CAZZETTE discusses the long road ahead with their new single "Blind Heart"
It's not often that an artist is able to take a step back from their career and re-evaluate their direction and sound. Whether they're finding new inspirations through other sounds or are just uncomfortable with their current style, its vital that an artist supports and enjoys what they are doing, so they can fully utilize all of their creativity and passion for their music. Sweden's own CAZZETTE recently experienced a similar kind of epitome, and took a break earlier this year to redefine their sound. After releasing their chart-topping single "Sleepless" featuring The High earlier this year and "Blind Heart" featuring Terri B, Alex and Sebastian know that they have truly found their calling.
We caught up with Sebastian in his hotel in New York as he was preparing for his Halloween performance at Pier 94, and we discussed the process behind their newest singles, their tight relationship with Spotify, and how they came to decide their old sound just wasn't for them.
EDM: So how's New York treating you? How does it compare to Stockholm in Sweden?
It's so natural to be here, we got signed to Def Jam Records last time we were here. I really can't compare any city to NY, it's just so amazing here, there is so much you can do. You can do whatever you want here, and you can just go. It's definitely one of our favorite cities in the world, so we're incredibly fortunate to even spend time here.
How has the tour been so far?
The great thing about this tour is that we can see the change in the crowd from our earlier tours. People are ready for this change now, because it's not only about our music, but it's about the soulful stuff coming back too. We're so happy to be a part of this change now, because the energetic songs have been going on for too long, and although we love the energetic music, that's not always what it's about. I love what were doing now, and people are really acceptive of it. Watching our new single "Blind Heart" do super well along with with "Sleepless," means for us that it's time for a change.
You guys made a pretty big 180-turn from your earlier releases like "Beam Me Up," what inspired your change from energetic sounds to more soulful tracks?
When we started to make this change, we were in a place where we didn't like what we were doing or playing. We didn't really see eye-to-eye with our label music-wise, and it got to a point where we saw the change that was taking place in the comunity too, so I called my manager Ash and said, 'I'm not doing this anymore, I'm not going to make this music, and I'm not touring 265 days a year. We need to take a break.' He was incredibly supportive of our change, and once we went back to Stockholm we got into the studio and started fresh.
How did it feel to have this break?
It was incredible, we cranked out so many ideas in the first week at home, it was just so natural. We linked up with the singer The High who is one of the most talented musicians I've ever worked with, and most underrated too. When we made "Sleepless," we didn't really have a plan with it, but it just felt right being with The High and making what we wanted, so we're going to stick with that feeling now. It really comes down to that - if it doesn't feel right, we just won't release it.
How did you get linked up with The High?
He originally came to us with the idea, when it was just his lead vocal over a piano. When he showed it to me, I immediately was like 'whoa, yes,' so we worked on the chords and melody while The High took care of the vocals. It just felt amazing, because we new exactly where we wanted to go with it, without having to fit a certain pre-determined sound.
Did you know it was going to be such a big hit?
When we released it, we had no expectations. We loved it, but to be honest we expected it would be a failure. When you make a change that big and take risks, you naturally expect some kind of failure. But when it received something like a million streams in the first week, we knew we did something right. We put our whole soul into the track and it was so much work to make it, so seeing that result in the first week was crazy.
Was it a similar creative process for making Blind Heart?
It was a bit different, the vocalist was introduced to us with the a capella, and we just started working on creating a sound to fit the voice. It was a long process because we had about 5 different songs we were working on to fit the vocals, so we had all these different ideas that we ended up combining into one track. It was a fantastic and fun process because the song has a really unique arrangement, and in the end it was just a big collaborative process between myself, Alex, and our executive manager Ash.
You've worked with Spotify since your first album Eject, what began your relationship with them?
Spotify for us is the most natural way of getting music out to people. It's been so successful in Sweden so it's always felt very natural and familiar to us. The Eject album was the first project we did with them, and probably the biggest because it was exclusively released through them and the first time they ever hosted that kind of release. The people that work at Spotify are so creative, smart, and forward-thinking, I truly love everyone that work there. They're just the future of the music scene, and no one can really argue against them because platforms like iTunes and Youtube are really struggling to find a plan for the future. People either pirate songs or stream them, and Spotify is making it the easiest for fans and artists alike to enjoy their music.
What inspired your Moments playlist on Spotify?
It's a playlist that has many of the songs that we are actually listening to right now, including our own music. But it's a playlist that shows our fans what we are into right now, and shows another side of us that people might not normally see or hear. There's so many songs that we feel like we forgot to add, but it shows people a little bit of what we're inspired by. Another amazing thing about Spotify is that it's such a great platform for sharing our interests and connecting with our fans.
So what are you listening to outside of the EDM realm?
I have a mixed feelings about genres, because with EDM everything is considered the same when it isn't, but you still need it to provide a definition for the sounds that you're hearing. Alex and I have always been interested in hiphop, and artists like Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Tyler the Creator, Jay-Z, Pusha T, and some oldies like Biggie, Tupac, and the Pharcyde have all influenced us in some way. Hip-hop has so much to it, being a fusion of genres with so many directions, artists like Kanye can mold both soulful chill-out songs or crazy club beats at the same time, and both can be heard and seen as credible and catchy. I love rock and jazz too, pretty much anything with soul. Disco as well, but more of the older stuff than the most recent kind of sound.
Were you introduced to a broad spectrum of music as a kid?
I listened to everything as a kid. My parents listened to a bunch of music, although not always the same music, so it was defintiely a broad spectrum of genres. My mom introduced me to Michael Jackson, my dad introduced me to disco really early on, and my brother was a big System of a Down fan, so I was always surrounded by different genres. There's only a few genres that I really don't like, maybe metal because it's so much noise.
Do genres play a part in your creative process?
I'm not the biggest fan of genres, but I really like to use the word "vibe" to describe music, because it's a lot less exclusive to different sounds. It doesn't really matter what genre it is, as long as it has a good vibe that's all that really matters. If whoever is making the song is creating it with great energy and excitement, you will feel it when you listen to it. No matter if you like the genre or not, there is an undeniable vibe that you get from the track. Even with people like Porter Robinson who changed his sound entirely, you can tell that he truly found his sound with Worlds. We're super happy for him as well, because we spoke with him a few years back about his plans to break away from the harder sounds and push his own thing, and it's turned out to do incredibly well for him.
What has been your biggest lesson working as an artist?
(Takes moment) I think the biggest lesson we've learned is that you cannot expect people to do things for you, you have to do it yourself. I truly believe we have the greatest management on earth, because they are incredibly supportive, they care, and they're forward-thinking. But even if you have an incredible team behind you, nobody is going to deliver for you if you don't deliver for them. You should see music as something that comes from your heart, as an art form, and when you release the song or album through a label or management, it's a give and take of what you've created. When we got to the point where we weren't comfortable with what we were doing, we had to decide what was best for us, and then we had to collaborate with our team to make sure what we were doing was best for our fans as well.
Do you think artists have a hard time finding their niche?
I think its hard to take a step back or change direction because you need so many good people around you to give you that advice and support, and a lot of producers and djs don't have that help in their careers. We're incredibly grateful to have the friends, mentors, and partners working with us to push us forward, but it can be incredibly enlightening to take a step back and re-evaluate what you're doing and what your goals are. It takes years to develop that wisdom, so you can't be ignorant of the fact that everyday is different, and assume that you're always making the best music possible, because there's always ways to evolve and develop your sound and yourself.
Now that you've found your niche, what can we expect from you guys in the coming months and 2015?
We're going to keep pushing "Blind Heart" since we've been waiting for so long to put it out, but next year is going to include more singles from us as well. People are asking about an album but we're not planning on an album quite yet. We already have the next single planned for the beginning of 2015, but I think that next year is going to be an incredible year for us and EDM. I'll also be taking my first vacation in two years, so I'm incredibly happy to go home and spend some time with my family and friends. I'll still be working on music, but I'll get to see my family which will be great.