Anton Zaslavski, more popularly recognized as ZEDD, released his second studio album True Colors this summer, featuring well-known singles “I Want You To Know,” featuring Selena Gomez and “Beautiful Now,” featuring Jon Bellion. Known for producing EDM tracks, concept album True Colors showcases ZEDD’s range of style.
“Halfway through making this record, I realized how different each song sounded,”Anton explained to me over the phone. Of course he was in Ibiza on his way to the airport, squeezing in our conversation on the ride over. “I liked the concept of every song becoming a color. At some point, that meant I had to kick one song off the album that to me sounded too similar to another song, and I wanted all of them to be very individual.”
For the release of True Colors, whose inspiration 25-year-old Anton claimed was not the Cyndi Lauper song as he embarrassedly admitted to never hearing the song before his album of the same name, ZEDD teamed up with alternate reality gaming production company 42 Entertainment to give fans an experience of a lifetime. Ten songs were released at ten landmarks in ten cities, each themed with a color. His initial idea was to rent rooms across the country, paint them one color and serve food of the same color. When 42 Entertainment got involved, the production warped into a magnificent tour of America’s landmarks.
“Addicted to a Memory” released with a purple-themed event at Longhorn Cavern State Park in Austin, Texas. “Straight Into the Fire” released with an orange-themed party in a desert near Joshua Tree. “Transmission” was accompanied by a black-themed party on Alcatraz Island.
Some songs like “Straight Into the Fire” were very straight-forward to assign a color to, obviously emanating warm hues. ZEDD’s process in matching his music to colors may have been inspired by the idea of synesthesia, or more specifically chromesthesia, the association of sound with colors. “I think everybody has a little bit of [synesthesia],” Anton said, “especially when you make music.” He explained the process of making a song sound “warmer,” and adding space and reverb to make a song sound “colder.”
When presented with the ideas of auras and what color might represent him, Anton responded with the perfect answer: Rainbow. “I have a lot of different sides and like a lot of different kinds of music.” Anton was raised by musician parents in a musically-dominated household. While he resented the piano lessons as a boy, he says he is now thankful for his parents’ support and cultivation of his musical knowledge. As a teenager, while other parents might have pressured him to go to university, his dad who had been in a band encouraged Anton to pursue music as a career.
“I’m not one-sided. I’m not all EDM,” Anton, who cites inspirations from Skrillex to Queen, continued. His second studio album sets forth to showcase exactly that, with collaborations with artists including the rapper Logic, singer Troye Sivan, production duo Botnek and bands such as Echosmith and X Ambassadors.
As a producer, ZEDD has gotten to work with a breadth of artists, both in studio and separated by oceans. While he prefers to work in the same room as the artists he is making music with, many of his songs have employed less traditional tools like Skype due to conflicting tour schedules. “Illusion,” which features Echosmith, was done over the phone, and Grammy Award winning “Clarity” from his debut album involved Skyping with Foxes. “That’s how a lot of records are being done these days.”
In this modern age of social media takeover, music is evolving outside of the studio. Anton recalled hitting Logic up on Twitter and telling him that he loved his work and wanted to work together. Logic responded asking ZEDD for some beats; ZEDD sent Logic a song; and he recorded it within the next hour and sent it back. That is how “Transmission,” a truly diverse medley, which also features X Ambassadors, was birthed.
Fans can look forward to many future collaborations, some rather unexpected. “I’ve always wanted to make music with John Mayer,” Anton said in response to questioning about future artist collaborations. “We’ve met a bunch of times and just jammed. Now that I’m going to be working on another record, eventually we’re probably going to get together and write some music.”
Dream collaborations Anton mentioned included Radiohead, Muse, Katy Perry and Adele.
Currently on his True Colors tour, Anton has already confirmed that he is bringing a “mini-studio” with him in efforts to keep making music on the road, hoping to collaborate with current tourmate, French producer Madeon. “I think that’s what excites me the most. There are so many artists I haven’t worked with yet, and I will discover more, so I just want to keep going.”’
writer / Tiffany Diane Tso
photographer / Isaac Sterling
stylist / Jeffrey Lewis
groomer / Bobby Elliot