Baauer grew up in several countries, because of his father's work. He lived in Germany from age four to seven, London, United Kingdom from seven to thirteen, then returned to the United States, where he lived in Westport, Connecticut from 13–17. Here, he attended Staples High School up until 2006, before returning to live in London for one more year, studying at The American School in London. He later moved to New York City to study audio technology at City College. After living in Harlem for two years, both on and off campus, he settled in Brooklyn in 2009, and currently resides in Bushwick.
Baauer was signed to the LuckyMe record label in August 2012, and made his debut with the three-track 12-inch EP Dum Dum.
Baauer's single "Harlem Shake" was released on Mad Decent/Jeffrees on May 22, 2012. The track received critical acclaim with Pitchfork claiming "it's hard not to marvel at how awesome those growling-lion samples sound". "Harlem Shake" created a viral video craze online, inspiring fans to upload their own videos for the hit from February 2013 onwards, often featuring those involved remaining still for the first buildup of the song, and dancing erratically or humorously afterwards.
Baauer collaborated with hip hop producer Just Blaze on the track "Higher". Both producers toured together throughout January and February 2013.He has been working on an EP which will be released on LuckyMe Records in 2013. In March 2013, Baauer was named one of Fuse TV's 30 must-see artists at SXSW.
For his song "Harlem Shake", Baauer won Dance Song of the Year and EDM Song of the Year at the 2013 Billboard Music Awards.