Zedd is taking over NYC...one iconic landmark at a time. On May 19th, 2015 the electronic dance producer took over the Empire State Building with a one of a kind performance and visual experience. Last month, the 26 year old returned to New York for another historical, career milestone: a headlining show at Madison Square Garden. We recently sat down with the 26 year old Russian-German superstar (who's real name is Anton Igorevich Zaslavski) in the hours before taking over the arena with the intense, immersive audio-visual experience he's serving up on his True Colors Tour.
"Back then our production was a table...you could see our legs!" We're talking about one of Zedd's first tours in the US, which was actually with another monster of the EDM world, Skrillex. The two would do their own change-overs and would sometimes perform in front of 5 people...which is obviously an extreme cry from the shows they're doing today.
In Zedd's case he's teamed up with the visual artist Beeple on the tour, projecting intense graphics and animations across an array of video walls measuring 40 feet tall by 80 feet wide. "I'm still always amazed by [Beeple's] visuals and by his creativity. I don't know where he gets his ideas but every single visual is so unique and different and just tells you a story without even hearing anything."
Harking back on the early days of touring though is not the only time Zedd would feel nostalgic during our conversation. I suppose being on the precipice of such an incredible accomplishment would have anyone thinking about their journey to the moment. His started when his parents taught him to play the piano at the age of 4. "From classical music to jazz and funk...that kind of music was really my first musical memories." Of course, like any angsty teenager, he'd rebel a bit, finding his way into rock and metal and hardcore bands (much like his good friend Skrillex). "Then I discovered electronic music and started producing it myself...and now we're here!"
This background is so evident in the rich, dramatic depth of his new album, True Colors. Essentially, Zedd is a modern day composer, crafting intricate arrangements out of a lifetime of musical inspirations. "When I showed my dad my new album he said he liked it better than my old one because it does remind him more of [artists like] King Crimson and George Benson. Because there are a lot of similarities. I think if I had not listened to those bands I would make completely different music".
That music is not as easy to categorize as simply slapping the old "EDM" tag on Zedd. "It's kind of interesting," he explained. "A lot of people say you're EDM, the next one will say you're electro, the next guy will say you're pop." Perhaps that's why he appeals to so many different types of music fans...perhaps that's why Zedd is able to make another massive mark on this city of ours.
Whatever the reason(s) for his rise, it is clear Zedd wants to create an experience that his fans will remember. "We work really hard to make this show stand out and be something different," he explains. "Ultimately, I want [the fans] to go home and tell people that it was the best night of their life". Mission accomplished.
Stars fall at my feet keep me grounded as ... make music. ...I won't apologize for the fire in my eyes Let me show you my, my true colors It ain't no rainbow When I was about four years old, my parents taught me to play the piano. So from classical music to like jazz and funk, that kind of music was really like my first musical memories. But there was a point in time where I kind of was sick of doing what your parents want you to do, as every kid probably is at some point, and I started playing in a rock band. We started making metal and hard core and that kind of stuff for many years and then I discovered electronic music so I started producing electronic music myself. Now we're here. I think Madison Square Garden is a venue that everybody dreams of playing one day, and this tour is the first time I'm able to do it and you know it's a really historical moment for me and for my career. You know, now we're here and I'm about to play it, you know, so it's a huge day for me. And I've played a lot of shows in New York and I've been also thinking back to my very first. It was at Webster Hall and that was one of my first shows in America generally, so that was special to me already and I remember specifically the crowd here was really, really incredible, so I remember like feeling that energy from the crowd back was an amazing feeling and I remember losing my earplugs and asking the crowd if they had any earplugs and somebody was like, "Here, " and threw a box of earplugs on stage. But, yeah I remember my first show here for sure and I've played a lot of shows in New York and you know I'm always going to be coming back. Music generally, it's just opinions. There's nothing right or wrong. It's just whatever you like. And in a band you always have other people having opinions and I've always hated the point where you know you put your heart into a song and then there's a part and you just really don't like it and that could be as simple as I wanted to play an open hi-hat and the rest wanted it to be closed. And like I would play it every night and feel like I want it to be open. And when I started making electronic music I loved the fact that nobody else was telling me what to do, so it was all me. If I wanted the song to be 20 minutes, then it's 20 minutes. If I want it to be one minute, it's one minute. The entire song, every instrument, everything is you and I kind of like that. I like being able to make the calls and just decide myself what my music sounds like. I think that a lot of what you listen to, you know, changes how you make music. And yeah there's a lot of songs like Weekend in LA by George Benson, specifically, I love that song and I've always loved it as a kid. Bunch of Deep Purple stuff, I grew up listening to a lot of Deep Purple and Rainbow. You know, I was in a rock band and I think when you play in a band you kind of learn to separate the instruments and you know make them work together a little bit better. You know, you'll have a bass player who will have to make sure that whatever he plays makes sense with the guitar player. And you kind of learn to listen to each other. And I think if you write down my music on a piece of paper and you know just analyze it, it's probably a lot more similar to all those bands than when you just listen to it because the electronic elements and the sounds kind of maybe color it a little bit for you. - Zedd 2015. - So excited to see Zedd. - You know, it's kind of interesting actually because a lot of people say you're EDM, the next one will say you're electro, the next guy will say you're pop. But I remember when I showed my dad my new album True Colors, he said that he likes it better than my old one because it does remind him more of like the King Crimsons and the George Bensons. Because there's a lot of similarities and I think if I had not listened to all those bands I would probably make completely different music. One more time One song that I specifically remember is One More Time by Daft Punk, because that song you know changed me in a way. I only listened to anything but electronic music and that was the first time I actually liked electronic music. And I don't even want to say I did like electronic music, I just liked that one Daft Punk Discovery album, period. I listened to that a million times. And if I had not heard that then I would probably not make electronic music today. One more time Well I definitely appreciate everything about my own tour. Having your own production and your own visuals tailored to you and your production is something, you know, something very special. Beeple is a genius. He's a graphic designer. He's been making one piece of art every single day for the last six and a half years and uploading them. So I've asked him to design my new tour and do the visuals as much as he can do it. And we locked him down for almost half a year and he's been making all these visuals custom built for my production and set up. So I'm still always amazed by his visuals and by his creativity. I don't know where he gets his ideas but every single visual is so unique and different and it just tells you a story without even hearing anything. So far the feedback I've been getting is pretty incredible so you know. We'll run where lights won't chase us Hide where love can save us It makes you look like you're in a different world every single time I switch a song which I really like so it's not just the music switches but your mood also switches because of what you see. We'll run where lights won't chase us Hide where love can save us I will never let you go I'm having a great experience because I can feel the excitement from the crowd. You know sometimes the reaction you get is from what they see. There's been these songs that have never gotten great reactions but paired with a great visual you can tell like...there's moments when everybody puts their phones up and films something from a song that nobody knows. I know that for a fact. But you know it's visually so stunning that you want to capture that moment and I love seeing people capture moments and my experience is just always kind of watching the crowd and seeing how they are amazed and that amazes me when they have a lot of energy that typically makes me jump slightly higher. I've been also thinking back to my very first tour with Skrillex and that was before electronic music blew and up and we all didn't really know what we were doing. We kind of discovered this together and went through this together and I'm not going to lie, we've had literally shows in front of five people. Back then we had, our production was a table. You could see our legs and we did our own changeovers. We unplugged our computers and plugged the next one in on stage. And life was kind of easy back then. We didn't have to do much, you now. If there were lights that was great, if not... Ideally when you watch my show you should think that, or I hope so, that you've never seen anything like this before and from the moment you walk in up til the moment you leave I want everything to be smooth. Ultimately I want them to go home and tell everyone that that was the best night of their life and that's not just my show but also my openers are really important. You know we work really hard to make this show stand out and be something different. I hope that 20 years from now people will look back to my songs and say that they changed maybe their mind about a certain type of music and maybe changed the type of music I was making in general. Thank you. What's up guys. This is Zedd and you're watching Baeble Music.
Zedd started with music in his daily routine from early childhood on. Born Anton Zaslavski, Zedd was raised in Kaiserslautern, Germany by two classically trained musicians, he began playing the piano at the age of four and built up his knowledge of the Classical repertoire throughout his childhood, at times writing a song a day. At age twelve, Anton learned to play the drums and, soon after he began performing with the post-hardcore/metal trio Dioramic. As a preteen he was already composing and producing numerous rock songs in his band's own studio. As the aughts progressed, Antons awareness of other genres widened, and in 2009 his interest in producing electronic music was piqued after hearing the French electronic duo Justice. With his gift for musicality and background in instrumentation, composition and production, the move into the realm of electronic dance music was seamless.
2009 proved to be a watershed year for Zedd. It was during this year that he began producing electronic music, and within an incredibly short period of time amassed widespread critical and audience acclaim. Within a few months of beginning his production work, Zedd won two Beatport remix contests, the "Armand Van Helden / Strictly Rhythm Remix Contest" and the "Fatboy Slim / Skint Remix Contest". These critical wins gave the budding artists the notoriety and clout to catch the interest of Skrillex who essentially found him on the net and signed him to his new OWSLA label. He caught the ear of Interscope A&R Dave Rene and Interscope Geffen A&M Chairman Jimmy Iovine and successfully released several official remixes for powerhouse artists such as Lady Gaga, Black Eyed Peas, P. Diddy, Swedish House Mafia and Skrillex on labels including mau5trap, Interscope, and EMI.
In the realm of his original compositions, Zedds hit singles 'Shave It' and 'Slam The Door' (out through OWLSA) both held the top spot on Beatport's charts for multiple weeks at a time. In the same year, his remix of Lady Gagas Marry the Night appeared on the deluxe edition of the superstars latest album Born This Way and his remix of Born This Way appeared on Born This Way: The Remix. In addition to his own compositions and reworkings of others songs, Zedd has had other electro heavyweights take their turn at his tracks, including Armin Van Buuren, Kaskade, Knife Party and more.
Zedds stellar development is undoubtedly linked to his unique and highly recognizable style of composition. It stands out in a crowded field as meticulously detailed and carefully produced, very playful and at the same time remarkably catchy despite the complex musicality drafting it up. Drawing from his diverse musical background spanning from classical to post-hardcore/metal to electro house Zedds music not only draws from uncommon sources but also has the ability to appeal to an audience outside the realm EDM.
Zedd signed with Interscope records in 2012 and released his debut LP Clarityin October to much critical acclaim. The albums first single, Spectrum, featuring singer/songwriter Matthew Koma, garnered massive global attention climbing into the the Top 10 on the iTunes dance chart and holding on to the #1 spot on Beatport Worldwide for almost three weeks. The track then soared to #1 on the Billboard Dance Club Song chart and was ultimately named their Dance Club Song of the year as well as iTunes Breakthrough Album of the Year (Dance) for 2012.
In addition to racking up original production credits for artists including Eva Simons I Dont Like You and Justin Biebers Beauty And A Beat, Rolling Stone named Zedd an Artist to Watch for 2012, and more recently, MTV deemed him an Artist to Watch for 2013. Zedd has performed at major festivals, including Ultra, Electric Daisy Carnival, and Nocturnal and in 2012, he performed at Coachella, Lollapalooza, Hard Summer in Los Angeles, and Electric Zoo in New York. Zedd made his national television debut on The Late Show with David Letterman in October where he turned his signature style upside down performing a stripped down version of his new single Clarity -showcasing his classical training by playing piano alongside a string quartet and vox from Foxes. The performance is a prime example of Zedd's true musicianship beyond the realm of EDM. Zedd was also chosen to be the only opening act for the Asian leg of Lady Gaga's world stadium-tour "The Born This Was Ball.
A musical prodigy from the start, Zedd is already a powerhouse beyond the EDM realm. His originality and momentum will unquestionably propel him into the ranks of superstars.