“There’s 800 ways to skin the DJ cat”: Deadmau5 on the why DJing is more than just a live performance

Are the days of criticising DJs for using prerecorded elements over?


Image: Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images

Deadmau5 has unpacked why DJing is more than just a live performance, instead doubling-down on the notion that those who rely on pre-recorded material are still DJs.

As explained in an interview on The Shawn Ryan Show, Ryan asks the electronic music producer – whose real name is Joel Thomas Zimmerman – his thoughts on DJs over-exaggerating their live performances using pre-recorded material.

“At its fundamental, a DJ plays music,” he states. “He’s a human iPod. With all due respect, you get to Mix Master Mike and Cubert and other DJs who are like technical scratch DJs, who play on whatever.”

“[But then I think] no, this is an art. Take Kid Koala right? He’s made an entire album out of turntablism. And you’re like, okay, yes, also a DJ, but that’s different.”

The producer then goes on to explain that some DJs don’t even use any “traditional” equipment.

“There’s a guy right now, he’s absolutely destroying everything, this guy called Fred again.., and he does a lot of pad whacking and stuff like that. Is he making an album up there? He could to a degree, but he’s doing a lot of sampling, and cutting and that’s another thing.

“But you could also say, “Oh, he’s DJing”, playing back some elements of pre-recorded material. So there’s your answer.”

“There’s 800 ways to skin the DJ cat,” Zimmerman concludes. “I’m so glad that era [of only playing original music] is gone, because when electronic music became more and more popular and producers were producing music they were like, ‘Well, how are we going to do this on the stage?’ Me in the studio is like listening to the same fucking loop for like fucking 30 hours straight back-to-back trying to fine tune shit you know what I mean? That is not something you could sit through and have a great time to.”

You can listen to the whole interview – which clocks in at just under four hours – below:


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