Hooks of Zeds Dead took a break from their busy touring schedule to let us pick his brain a little via Skype. Here is what went down...Deathwaltz: Dubstep is a term that gets thrown around a lot--the lines are muddied and seems like a lot of people have different perceptions of what it defines...if someone asked you what your music sounded like would you say dubstep? Or an amalgamation of bunch of different things?
Hooks of Zeds Dead: I don't wanna say dubstep anymore, we never wanted to just do one thing thats for sure. I think its easy for people to say dubstep because it's kind of a buzz word "oh you make the Dubstep I've heard of that!". I don't even want to say I make electronic music anymore, I find any of these labels to be confining. I really just want to make music that hits people, that people can listen to on a listening level. Sometimes we tried to make stuff for the dance floor. But yea I think the classifications are for others to decide. Any description boxes it in, I think art should speak for itself for the most part. I don't think that there really needs to be much of a back story...some people think like the back story can improve the art but I think you should take it at face value like a painting. Like if you just look at a painting you should be able to determine whether it's good or not, but someone tells you "oh the guy who painted this was blind" or something. Well, you know that's interesting but I don't know if it makes it better at face value.
So it's almost pigeon-holing now it does seem....
Yeah there are sometimes I make a song I'm like this will fall in the category of Dubstep. But I would say it's all about mixing stuff up, dance influences come from all sorts of places. It's tough to say to because, I can make a song that has wobbles in it or a filthy bass line and someone would call it dubstep but it might be at like 100 bpm—then when we make an electro song people call it dubstep. I don't know it's the word to call anything pretty much. We are not going to rise and fall with that word. A lot of people do say to us they were the first dubstep they listened to, that we put them on to it which is really cool. Hopefully our fans aren't just hoping for dubstep forever, I think they are pretty open and willing to go in different directions because we've been throwing curve balls all over the place--but we still keep rooted in the same kind of vibe the whole time and I think that's what shines through.
Since we're on the bunch of different genres you guys play, what do you guys think of Drum & Bass?...Do you listen to it...and try to do some of it live....and do you think the genre is general dying or just evolving?
Personally I love Drum & Bass. I was actually just listening to some new stuff Calyx & Teebee put out a new album that's awesome. And they were really influential to me sort of transitioning from hip hop into listening to all sorts of electronic stuff, because I thought they had that hip-hop vibe with their stuff. But yea I think the genre has gotten less, but I think it's coming back. I can see it making a big comeback.
Sure...I guess the deeper, dark jungle DnB is pretty much gone for good...
It got a little too, you know it just got crazier and darker...and I think the same sort of things are happening with dubstep and I don't know. Maybe a few years off it is enough for it to come back and seem fresh again...like a new generation. I think maybe its because the older generation of electronic music listeners and ravers and stuff were listening to that....so maybe the new generation wanted Dubstep so badly because it was the new sound. Maybe when that starts to decline they will be like "hey this stuff's good too" haha. We made DnB tracks, not as much though--I say usually when we work in that tempo we end up just going half time.
When you guys drop it into your set, do you see a different...I don't want to say less but a different reaction than when you're doing the harder stuff....?
No people like it a lot. We play DnB in every set usually toward the end because I find the energy curve works well just to you know make it real lively at the end before dropping down into some chill stuff. But yea you can really fell the energy go crazy when you start playing that.
What are your thoughts on the deeper more experimental dubstep like Scuba, Burial and...Skream & Benga and all those guys...have they influenced you at all, do you listen to them?
I do. I mean that's the kind of stuff I would actually listen to. I don't so much listen to the hard stuff when I'm on my own anymore. Something that has a really good groove though I will bump and you know, make the screw face too haha. But I typically listen to that, and we make a lot of that stuff...we've been sort of saving that for our album. You know on the more chill level—it might not exactly be dance floor stuff. I particularly like Synkro, really like him.
You talked about the LP, I know you guys have done a bunch of EPs...is this something you set out to do initially to release a bunch of EPs or did you have an idea to put together an album at the end of it?
We always wanted to do an album. I think the goal with that is to make something thats more of a listening front to back kind of experience than with the EPs. I mean we do try and make it like that, but a lot of our EPs are more about the dance floor oriented beats. And like Adrenaline you know a lot of those, was stuff we would play out. I don't know it kinda just happens, like these tracks go together, these don't.
Do you guys have a specific date in mind for the release...or is that confidential?
...haha don't expect it anytime soon. The thing is I always wish I could play people the songs off it. But I think it ruins the surprise though, you never know if things are gonna change and stuff.
I agree. You guys tour with an MC Omar Linx, did you start out with him doing more hip-hop type stuff? And is he going to be at the Electric Factory show?
Not this time we did a whole live tour with him last time around. But yeah we would record a lot in our separate basements and just mess around. And he was one of the people who would collaborate, all the other people fell off but he's the only one who stuck with it.
So are you personally into hip-hop a lot?
Yeah that was my shit. I only really listened to hip-hop for a long time. And like old records, stuff I would sample, I would be collecting records a lot and going to garage sales and used records shops. But yeah it was just hip hop. I didn't even really listen to electronic music until like 5 years ago...6 years ago I guess. All throughout high school and then first year university I started listening to DnB and electro and Justice-y kind of stuff.
Who would you say are your three biggest influences in hip-hop?
I'd say all my production biggest influences, definitely DJ Shadow became a big one, DJ Premier before that. When I heard shadow it was like he went to the next level, he didn't even need an MC on his tracks he just made these complete songs out of all these samples from all different places, it was really cool. RZA because of his unorthodox production, like putting stuff in reverse, making low quality stuff...just making things sound really grimey. You know de-tuning the pitching drums way down.
Ok it seems there is this huge craze in EDM world everyone is remixing each others tracks..do you guys enjoy doing remixes and do you enjoy doing remixes for others?
Yea I definitely enjoy remixing. I think having a starting point is a great way to spark the creativity...when I hear one element it starts to give me ideas. Starting from scratch sometimes is hard. It's weird how the whole process works, sometimes you have an idea in your head but sometimes you just start playing around and one thing leads to another sorta idea. But with a remix if you have a good vocal or a good piano riff or something it's easy for me to come up with ideas and build off it. So I definitely like remixing. When someone remixes our stuff I think it's cool cause you see someone else's take on it...if they go in and make it interesting. Some people are pretty slack and they just do the same thing. It's like "okay I'm gonna take your drop and just put it at a different tempo", it's not...I mean it's one way of doing things. I like when people go in depth and get creative and treat it kinda like a sample which is what enticed me about remixes in the first place. Kind of like flipping a sample which is what I used to do with hip-hop all the time. I used to go with rare records that people wouldn't know when I sample something. But now i'd be just as inclined to sample something someone already knows and call it a remix. Sometimes I think about doing stuff for the set...I'm like I kinda want to play this random rock song from the 70s or something. A good example is I wanted to play The Beatles "A Day In The Life", I just wanted to drop it in there for variety because I like that song. I don't really like to just drop in old stuff straight up so i'd rather go and remix it a bit. So I kinda sped it up and through the mix into another track.