This copy is for your personal non-commercial use only. To order presentation-ready copies of Toronto Star content for distribution to colleagues, clients or customers, or inquire about permissions/licensing, please go to: www.TorontoStarReprints.com
It’s not quite a homecoming show for Niagara Falls’ Joel Zimmerman, but Buffalo is close enough for Deadmau5.
Actually, any local show has been a long time coming for the electronic music icon, who like all touring artists has been making up for two lost years to the pandemic. He rolls into Outer Harbor Buffalo Saturday for his “We Are Friends” tour, bringing along his mau5trap label mates NERO, Kasablanca and BlackGummy.
“A lot of my friends from Niagara are going,” says Zimmerman, the former Westlane student who went on to become one of genre’s most influential artists. “All the usual suck-spects from the ’93 alumni will be there.
“I just got off an e-mail with one of the ringleaders of the Westlane clan. They’re all meeting up.”
What they’ll see isn’t the usual Deadmau5 show. Zimmerman describes it as party to celebrate the independent label he founded in 2007, corralling some of the scene’s biggest electronic music artists, including – at one point – Skrillex and Niagara Falls’ REZZ.
Zimmerman says watching the young guns brings him back to the days he was starting out, helping push electronic music to the mainstream 15 years ago.
“I mean, watching (18-year-old) Lamorn tour is hilarious,” he says. “He’s just so full of piss and vinegar. He’s so amped to be there. It’s his first tour.
“I actually went to his first show, ever. His mom and dad were there and he was a wreck! But I was like, damn, this is what it’s like in 2020 now for new kids coming in … it’s really interesting to see your own life played back in front of you 20 years later.”
Not that the ‘old guard’ is stepping aside – and the fact there’s now a classic rock component to electronic music amuses Zimmerman. For years they were the new kids, now they’re literally watching new kids rise up.
It’s partly why Zimmerman loves collaborating with Kaskade, who rose to prominence just before Deadmau5 arrived. Their first collaboration “I Remember” in 2008 is one of electronic music’s enduring anthems. They hooked up again for the current Top 40 single “Escape,” and release the follow-up – “Take Me High” – on Friday.
“It’s kind of the nostalgia factor,” Zimmerman says when asked why they click. “We were both kind of prominent leading the charge on that kind of sound back in the day, like 20 years ago. We’re kind of the ‘OG’s’ of that progressive house stuff.
“We’re not a ‘nostalgic act,’ I wouldn’t say, because we still like to do closer to cutting edge, modern day sounds. We’re keeping it current but we’re also drawing on our old vibes to do things that connect to a demographic that are probably married with kids now.”
The tour coincides with the new “We Are Friends Vol. 11” compilation which includes the new Deadmau5 track “XYZ.” It follows up his sleek single “My Heart Has Teeth” with Skylar Grey for the “Resident Evil” Netflix series.
It’s a burst of musical output for Zimmerman after the pandemic – a two-year period he spent occupied with software development, among other things.
Rather than detract from the music, he says it made it better.
“Because I’m doing it when I want. If you’re beating your head off the desk because you don’t want to do it, or you’re not inspired to do it because you have to … then the product tends to be eeew, you know?
“This has been really good for me, taking a break and releasing a song a year. I’m sure there’s going to be this point where, like, ‘My brain hurts from coding, I‘m going to go make some music because that is easy.’”
Deadmau5, NERO, Kasablanca and BlackGummy play Outer Harbor Buffalo Sept. 17 from 6 to 11 p.m. For tickets ($49.50 U.S.) go to www.tickets.mnmpresents.com
Copyright owned or licensed by Toronto Star Newspapers Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or distribution of this content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Toronto Star Newspapers Limited and/or its licensors. To order copies of Toronto Star articles, please go to: www.TorontoStarReprints.com