DJ-cum-sneakerhead Zedd came out to Brooklyn’s 1Hotel on Monday (August 5) in celebration of Columbia Sportswear’s new SH/FT line, a collection of new sneaker/hiking shoe hybrids.
Before speaking on a panel moderated by Joe La Puma of Complex’s Sneaker Shopping, Zedd talked to Billboard about testing out the SH/FT line before its August 9 launch.
Columbia originally approached the producer to test out a pair of shoes from the SH/FT line at his headlining Red Rocks show in late June, 2019. For the artist born Anton Zaslavski, it was the perfect opportunity to wear a shoe that could support him on stage and outdoors, as the producer recently took up hiking.
“Sometimes I have to do multiple things at a time and I don’t really want to bring shoes with me,” Zedd tells Billboard. “I like the idea of being able to wear a shoe in different environments without you being able to tell, ‘Oh, you’re wearing hiking shoes.’”
While supportive shoes don’t seem like an obvious necessity for a worldwide touring DJ, for Zedd, they’re a must-have.
“For me, I have to be able to jump in [shoes] for 100 minutes, two hours every single day on the spot,” he says. “It’s not the easiest thing.”
On his first tour, Zedd suffered from shin splints so severe that he often had to be carried off the stage. Special mats were used at Zedd’s shows going forward, to provide him support, though the look of his upcoming tour production prevents him from using the mats.
“With my new production, the challenge is that there is no room for a mat because it’s see-through, so I have this grid that I have to jump on,” Zedd says. “So when I was talking to the guys at Columbia and [seeing] how these shoes are made, they told me that part of it is kind of like a boost sole, so it has a lot of give but the bottom is relatively hard and has the grip.”
Zedd now adds the SH/FT line to his ever-growing stock of sneakers. At his current home, he had an architect construct a room that holds an estimated 200 pairs of shoes, though the producer admits he’s lost count.
“To me, shoes are art,” he says. “The amount of research and thought that goes into a shoe is probably much more intense than what we imagine, or that I imagine at least, so I really respect the craft and the art in it.”
The art doesn’t stop at his shoe closet — Zedd also shared some details about the production behind his upcoming Orbit Tour, where he plans to debut a few new tracks.
“This is the first time we created a custom piece that isn’t available anywhere else, which is this orb that spins around me infinitely and it creates these crazy illusions,” he explains. (Normally he makes use of LED walls for backdrops.)
The technology behind the “orb” allows it to change form throughout the show, appearing transparent at some points and almost solid and metallic at others. In creating his new show, Zedd was also inspired by one of his favorite topics: the cosmos.
“The whole show is based around space,” he says. “We created all new visuals, tons of incredible clips and it’s just like going to space for an hour and a half.”
The Orbit Tour commences September 13 in Seattle and travels throughout North America and Europe through November.
Check out Zedd’s promo for Columbia below.