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Exploring The Progressive Approach To Dubstep—Zeds Dead

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If you’ve had an eye on the electronic music landscape over the last few years, the Toronto-based duo Zeds Dead (aka DC and Hooks) is no doubt one of the most encouraging bass/dubstep/progressive acts currently navigating the underground. Kissy Sellout and Skream were first to cue up for the duo by featuring their remix of “Eyes on Fire” by Blue Foundation on their radio shows—BBC Radio 1 and Rinse FM, respectively. Since that initial bump, the duo has gone from strength to strength. Word of mouth from fans has been huge and massive support from DJs like Diplo, Rusko, Skrillex and Bassnectar (to name a few) has not only resulted in impressive YouTube hits (their "Eyes On Fire" remix has over 17.5 million views alone), but has had the duo on the road for what seems like a never-ending string of tour dates. Their summer was spent on "The Rumble in the Jungle” tour bouncing around festivals in North America and the UK, and on September 2 they recently kicked off their “The Graveyard Tour,” which is running though December 17 and when all is said and done will go down as the duo’s biggest tour to date. Music wise, Zeds Dead recently released “BassMentality” via Basshead Records on September 20 and the “Rumble In The Jungle” EP on October 4 via Mad Decent. On December 6th, Dim Mak Records will drop “Ruckus The Jam.” After the tour the duo plans to get together with vocalist Omar Linx and make an album. BTW, did you hear their tune "Wake Up?" We caught up with DC and Hooks in between dates on their “The Graveyard Tour” and threw out a few questions.

Zeds Dead "Coffee Break"

Say hello to Magnetic readers, introduce thyself.
Hooks: Hey world. My real name is Zack and I was born and raised in Toronto. I've always been artistically inclined—be it graffiti art, music, or making movies. Before the music career took off, I would paint walls and freight trains in my spare time. My favorite songs might be “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay” by Otis Redding, “1979” by the Smashing Pumpkins, “My Life” by Styles P. feat. Pharoahe Monch, “Since I've Been Loving You” by Led Zeppelin, and “Midnight In A Perfect World” by DJ Shadow. I love a good coffee and a fresh pair of socks.
DC: My names Dylan I was also born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. I’ve been passionate about music for as long as I can remember—from taking piano and guitar lessons as a child to producing and DJing as a teenager. When I was 13 or 14 I saved up a bunch of money to buy two turntables and a mixer but for whatever reason at the last minute decided to buy studio equipment instead. Three of my favorite songs of all time are Nina Simone's “Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood” Biggie’s “Suicidal Thoughts” and Eminem’s “Drug Balled.” I also enjoy great food, snowboarding and the comedic styling of Louie CK.

Tripping on mushrooms has definitely helped to reshape the way I view this world…They also have contributed to my artistic output, as I think I get a little more ‘out there’ than I would have otherwise. –Hooks

How would you describe your sound to a deaf person?
Hooks: How would you describe sound in general to a deaf person?

What was your favorite toy as a child and when/why did you stop playing with it?
Hooks: My favorite toy was my Terminator action figure that was just the robot skeleton. One time I tried to create the Arnold Schwarzenegger exterior by covering it with Plasticine and then proceeded to enact a battle where the skin was melted off. I never was able to get all the Plasticine off, though, and it left my rotation.
DC: I was always really into the Spawn toys; Todd McFarlane made the most badass toys. This one in particular (future Spawn) was my shit. I guess I stopped playing with it because I broke probably every toy I had in some epic battle situation.

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Any colorful incidents involving a fan?
Hooks: When I saw that a girl had the Zeds Dead logo tattooed on her hip I was taken aback.
DC: Ya, that was nuts. There are few Zeds Dead tattoos out there now.

Favor us with a moment in life that changed the course of, or defined, your aesthetic philosophy.
DC: Probably the first time I heard Illmatic by Nas or Pete Rock and CL Smooth's Soul Survivor. That’s what really made me wanna start making hip-hop and started me on this whole musical journey. Later when I herd Justice's Cross album that made me wanna make electronic dance music.
Hooks: Tripping on mushrooms has definitely helped to reshape the way I view this world and has kept my ego in check. They also have contributed to my artistic output, as I think I get a little more “out there” than I would have otherwise.

Your creative arc. Alpha to omega, go.
Hooks: It's always different. Sometimes I start with the drums, sometimes the melodies. Sometimes I just start playing around with sounds and make the drop. Usually a beat progresses in stages. I often make quick ideas; usually consisting of nothing more than a chord progression or an interesting sound and then save it. If I'm really into it, it might get worked on every day that week. Other times I'll forget about it and find it months, sometimes years later and be inspired by it. Once the basic foundation of a song is laid out I'll pass it to Dylan to critique or add to. After that we go back and forth until it's done.
DC: My process is pretty similar…almost exactly. I used to get stoned a lot and get really inspired to write songs, I think doing that can inspire you to take things in a direction you may not have otherwise. The problem for me with doing that is it’s nearly impossible for me to take something from start to finish because I get so easily distracted by other sounds and progressions. Nowadays, if I have an idea I really want to flesh out and take it from start to finish, a good breakfast and coffee is often the best aid.

The movement from CD to MP3 was a big paradigm shift in the music biz. Crystal ball time. What will be the next big shake up? How are you going to come out on top?
Hooks: The next big shakeup will be when this thin veneer of order crumbles. After cities descend into anarchy and electricity and water stops flowing there will be no use for music or art in general. I have no contingency plan for this as of yet.

Do you think there are any commonly held societal beliefs that are false?
Hooks: Some drugs are bad for you, but like everything moderation is the key. There are a lot of people out there who don't take care of themselves and give drugs a bad name. They ruin it for everyone else because there are a lot of people out there with self-control who have safe fun times once in a while.

Education is important but the system we have is flawed in a lot of ways. Although it can definitely help, I don't believe that you need a formal education to make it in many of the creative fields—if you have the determination to create a body of work on you own. You could get great marks in school and come out with a Bachelor of Arts degree and no connections for work. Knowing people gets your foot in the door, often more than formal qualifications do.

Global warming is probably real. Even if it isn't our fault, I still think we should figure out ways of polluting the Earth less.

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