Zedd Shares His Secrets To Success: Don't Be EDM, Just Be M
Zedd has quickly become one of the most well-known and well-respected producers in today's electronic music landscape. The classically-trained musician knows a thing or two about being a dance music superstar, and now he's sharing the wealth.
In a recent interview with The Guardian, the multi-platinum, grammy-winning artist explains how he 'made it' in a handy eight-step guide.
Zedd says you don't have to know everything about electronic music. The producer was listening to mostly rock and metal when he came across the first electronic album that really intrigued and inspired him - Daft Punk's Discovery.
"I knew nothing about electronic music or club culture because I never went to clubs, so I bought Discovery and listened to it hundreds of times."
Don't think "EDM," just think "M."
"EDM has a stigma... I make dance music for the most part and it’s mostly electronic so I shouldn’t feel weird about that genre but it feels like it’s been narrowed down to some very simple repetitive music where everyone steals from each other and barely uses any music, just sounds."
Be willing to experiment. Don't ever limit yourself to what you already know or to just one genre.
"My journey in the electronic world started by wanting to do something I didn’t know how to do, because I love learning."
Zedd points out that working with other successful artists can speed up the learning process.
"Sometimes [Lady Gaga] would email me with words and ask me to make it into a song. Words like "metallic," "sexy," "dark," "mysterious." So it was like, "How do you write that?" I’d never worked like that. I learned a lot from working with her because it was a totally different experience."
Don't just write lyrics, feel them. Throw the grammar rule book out the window, even.
"With Ariana Grande’s Break Free (key lyric: “Now that I’ve become who I really are”), I didn’t even realize the errors until very late! Because it sounds so good. It just felt right."
Find the right vocalist. This step can make or break any song.
"The vocal carries the emotion and meaning of a song and either you believe it or you don’t. There will be cheesy vocalists here and there and then suddenly they’ll sing something and I’ll believe it."
Make cohesive albums rather than a collection of singles.
"I think the art of making a good album is very difficult. Making 10 songs is easier than making an album. Sometimes you have to make the decision of making a song that you know isn’t going to be successful, but that’s fine because it makes an album into an album."
After you've started to make a name for yourself, play around and have fun with your image.
"My outfit in the Break Free video was very on the edge of what I can wear... I loved the idea. For me it was important not to be the classic DJ, so I needed it to have a funny touch [DJing on space equipment]."