Superstar electronic DJ and producer Joel Zimmerman is one of Canada's top musical acts, but most people wouldn't recognize him without the giant, stylized mouse heads he dons when performing as Deadmau5.

In recent years, the 31-year-old Toronto-based artist has become the biggest name in electronic music, crossing over into the wider pop field with his high-profile gig at the 2012 Grammy Awards in February. He also landed the cover of the summer issue of Rolling Stone magazine.

Despite this success, Zimmerman remains humble about his talents, describing himself as more of a tech whiz.


Deadmau5, a.k.a. Joel Zimmerman, says he hasn't studied music and doesn't think of himself as a musician. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

"I've never really seen myself as a musician," he told Jian Ghomeshi on Q, CBC's cultural affairs show.

"[A musician is] someone who studied music, who knows more about scales, notation and polyrhythms. I don't know any of that stuff."

The forthright Zimmerman is equally unassuming about the close online relationship he has with his fans. He openly shares live streams from his home recording sessions and communicates with fans via his blog and on Twitter.

"I just do it," he said. "Maybe it's the way that I feel about other artists. I follow a lot of bands and I'm always dying to know, 'What the hell are you doing right now?'"

After coming from a low-income background, "all of a sudden I'm worth millions and I feel like I have to justify that, always," he said.

"I would feel bad about hoarding all that [is happening in my life]. I feel like my life, my work — as it is at this point — is kind of owed back to the [fans]."

Zimmerman talked to Q about recently picking the brain of German composer and producer Hans Zimmer, how Ray Bradbury inspired the title of his new EP The Veldt and what was behind his online spat with Madonna.