Perth bass connoisseur ZEKE BEATS is one of the most innovative electronic acts coming out of Australia at the moment, and a force to be reckoned with. To say the very least, he doesn’t go with the flow.
His experimental, heavy, analog sound design has bought him fans en masse, in the likes of ZEDS DEAD, EPROM, Mr Carmack and BassNectar. With a background in turntablism, his live sets go far beyond your average DJ. Whilst he’s been truely killing it nationally, America has embraced him with open arms, having hit up festival after festival and collaborated with some of the biggest names in the game. Since wrapping up a USA tour with universal treasure REZZ, he’s just dropped the face melting ‘Devastate’ EP, and is about to head on a massive US tour of the same name. If you’re not on top of this style of bass yet, get ready to be converted.
We spoke to Zeke himself about his renowned live set, his creative process, and the differences between the USA and Aussie electronic scenes.
SR: Hey Zeke, congrats on the new release! What inspires the soundscapes you create?
ZB: Purely experimentation! I don’t know what I want to make until I happen to stumble across it. Most of the time I know what I am after in terms of whether I want a staccato type note or sound over the top of a sustained note, but the essence of the sound is completely made through experimenting on my computer and also hardware synths.
SR: Did your knowledge of DJing help you out in transitioning to production, or was it still like learning a whole new language?
ZB: Yes and no. I guess listening to so much electronic music helped me with things like song structure, but making music compared to DJing is so different. I love it!
SR: What does your studio look like in terms of equipment? Do you prefer software or hardware, or a mix to create your sounds?
ZB: I use a mix between hardware and software. A lot of the time for bass sounds its hardware and then I process the recorded audio in Ableton Live.
SR: What’s the best piece of advice someone’s given you in relation to your career?
ZB: It’s not really advice from anyone but something I have learnt over the years is to use your time wisely… you cannot force creativity, so in the times where you’re not feeling creative try to learn new techniques instead. The new things you learn could inspire you and you’ll be off and running in no time!
SR: Please tell us you and REZZ cooked up some music in your time on tour together.
ZB: Unfortunately, we didn’t get to spend that much time outside of the shows. It was all spent travelling and sound-checking a lot of the time. I would love to work with her in the future, so I’m crossing my fingers!
SR: Can you walk us through your current live setup?
ZB: It’s semi-live really! I DJ on two turntables which are running Traktor, and then I have a Maschine connected to the laptop which allows me to control any function on Traktor via Midi mappings I have created. I use it unconventionally but it works so well for me!
SR: We’ve read that one of your first ever studio sessions was with EPROM. Can you tell us how that came about?
ZB: I met EPROM back in 2011/2012 supporting him on his first appearance in Perth, I was always a huge fan so of course, I approached him and told him how much I loved his music. We basically clicked and developed a friendship from there. The 2nd time he came back to Australia we hung out more and said if I’m ever in the States to come visit and hang out, it kind of fell in place from there!
SR: Are there any trends or movements in electronic music you’ve noticed growing in the US that Australia needs to jump on?
ZB: I think the U.S are moving to the forefront of the Electronic music scene. I find the U.S crowds to be a lot more open-minded with experimental music which makes it very fun to play out. They also really rep their sound systems over there!
SR: So many sounds you use feel like they teeter on the edge of what the human mind can comprehend: Can you dream up these sounds in your head and then input them – or is it more a completely randomised, in-the-moment process of turning knobs and thinking “that sounds crazy, let’s go with that.”
ZB: About 50/50. Through my experiences I’ve learnt how to craft certain unique sounds, but then there are always crazy new ones I stumble across from experimenting, but then I learn how it works so yeah I’d say definitely 50/50.
Make sure you take a peep at the ‘Devastate’ EP below. It’s a face melter.