Zedd Talks True Colors & Why Music Is His Drug Of Choice

Nick Walker
If you’ve ever rocked out to a Zedd song and experienced a fleeting moment of synesthesia, then his music is officially achieving its intended goal. Zedd, a.k.a. 25-year-old musical phenom Anton Zaslavski, creates music with more than your eardrums in mind: Each of his tracks is meant to mentally evoke its own little world, to transport listeners to a place where color, sound, and feeling fuse for a few short moments. And, never has he hit that nail harder on the head than with his latest album, True Colors, which dropped May 18.

The record, Zedd shared in an interview with Refinery29, is meant to be a multi-sensory adventure, and he’s especially emphatic about the importance of giving audiences an experience they’ll never forget during his upcoming tour.

“I just want them to be in another world for two hours,” the artist explains, emphasizing how important it is for him to connect musical and visual elements. But, while he’s always managed to pull off an aesthetically memorable production in the past, he wants fans to know that this time he’s majorly upped the ante — and that concert goers to the True Colors tour are in for an experience that will stick in their minds for some time.

The new album comes with more than just an updated light and graphics show. Zedd’s sophomore release is informed by his musical background outside of EDM — which he admits freely was not his first love. “Coming from a different world, it was difficult for me to understand electronic music in the beginning,” he says.

Eventually he found a way. “I looked at what other people were doing, and I realized that no one” — apart from a handful of electronic artists, including Daft Punk — "was making albums.” So he decided to embark on creating one in his own pioneering style. “An album gives you so much room to express more than you can ever express with a song or two or three, or even a small EP.” 

With the aim of engaging his listeners emotionally, Zedd is opening a new page in electronic music history, merging EDM with a more traditional pop-rock approach.“I don’t see myself as just a DJ, ever. The way I create music is that every song exists as a piano or vocal version: I wrote the songs like that. In my heart, it’s normal music. And then I like to spice it up, and make [the songs] sound the way they sound.”

With this album in particular, Zedd is hoping to show people that he’s not only a maker of EDM: “I am a lover of music,” he says. And, while his favorite track from the new record changes every day, it’s the one that leans most heavily on his acoustic roots that the artist is most proud of: the title track, "True Colors." “I love acoustic instruments, but I’ve never really had the courage to put that on an album,” he shares. Now he can officially check that off his list.

Of course, each song on True Colors has a special place in Zedd’s heart — and, at the very least, has passed his test for timelessness. “It’s a great song if you strip it down to the essentials — the chords, the melody, the lyrics — and you play it on a piano with the vocal, and you still love it the exact same way.” The truth is, that’s what all of his songs boil down to: a piano and vocal track. He builds everything from there — and intends to keep it that way.

“I record with an orchestra and a lot of instruments. I hope the stigma that electronic music is just a couple nerds sitting behind a laptop pressing buttons and putting together loops and files is going away a little bit.” Though he is soft-spoken in person, Zedd's passion is palpable. "My entire electronic music career has been shorter than the time I have before I turn 30," he says. "The one thing that will never be accomplished for me is that I always want to keep making music that is better than I’ve done before. That is my drug." 
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