Electronic dance music is becoming something Canadians do exceedingly well. Zeds Dead is no exception. The group is comprised of Hooks and DC, two Toronto producers who started working under the moniker Zeds Dead (yes, a nod to Pulp Fiction) in 2009. The duo will bring their act to Yonge-Dundas Square on Saturday, July 28, headlining the Mad Decent Block Party. We talked hometown shows and the taxonomy of dubstep with Hooks this week.
Q: What does it mean to you to be able to bring a Mad Decent Block Party to Toronto?
A: I feel like Dave Chappelle. No, but it’s amazing that we’re doing a show in Yonge and Dundas Square. We’re going to be blasting all sorts of unknowing onlookers with the bass!
Q: “Brostep” is a label I’ve only heard thrown around condescendingly, but you seem to embrace it. What does “brostep” mean to you?
A: I wouldn’t say we embrace that term. It’s a stupid name made by people who don’t like it, that seems to have caught on. It’s basically the really crazy, energetic, “in your face” brand of dubstep. The other end of the spectrum being more deep and minimal, which is where the dubstep genre came from. The hard-hitting crazy stuff was an exciting progression a few years ago, but now it’s become over-saturated and very few hard dubstep songs stand out to me anymore.
Q: I was watching videos of your shows — kids are stage-diving, and headbanging, there are mosh pits — it looks like a metal show — what’s the relationship between dubstep and heavy rock music?
A: Our show pulls from all sorts of genres, there’s headbanging crazy parts like a metal show, headnodding, jointsparking parts like a hip-hop show, clubby fist-pumping stuff, all sorts. Being that it’s new, the audience is pulled from all over the place. I came to it from hip hop, but there’s also lots of metal heads that found what they were looking for in it.
Q: Skrillex has been on the cover of Rolling Stone and Rusko’s worked with Britney Spears. Does dubstep have a future on mainstream radio and music television.
A: It’s everywhere you look these days. I turned on the TV the other day and heard dubstep in CSI and then saw two commercials with dubstep music. The same thing happened with hip-hop, it’s becoming assimilated into the culture. I doubt that “real” dark instrumental dubstep is going to be on top 40 radio, but I’m sure pop songs with dubstep elements (wobbles and so forth) will be all over the place soon. It’s already begun.
Q: Mad Decent’s founder Diplo is at the top of the production game right now — the new No Doubt, Snoop Dogg’s reggae stuff, Usher’s Climax; the guy’s everywhere. Has he ever shared any words of wisdom with you guys?
A: Not really… we’re not very serious when we talk.
Q: Before you were Zeds Dead, you were producing hip hop under the name Mass Productions. I’ve heard you say hip hop is still one of your main influences. Who do you look to today? Which albums are your bread and butter and why?
A: It just isn’t the same for me these days… I basically have lowered my standards when it comes to hip-hop so that I can enjoy it again. I like party rap now. With the exception of a few artists, I just pretty much disregard lyricism now and focus on the beat and feel of the song. As far as beats go there’s some really cool stuff going on right now. As for rap, it’s like there’s no standard for quality anymore.
Q: I’ve heard your remixes of the Stones’ Gimme Shelter and the Moody Blues’ White Satin, and you’ve also mentioned being into classic rock. What makes an oldie ripe for a remix? What do you listen for?
A: It could be a nice instrumental section, or a vocal part. Sometimes it’s just that we want to play a certain old song in our set. Coming from hip-hop we used to sample old music all the time, so it was just natural for us to take that mentality to our “electronica.”
Q: You guys are no strangers to collaboration, who would you like to collaborate with most and why?
A: Right now I’d really like to collaborate with some animators and make some cool, weird videos to go along with our music. I’ve been looking into people; it’s really expensive though.
Q: As a listener, dubstep can be a pretty intimidating genre to get into. I mean, there’s a whole lot of wub-wub-wub-ing going on. Can we have Zeds Dead’s primer on the genre? What are five essential dubstep albums?
A: Skream – Skream!
Caspa and Rusko – Fabriclive 37
The Bug – London Zoo
Benga – Diary of an Afro Warrior
Flying Lotus – Los Angeles