“I never saw myself doing any of this four years ago,” says DC, also known as Dylan Mamid, one half of Canadian Dubstep duo Zeds Dead. He is finally warming up to the interview after being interrupted during what can only be assumed, after the groups rigorous touring schedule, is a well deserved nap.
“I think the most that I ever saw myself doing was making beats for people, or hopefully getting to a place where I was making beats for commercials, video games, or ideally being in a studio producing for artists. I never thought I would be a DJ playing music for people.”
It seems like an incredulous omission coming from a producer who has managed, alongside partner Zack Rapp-Rovan (AKA Hooks), to sell out numerous tour dates in North America, perform at cutting edge music festivals like Coachella, while consistently topping dance music charts. But the music of Zeds Dead has managed to capture a large fan base with music that DC describes as “being the sound of the Big Bang if sound could exist in space”.
Zeds Dead’s varying musical influences are incorporated into their very recognizable brand of production, bearing the marks of big room electro and dubstep influences with a collaborative sprinkle of hip hop to keep the party moving – a formula that has catapulted the duo, in a mere four years from their basements into the spotlight.
“ The first time I heard [EDM] my buddy showed me drum and bass.” DC responds when asked how Zeds Dead (formerly under hip hop production moniker ‘Mass Productions’) moved from hip hop to electronic dance music “I didn’t know anyone else who listened to D’n’B but I liked it, and I always had four or five tracks on my computer that I knew.
“At this time I was making hip hop beats and I would try to make a drum and bass beat but I never felt the urgent need to start making [drum and bass]. It wasn’t until I started hearing all the electro house stuff, I took a trip to Europe and at the same time a couple of my friends were getting into Justice, it was all they were playing over there, and [that is when] I really got into electronic music.
“The first [producer] I got into was Global DJs and more mainstream electro house stuff, through that I started discovering some more of the underground cutting edge sounds and that was the moment that I was like ‘I really want to take electronic music seriously’. DC goes on to naming some of the earlier influences of Zeds Dead’s music, “Justice, Boys Noize, and Daft Punk made me want to start making electronic music. Later, when I started getting into producers like Skream and Benga, I wanted to make electronic music even more.”
With the conscious decision to start producing electronic music, Zed’s Dead attempted to conquer the steep learning curves that go hand in hand with switching from creating hip hop loops to producing a catalog of dance music. “There is a huge learning curve with all the sound design, synth work, mixing etc.” DC explains, “There was a huge lull where [we] had to stop making hip hop, and we just spent a lot of time learning how to make electronic music”. He then proceeds to add jokingly, “We probably had a six or seven month period of really, really shitty music.”
With consistent releases and remixes, a bevy of them available for fans to download for free, leading up to their latest releases on Mad Decent with the Victor mixtape, and their newest EP The Living Dead on Ultra Music, Zeds Dead has maintained a steady schedule of touring and producing, familiarizing fans with their body of work, while steadily increasing their fan base.
“We had a lot of tracks left over [after releasing the Victor mixtape and The Living Dead EP]. We [alongside Omar LinX, an MC collaborator heavily featured on the EP] sat in the studio and cranked out 30 tunes and made an EP out of that”. The Living Dead EP, released July 24, features the heavier club music selections from their marathon studio production session. The time around the EP is accompanied by an official music video for the title track “Living Dead” directed by Andrew Renzi and featuring the original Zed character from Pulp Fiction where Zeds Dead took their name. “It is a pretty weird video, but it’s awesome and I really like it.” Dylan enthuses “It might not be what you are expecting, but it’s definitely got Zed in it, and it is definitely weird.”
With a European tour coming up during the months of September and October and more rigorous touring throughout North America, Zeds Dead plan on bringing their high-energy performances to audiences who have seen them or who they might have possibly missed last year on their 65 date Graveyard Tour. Addressing the rumour of a full LP, DC responds that Zeds Dead feel no pressure to release a full length “I think todays music consumers are satisfied with singles and EPs — no one really listens to full lengths any longer, but I still really want to make an album. I want to make an album that features a lot of collaborations on it”. He then quickly adds “But I don’t know if that is going to happen any time soon, we might just continue to do EPs” one which is slated for release this fall.
“Oh shit, there is the cat.” Dylan exclaims mid-explanation. “Sorry we thought we lost this cat and it just showed up.” He explains excitedly. It is the return of the long lost house cat ‘Khalessi’ and a pressing interview schedule that finally causes us to wrap up our forty-five minute conversation. Before our time ends, however, I ask Dylan about his conspicuous missing half, Zack, who I refer to as his life-mate — Dylan laughs. “It is a lot of compromise working with someone,” he admits “but if you can come to an agreement especially on the creative side of things you have better odds of having a better song — especially if you respect the other persons musical opinion.
“I don’t think that there is anyone else that I know that I wouldn’t have killed yet.”
Zeds Dead will be playing September 21 at Flames Central
By: Sheena Jardine-Olade