A year and a half ago, Zedd started work on a new track. While at the time he couldn’t have imagined how the world would be different when he dropped it, despite the global pandemic, social and political unrest and the general anxiety of daily life in America, the producer’s bright, buoyant sound remains the same. That was intentional.
“We are in such a tense state of the world right now,” the Los Angeles-based producer says in a statement. “I feel like this song can provide people with a much-needed sense of hope.”
Out today (October 23), “Inside Out” is an homage to that delicious feeling of falling and staying in love, with sumptuous vocals from U.K. singer Griff layered over Zedd’s shimmering, and indeed hopeful-sounding, production.
Zedd’s second single of 2020, “Inside Out” follows the July release of “Funny” with Jasmine Thomson. Tomorrow, October 24, Zedd will perform as part of The MDA Kevin Hart Kids Telethon, starting at 8 p.m. and streaming on YouTube, Pluto TV, Facebook, TikTok, Triller, and Twitch.
Here, the artist born Anton Zaslavski talks about how Skrillex inspired him to level, what’s he’s spent four hours doing every day during quarantine, and “the embarrassment” that is our current president.
1. Where are you in the world right now, and what’s the setting like?
I’m currently in my home in Beverly Hills, and I have been here throughout all of quarantine.
2. What is the first album or piece of music you bought for yourself, and what was the medium?
My first ever album was Daft Punk’s Discovery. It was in CD format, and it’s safe to say it absolutely changed my life. I don’t think I would have discovered my passion for electronic music if it was not for this album.
3. What did your parents do for a living when you were a kid, and what do they think of what you do for a living now?
My parents are both musicians. They taught instruments for a living, and they always knew that my only true passion was music. So, while my success was rather unexpected, they certainly are happy I was able to fulfill my dream of turning my hobby into my job.
4. What was the first song you ever made?
My first song ever I wrote with my brother when I was four years old. We still have video tapes of it, but I don’t believe we ever gave it a name.
5. If you had to recommend one album for someone looking to get into electronic music, what would you give them?
To this day, if there was ever one album I would recommend combining production and musicality; it would be Justice’s Cross. I still feel it sounds better than most electronic made today.
6. What’s the first thing you bought for yourself when you started making money as an artist?
It honestly took a while until I made a bigger purchase for myself, but I do remember one of my first major purchases was a Rolex for my agent. We made a bet that if I earned a certain amount of money, I’d owe him a Rolex. I took the bet in a heartbeat, thinking I would never really make any money anyway. Luckily for me, and him, I lost that bet.
7. What’s the last song you listened to?
Shawn Mendes, “Wonder.”
8. What’s one song you wish you had produced?
One song I always think back to, and wish I produced, is Avicii’s “Levels.” There are certainly more complex and intricate song productions in the world, but there is something about the genius simplicity of this song; the unbelievably anthemic and powerful emotion I feel when I hear it.
9. What’s the first electronic music show that really blew your mind?
Skrillex has been a huge inspiration and role model for me in terms of live shows. They have always been so incredibly well put together. I think his show was the first one I saw where I decided: I need my shows to be this good.
10. What’s distinctive about the place you grew up, and how did it shape you?
I grew up in a little town where there were not a lot of activities to do, and certainly not a lot of clubs to go to. I think it may have inspired me to spend more time at home and make music.
11. What are you usually thinking about when you’re playing a set?
I am very involved in the production side of things — lighting, lasers, video, SFX. I always look around and try to notice if the lights and video are doing the right things. I try to make note of any potential issues so I can communicate them back to my team. If certain things, like lasers, aren’t operating, or if people are on each other’s shoulders, it may possibly prevent me from using lasers (or safety reasons. I always strive to be a step ahead of it.
12. Roughly how many hours of video games have you played during quarantine?
I have gone back to being a total hardcore gamer in quarantine. I’d say on average I game around four hours a day.
13. You’ve had a Vegas residency for years now. With no shows happening during quarantine, what do you miss most about that city?
I really miss playing shows, and I really do miss my residency in Vegas. It became such an important part of my life. I even switched my entire sleeping schedule around it — going to bed at 3am, waking up at 11am. There is a special energy in Vegas that you just don’t get anywhere else. I do miss it a lot.
14. Where do you keep your Grammy award?
My Grammy is very close to my piano, in a big wall full of awards and little funny art pieces.
15. What’s been the proudest moment of your career thus far?
I don’t think I can pinpoint one individual moment, but I remember playing Madison Square Garden for the first time was quite an incredible moment. Furthermore, my first Zedd in the Park show was an unbelievably emotional moment for me. To see this many people come out to see me play live made me tear up.
16. You’re often called one of the producers responsible for fusing dance music with pop music. What’s your take on that?
I really appreciate that compliment. My main goal when I got into electronic music was to bring more musicality in to the genre and remove the stigma that “Pop is not cool.” I love pop music, and it is not something to be ashamed of. I do want to give credit to people like David Guetta though, because they were a huge inspiration for me when I started my career.
17. Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
It depends on the situation, but I am usually not too shy.
18. What are your thoughts on the upcoming election?
I am just really nervous, I’m not going to lie. I think literally any living, or not living, organism would be more fit for the job than Trump. I personally am not on the left and I’m not on the right. I’m quite straight down the middle. Some of the people I look up to call it “radical center.”
To me, while Biden was certainly not my first choice, I am quite happy with him as long as we don’t have to live through four more years of the embarrassment that is Trump. But at the end of the day, I can’t stop but think: We live in a country with 350 million people and this is what we have to choose between? This is really the top of the crop? Our best options? It is quite a depressing thought to me.
19. What does “Inside Out” say about where you’re at in your career and your evolution as an artist?
I think I will never stop evolving. “Inside Out,” for me, is both “new” and “familiar”. I always want to feel inspired and reinvent myself. I’ve never loved staying the same. If you look through my last decade of music, you will see it is constantly changing, and evolving. I want to keep doing that.
20. What’s one piece of advice you’d give to your younger self?
Trust your instinct. There is no formula for success. Just go with what you genuinely believe is right.