“Opening skies with broken keys…” By now this young maestro’s hands have been heard around the world and weberverse; from Holy Ship to Ultra, Born This Way Ball to Poseidon Tour, Zedd’s fingers have fueled quite the spectral pulse. What about the mind behind the music, though? What makes Zedd’s metronome tick, and what cultivates a sound so kaleidoscopic? Leave it to the prodigy priest of EDM himself, preaching nightly behind pierced lips atop DJ booth pulpits, to clarify the scape of this spectrum we call the contemporary music scene.
Me: Who/what/when/where/how is Zedd? … In 59 characters or less.
Zedd: Zedd is musical soul-bacon.
Me: Your latest releases have a linguistically visual element to them, “Spectrum” and Clarity, evoking a sense of synesthesia. So that got me to thinking… What does Zedd’s sonic identity feel like?
Z: A shaver made of clouds.
Me: Taste like?
Me: Look like?
Z: Chuck Norris.
Me: Smell like?
Z: What it tastes like.
Me: Sticking with the “Clarity” vibe, what new perspectives – or clarity – are you providing to the industry, and to the scene; what perspectives are the industry lacking, and what clarity is the scene lacking?
Zedd: I think quite a lot! Especially “being open.”
All the sub-genres and artists giving their fan base a name makes music so “political.” People take a side and almost feel like they need to fight the others – “If you like old dubstep, you CAN’T like the new ‘brostep'” (or whatever they call it)
[Y]ou know what I mean? That attitude really makes artists make music they probably wouldn’t necessarily do if they didn’t feel that kind of pressure.
When I wrote “Spectrum” I didn’t think people would love it as much as they did in the end. I decided to just release because I felt like it was a musically undeniable song; and although it was different from the music I released before, people loved it.
The clarity that song gave me was that it’s all about great music. It doesn’t matter what genre you make or if you feel like your fans wouldn’t want to hear a certain style; if you make sure the song has a soul, a face, a character and the music is great, they WILL like it.
Me: Kudos on securing Princess High’s stash – massive, massive vocals for the “Stache” cut from Clarity … I love the dark/light ominous/optimistic juxtaposition between the lyrics and beat. What was the progression like for that project? Did you pick Gaga to write the vocals or did she jump in after hearing the raw track? What about Princess High-Die’s lyrics speaks to Stache’s cosmic kaleidoscopic sprite aural vibe?
Zedd: Actually Gaga heard the song and just decided herself to make a “remix” or whatever you want to call it. She just enjoyed it and wanted to make an own version of it with her vocal. The process was: she took the song and recorded a vocal on it! Pretty simple.
Me: Touring with Gaga: discuss. Beyond the Born This Way Ball, touring life at Pop’s pulse, what is this moment like – how does it feel to be producing the future, conceiving sonic children with the Mother Monster and her “major musical [affinity]” for your sound?
Z: Well, it’s pretty awesome.
It’s been a dream of mine to, one day, be able to work with Lady Gaga. I guess it’s never bad when dreams come true, right?
Me: Your Poseidon Tour with Porter Robinson… discuss the cataclysm of Skrillex’s two junior prodigies on one stage. Since Poseidon translates to “The Earth Shaker” – on a scale of 1-10: how Jurassic-Park-water-glass is the sonic Richter of this show?
Zedd: On a scale from 1-10 the tour was ‘levels.’ It was one of the most fun tours I’ve played so far; we’ve been switching up our sets every night, slamming songs back-to-back and, on top of having almost every show sold out, we had a great time since we’re really good friends.
Me: Some people say that electronic music is soulless… some people say Pop is the apex of artifice… Expound on the soul beneath “pure EDM fantasy,” the possibilities for Pop’s electronic evolution, and the human element’s place in electronic-based music.
Zedd: Well, I have to agree in 99% of the cases. I do think the most electronic music is fairly soul-less and very generic.
But there’s something that has to be said as well: a) there is a LOT of soulless music in any genre; not only electronic music, and b) since it’s way easier to record electronic music than other genres […] obviously there is a lot more recordings / productions of electronic music from people that don’t really know how to do it. Those people label themselves “DJs” and “Producers” or even “Musicians” which I think isn’t really right and makes those “demos” to real songs – and if I had to judge them, I’d most likely not rate them really well.
You can kind of compare it with me using Photoshop. I just downloaded the trial of Photoshop and been playing around with it. Do I call myself a visual artist now? Am I a graphic designer? No. I try it out and play around with it but I don’t understand the “soul” of design.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that due to the over-saturation of electronic, due to the minimal requirement to make it, there’s a lot of music people consider “soulless” (which everyone has to judge for him/herself by the way); but aside from that…
there’s a great catalog of incredible electronic music in the world. You just have to find it.
Me: If Clarity was a visual art piece or artistic movement – which one would it be
Me: What is your favorite city to perform?
Zedd: I don’t have a favourite city to perform. My biggest fan bases in the world are in Los Angeles and New York, so naturally I’m always looking forward to play these cities.
Me: Who inspires you musically? Who or what inspires you non-musically?
Zedd: My musical inspirations are mostly bands like Silverchair, Radiohead, Muse, Feeder … also older stuff like Genesis, King Crimson…
Non-musically (AND musically) Skrillex is one of my biggest inspirations; as a human being and friend.
Me: What is a question you’ve wanted to answer but haven’t yet been asked?
Zedd: I’ve never been asked how many unicorns I own.