Deadmau5 Orchestral Project 'Where's the Drop?' Is His Gateway Into Film Scoring: Exclusive Interview

Jess Baumung
Deadmau5

The electronic producer teamed up with award-winning film composer Gregory Reveret for the project.

Nearly 24 hours before deadmau5, aka Joel Zimmerman, held his two-night, TIDAL-helmed orchestral affair at Los Angeles’ Wiltern Theatre -- in support of his celestial project Where’s the Drop?, in collaboration with award-winning film composer Gregory Reveret -- the elusive producer reluctantly conducted press rounds for a few hours at Sunset Marquis’ legendary Nightbird recording studios in Hollywood, taking a cigarette break between each of his scheduled interviews.

Initially launching his career as an electronic/hip-hop producer, Reveret has become best known for composing music for major blockbusters such as Deadpool, Furious 7 and Avengers: Age of Ultron, among others. He caught deadmau5’s ear during a frequent live-stream series the megawatt DJ broadcasts called "mau5trap Monday," during which fans who donate to charity get a chance for deadmau5 to listen to their music submissions. Gregory was one of them.

Back when Zimmerman was working on his 2013 project 7 -- every track of which is reworked on Where’s the Drop? -- he toiled with the idea of bringing classical productions to life, and fast-forward to Gregory’s connection being a catalyst to put the strings into motion. But fans shouldn’t expect the tracks to sound the same.

“These pieces are new. They have their own life. Just because you got a guinea fowl and a chicken doesn’t mean you’re comparing it to a bird,” stated Reveret. deadmau5 joked, “You’ve never had a 'guicken'?”

In a wave of electronic acts like Above & Beyond and Pete Tong rearranging dance records into classical productions, Zimmerman promises a vast difference from his counterparts. “This stands on its own legs, which is something I purposely try to do,” he emphasized. “I didn’t want to mishmash two things together. I didn’t want to fuse orchestral music with EDM… I just wanted to do a full body traditional piece.”

And as for what translated the project into a live orchestral show, the mau5trap label boss said it was prompted by the TIDAL team (the JAY-Z-helmed streaming service he’s an investor in) who thought it made sense to bring these ethereal and cinematic reworks to life. But fans who’ve become accustomed to the intense lasers and visuals of a traditional mau5 festival or nightclub got much less at the Wiltern shows, scaling back on the production and allowing the new interpretations of the track to lead the senses. “No LED walls, no smoke canons. It’s a really moody production,” added Zimmerman. “We’re going to have a lot of Edison bulbs, some color wash and stuff. Wouldn’t it be funny to have fucking pyro and fuck with John [conductor]? CO2 canon, yeah!”

“Laser pointers in their eyes,” laughed Reveret.

Where’s the Drop? has given both Zimmerman and Reveret an opportunity to cross-explore each other’s arenas and expertise. For Gregory, it gave him a chance to break the oftentimes monotonous standards of music composition in Hollywood. “From my world, it’s kind of ironic, because film score is supposed to be this thing where you’re supposed to know all genres," he said. "You’re supposed to cater to whatever the scene demands. The thing is, why does a horror movie need to sound like a horror movie? There’s this standard horror sound."

Reveret continued: “The thing that’s beautiful about this is that deadmau5 sounds like deadmau5. When he’s going to do a horror movie or superhero movie, it’s going to be deadmau5 doing a horror movie. As a composer, you’re hired to be whatever they want you to be. That’s where you get this carbon-copy mishmash of the same stuff. That’s where Hollywood kind of has a problem. At the same time, that’s why you have all these new breeds now.”

For Zimmerman, this album could prove to be bigger than just the new tunes and accompanying live shows, and potentially launch his passion to enter the world of film scoring.

“I’ve always wanted to go into film scoring. I think that this is a better entry point because now I’m like fucking walking the walk, as opposed to fucking talking the talk. Which is all you can do before anyone would think that you are capable of scoring a film, you know what I mean?

“Hopefully this kind of puts me on the radar with professionals in that area or even the public to want something like that," he added. "It would be cool to custom-write music for some kind of story. That’d be cool.”

One of electronic music’s enduring classics and a fan favorite has to be deadmau5’s “I Remember” in collaboration with Kaskade, which this year marks its decade anniversary. But while fans are still overcome with all the feels when the track drops at festivals, deadmau5 doesn’t hold the anthem as close to his heart. “I made the song and gave it to Kaskade. Then he gave the song a singer and gave it back. ‘I Remember’ was produced before the vocal,” he explained. “It’s just another body of work in the long list of bodies of work. I play it out sometimes, but it doesn’t teleport me into some fucking alternate universe. I don’t fucking know.”

You can stream Where’s the Drop? exclusively on TIDAL.