Zeds Dead‘s beat drops are poised to steal the show from the ball drop at Decadence Arizona‘s 2019 New Year’s Eve installment. Equipped with a genre-manipulating catalog of clamorous bass, Zeds Dead will usher in the new decade with the decidedly high-octane sound that has secured them bragging rights in the electronic context. As the anticipation surges and swells among Zeds Dead fans eager to feel the floor rattle beneath their feet, the boys have partnered with Dancing Astronaut to put forth an ORBIT Playlist ahead of the Arizonian affair.
The selective, nine-track illustration of their curative prowess boasts Zeds Dead’s own “Stars Tonight” and “Sound Of The Underground,” in addition to their recent remix of Oliver Tree‘s “Miracle Man.” The raucous endeavor also spotlights productions from Halogenix/Lordel, Eprom, and Moody Good, among other artists.
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.
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.
Each week, New Music Friday sweeps through with torrential force, showering streaming platforms with immeasurable amounts of new tunes. Just like Dancing Astronaut rounds up 25 of the biggest songs of the week for the Hot 25 Spotify playlist each New Music Friday, Lunar Lunes serves as a landing pad for SoundCloud users who want a whole new dose of tunes to kick off the work week.
Eprom and G Jones‘ first collaborative endeavor since 2017’s EP, Acid Disk, “Daemon Veil” is an aggressively textured single that showcases the producers’ shared bass sensibilities. An ominous bassline merges with eerie chords in the early seconds of the collaboration. These elements rise together in simmering synchronicity as the track’s commanding vocal cuts into the instrumental beginning, instructing listeners to raise their torches and their lighters as the bassline plunges.
The jagged bassline descends further downward into sonic grit that spares streamers no smoothness. A breakdown that occurs just around the midway point tempers the bombastic bass that bodies listeners. Comparatively, more melodic tones offer a break from the heavy bass action as the climactic joint project concludes. “Daemon Veil” is out now via Deadbeats. The production will resurface on Eprom’s forthcoming EP, Aikon.
It’s most important day of the week: New Music Friday. With the overwhelming amount of tunes hitting the airwaves today, Dancing Astronaut has you covered with the latest edition of The Hot 25.
REZZ and Deathpact take no prisoners in their new collaboration, “Kiss of Death,” and Wave Racer follows up recent single, “Auto,” with the soothing “Summer Rain.” Skrillex makes an appearance on Ed Sheeran’s latest, “Way To Break My Heart,” and Tycho reveals his full Weather LP on Mom+Pop/Ninja Tune. Ekali and Reo Cragun bring “Runaway” to Big Beat, and Madeon continues his tour de force with “Dream Dream Dream.” Keys N Krates have released a brand new “beat tape,” featuring tunes like “Sad Piano,” and TroyBoi returns to OWSLA for “PAPI CHULO.” Camelphat throw it way back with a remix of Dirty Vegas’ iconic 2002 release, “Days Go By,” and KSHMR taps Mike Waters for “My Best Life.” Moon Boots and Steven Klavier are all “Tied Up,” and David Guetta and Martin Solveig deliver a club mix of “Thing For You.” Tiësto crafts a big room remix of Illenium and Jon Bellion’s “Good Things Fall Apart,” and Armin van Buuren, Avian Grays, and Jordan Shaw team up for “Something Real.” Sofi Tukker get groovy on “Swing,” and Valentino Khan and Diplo collaborate on a hefty house heater, “JustYourSoul.”
As each week brings a succession of new music from some of electronic music’s biggest artists, here’s a selection of tracks that shouldn’t be missed this NMF.
Eprom and Alix Perez release their Black Heart Communion EP under their collaborative SHADES moniker, their first piece of work after their debut album In Praise of Darkness from last year. The five-track extended play features the duo’s signature experimental downtempo bass sound that amplifies low registry frequencies, unlocking a new found land of bass music resting on hip-hop rhythms.
Through vocal chops, glitching percussion, and uniquely constructed soundscapes, the SHADES brainchild pushes the boundaries of dubstep into exciting, uncharted spaces.
SHADES are slated to play a number of festivals this year such as Paradiso Festival, Lightning in a Bottle, and Bassnectar’s Freestyle Sessions. It’s no surprise that Zeds Dead is promoting SHADES’ dark and twisted fantasy via their Deadbeats imprint. Listen to Black Heart Communion below.
“Stagnation” isn’t a word in Flume‘s vocabulary. The prodigious talent had barely turned 21 when he admissibly defined and spoon-fed the contemporary future bass sound to the masses via his debut, self-titled LP. Sure enough, a star was born. He moved on to solidify his position as one of the most groundbreaking and forward-thinking artists of the current generation after collaborations with Nick Murphy (then known as Chet Faker) and Emoh Instead under their omnipresent What So Not alias.
By 2016, he’d become a fully independent entity, dedicating all his time to solo work and treading the line of pop and electronica with finesse in his Grammy award-winning Skin album. He’d set the bar improbably high for himself. But, being the true innovator he is, Flume has managed to finish another revolution around the experimental sun with Hi This Is Flume. Short, but indubitably sweet, the mixtape stands out as perhaps his most idiosyncratic work to date.
Hi This Is Flume is the product of an artist unburdening himself his self-imposed boundaries and surrendering himself to the abstract. It’s a complete change of pace from Skin, which, likely due to its numerous collaborations, strikes a tame, and even formulaic, chord at times despite its cohesive and invariably appealing nature. This body of work feels structure-less—take for example cuts like “Wormhole” and “Dreamtime”—but united all the same. Flume’s enduring love for squelchy, staggered arrangement is the bedrock of the record, with each of its 17 tracks ebbing towards the next, as organically as the tides turn over. We’d gotten a taste of this in the Skin Companion EPs, but the Aussie talent eclipses expectations in this latest undertaking.
Flume’s work alongside Vince Staples and other rappers appears to have influenced the direction of Hi This Is Flume, as well. The mixtape is packed with low-end stunners, like the euphorically unorthodox “Ecdysis” or the resplendent, twinkling “Jewel.” His choice of collaborators this time around also mirrors this irreverence towards convention: the eternally strange EPROM makes his way into the fold on two tracks, one of which was an ethereal rework of SOPHIE’s “Is It Cold In The Water?” Meanwhile, “How To Build A Relationship,” featuring superior lyricism by JPEGMAFIA, arrives as an unearthly melding of warped bass and avant-garde rap.
Awe-inspiring too is the amount of impact Flume manages to squeeze into such a short time span. Most of the productions in Hi This Is Flume are two minutes or less, but are so cleverly engineered, texturized, and intricately layered that they feel as expansive as a piece that clocks in at triple the length. “Voices,” another powerhouse effort crafted with SOPHIE and Skin collaborator KUČKA, is biting, with glitchy effects galore, contrasting with dreamy, fluid undertones to facilitate a cerebral and fully loaded listening expedition in all of 115 seconds. The hazy, lo-fi tune “Daze 22.00” captivates with Eastern influence and viscous synthesis that make for an off-kilter combination, without proving too jarring. And optimism lives inside a single song in “Spring”—a gracious way to end such a stunning compilation, with its subtle, saccharine buoyancy.
It would be remiss not to mention the stunning visualizer that accompanies Hi This Is Flume. Crafted by Jonathan Zawada, who’s also behind Skin’s designwork, the video is as quixotic and crafty as the music beneath it. While the record is plenty enticing on its own, Zawada’s interpretation of it in a visual medium really bolsters the entire listening experience, with its swirling psychedelia and internal/external journey premise.
Hi This Is Flume points to a new era for Flume that sees an already remarkable artist stepping away from convention, while remaining accessible. The advanced sound design and clear step outside his creative cavern showcase a matured talent who continues to carve new niches in the modern electronic sphere where no artist formerly thought to look. With news of even more music on the horizon, Flume is poised to continue throwing himself from experimental precipices for the better.