EXCLUSIVE: Kat+Mau5 (Kat Von D + Deadmau5)
On Kat: FALGUNI & SHANE Peacock Dress; THE GREAT FROG Rings; M. COHEN Bracelet; BLOODMILK Necklace. On Joel: BROKEN GALLERY T-shirt; KILL CITY Jeans; VANS Sneakers.
There’s a new power couple in the inked community: tattoo artist Kat Von D and DJ and producer Deadmau5 (Joel Zimmerman). Kat Von Deadmau5’s relationship is one of talent, art, and, of course, ink. He said, she said, I love you.
“It is kind of corny, but we met online,” says Joel Zimmerman (better known as Deadmau5) of his girlfriend, Kat Von D. He knew about the artist’s work, and after seeing one of her tweets, he inquired about getting a tattoo. It wasn’t online dating per se, but the couple certainly made an internet connection before meeting.
Now they are an inked version of Brangelina—Kat Von Deadmau5, if you will—and like other high-profile couples, they’re the subject of TMZ footage, US Weekly pages, and Perez Hilton’s Microsoft Paint doodling.
“We just let them get their shots and get on with our day,” Deadmau5 says of the paparazzi. “I don’t give a fuck about them. We don’t go out in public naked. We don’t really have any fucked up shit, and we are not assholes, so it isn’t crippling.” But he doesn’t suffer fools gladly. He recalls a recent question from the paps, who asked, “‘If you guys have a baby will it have tattoos?’ Is that the best you can fucking do? This is your life and that’s the best you can come up with? Troll me properly.”
Underneath the mau5head (the musician’s trademark mouse-shaped helmet) is someone who has been called a musical genius—one who doesn’t compromise his standards and whose work has been widely hailed. While this genius also has a reputation as a hothead, during his second photo shoot with INKED, Deadmau5’s tenor was notably lightened thanks to his sweeter half.
Sharing control of a relationship—and the spotlight in general—is new to the DJ. “I used to run the show and abide by one alpha schedule, but we make both schedules work,” he says of Von D. As creative people, the duo seem to feed off of each other’s art. “We create and play the music,” he says. “We both have workstations in her house, so we can take a break from each other, but it is refreshing.”
While he’s kept his renowned cat, Professor Meowingtons (who put out the first headphones designed specifically for cats with Sol Republic), and his res- idence in Toronto, Deadmau5 is making himself comfortable at Von D’s castle in Los Angeles. “I have deer heads and skeletons in my place, but you get to hers and it’s like a 16th-century castle, with candles, way more taxidermy, and this hairless cat,” he says.
Another area where the couple’s tastes may differ slightly is music. Von D has dated Nikki Sixx of Mo?tley Cru?e and has tattoos from bands HIM, The Misfits, and Slayer, while Deadmau5 is king of the electronic food chain. “I was pleasantly surprised to see she has MSTRKRFT on her iPod,” Deadmau5 says. “I don’t impose on her too too much of my music, because she is working on her own album and I don’t want to put electro in her head. But she knows of electronic music. … I was worried she was going to ask, ‘What’s this womp, womp, womp shit?’”
Trying to break away from the genre that has become more one-note in the past year, Deadmau5 featured numbers with Cypress Hill and Imogen Heap on his latest release, Album Title Goes Here. “The Cypress Hill track was done over- night, but I was sitting on it for over two years because I wasn’t sure how to put it out—it would be like Slayer doing a fucking ballad,” he says. “I got into dance music when it was stagnating to hell, and I think that a lot [of] my involvement— and a few others, of course—turned around the styling, the production, and the sound. But now it is stuck on that turnaround and we have to turn it around again. I am sick of making all my songs sound like my one mainstream fucking hit.”
On Joel: BROKEN GALLERY T-shirt; KILL CITY Jeans; VANS Sneakers.
Contemplating electronic music’s audience, Deadmau5 channels his inner David Wooderson from Dazed and Confused: “We get older, they get younger.” He’s not complaining or lauding, he’s just speaking honestly—something he’s well known for on Twitter. “It is really cool to break out of the shell once in a while, but not too much to alienate the people who put you where you are today.” He saw an opportunity in the ever-replenishing fan base, and he seized it. “[My prior albums] were continual fucking techno mixed. This one was with cool fuckers who aren’t in electronic music.”
His collaborations are injecting diverse talent into electronic music. And while he hasn’t worked with Von D on her sound, he has collaborated with her on matching tattoos. In addition to placing a star on his cheekbone, Von D inked the sequence 289m3d22h on her beau’s skin. “She did it in her styling on my arm, and I designed hers for her collarbone,” he says. As for what the meaning of Kat Von Deadmau5’s shared tattoo is? This high-profile couple wants to keep at least one thing between just the two of them.
“I guess like a majority of the most important people in my life that I’ve encountered, art has, without fail, been the initial connection,” Kat Von D says of her boyfriend, Deadmau5, whose real name is Joel Zimmerman. “Joel had responded to a tweet I had posted, and we began chatting about the possibility of him getting tattooed. So I guess you could say it was via Twitter, but for some reason that sounds kind of silly.”
The word choice silly is perfect. Cool people in love do things that seem to oppose their hipness, and silly is an admission that Kat Von Deadmau5 has broken character. But they are only slightly apologizing for it, because, fuck it, they are in love. “Joel makes me feel connected,” she says. “He makes me feel like I’m not alone—and not in the physical sense, because I appreciate my solitude at times—but he makes me feel not alone in a world that oftentimes I feel alien in. He makes me feel love.”
This isn’t Von D’s first time dating under the watchful eye of the paparazzi, and while it hasn’t always been all sugar skulls and unicorns in the celebrity press for America’s tattooed sweetheart, she’s unaffected. “When you think about the dynamics of a relationship, you will always have outside voices that, for whatever reason, feel entitled to an opinion—your family, your friends, your peers at work—and for me it’s just on an amplified level,” she says.
On Kat: FALGUNI & SHANE Peacock Dress; THE GREAT FROG Rings; M. COHEN Bracelet; BLOODMILK Necklace.
A tireless romantic who had almost given up hope on finding a real connection, Von D seemed smitten as she stole kisses with her equally amorous boyfriend during INKED’s photo shoot. It’s Von D’s fifth cover in the magazine’s five years (the most of any subject), and she’s never seemed so radiant. “I think I had been living in a state of longing and didn’t even realize it,” she says. “One thing is to dream and wish for a love—a true and noble one—but it is a very different thing to actually live it, without feeling like you’re trying to make some- thing happen that really isn’t there. I’ve always believed in this kind of real love, but now I don’t see it as an imaginary idea.”
Other than the metaphysical, the arrangement has been blissful for Von D, who hasn’t had a live-in love for some time. And the womp, womp, womp of her house- mate’s work hasn’t deterred her creativity. “I find it much more fulfilling now to channel my creativity and inspiration from a higher frequency, such as love. There are times when I get home to a house filled with music and all I can do is turn my attention to what I want to do, whether it’s my own music or art or whatever.”
In addition to their shared interest in art and tattoos, both Kat Von D and Deadmau5 are well-documented “crazy cat people.” Although Von D says a love of cats is not a requirement she looks for in others, she admits it does help. Unfortunately, her cat Piaf “seems to have become more fond of Joel than myself, and I’m jealous.” One night while the two were relaxing in their living room, Piaf crawled onto Deadmau5’s chest and smiled at him. “Joel’s profile and the way his face looked at Piaf was so gentle and sweet,” she recounts. “It’s going to sound cheesy as hell, but all I could think about was drawing him, large scale, graphite on paper. Sparks of inspiration like this happen 100 times a day. So, yes, the man inspires me.”
For those who haven’t been following Von D since her LA Ink days, she has been cranking out artistic endeavors. She continues to update her clothing and makeup lines. She’s recording an album with the help of Linda Perry, of 4 Non Blondes, and Danny Lohner, who has worked with Nine Inch Nails, Puscifer, and A Perfect Circle. She’s hoping for a possible summer release. Von D’s Wonderland Gallery has also become one of the most important West Coast outlets for outsider art, and recently hosted a sick show called “Skulls” that included skulls by Audrey Kawasaki, Mister Cartoon, and Ryan Adams. Of course, she also continues to tattoo regularly, and some of her newer pieces will be featured in her next book, Go Big or Go Home, which is due out this year.
While Von D still carries tattoos commemorating former flames (some of which she is considering getting lasered off), she is unabashed about the matching 289m3d22h tattoos she and Deadmau5 got. When asked about the meaning of the sequence, she deferred to Deadmau5’s desire to keep one facet of their relationship private. “I would totally spill the beans, but Joel’s keeping his lips sealed on that one!” she says. “I will tell you this: It’s not his PIN code, and it’s not related to any specific time or date. It’s a representation of how we met, and how much this connection between us is meant to be.”