I can’t help but think about the whole nature versus nurture thing when it comes to Anton Zaslavski (that’s Zedd). Lets see, the German wunderkind was born into a family of musicians, started playing piano at four (mastered it a few years after he began banging on the keys), played drums in a band after that and in 2009 electronic music perked his ears. It literally took a few moons of producing dance music before the accolades started pouring in, winning two Beatport remix contests: one for “Armand Van Helden/Strictly Rhythm” and another for “Fatboy Slim/Skint.” After those two victories, folks like Lady Gaga, Black Eyed Peas, P. Diddy, Skrillex (he's signed to Owsla) and Swedish House Mafia came calling for official remixes. Today? Well, today he’s opening up for Lady Gaga in Singapore for the Born This Way tour. So yea, nature versus nurture—would the electro house genre have a “Zedd Style” if he didn’t grow up around a gaggle of musicians? Either way, the kid continues to impress. Most recently with his tune "Spectrum" featuring Matthew Koma. BTW, "Spectrum" already spawned a Youtube piano cover, check it out.
We caught up with Zedd before he took off on a perpetual string of tour dates playing some of electronic music’s most celebrated events and festivals: Lollapalooza, HARD Summer, Tomorrowland, Melt Festival, Electric Zoo, Creamfields, Holy Ship and Mysteryland to name but a few. See full list of dates below our chat.
Im paranoid that youre not an interviewer but a professional psychologist, using these questions to manipulate me and make me give you my soul.
I love to do Steve Aoki’s signature ‘Disco Naps.’
Are there any cities or club nights you’re looking forward to playing most on this trip?
I'm excited for every single show, to be honest. I haven't played most of the places so it all is new to me!
Do you have a favorite airline?
I love Continental Airlines in the states and Korean Air and Singapore Airlines are amazing! And if you're an airline and give me enough money I will say your name here the next time!!!!!! Joking… but I probably will!!!
First class or coach?
Coach for all flights below 4-5 hours, business class for everything above. No first class for me yet. Not fancy-pants enough.
I have to work on the road. Not only because as an artist you need to produce music but also because I can’t sleep if I have an idea in my head—and not in my computer.
What’s your drink of choice?
Vodka + Red Bull or Jack + Coke.
What items do you always take with you on the road?
iPad, laptops, PS Vita, 3 pairs of headphones, LOTS of clothes (because I'm lazy and don't do laundry a lot), my NI S4 (DJ equipment) and Nike fuel band!
You’re on the road a lot, any tales of extreme excitement or extreme boredom you’d like to share?
I either watch Entourage (and this will not last forever unfortunately), play games on my iPad or PS Vita or sleep! At least in the planes there's not much more I can do. I've stepped up my road-set up a little bit so now I need power to produce music which means that I mostly can't work in planes.
Tell me about a colorful incident involving a fan. You can change names to protect the innocent, if you care to.
Oh God, there are so many—it's always really difficult to pick one. But just a few days ago there was a fan in Manila that recognized me on the street and asked me for a photo... these moments feel so overwhelming. I'm on the other side of the world; I've never played in this city in my life and someone recognizes me on the street. To me these moments are beautiful!
I always wonder about pets and people that travel a lot.
No pets! I'm never home. In fact, it's almost June and I've not been home for 1 single day this year. My pets would be really hungry by now…
Do you have any pre-gig routines or green room rituals?
I love to do Steve Aoki's signature “Disco Naps.” Just a little nap before I have to head to the venue. No real pre-gig routines besides doing 3000+ sit-ups. (I start at 2999.)
Is being on the road friendly to your creative process?
Well, it actually changes the way I produce music. If I'm at home (I don't have a studio at home; just a comfortable chair) or in a studio, I really can focus on sound-design very well, because I am comfortable with the sound I hear. On the road it's very difficult to do that because I personally am very bad producing on headphones because I don't “feel it,” especially the bass. But this leaves me tons of hours to experiment with chords, melodies and stuff like that. A lot of times, when I'm on the road, I will make some pre-work: my own loops, my own sample-packs and stuff like that. Things I would never do in the studio because I would feel like I would be wasting too much time.
Have you learned anything about yourself from being on the road so much?
So far I've never had a tour-manager, which forced me to learn to be very responsible. Also I've learned to speak English, hah! That's a point I shouldn't forget.
Do you work on music while touring?
Yes, I don't really have a choice. As much as I would prefer to do this while I'm not on the road; I have to work on the road. Not only because as an artist you need to produce music but also because I can't sleep if I have an idea in my head—and not in my computer. Sometimes I wake up in the night with a whole song in my head. When I have something in my head I have to get it out! And as soon as the song is finished I love to give it out to people ASAP. I hate to wait for a release; the song gets old. You don't let your food get cold before you eat, right!?
How much of your set changes from gig to gig?
What I play really depends on where I am. When you play every day, you learn which songs work well with each other, you learn which songs you should better play to hype the crowd in the beginning, which ones to save for the end so there's definitely some kind of a routine you have after a while. Now, that I'm playing in Asia in front of a completely different crowd than I usually have, I've switched my set 100%. I've made loads of new mash ups and edits and learned to “react” faster.
Do you travel with an entourage?
Yes. Bacon! Every morning for breakfast! I love bacon and bacon loves me! Besides that, nope. Usually I'm traveling alone. Right now on the Born This Way Ball we're traveling with far over 100 people so there's always someone I can hang out with, but aside from that I'm always hoping to know someone in the city I play.
What’s on your Rider?
It's really short, simple and cheap for promoters! It's usually just fruits, snacks, chips + salsa and guacamole, water, coke, Red Bull and vodka or whiskey.
If you were the biggest musician in the world, what would be on your Rider?
I'd have hot bacon every 30 minutes.
Which do you prefer, a smoky, low-lit club or a big stage with bright lights?
This changes but at the moment, after I've played in a stadium and arena almost every night, I can't wait to play smaller club-shows again. If you had asked me this question 1 month ago I would have answered the opposite though.
What’s the most memorable time you’ve had on the road outside of the club?
30 minutes ago! I've done laundry and it came back ... folded!!!! Come on... this is amazing!!! I don't have to fold my laundry ... this made my day!!!!! I'm not sure how much detail you want here. This happened in my hotel room. My room number is #2222. I'm confident this interview won't be posted when I'm still here. And if it is, I'll say "hi" and give you a hug!
What the first thing you do when you wake up?
I open my laptop, check my emails, Twitter and Facebook!
What the last thing you do before you go to sleep?
It's sad but the same thing as when I wake up. I check my emails, Twitter and Facebook. I'm terrible.
You probably shake a lot of hands on the road, if people were really to listen after you shook their hand for the first time, what would you say to them?
If you were to describe your sound as a scent, a signature fragrance as it were, what would it be called?
“Zedduction,” the fragrance for men, women and bears!
How would you describe your sound to a deaf person?
Colorful, emotional, electronic!
Describe a moment of what may or may not have been “paranoia” in your life.
I'm paranoid that you're not an interviewer but a professional psychologist, using these questions to manipulate me and make me give you my soul.
Talk about the most hectic conflict that you’ve been involved in.
Holy Mother of God! These questions are hardcore!!! Let me think... the most hectic conflict was probably this morning, when I was really full and ate so much food but there was still this strip of bacon on the table ... I occupied the position of "eat it!" and I did eat it... It's gone now. It was beautiful!
Do you read books on the road?
I don't, to be honest. I'll rather make music.
How do you like to spend your free time/days off on the road?
I love to just chill, sleep a lot and eat food, watch TV and do nothing. This is definitely my favorite way to spend days off. If I have some time off back home in Germany, I love to meet my friends, watch a movie, talk or just hang out/go out. One of my favorite days off I had in a mall with my friends Skrillex and Porter Robinson. We took glam shots, ate great food, just spent the day together and Skrill tweeted that we were in the mall so tons of people came over and tried to find us in this giant mall. It was so much fun!
Do you have an adventurous palette?
Today was pretty adventurous. Beetroot-butter, Tuna-Melon and Beef Tartar... That's not too bad, is it?
What do you look forward to most when the tour is over?
I look forward to finishing my album very much! In fact I will be so happy when I know it's done and even happier when I can hold it in my hands. Aside from that I'm really looking forward to coming back home to Germany and spending a few days with my family and friends. It's been such a long time...
Do you remember the first time you had a live audience’s complete attention?
Well, I do, but I was 6 and I was playing classical music in a church, ahah. I remember that as a DJ too, it was in my hometown and I was spinning a song by “Klaas.”
Do you have any photos from the road you’d like to share with Magnetic readers?
Yes. This is Skrillex and me before we did some zip lining!
What are the top 5 songs in your iTunes “most played” folder?
This is hard. Some of my all time favorites are:
Zedd Tour Dates:
May 29 Singapore Indoor Stadium w/ Lady Gaga, Singapore, Singapore
May 31 Singapore Indoor Stadium w/ Lady Gaga, Singapore, Singapore
Jun 03 Gelora Bung Karno Stadium – Aquatics Arena w/ Lady Gaga, Jakarta, Indonesia
Jun 08 Control @ The Junkyard, Nashua, NH
Jun 09 Starscape Baltimore, MD
Jun 10 Ocean Club w/ Fedde Le Grand, Quincy, MA
Jun 14 Yachtklub, Sachsenhausen, Germany
Jun 15 Calwer Eck, Stuttgart, Germany
Jun 16 Augustiner Keller, Munich, Germany
Jun 17 Marquee Pool, Las Vegas, NV
Jun 18 Marquee, Las Vegas, NV
Jun 30 Marquee Night Club, Las Vegas, NV
Jul 01 Tao Beach, Las Vegas, NV
Jul 03 Summerfest, w/ Tiësto, Steve Aoki, Milwaukee, WI
Jul 06 Wireless Festival London, London, United Kingdom
Jul 06 Urban Art Forms Festival, Graz, Austria
Jul 07 Blok, Zurich, Switzerland
Jul 08 Rock In Roma w/ Justice, Rome Rm, Italy
Jul 12 Camp Bisco, Pattersonville, NY
Jul 14 Melt Festival, Gräfenhainichen, Germany
Jul 26 Emmaboda Festival, Emmaboda, Sweden
Jul 28 Tomorrowland, Boom, Belgium
Aug 03 Lollapalooza, Chicago, IL
Aug 04 HARD Summer Festival, Los Angeles, CA
Aug 05 Marquee Day Club, Las Vegas, NV
Aug 06, Marquee Day Club, Las Vegas, NV
Aug 09, Red Rocks, Morrison, CO
Aug 10 Wild Knight, Scottsdale, AZ
Aug 11 Marquee Day Club, Las Vegas, NV
Aug 18 Sonicmania, Tokyo, Japan
Aug 25 Mysteryland Festival, Vijfhuizen, Netherlands
Aug 26 Creamfields UK, Halton, United Kingdom
Sep 02 Electric Zoo, New York, NY
Sep 29 CounterPoint Festival, Atlanta, GA
Jan 04 Holy Ship