Zedd: "I Plan My Music Career To Be As Long As I Live"
After making a 12-hour drive in late August from Phoenix to San Francisco to catch the one and only Paul McCartney, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The National and yes, even Zedd himself at Outside Lands Music Festival, I was pretty musically fulfilled for the summer. Summer might be over, but Zedd planned ahead of time in order to keep a summer vibe going for his fans.
Zedd will be performing at the Madison Event Center, Saturday, September 21. It will be a day full of EDM, especially with Sound Wave Music Festival taking place the same day.
Up On The Sun spoke with Zedd about his music literacy (and how important bacon and guacamole are to human tastebuds.)
Up On The Sun: Random start, but I recall watching you perform along with Foxes on David Letterman not too long ago. It's one of those memories that just stuck out for me. I won't lie, I didn't expect Zedd to be going hard on David Letterman, and perhaps the bass and lights would be too much. I don't know if Letterman could handle that, but it was really enticing for me to watch you play the piano along with Foxes singing. I know that you come from a classical background. Does this have anything to do with what made you make the decision to do something out of the sorts for most electronic acts? Zedd: Yeah, I mean I was really, really nervous. I hadn't remembered being that nervous ever before. I used to play the piano and I use it to write my music in the studio, but it doesn't require me to play without mistakes [in a live setting].
Playing on television is another level, another deal. I didn't want to just go up there and play the song; I thought that would be really boring. So I decided to do something that's live and can kind of show the soul behind the song.
Many people hear a beat and then their minds shut off and they just hear electronic music, but they may not realize that there is real meaning underneath it. We rearranged it for an orchestra and went for it live.
It was really cool. I remember that my dad was sitting next to me. He's typically not into the music, but he listens because of me. When the performance was over he was really impressed. Well, that's awesome. I love to hear when people like my music who would typically not listen to that genre. It's cool to hear when people that are really into, like, rock or metal like my music.
I think it's a lot more challenging to please those people than those who already like or are involved with electronic dance music already.
I know that you're very musically inclined, having started playing piano and even drums at the age of 4. I started with the piano, playing classical music until I was 12-years-old. Then I made a pretty big change from one to the other. I decided to start playing the drums in a band with my brother. And you know music switched from that to rock and metal to hardcore. Then I ended up producing electronic music for fun when I was like 18 maybe. My career after that just kind of took off and quickly.
Well, clearly you've dipped your toes into more than one genre. Other DJ's too--recently Pretty Lights formed a band, and Avicii now has performed with people singing alongside. Being so musically inclined, have you ever thought about stepping outside and working within different genres of music? Sure, I have. It just hasn't felt like its been the right moment, idea or time. I do think that sooner or later I'll be playing instruments live again; just right now at this time I don't think it makes sense on my Moment of Clarity tour. I like the show the way it is, and it requires me to DJ, and that would take time away from that. I would definitively consider it. A band, live singers--yeah it's a possibility.
You've created EDM anthems that are played all across the world. You may not even know that your songs are being played at the moment, but they probably are. Do you ever find yourself getting tired of playing "Spectrum" or "Clarity," or is it something that just defines you and your shows? I personally will probably never get sick of my own songs. In my live shows, my songs are the ones I look forward to playing the most. I don't get sick of them, and I don't believe that everyone saying "you'll get sick of them and they die" [is] correct.
At the end of the day, the really big hits--The Beatles, for example--are played on for a reason. It may seem overwhelming at the time, [but] the reason is that it's just good music.
If you make shitty songs, and have someone press it and it gets played on, yeah, you'll get sick of it. If you actually create music with emotion and soul, I don't think you would grow to be sick of it. I personally don't and I've been playing Spectrum for a year and a half now and continue to.
It's great to hear that you have passion for the music that you create. Oh, absolutely. My goals are always to create timeless music. I don't care about trends. When I made Clarity and; or Spectrum that kind of music was not on the radio at all. I don't sit down and make whatever is trendy right now. Trap tunes are really big right now, but that's a way to jump on trends and create a success, but it will not benefit you as an artist in the long run. I plan my music career to be as long as I live.
That's got to be some sort of famous quote in the future. That is awesome. And now for the fun part as I had promised; goofy questions. Okay. [Laughs]. Great.
What is probably the funniest moment or thing you have seen going on in the crowds at your shows? Wow, that's a good question. There are always people dressed up in funny things. There have been a lot of funny moments. I mean, I've seen someone stage dive into nobody.
Since you are always traveling, you may not have much time to catch show as part of an audience. What is the last show you've been at as a spectator and really enjoyed? [Laughs] The second part made that a little difficult. I mean I rarely go to shows; if I'm at a show, it is usually friends of mine that are preforming. Like, I'll go see Skrillex when he's in town. I think the last show I went to was Avicii this summer, and it was cool; I liked it and I only got the see the last 10 minutes of it or so.
Since I am always touring, I have to make music on the road. What many people don't realize is that my busiest time is when I step off the stage. I'm not the type of person to have other help write my songs, so I'm at it non-stop. So when I get those breaks or chances to see shows, sometimes I would much rather relax and do absolutely nothing. [Laughs]
And with social media nowadays, I get to see how people goof off and what not. And the last thing that I was laughing about was when my friend showed me a video that was posted on Instagram of you and Rukes speaking in some weird alien language. What the hell? That's our tour language. It absolutely does not mean anything at all, and there's no way of telling what it means. Rukes just happened to catch that on tape at a funny moment. But I have no idea what it means; it's just kind of a running thing we've got going.
And again, sorry about the intrusion on social media, but it seem like you are always posting pictures of you eating or just food in general while you are in the studio. What's your favorite studio snack? Well, actually I don't think I'm even posting that, I think Rukes is. [Laughs] People get the impression I eat the whole day, but really I'm sitting behind a computer for about 12 hours a day. I think that probably looks better than just pictures of me sitting all the time.
My favorite snack though, I don't know. I love sushi. I love guacamole, and I really mean that--and obviously I love bacon.
Dillon Francis would approve. And I think we just became best friends. We have the food groups down. Oh yes, he would. [Laughs]
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.