In the week before releasing his second album True Colors, world-renowned producer Zedd spoke with Complex about the different vocalists he's worked with, his goals, and sonic influences on the upcoming record. Most importantly though, he touches on the current state of electronic culture with the focus on how musical much of production really is.
He states "I’ve always had the approach to push electronic music to be more musical. Coming from a musical background, you will find that a lot of [electronic music] isn’t [musical]. The more people that make music not-so musical, the more people accept that and think that’s how it should be. That’s going to make it really tough to turn it back."
Whether you consider Zedd another mainstream producer or knock him for working with pop artists like Selena Gomez, Nicki Minaj, and Justin Bieber, there's no denying he is touching on an issue that needs to be focused on more.
Quality control has truly gone to shit in the EDM world, and also realms all throughout electronic music. That's not to say there isn't countless producers around the world bringing musical and forward-thinking aspects to the table, but let's face it: there's more and more bad music out there being released.
And not just bad like "I hate this and I hate the artist," but truly terrible music. Unfortunately, this has become highly accepted. Too many EDM producers are hopping onto the next bandwagon, the next big trend, and whatever will generate the most income. This is the quick and easy way, but it's not sustainable. Zedd also touches on this in his interview.
He states "Looking back to Queen, the Beatles, King Crimson, Genesis, and all of those great bands, they were able to speak to huge masses of people with fairly complex music. The amount of depth you can put into music and still make people understand it is getting very low and you can overload people’s minds very quickly with very little."
Simply put, fans of EDM and many realms of dance music are lowering their standards and giving up. They want something easy to understand that they can rage and dance to. The producers see this, and realize their only option is to make simple music for simple minds. It goes back to the artists, to the listeners, and the promoters that book these same artists over and over again.
This model can't last forever, and the music we listen to today is often completely gone by the next week. What's big one year is ancient history the next. Artists aren't making classic music that pushes boundaries, but quick and easy music that will set a crowd off.
It's the lazy method, and too many artists are falling into this trap. You could blame the mainstream or EDM or big room or whatever trend is currently in vogue, but it comes down to artist that aren't willing to push their listeners. It comes down to managers pushing artists to make something for the main stage that is currently popular.
It comes down to not enough artists at the top willing to take risks, and artists making music that sounds like everyone else. This has become the standard, but it's a flawed system that will collapse soon enough. Put heart into the music. Put soul into the music. Make something you actually love.
Nowadays you really don't have to produce to be a producer. Get a good ghost producer and play big DJ sets, and the rest is history. This goes beyond artists not being musical, but simply not making their music at all.
In the end, it's about artists that are willing to put in the extra time to create something memorable, something different. We commend Zedd for speaking up, even though it seems the EDM standard and mainstream influence has affected his output more than he would like.
Listen to the new songs off True Colors and then listen to Clarity, and it seems pretty clear where his style is gone. He notes "You have to speak [the fans’] language, and there’s ways to push that musically." We get that, but there's also a point where speaking the language of your fans turns into making music that is really not that far off from the rest.
These artists have a platform of influence, and how they choose to use or abuse it will affect the future of electronic music, dance music, EDM, or whatever you want to call it. You can be one of the world's most known producers and still push boundaries, and that is the only way real change can be made.
Not by doing what everyone else is doing. Not by following trends. Not by making dumbed down tracks that will make people lose their minds for a few months then disappear. It's about artists, fans, promoters, DJ's, managers, record labels, bloggers, editors, and anyone involved to raise their standards and help make the music made today and in the following years remembered for decades, not just considered another trend or passing phase.