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deadmau5, creative solitude and producing music

deadmau5 from edmsauce article

“Ninety percent of my time is just goofing around and trying to come up with something. That’s the way I go about making music…”

A profile notes “Joel Thomas Zimmerman (born January 5, 1981), better known by his stage name deadmau5 (pronounced “dead mouse”), is a Canadian record producer and DJ from Toronto, Canada.

“Zimmerman produces a variety of styles within the progressive house genre and sometimes other forms of electronic music. He has received six Grammy Award nominations for his work.” (Wikipedia)

The quote at the beginning comes from this video about his online MasterClass course in Electronic Music Production.

Other programs currently available online include Dustin Hoffman (acting), James Patterson (writing), Usher (performance), Christina Aguilera (singing), Werner Herzog (filmmaking), Aaron Sorkin (screenwriting), Kevin Spacey (acting) and others.

Learn more and sign up for courses at the site: MasterClass creativity training programs.


Creative isolation

Writer Joe Madden notes that “Canadian dance-music superstar Joel ‘deadmau5’ Zimmerman” enjoys an isolated life in “a $5m mansion.”

Here is part of his interview article:

Describing himself as “very socially f**king retarded” with a “huge anxiety disorder”, Zimmerman is clearly happiest when the world leaves him the hell alone.

“I haven’t left this house in two weeks,” he says, beaming like a man living the dream. “I’m lucky. I only have to live out here with one other person [his girlfriend, Kelly].

Going out and being nice to the world at large doesn’t make me feel good so I replace that with things, with technology that does get me excited and does get my brain spinning until one day it stops spinning and then you can bury me.”

He dabbled in the party-hopping A-lister lifestyle, even relocating LA for a while, but it clearly wasn’t for him.

“I’ve seen so many weird things that have unsettled me,” he mutters, hauntedly.

The mouse helmet, the reclusiveness, the cartoonish anti-social attitude, the embrace of social media’s synthetic intimacy – it all keeps the world at arm’s length and allows him to avoid having to deal with industry shysters or weirdo superfans…

From Deadmau5: The Full NME Cover Interview, NME, Dec 2, 2016.


Related article on the Anxiety Relief Solutions site:
Dealing With Anxiety – Actors and Performers
A number of actors and other performers talk about dealing with stage fright, feeling shy, or experiencing other kinds of anxiety, and sometimes related mood disorders such as depression or other mental health challenges.


Creative collaboration

Some forms of creative expression involve directly collaborating with other people – such as acting and filmmaking.

For the staged music performance aspect of his work, deadmau5 collaborates with a number of lighting pros, set construction carpenters, electronic technicians and others.

But a number of artists make use of isolation and do their best creative work alone.

Many people have talked about the importance of place, work space and solitude for developing creative talents.

For example, in her famous essay “A Room of One’s Own” in 1929, Virginia Woolf said that for women artists “a lock on the door means the power to think for oneself” and encouragement to develop the “habit of freedom and the courage to write exactly what we think.”

In his book “Solitude: A Return to the Self,” the late British psychiatrist Anthony Storr points out that creativity is often linked to seclusion. Henry James, Beatrix Potter, Franz Kafka, Beethoven – all were ‘loners’ or embraced solitude to create.

“Loner” may be a somewhat negative label, but a number of creative people have used it as part of how they view or identify themselves.

In an interview on the Charley Rose Show, actor Jessica Chastain talked about being somewhat a loner as a child.

Kerry Washington in ScandalActor Kerry Washington: “I’ll be honest with you, I’m a little bit of a loner. It’s been a big part of my maturing process to learn to allow people to support me.”

Fashion designer Tom Ford: “I am really a loner after all; I am really not a social person.”

[Both quotes are from article Introverted, Shy or Highly Sensitive in the Arts – which includes other quotes on being a loner.]

Read more in my article Solitude To Be Creative.


deadmau5, creative solitude and producing music

Douglas Eby

Douglas EbyDouglas Eby, MA/Psychology, is a writer and researcher on psychology and personal development related to creativity; creator of the , and author of books including [link to book site with excerpts.]
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APA Reference
Eby, D. (2017). deadmau5, creative solitude and producing music. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 21, 2020, from


Last updated: 24 Feb 2017
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