Electronic music producer Joel “deadmau5” Zimmerman is venturing further into the metaverse with another NFT collection, “head5.” Together with his long-time collaborator Nick “Smearballs” DenBoer, deadmau5 will put 5,555 NFTs, minted on the Polygon blockchain, up for sale on Monday through head5.io.

The 3D head-shaped NFTs will cost 0.15 ETH each, or about $680 at the time of publication. 


Smearballs told Decrypt that the head5 collection was inspired by the “Pomegranate” music video he directed for deadmau5 last year, which features a 3D surreal world where characters with different animal heads race against each other in flying cars that can grow legs and wings. 

“I guess it all started because we both got into NFTs last year, and the idea was to kind of expand upon the universe we created starting with the ‘Pomegranate’ video I did in 2020,” Smearballs said.

Smearballs, whose nickname came from a blog the artist used to work on, has collaborated with deadmau5 for more than six years. He’s helped him out with visual art that plays during deadmau5’s shows and three music videos. 

Chloe Janicki, NFT marketing manager for deadmau5's label Mau5trap, told Decrypt that deadmau5 has been directly involved with more than six NFT projects so far, plus at least a dozen have had deadmau5 branding. Last year, deadmau5 released deadmau5: Series 1, a set of NFT cards that sold out in 36 hours. Last August, he released Series 2, where collectors could get a chance to mint an NFT card that included two tickets to a deadmau5 show.

One of the rarest deadmau5 NFT cards resold for $10,000, with others currently reselling for nearly $4,000.


Unlike the cards, the head5 NFTs are 3D heads primed for deadmau5’s next adventure: the metaverse. They draw from Smearballs’ wild and colorful art style. Up for sale will be heads with ice cream cones, lollipops, plungers, nose rings and a special Bitcoin-inspired texture. 

Each head is a permutation on four categories: skull, eyes, ears, and mouth. Smearballs created 200 assets for the collection, but added a few surprises as well. In designing the NFTs, he mixed in “five jokers, like a deck of cards,” with unique traits that won’t appear on other NFTs in the collection.

“I am excited to see how the scarcity shakes out and which ones resonate with collectors. It was our first time developing a generative script so there was tons of iterations and rule-making going on to steer the algorithm and art-direct the pairings,” Smearballs said.

Buyers also will receive a 4k rendered image in addition to a 3D model. Collectors will be able to use a custom-built 3D viewer to examine their NFTs and can change the background color to take additional pictures.

deadmau5 smearballs
L-R: Ready Player Me CEO Timmu Tõke, digital artist Nick “Smearballs” DenBoer, and deadmau5 at the Bright Moments NFT Art Gallery DAO on November 2 for the head5 NFT collection. Photo: Leah Sems

The head5 collection has partnered with Ready Player Me, a 3D avatar creation platform, so collectors can connect their NFTs to the platform’s 720+ metaverse integrations. Ready Player Me will allow head5 collectors to use their NFTs as avatars across numerous virtual reality video chatting applications such as VR Chat, Animaze and MeetinVR.

“Our goal is to make these avatars work in as many places as possible,” Smearballs said.

The head5 presale will begin on November 15 at 2pm EST and all owners of previous deadmau5 NFTs will get access to the presale; the main sale will start at 3pm EST. 

Editor's note, Nov. 15 at 12:55pm EST: This story initially stated the head5 NFT sale would happen on OpenSea. The primary sale will happen exclusively on head5.io; OpenSea will be the secondary marketplace.


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