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EDM Lounge Interviews Zeds Dead

In case some of you didn't know, we here at EDM Lounge had a very exciting week. On Wednesday, yours truly (the Bass Queen, BQ) got to sit down with DC, one half of the epic Toronto-based duo Zeds Dead, to have a nice conversation about their new tunes, the future of their duo, and the evolution of EDM as a genre.

BQ: First off, I just need to give you some love from friends. My little brother absolutely loves "Coffee Break," which is a sick track. I have mad respect for producers who can combine hip-hop with dubstep beats. 

DC: Yeah, the track's a little fast so it works well with hip hop vocals and shit. 

BQ: Didn't you guys originally want to be Hip Hop producers?

DC: Yeah we always just produced Hip Hop in the beginning. We were huge Hip Hop heads. Still are. We're still doing Hip Hop beats, it's just, that when we started Zeds Dead, the idea was to do more Electronic things, because our previous group Mass Productions, was strictly Hip Hop. Like, old school hip hop sampling kinda shit. 

BQ: So how did you get into Dubstep?

DC: When we started Zeds Dead, it was like "Alright, let's start a fresh page and do electronic shit." When we just started electronic production we were really into Electro House, and then got into Dubstep. But recently, I've really gotten back into Hip Hop, and I see Zeds Dead as being something that I can produce everything under, it just happens to be that when we started we were doing Electro and Dubstep and shit. Our first popular tracks were Dubstep tracks, so a lot of people saw us as a Dubstep group, but we have a lot of different tunes out there, a lot of different releases, and coming up especially we're going to be doing a lot of different stuff. I just see Zeds Dead as a larger encompassing title which I can produce many electronic genres under.   

BQ: Right. And lucky for you guys, you can still do whatever you want. So that's an awesome creative freedom.

DC: Yeah, I think our fans have come to understand that we do different kinds of stuff, so I feel like they're just interested in what we have to show them, whereas some people just want to hear Dubstep because they're hardcore fans of Dubstep - know what I mean? I think a lot of our fans are open to the different stuff that we produce. 

BQ: Right, and I think that comes with having fans that really understand what you're trying to do as musicians. You guys are fantastic at what you do.

DC: Thank you.

BQ: So, how did you and Hooks meet?

DC: We met through a mutual friend a long time ago. It's funny, actually, Hooks was really into graffiti and we sort of knew each other. I had this garage in the back of my house and my parents were cool with me chilling back there. I knew he did graffiti and I wanted someone to paint the wall so I got him to come over and do a big piece in the garage and that was actually the first time we actually chilled and hung out. After that, I was the first one who really started getting into electronic music production and shortly after he became really passionate about it as well. A few years after we started, we realized that we were making similar sounding Hip Hop beats, so we sort of decided to pool all of our stuff together and make a group, which was our old group Mass Productions. 

BQ: That's sick. The graffiti thing is really cool. Street art is awesome. 

DC: Yeah - he's really awesome. He sometimes does pieces while we're out on the road if he gets a chance or gets a legal wall to do it on. Last time we were in Atlanta, they let him do a big piece on one of the walls inside the club called The Quad… I think it's called The Quad. I can't remember. But it was dope. He tries to keep doing it but he doesn't do as much illegal tagging anymore (laughs). 

BQ: That's sick. Is that how you designed the logo?

DC: Actually, our other friend designs most of our artwork, but he did the logo. 

BQ: That's cool! I thought I'd ask cause it looks really urban. 

DC: Yeah, I actually kinda like the logo 'cause it almost looks a bit like Metal, like almost like a rock band. I've gotten a lot of compliments from even my dad's friends and older people saying that it sort of had a Metal vibe… it's funny cause a lot of my older friends and my dad's friends want the Zeds Dead shirts and they'll wear them around the city and shit (laughs). 

BQ: Awesome branding. So, Zeds Dead, Pulp Fiction reference.  

DC: Mmhmm. 

BQ: Awesome movie. One of the sickest movies ever. 

DC: Yeah, it's a great flick. It's just, I don't know, we just said it and it kinda stuck. It's funny cause it's our initials too, Zack and Dylan, ZD, and I didn't even realize this until later, but it's kind of a Canadian reference because we say "Zed" and y'all say "Z", right?

BQ: Yeah.

DC: So that's interesting. 

BQ: Do most people recognize that that's a Pulp Fiction reference? I would think so. 

DC: A lot of people do. We'll get live Tweets like "Oh shit, I just saw Pulp Fiction and realized where you got your name from!" (laughs)

BQ: Yeah, it hit me when I heard "White Satin" cause it's got the sound clip.

DC: Yeah it has Bruce Willis saying it. We get that a lot. 

BQ: Right! So I heard that and I was like "Ahhhhhhh, Tarantino reference!!" 

DC: (laughs at my dorkiness) Yeah. 

BQ: So, since you've talked to me about Hip Hop, and your style of Hip Hop, I wanted to ask you what you thought about this whole sort of controversy about the genre "selling out." Like Deadmau5 talking about the David Guetta tracks getting radio play in America. But, do you think that this whole EDM entering the mainstream thing is going to eventually create a similar thing like Hip Hop in the 90s? Hip-Hop went mainstream and now it's not as much about the music, it's about the business and money.

DC: Well, yes. I think there will be a large "cheesy" mainstream aspect of it, but with something becoming that big and mainstream it always sort of creates an underground side to it, so there will always be a sort of underbelly to whatever sort of electronic music is going on. Because, it has essentially become "hot" now, right?

BQ: Yeah.

DC: So, it's already there. You already have the David Guettas and the Calvin Harris-y kinda guys like that, and it's fine, they're doing their thing, but I don't necessarily think it means that the genre is not about the music anymore because there's always gonna be people who are passionate about what they do.

BQ: Are they just less well known or in hiding (smiles)?

DC: Yeah maybe. Actually, not necessarily. You know, there's some people who are really big, and they become really successful and they deserve it. It's just that, unfortunately, a lot of what's played on the radio is crap. 

BQ: I completely agree. What do you have to say to people who are of the opinion that EDM is just a bullshit fad that isn't really music at all?

DC: You're talking about people who would consider someone playing a guitar much more of a musician than someone who makes music on the computer? 

BQ: Yeah, exactly. 

DC: Uh, what would I say to someone like that? I'm not sure, laughs.  

BQ: (laughs) Fair enough. 

DC: You know, like you said, there's different levels. If they hear what's mainstream, then they might feel justified feeling that someone's not a musician, know what I mean? But, I don't know. I don't think anybody can make the judgement whether someone's a musician or not. Just because I program stuff into a computer and don't necessarily play an instrument doesn't make me any less of a musician. In my opinion. 

BQ: What goes in to producing a track for you guys? How long do you spend on creating new tracks?

DC: Well, I mean, every day we work on shit. And every day I try to put at least a few hours in, if I can. So, I would say, every day between 1 hour if I'm really busy and can't do much or if I've got time to be in the studio I'll put anywhere up to 12 in a day on producing shit. And Hooks and I sort of both produce shit separately at our own studios and then we'll come together to finish the tracks in the end. So, like, if he starts something that I really find interesting, then I'll be like "yeah, let's work on that." Or, I might show something to him and he'll be like "yeah, let's work on that" or he'll be like "I'm not really feeling that, on to the next one." And if we both can really agree on something, that's when we'll put in the extra hours that you need to come up with a final track. It's good because having two people gives you someone to bounce your shit off. Cause like, if both of you can really agree on something, or if you both come together and really feel a tune then it's probably alright, you know?

BQ: (smiles) That's cool! It's interesting that you both sort of do your own creative process and then come together as opposed to one person composing just the beat, or the bass synth, or the melodic synth or whatever. 

DC: It's funny; a lot of people sort of assume that. A lot of people actually assume that there's only one person doing production in the group and the other person's just the DJ, or that one person is the producer and the other person is the face. But, as far as Zeds Dead goes, that's definitely not the case. It's 50/50 right down the middle. If I'm working on a beat for 8 hours one day, then Hooks might be working on a mix, or improving our DJ set, or vice versa. We always find ways to get shit done even if we don't feel inspired. But it really is 50/50 work right down the middle.  

BQ: That's really interesting! So, if you guys just kinda do that, what would you say that your specific style is, compared to his?

DC: Uh, it's so similar. I mean, it's weird, I feel like, well, I could tell right away, obviously, what one of his beats is, or what one of my beats is, but if we played a selection of tracks for people, they wouldn't necessarily be able to figure it out. I guess that doesn't make any sense because people don't know our sound separately, but it's all about what we're listening to or are into at a given time. So, for example, me recently, I've been going back and listening to a shitload of Hip Hop, kinda who's new and stuff, and I think that's been influencing my production recently, I've sort of been stacking up futuristic Hip Hop beats and kinda like "Zeds Dead Influence Hip Hop Beats" and stuff like that. It's all about what we're influenced by. We know so much of the same knowledge and tricks and stuff and production technique that it becomes quite similar.  

BQ: It's great that you guys can form a duo where your individual creative freedom can work together so well because your tastes are so similar.  

DC: It has its downsides too. Sometimes, he'll bring me something that he thinks is, like amazing, and I won't like it that much. Right? And we can't do anything about that.  We have to just move on to the next track. And I've definitely had the same thing happen to me. There's definitely tunes that are sitting on the hard drive that will never see the light of day, because we can't come to an agreement on it. Maybe off somewhere far down the road if we start our own aliases and shit.  

BQ: Okay, so, you guys have released what, 20, 30 odd tracks and remixes? How many have you made that are just sitting in Unfinished Track Limbo? 

DC: How many? Thousands. 

BQ: Mother of God. That's like, my dream. What track are you most proud of?

DC: Well, obviously, I like the newer stuff, cause it's what I'm most recently into. 

BQ: What do you think of the evolution of Dubstep and how the style has progressed and changed? Because it seems like Dubstep has a lot of Electro House elements now, because it doesn't really have that classic UK head noddy sound anymore, which I loved. 

DC: Yeah the early Dubstep, head noddy stuff, but it's moved away from that a little.  

BQ: Yeah, early Skream and Benga, sick shit. Almost chill.

DC: Yeah it's gotten harder and faster as it's progressed. 

BQ: So anything else you want to talk about? 

DC: Well, I'm excited about the new stuff coming out. We've got another collaboration with Omar Linx that's coming out on Ultra Records soon. The first single's already out, it's called "The Living Dead," but there's gonna be another one to follow that up called "Cowboy" and then there's two other tracks on the EP - and I'm pretty stoked about that. I like collaborating with Omar, he's dope. He's doing a couple festivals with us this Summer, and then after, well, we just have so much shit. So much music. So yeah. We've got a couple more remixes on deck, and then we'll be dropping another EP before the year is done.

Out now on iTunes!

BQ: Sick, can't wait. 

It was really nice to talk to him. I enjoyed the experience, and I'm stoked to see him and Hooks Play at Electric Zoo this August. If you want to know more about ZD, check them out on their SoundCloud, and if you haven't heard any of their most famous tracks, listen to their remixes of "Eyes on Fire" and "Wild Heart", and then definitely have a listen to their fucking sick 30-minute "Behind the Beats" mix. Their stuff is more awesome than whiskey-flavored nipples.

Tour Dates

By Sara Landry

Follow me on Twitter: @SaraLange922 

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