You've heard of the man in the moon. Joel Zimmerman is the man in the mouse -- the mouse helmet, that is.
deadmau5, the guy the New York Post called "a musical Mighty Mouse," is the big cheese of artists in electronic dance music, a genre that has exploded in the past three years.
He's headlining Saturday's first Audible festival, a near-New Year's Eve blowout at the El Paso convention center. Scottish house DJ Chris Lake, L.A. newcomer Audrey Napoleon and El Paso DJ Sebern also will perform.
How popular is the Maus? All 400 of $77.50 VIP tickets sold out. Promoters expect 8,000 or more to pack the convention center.
"He's found his niche, which happens to be a very big one, and he does it well," Napoleon said
from Los Angeles. "On top of that, he's brilliant."
Saturday's show actually will be deadmau5's fourth in El Paso. The last time he was here was Sept. 18, 2009, when he played a pool party at the Vista Hills Country Club, then headlined an SRO show at Club 101.
Adam Lucero of El Paso's SMG Events promoted those shows, and one in 2008 at the now-defunct Studio 69. He's been trying to get the enigmatic star back ever since. He thinks deadmau5 has blown up big because of his musical versatility -- and highly identifiable mouse head.
"He represents all the sounds of electronic music, not just one part of the genre," said Lucero, who's promoting Audible with North Carolina's Donnie Disco Presents.
"His music has the
percussive tip," Lucero added. "He has music that you can classify as electro even; he has music he produces that is techno house. It's all spectrums of electronic music ... and he's done an amazing job branding himself."
Lucero also produces the two-day Sun City Music Festival, which drew 25,000 people to Ascarate Park last Labor Day weekend -- 10,000 more than the first festival at Cohen Stadium in 2011.
He said Audible grew out of a smaller but successful pre-New Year's show last year with Dutch DJ Fedde Le Grand at Buchanan's Event Center.
"Audible is an opportunity to create a new brand," Lucero said.
Deadmau5 certainly will help. Since he was last here, he's received five Grammy Award nominations, including one for his current album, "album title goes here." He's done countless collaborations with and remixes for various stars, broken box-office records, and headlined major festivals including Lollapalooza and the Electric Daisy Carnival.
The press-shy 31-year-old Canadian was the first electronic dance music, or EDM, artist on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.
"Zimmerman has been recording as deadmau5 since 2004, after he discovered a fried rodent in his computer and adopted it as his namesake," the magazine reported in a July cover story. "Less guest-star-poppy than a David Guetta, without the dubstep bass minefields of a Skrillex, his epic, trance-y synth odysseys have triumphed thanks in part to his knack for self-promotion and a futuro-spectacular live show."
The self-promotion includes the mouse helmets he wears, including one that's 2 feet wide, weighs 12 pounds and is covered in LED lights. "It's McDonald's," the Niagara Falls, Ont., native told Rolling Stone. "No one's got a brand that strong."
His last stage show was a $2 million orgy of sound and light. But Deadmau5 won't be bringing that here. His Audible show will be "unhooked," with little of his own stage production, though Lucero said promoters are providing "an insane amount of production."
Zimmerman grew up blue-collar, the son of an auto plant worker dad and artist mom. He's a computer nerd and avid video gamer whose mastery of today's digital tools helped him chart EDM's modern evolution.
He started making music as a teenager and began self-releasing tracks in the mid-2000s, including debut album "Get Scraped" in 2005. He formed his own label, mau5trap, and evolved into an in-demand club act and remixer, releasing six albums and club-thumping singles such as "Move For Me," "Ghosts 'n' Stuff," "Sofi Needs a Ladder" and "Professional Griefers."
"He's very talented, he's very focused and he works his ass off," Napoleon said.
The Rolling Stone article detailed how he assembles music for his shows, programming and editing two hours of music (his own and others'), then reassembling it live onstage.
"The best analogy is a go-cart course," he told Rolling Stone. "Obviously, it's programmed, and some bits have to be performed a certain way. But the better you get at it, the more fun you can have."
He's also been known to create new songs live, including last spring's "The Veldt," made during a 22-hour Facebook live stream.
On Dec. 15, he tweeted a marriage proposal to tattoo artist and reality TV star Kat Von D. She tweeted her acceptance.
Zimmerman has been credited for popularizing EDM and helping shift the focus from the Europeans who once dominated it to the growing crop of North Americans who are leading it now.
"When he came out, he took a ... sledgehammer and just opened it up," Napoleon said. "Everything cracked, water started stealing through the cracks, the water melted the ice and now we've got what we have. He broke all that open."
Doug Pullen may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 546-6397. Read Pullen My Blog at elpasotimes.com/blogs. Follow him at @doug pullen on Twitter.
-- What: Audible electronic music festival, with deadmau5, Chris Lake, Audrey Napoleon and DJ Sebern. -- When: 9 p.m. Saturday. -- Where: Judson F. Williams Convention Center. -- How much: $57.50, plus service charges, at the Plaza Theatre box office; through Ticketmaster, ticketmaster.com and 800-745-3000; and at the convention center box office on Saturday. -- Information: 231-1100, visitelpaso.com, facebook.com/smgeventofficial.
Audrey Napoleoncontinues marchto domination Saturday's Audible concert will be DJ Audrey Napoleon's second El"Paso stop since her debut here at the Sun City Music Festival. The first time she came back, "I did not expect such a reaction from the fans. I was overwhelmed by how excited everyone was," she said, taking a break from Christmas shopping in Los Angeles. She's promoting her debut EP, "Ornamental Egos," and a remix bundle of the single "Poison"; has rolled out a fashion line; performing tons and shows; and, in general, is going full-steam ahead in her campaign to become "the Lady Gaga of electronic music." "Sometimes I think things aren't moving fast enough, but when I step outside the bubble I'm in ... I can see what's going on and how quickly I'm actually moving," she said. Napoleon is the rare woman in the male-dominated world of electronic dance music. She's working on her own world-dominance plans. She'll spend January writing her debut album. "It's not the easiest thing to do on a MacPro -- I love it, but you have to have a proper studio," she said, noting that she'll do her own vocals. She's got three songs in the new Shia LaBeouf movie "The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman," which will debut next month at the Sundance Film Festival. And she's drawing from the movies for her next stage show, which, she teased, will include "ravens and mal feasance ... and Alfred Hitchcock's 'The Birds.' "
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