He's brash, extremely popular and wears a giant cartoon mouse head onstage.

Canadian Joel Zimmerman, better known as Deadmau5 (pronounced "dead mouse"), is on top of the electronic-dance-music world and doing it all his way.

The 29-year-old's soundscapes often mutate from brooding bass lines to starry-eyed bliss. Is it progressive house? Techno? Electro? Whatever you want to call his style, most people can agree: Deadmau5 makes dance music for the masses. (And he's not apologizing for it.)

Wednesday's show at Epic marks the first time he's performed in Minneapolis since 2007 -- when he was a much smaller act. That said, here are five things you need to know about Deadmau5.

1. Don't call him a DJ. In 2008, the outspoken musician was quoted by an Irish newspaper dissing the entire DJ profession, saying he wished DJs would "go the way of the dinosaur." He said he was misquoted, but still fancies himself "a producer" -- someone who creates live electronic music onstage and isn't just "playing two songs at the same speed."

2. Not long ago, he was making music in his mom's basement. While he tours the world on a regular basis, he is still fairly new on the scene. Also, he was never a club kid, but instead grew up a tech geek near Toronto. Today, he's one of the world's most in-demand dance producers, playing the Winter Olympics, Ibiza and, most recently, being house DJ (oops) at the MTV Video Awards.

3. There's a story behind that giant mouse head. The big-eared, bug-eyed mask has become as iconic as Daft Punk's robot costumes. He told MTV that his mouse theme started after he found a dead mouse in his computer. His masks have become more elaborate, with the latest version featuring pulsating LED imagery across its face.

4. Behold the cube. Speaking of onstage theatrics, Deadmau5 is most famous for performing on top of a giant, glowing cube. While his stage show at Epic won't be as ostentatious as, say, his 2010 Coachella gig, the cube will be here.

5. Deadmau5 could be the biggest dance show of the year. The show's promoter, Sound in Motion, is famous for bringing the world's most popular DJs to the Twin Cities, from Tiesto to David Guetta to Armin van Buuren. Sound in Motion's head honcho, DJ Jack Trash, is expecting a quick sellout at Epic.

thorgen@startribune.com • 612-673-7909 • Follow him on Twitter: @tomhorgen