German producer Zedd has become a star by bringing musicality to electronic dance music.
“There is a lot of amazing EDM out there, and there are many artists who create really interesting stuff with interesting chords and smart songwriting. But there also is a lot of EDM that is great-sounding, but boring. I sometimes like to play these songs live, when I DJ, because they have a certain energy. A distorted kick can carry all the low end and then all you need are a few single notes on top. It will sound good, because generally speaking, the less elements you have the better. If you don’t clutter your track with millions of things, each element will have more room. When you have complex chord progressions with changing bass notes it won’t be as easy to mix or as punchy. But for me, a distorted kick with just four notes on top is not that exciting.
“Sometimes EDM is less about the music and more about the functionality, of all the standard elements like risers and drops and breakdowns. A lot of EDM songs aren’t there to enlighten you musically in any shape or form, they’re there because they work. We call them ‘DJ tools’, and if you’re in front of 40,000 people and the crowd doesn’t react, you pull up one of these ‘DJ tools’ and you know you’re going to get their attention. It’s great that there’s music like this, and I have also made it, but currently I’m focusing more on musicality and songwriting. I want to feel something when I am listening. I want to create music that everybody can enjoy, that I don’t get tired of, and that doesn’t only work at festivals. I have played ‘Clarity’ every day for almost five years now, and I still get excited every time.”
Thus speaks Anton Zaslavski, aka Zedd, and the song he refers to is his first big hit single, released in 2013, with British singer Foxes on vocals. ‘Clarity’ has to date sold about three million copies worldwide, enjoyed 200 million views on YouTube, and earned Zedd a Grammy for Best Dance Recording. Zaslavski has since...
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