actions and words. deadmau5 is not one to take at face value but encourages fans and listeners to look deeper. I have met some of my best friends in the crowd at his shows, and always look forward to being in crowds of his in the future.

Thank you, deadmau5, for using your voice, taking risks, and always standing up for what is right. You’ve inspired me in numerous ways that you may never know, but we as a fan base appreciate you.

deadmau5 is about to embark on his three-stop retro5pective tour. Showcasing his 25-year history as an artist, it will be a sight to be seen. I am excited to see him at the Hollywood Bowl on April 27th, and encourage everyone to attend. Buy tickets here.

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