Do you hear what Zedd hears?

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - Showtime - Broward - - MUSIC -

Be­fore he be­came a dance-mu­sic pow­er­house, Zedd, a Rus­sian-Ger­man DJ, pro­ducer and artist, was a drum­mer in a death­core band. It’s not an un­com­mon tra­jec­tory: Fel­low EDM su­per­star Skrillex, an early backer of his, started out in a punk band.

And, like Skrillex, Zedd (born An­ton Zaslavski) has be­come a cross­over sen­sa­tion, thanks to a hand­ful of Top 40-minded col­lab­o­ra­tions with artists such as Se­lena Gomez, Ari­ana Grande and Paramore’s Hay­ley Wil­liams.

Ami­able and ac­ces­si­ble, Zedd, 26, is the per­fect EDM gate­way act. The on­go­ing tour in sup­port of his sopho­more release, “True Colors,” is a lasers-and-pyro ex­trav­a­ganza meant to ap­peal to peo­ple who have never been to, or per­haps do not like, con­ven­tional EDM shows. On Fri­day, he’ll bring el­e­ments of that tour to the Y100 Jin­gle Ball, which also will fea­ture Nick Jonas, Demi Lo­vato, 5 Sec­onds of Sum­mer and other pop-ra­dio acts at the BB&T Cen­ter in Sun­rise.

In a re­cent phone in­ter­view, he talked about Skrillex, Se­lena and life as pop’s sec­ond-most-beloved EDM star. Ex­cerpts from the con­ver­sa­tion fol­low.

On his evo­lu­tion from pre­teen con­cert pi­anist to elec­tronic artist: “I started play­ing in churches and schools. My brother and I

Y100 Jin­gle Ball

When: 7:30 p.m. Fri­day Where: BB&T Cen­ter, 1 Pan­ther Park­way, in Sun­rise Cost: $51-$251. Con­tact: 800-745-3000 or go to TheBBTCen­ would play. Then, we started play­ing more funk and fu­sion and jazz. A few years later, I started be­ing a drum­mer. I al­ways liked learn­ing new things, and I think what ex­cited me most about elec­tronic mu­sic is I didn’t know any­thing about it. I didn’t go to clubs or raves or any­thing like that, and it was kind of ex­cit­ing to step into this new world that seems to be so un­lim­ited. You can do any­thing you want.”

On his first, vir­tual meet­ing with Skrillex: “I re­mem­ber when I first heard of Skrillex. It’s not like our mu­sic sounded the same, but in my mind I was like, ‘I think we’re pretty sim­i­lar here. I can see that we think the same way mu­si­cally.’ ... I wrote a mes­sage to Skrillex, and he loved my stuff. He said, ‘Do you want me to put your song up on my Mys­pace page?’ I’d had a couple of plays the day be­fore, then I sud­denly had 50,000 spins.”

On be­ing an elec­tronic artist pop fans can love: “I as­sume there must be some­thing in my mu­sic that’s prob­a­bly easy for peo­ple to latch onto. For peo­ple that aren’t fa­mil­iar with elec­tronic mu­sic, it’s the lyrics or vo­cals or melodies they know from what­ever genre they’re fa­mil­iar with. ... My mu­sic is some­what broad, and peo­ple find some­thing in there they like. It’s im­por­tant to me that the fo­cus is on mu­sic and not nec­es­sar­ily on DJ’ing. I al­ways like for peo­ple to con­sider me a mu­si­cian be­fore they call me a DJ.”

On whether there is pres­sure on EDM artists to de­liver crossover­friendly hits: “No, to be hon­est with you. When I had my first hit, I was the only per­son to be­lieve it would be a hit. ... I think if you try to nail that per­fect pop el­e­ment right now, it’s al­ready go­ing to be out [of fash­ion] by the time it comes out. ... If it’s ex­cit­ing for you, it will be ex­cit­ing for other peo­ple, as well.”

On team­ing up with Se­lena Gomez af­ter meet­ing her in a record­ing stu­dio bath­room: “I had to use the bath­room, and her stu­dio was right across the [way] from mine. I ran into her and said she should come by my stu­dio and hear my al­bum. I told her about the colors con­cept, and how ev­ery song is rep­re­sented by a color. I said, ‘Maybe there’s a song that would work for you.’ We lis­tened to the whole thing, and she really liked ‘I Want You To Know.’ That song wasn’t fin­ished and fully writ­ten yet, and we had a chance to ac­tu­ally put some of her el­e­ments into the song, as well.”


Zedd will per­form Fri­day at the Y100 Jin­gle Ball.

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