DJ and electronic music producer Deadmau5 has become a firm fixture on the EDM scene, but what was his first song?
Deadmau5’s first single, ‘I Don’t Want No Other’, was released on vinyl in 1999 under the music duo Dred and Karma, which consisted of Deadmau5 and Derek Caesar. His debut studio album ‘Get Scraped’, followed in 2006 under his stage name.
Read on to learn more about Deadmau5’s origins, the release of his debut album, and his climb to success.
Deadmau5, named for a dead mouse he found in his computer and whose birth name is Joel Thomas Zimmerman, was born in 1981 in Ontario, Canada.
His childhood interest in electronics was indulged when his mother brought home a computer from her work and he’d go on to use the same appliance to create his music.
As a teenager, Deadmau5 became fascinated with computers as well as rave culture, but at the same time, he was being sent to piano lessons by his parents and he told Resident Advisor, “I got a lot of classical music pounded into my head”.
The music tuition would help with his music compositions, which he worked on diligently whilst producing tracks in Toronto for music label Play Records and it was around this time that he paired up with Derek Ceasar to form Dred and Karma.
They released one 12” single, ‘I Don’t Want No Other’ on vinyl in 1999, which was Deadmau5’s first official single. However he continued to compose and produce music as part of the electronic music underground.
Speaking out in 2008 about his humble roots, Deadmau5 said “contrary to popular belief I was very underground. I was in my Mom’s basement tooling away on Impulse Tracker on a 386 just doing Nintendo music until some Loop Library company hired me as a producer”.
You can listen to his first single ‘I Don’t Want No Other’ in the YouTube video below.
Release of ‘Get Scraped’
Though he’d released an official single, Deadmau5 hadn’t quite made the big time yet. He told The Niagara Falls Review that on graduating college he thought, “I know I can do music, and I know I don’t suck at computers and making websites, so I’ll see if I can do something there”.
He worked in programming and for an audio licensing company, continuing to produce his music on the side, and released his debut album ‘Get Scraped’ in 2005.
The album is composed of 16 tracks, all written by Deadmau5, and whilst it is looked back on favorably for “his sonic signature”, he was relatively unknown outside of the underground music industry at the time.
Three compilation albums followed ‘Get Scraped’ in quick succession, all self-released in 2006, before his second studio album ‘Vexillology’ was released. Things were about to get big.
Becoming a Hit
Deadmau5’s breakthrough album, ironically titled ‘Random Album Title’, was released in 2008 under his own record label and gave the artist his first taste of mainstream success.
But despite his widespread success, Deadmau5 remains critical of his work and the genre. Speaking to Rolling Stone of his fickle approach to his music he said “if you were always happy you’d suck. You wouldn’t force yourself into doing things differently”.
Though ‘I Don’t Want No Other’ is firmly in Deadmau5’s past, it was an important stepping stone in developing his brand and in his journey to gaining dance music success.