Zeds Dead collaborate with Urbandawn on an ear-tickling drum ‘n’ bass offering, “Sound Of The Underground.” Through a misty atmosphere, a glitchy march toward euphoric melodies picks up then lets go into a breakbeat forest with swampy texture. The drop unleashes a fury of drum ‘n’ bass percussion, with soft shakers mixed with a variety of guttural synths and crunching sound design that are responsible for bringing the Deadbeats label heads to their pedestal. A second drop brings a half-time element that shines shades of dubstep.
The Brazilian producer’s percussive prowess must have drawn the festival headliners attention, judging from a similarly unique drum ‘n’ bass take on a version of the Beatles’ “Come Together.”
Zeds Dead also confirmed a new We Are Deadbeats label compilation for 2020 with their highly anticipated Ganja White Night collaboration. Another collaboration with Subtronics is in the chamber as the Canadian duo look to continue rolling on through the new year.
EPROM newest five-track project, AIKON, was released through Zeds Dead‘s Deadbeats imprint. The talented producer and contributor to the Grammy-nominated Hi, This Is Flume (Mixtape) took time to answer some questions with technical leanings about his extended play. The Portland-based sound curator established himself as an innovator amongst fellow artists and fans alike, through wicked syncopation and tedious sound design that curate an environment of shock and awe.
In a press release about the EP, EPROM explained, “Each tune represents a unique point in my trajectory. For me, this release represents a step onto a bigger stage. I have always been reluctant to fully embrace the ethos of dance music, so I have previously kept my work underground, and to a certain degree, intentionally inaccessible. This EP is my take on pure rave music.”
Why did you call the EP AIKON?
I don’t wanna give too much away. If you look closely at the logotype you can certainly figure out where it came from. There are multiple facets of meaning in this made up word that interest me, secondary signifiers tangential to the source. I pronounce the word “icon,” so if you take that at face value combined with the aesthetic dimensions of the project, it may open the word up to further investigation. The word came about way before the EP. If you dig into the visual minutiae of my previous projects you may notice it crops up here and there.
Can you explain the album art?
As with the title, the art is an oblique commentary on fractured identity in our age. I prefer to leave it up to personal interpretation beyond that. You will notice that each of the singles has similar but slightly different art. Each uses the same technique and so they are all intended to function together as a larger work.
Do you have a typical production process? If so, what is it?
I try very hard not to have a “typical” process, although I do use a studio template in Ableton Live. I try to reinvent my approach to making a tune for nearly every tune, and often, that necessitates exploring a new tool. New tools require new approaches. New approaches create new sounds. The moment of unfamiliarity, before one becomes virtuosic in any particular field, engenders creative approaches, learning, and play. That is the most valuable period of music making for my practice. When you don’t quite know how a particular tool works, you approach it creatively, and that is the essence of experimentation for me.
What was your main takeaway from collaborating with G Jones on “Daemon Veil?“
Greg is a brilliant songwriter beyond being a producer, and he fleshed out the arrangement beautifully, handling a lot of the melodies on that song. I think our studio sessions are highly symbiotic and we trade a lot of techniques back and forth.
Your arrangements are unique, is there a special way you approach arranging the different parts of your songs?
I like to take agreed-upon forms like trap/house/bass with fairly rigid structures and attempt to approach them differently. I think in general my arrangements aren’t that out there, I usually stick to four bar structures and standard 4/4 time signatures, maybe with an occasional polymetric loop underneath or alternating between a standard dance tempo and half time.
What was a go-to synth for the EP and why?
I used a lot of samples on this EP. They’re faster to work with and I wanted to evoke a specific period of rave music, so those samples – e.g. old school rave stabs, 303s etc. – have a very concrete meaning to me. I also used eurorack modular synthesis to generate a lot of the kick drums and bass samples, and further processed material using Granulator II and other granular resynthesis algorithms.
What was a go-to MIDI controller and why?
I like the Arturia Keystep, it’s small and fit on my desk behind my computer keyboard and has a cool sequencer and it’s enough for me to bang out quick ideas. I’m not much of a keys player though so I do a lot of melodic sequencing on the piano roll in Ableton.
Any special VST that really took the production home?
Every track has some Valhalla Vintage Verb on it, as well as FabFilter Saturn and Monolake’s Granulator II Max4Live patch.
Do you have any pet peeves between you and your DAW?
Sure, plenty. They are small problems though, mostly having to do with how Live handles regions containing un-warped audio clips, which I use all the time. Some other things I wish Live had would be better multi-track automation handling, and per note automation (polyphonic aftertouch). But there are always ways around every problem. I love working in Live for the most part.
Which song took the longest work and why?
“Daemon Veil.” You can imagine how long it took us to program all the drums and percussive elements in that song. There are many tracks, several different drum kits, and a lot of sound design elements. We spent a lot of time playing with the balance between discernible rhythms and chaos.
What was the most difficult sound to conquer on the project?
The vocals on “Hope” are probably the element that took the most finessing. Because of licensing issues we ended up having to re-record the vocals from an old house tune with a new vocalist. I am pretty inexperienced with using raw vocals, so I had to learn a few things about vocal processing. I took the new recordings and tried to match the sound of the original 1995 acapella as closely as possible, using tape emulation, delay, reverb, eq, distortion, noise layers, etc. I feel like I actually got really close in the end. It was difficult, but a fun exercise.
Do you have any unique studio habits?
I tend to spend a lot of time on pure sound design, that is, not with any specific song-related goal in mind. I’ll sit down if I’m not feeling like making a song and knock out ten or twenty different kick drums or snares.
What was your most memorable in-studio moment while producing the album?
Working on “Hope” last summer with the window open, looping part of it to get some bass groove right, and my girlfriend asked me if I was making a house tune because the loop was of a 4/4 section in a much longer and more choppy tune. I just thought that was funny.
What is next for EPROM?
Working on the next release, can’t say too much about it yet because it’s still a nebulous thing in my mind.
Eddie Jefferys, known now musically as Moody Good, has been disseminating his dastardly dubstep earmark for years—both on his own and formerly, as one half of the bass outfit, 16bit. Since launching his solo project, he’s released with NGHTMRE and SLANDER‘s Gud Vibrations, Skrillex‘s OWSLA imprint, and most recently, Zeds Dead’s Deadbeats label.
The “Hotplate” producer’s return to Deadbeats is marked by “Kush,” an aural nod to the island-y dominion of rhythmic dub, all the while employing melodic sensibilities to its audacious approach. The track’s bass grinds alongside bubbly, video-game reminiscent synth lines pack an enticing punch for bass consumers on any side of the dubstep continuum.
Moody Good is currently executing his Sunny Side Up headlining tour. Tickets are available here.
Ever since Zeds Dead’s imprint, Deadbeats came to fruition, UK dubstep don Rusko has been an avid supporter of the label. Not only has he released numerous cuts on Deadbeats, but he has performed on the label’s hosted stages all around the world.
Now Rusko is back on Deadbeats with a new four-track EP titled, Genghis Danger. Rusko has been producing bass-heavy beats for decades, so not even a stomach cancer diagnosis could keep him from the decks, and he’s never once sneered at shifting trends within the widespread genre. Instead, he continuously shells out exciting music that makes him go wild (which in turn makes everyone else go wild, too).
On his latest EP, Rusko’s delivery is no different. Within the four-track offering, you can hear a quick crash-course history lesson in bass, beginning with the melodic inclinations of “Go Up,” then moving to deep wubs of “One Family.” The tail-end of the EP starts with the fast-paced jungle beat, “oh my god,” finally returning to dubstep’s reggae-roots with “Bumbaclat.” Stream Genghis Danger below.
EPROM, a certified bass sequencing master, delivers his five-track extended play, AIKON—a record bound for reverie, presented by Zeds Dead‘s Deadbeats imprint. The Portland-based producer has established himself as a leading innovator amongst fellow artists and fans alike, adding two unreleased tracks to this year’s already impressive arsenal.
Already released tracks include the G Jones collaboration, “Daemon Vail,” minimal cut “The Cat,” and the wild ride that is “Hope.” The new tracks include the “Shirow Softworks,” a trip-hop inspired beat with melodic synth concoctions for a potent soundscape, and “Phoneme Gothik,” a scintillating work of sequencing timbre through bouts of bass and slicing synths.
With acid-tinged hip-hop to searing garage mutations, complex synth and drum arrangement splatter the audio canvas like a sonic Jackson Pollock.
In a press release, EPROM explains, “Each tune represents a unique point in my trajectory. For me, this release represents a step onto a bigger stage. I have always been reluctant to fully embrace the ethos of dance music, so I have previously kept my work underground, and to a certain degree, intentionally inaccessible. This EP is my take on pure rave music.”
Catch the illustrious sound maestro live with upcoming shows at Bassrush at Exchange LA on November 21, aboard Friendship in Miami on January 6, and at Montreal’s Igloofest on February 8.
As oh so many of its purveyors attest, the term “bass music” is hard to define. After all, bass is nothing more than the lower range of frequencies. Everything from a human voice to a revving engine uses them. So if an artist is going to adopt this term for their music and still stand out, they have to morph the bass into something digestible and enjoyable.
That is what Eprom has done yet again on his latest single, “Hope.” Once again being released on Deadbeats, label bosses Zeds Dead give free rein to Eprom to insert a wide variety of feelings and emotions into his generally grueling style. White-hot flashes of vocals and drum breaks are aligned alongside kick hits that would rumble the foundation of any venue lucky enough to hose Eprom for a show.
It’s not just about the sounds themselves on this track either. Eprom also displays his understanding of restraint, incorporating space that allows sonic ideas to evolve and diminish, making for truly standout piece of music.
Minneapolis’ snow-capped NYE festival is back, returning this year for its fourth annual installment. Snowta 2018 featured Skrillex in his return to the festival circuit alongside acts like NGHTMRE, Chief Keef, Subtronics, EPROM and to name a few. With a stacked lineup, the festival’s third production was packaged with an array of extreme sports, including Snowboard Rail Jam and Freestyle Motorcross.
However, midwestern bass heads are in for a real treat this time around, as the full NYE 2019 roster includes a rumbling concoction of 1788-L, Big Wild, Dion Timmer, Zomboy, Juice WRLD, and more. Other festival ammenities have yet to be announced, but if attendees are looking to hit the slopes for a bit, there’s a variety of options in the Minneapolis area.
Since its launch, Zeds Dead‘s label, Deadbeats, has been driving the conversation on bass music. Rather than adhering to a specific sub-genre in the low-end umbrella, the label focuses on an overall sound and energy in its releases.
Zeke Beats is a mainstay on this label, and his diversity as a producer makes him a perfect fit. Now, he has brought another talented bass-wizard into the fold who goes by the name of G-Rex for a new, heavy single entitled “Purple Haze.”
“Purple Haze” alludes to Zeds Dead’s love of dubstep, but maintains a level of originality that can only be produced the first time two artists work together. Hopefully there will be more to come in the future of this duo.
Mike Guard, the procurer of tunes under the alias Blunts & Blondes, has a new release out on Deadbeats that’s nothing short of a filthy heater.
Relatively new to the scene, the artist is inspired by the likes of Boogie T, Subtronics, and of course the godfather of bass, Skrillex. Guard stays true to his passion for bass, and his new track, “Run the City,” is a passionate expression example of this.
With firm footing in both the dubstep and trap genre, “Run the City” captures a music style that the headbangers of the world so fervently chase. The song is dirty, wavy, bass-heavy, and calls to action those who intend to take over the dance floor. With some rap elements, the track can make anybody feel like the HBIC, and it’s the kind of nasty expected from a young inspired dub artist.
Stream it below and peep his debut EP, Smoking with Friends.
GRiZ returns with a three-piece Bangers.Zip EP via Zeds Dead‘s Deadbeats imprint, which is a sequel to his Bangers.Zip from earlier this year. While the first edition had more of the electro-sax man’s funk and reggae leanings, this one runs in a heavier, more contemporary direction. The first track is a collaboration with up-and-coming bass standout Subtronics, cleverly named “Griztronics,”— it’s a trap brass construction with a drop that will move even the most stubborn of dance fans.
“Freak The Method” is the funkiest track on the project, with a unique heavy bass swing on the hook that rides along tantalizing synths and groovy verses. “Push The Vibe” is carries a complex percussive attitude with crescendoing synths and hyphy-inspired vocal play.
GRiZ is set for the second season of his Ride Waves tour run across 18 cities in the US this fall, touching down in DC, Nashville, LA, SF, Chicago, double nights in Atlanta and more. At the end of August he’ll be returning to the iconic Red Rocks Amphitheater for his fifth sold-out double-header, performing fan favorites from his 2010-2017 catalog on August 30 and a special Ride Waves / new music showcase on August 31.