UPDATE: Buy Zeds Dead's new album here
Zeds Dead has been stoking the fire for a while now with their Northern Lights Album illuminating on the horizon, Currently in the midst of another show-stacked tour these Canadians have a shit load to smile about and it has nothing to do with the coffee.
Their forthcoming Album Northern Lights is well on its way reveling in hip-hop euphoria displaying memorable lyrical hooks infused with serious bass-weighted distortion.
As these two bass bandits will be Headlining for HARD Australia this December across Sydney, Brisbane, Perth & Adelaide in conjunction with their world tour. With Northern Lights releasing this Friday on their Deadbeats label, we got up close and personal with the Toronto-based bass maestros about their bass origins, hip-hop collaborators and their love for coffee.
When did you guys first team up and start producing music together?
I think we linked up around 2005 and we started making instrumental hip-hop music for rappers, basically. That was called Mass Productions. Then, after that, around 2009, we started Zeds Dead, which was our hip-hop influenced production plus we started listening to electronic music so that filtered its way in there.
Growing up, what was it that exposed you both to bass and who were some of your biggest musical influences?
I'd say going to concerts. When you're by yourself listening to music, you don't necessarily get it fully, but when you go to a concert, you really feel the bass. I remember this first hip hop show I went to I was like, "It's all bass." and I was really into it. That definitely stuck with me and thinking about production from then on.
Talk to me about your upcoming album Northern Lights. Is it true that it's been in the works for a while?
Yeah, we've been working on it for a few years now. Basically, while we were doing lots of other projects / singles / remixes and stuff like that, we've also been putting aside different instrumentals and beats for our album. We had an overall vision for what we wanted to do with it. One of those things was to work with a lot of different collaborators, which we did on this album. We basically dived into a lot of different styles that we love.
As far as vocalists go, what were you looking for on this album?
Most of the songs, we did the instrumentals first. We had a vision in mind of each song, so we went after artists that we thought could complement the instrumentals. Many of them, we were able to get into the studio with and be involved in the writing. Some of it was just sent off and sent back to us on email. The most hands-on would have been with writers and vocalists.
Were there any dramas piecing this all together and having it run cohesively as a full album?
No, not really. The ones that we focused on, we knew where they were going to fit pretty much. We went through a lot of music. If anything, it was really narrowing things down and figuring out what files different tracks are going to be after making so much music and it was with so many different people. I guess that's the only thing that was stressful was that we had so much stuff we wanted to use, but really just cutting it down to the ones that made the most sense.
You've enlisted some pretty solid rappers on this one working with Jadakiss, Pusha T and Freddie Gibbs. What was it like short listing through all the potential artists?
We pretty much got the ones we wanted, which was amazing. We've been in this for several years now and sometimes it's just your management talking to somebody else's management. Not necessarily that hard to get in touch with people anymore. The ones we went after were feeling it, so... It was pretty amazing, actually, working with some of these people.
When it comes to producing do you but heads on projects - what does a studio session look like for you guys?
It's probably a bit of both because we both learned how to produce ourselves before we met each other and built off each other, so we both have a pretty similar skill set, as far as that goes. Actually, for this album, I think we've worked together more than we ever have actually sitting in the same room. In the past, we would mix stuff separately and just bounce it off each other, which we still did for this album, but this was a lot of just burying ourselves in the studio and cranking it out. Obviously, sometimes you butt heads, but if it's something that both of us like, then we feel happy about it.
Your track ‘Too Young’ features Pusha and Rivers Cuomo heavily - looking back are you blown away with seeing that in the title description?
Yeah, that one came about in a pretty interesting way as we didn’t plan that they were both going to feature. It was originally Rivers Cuomo completely alone on it. We just felt like we were missing something and then Pusha T came through with some really interesting verses and this style that I've never heard him do before. I'm really happy with that track.
Do you feel your hip hop roots helped cement you both in the bass community?
I think it's a preferred style more than anything. It was the platform for everything else to jump off. I guess we came at it from a different direction than some other people who are more from electronic backgrounds or metal backgrounds or whatever. I think it's something that will always resonate with us and hopefully is obvious in our music and production.
You recently hooked up with Diplo and Elliphant for ‘Blame’ how’d that come about?
That's a song we've been working on for a long time. We went through a lot of different twists and turns with that one for sure. We finally got something we were all happy with and it's a pretty interesting song. It's melodic, heavy bass. I think that one came together, for sure.
What led to creating your Deadbeats label?
That's something we've been wanting to do for ages. We always wanted to put our hands to other things that we thought was great for music as well as pulling our own music because we've always pretty well done everything ourselves and with our following and the way we operate, we don't necessarily need anybody else. It was just time. The album will be the first thing released on it. It seems appropriate and damn good timing.
Your Northern Lights tour kicks off on the 29th of September. What do you have in store for your live performances at HARD AUSTRALIA?
We've got some crazy production for this tour, including these things called dream panels that I think we're the only act touring with them at the moment. They're this new technology that has LEDs on one side of the panel and lights on the other. It can turn around and dance in front of us. We have a really good video wall behind us with some which will display content.
That's all I've got for you guys today. I guess lastly, how do you like your coffee?
I just got a cold brew tower with what's like a chemistry set. It looks like something from Breaking Bad. I'm pretty into that cold brew right now.
Scientific from the underground.
HARD AUSTRALIA 2016
Thursday Dec 1 – Perth, Metro City – Tickets here
Friday Dec 2 – Adelaide, Adelaide Showgrounds – Tickets here
Saturday Dec 3 – Sydney, Royal Randwick Racecourse – Tickets here
Sunday Dec 4 - Brisbane, Brisbane Showgrounds - Tickets here