PART HUMANOID. PART ROBOT.
Photos by:Brittany NO FOMO
ZEKE BEATS… One can say he’s an Australian artist, or an award-winning DJ (ranking 4th in the world in the IDA DJ Championships), or even a Bassnectar approved artist. But what some may not know is that this humble producer and artist is really grateful to be doing what he’s passionate about.
On his 3rd US tour, which included Shambhala, Global Dance Festival, Electric Forest, and the upcoming most anticipated new festival of the year, Oregon Eclipse, ZEKE BEATS is sharing new music off his latest Dispatch EP, (released March of this year), and incorporating more live components to his unique performances.
At Electric Forest alone, he played two sets on Friday, one at the Tripolee stage and a turntablist set at the Forest (pictured here).
During his turntabilist set, he was, “Hoping to blow some minds,” and we are a witness to say he did.
We did our very best to keep an ear out during Bassnectar’s Sunday headlining set to listen if he mixed in ZEKE BEATS single off his last EP, “Meltdown”, which he is known to do, but we were way too immersed in the moment to notice. (Can anyone verify?)
That being said, Highlark heard firsthand the exciting story of how Lorin aka Bassnectar took a liking to ZEKE BEATS’ mixes, and how BEATS admires Bassnectar for keeping the industry genuine.
Talking Bassnectar, Aussie Hip Hop, Electric Forest, and the importance of artists being real…
Q: TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR 2ND SET – “SCRATCHING” AND TURNTABILSM
A: My act consists of using turntables, and doing it with bass music – doing scratching and doing tricks and that sort of stuff – no one really does that in the bass music scene. It’s definitely something that is coming back… Anyone can become a DJ nowadays, you can go buy a $300-$400 DJ controller and start trying to DJ – But because people have an understanding of what’s gong on, more people are starting to respect it.
Q: I WAS TOLD YOU CREATE “BRAIN-MELTING BASS MUSIC”… IS THIS TRUE?
A: My own sound is very mechanical. When I make music, some of my biggest inspirations come from gritty, raw basslines. And a lot of those bassline can only be made with hardware synthesizers. So there are a lot of people who use software, but I feel that hardware is so much more fun to use. It’s more technical because it’s a great mix between an electronic sound, but I with my hand can control things in real time and record them, as opposed to lines inside a software. So I can hit record and jam out, and then chop those sounds up and use them in my music. So yeah, I think you can describe my music as:
heavy, experimental, (of course I’m going to say) unique, and overwhelming.
Q: WERE YOU ALWAYS ATTRACTED TO THE HEAVY BASS – WHERE DID YOU START YOUR MUSIC CAREER?
A: I definitely started out different. A lot of scratch DJs and turntabilists start with a hip hop background, and that’s because turntabilism stems from that. I used to be a hip hop DJ back when I was 18, so I started doing all of that kind of stuff, playing in clubs. Then I fell in love with bass music, when I was 21 / 22, and haven’t looked back ever since. I absolutely love everything about it.
Q: SO, WE’RE FROM NEW YORK. I KNOW HIP HOP CULTURE MIGHT HAVE CAUGHT ON IN AUSTRALIA A LITTLE LATER… HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE SCENE THERE THAT YOU GREW UP IN?
A: There’s two sides really – There’s Aussie hip hop, which is obviously Australian artists. And then there’s more old school R&B that’s more American influence. There’s R&B hip hop nights, but then there’s also this Aussie hip hop scene that’s very us – the lyrics and words are very relatable and truthful. Where I feel that the other side of hip hop has turned to into “money, bitches, bling” all this shit, which is fine for partying and all that. But for the younger generations that take this shit seriously, sometimes I don’t think that’s a good idea.
Q: LORIN… BASSNECTAR SUPPORTS YOUR MUSIC! HOW DID THAT ALL COME ABOUT?
A: Basically one day I was just making music in the studio, and I saw a Twitter notification pop up –
“Bassnectar is Following You”.
What the fuck. Literally, what?! I messaged him straight away…
Z: “Dude, thank you so much. I’m a massive fan of your music.”
B: Then, he wrote back something like, ‘Thanks, man. Your tune ‘Meltdown’ is great. By the way, here’s my edit/remix of it.’
Z: Then I was like, what? “Are you serious!?”
B: Yeah, I play this in my live sets. It’s not much of a remix, more of an edit because I haven’t really changed that much because I think it’s such a good song, couldn’t do anything better.’
And for me that was the biggest thing. Whether the edit is ever going to come out or just exclusive to his live shows is another question.
…Lorin is one of the people I listened to before I even made electronic music so I used to have him on CDs… and the Pixie’s remix that he did, I was like damn! And to have someone like that reach out to me and be so real still… So many people get too much hype and then they change a bit in a way, which is a pity. I’m never going to be like that. I promise. I pride myself in being real. Not like it’s a big effort, but I write back to everyone who reaches out to me…
I really respect that from someone like Bassnectar. He’s so massive but takes the time out of his day to be real.
Q: SPEAKING OF OTHER ARTISTS DOING IT RIGHT… ANY ADVICE YOU’D GIVE OTHER ARTISTS?
A: If you are passionate about something, you’ll succeed either way. The way you are doing something you truly enjoy OR the way you are doing something you truly enjoy and people recognize it. If you believe in yourself, just keeping going and doing what you love doing because it’s something that people can’t take away from you. People have opinions, and that’s what makes people human. So I had people tell me that my music is shit, but it doesn’t bother me because I love it, and that’s the most important thing.
In a working sense, you want to make most of your time. If you’re an upcoming producer… Say one more morning you’re not feeling creative because of any reason, use that time to grow your skills. Instead of making music, say okay today, instead I’m going to find a heap of really good samples I’m going to use or watch tutorials to step up my level. Always gotta be learning or creating.
Q: HOW DO YOU WANT YOUR MUSIC TO MAKE PEOPLE FEEL?
A: I want my music to make people feel like… What the hell just happened?! The feeling of like – holy shit, I didn’t think that would happen or didn’t know you could get that massive feeling from that music. To make them feel like uncontrollably dancing – yeah that’s my aim. Then for everyone to feel overwhelmed by that unconventional sound.
Q: HOW DO YOU VISUALIZE YOUR MUSIC?
A: A robot with a mind of a human. There’s a perfect crossover of something that is being built and something that has an organic presence. For me, when I make the music, I use the analog synthesizer that’s a mechanical piece of equipment, but the thing that makes that human is me being able to, in real time, change a nob at a certain rate or change two things at once. So it’s a perfect balance between organic, humanoid and robot.