Toronto EDM duo Zeds Dead isn’t an easy peg. Longtime friends Zach Rapp-Rovan and Dylan Mamid got their start with the hip-hop project Mass Productions. However, they soon morphed into their “Pulp Fiction”-based moniker and embraced a variety of electronic genres over six EPs and a slew of remixes.
This year was the Canadian pair’s biggest yet, as they released the band’s full-length debut album and launched their own record label, Deadbeats. The album, “Northern Lights,” showcases collaborations with a diverse range of guests, from Twin Shadow and Rivers Cuomo to Diplo and Pusha T. The label kicked things off by making “Northern Lights” its very first release.
DiscoverSD caught up with Hooks (aka Rapp-Rovan) while he was recently in L.A. getting things in order for their ambitious new tour.
DSD: “Northern Lights” seems like it was a long time coming.
Hooks: Yeah, we thought it would come out before now. But we also should have waited before getting people excited about it. These things drag on. But we finally put it out. We just wanted to make it perfect. And we think it was worth the wait.
DSD: You did launch Deadbeats in there, as well.
Hooks: We’ve always done things ourselves, and we’ve always taken the time to do things our way. So we saw it as a perfect opportunity to start things out with the label by putting out our album.
DSD: What else can we expect from Deadbeats?
Hooks: We’ve been working on a compilation album. That will be the first thing we release after our album. Then we’ll follow that with some EPs from a few of the artists from the compilation – Memorecks, Hunter Siegel, Pusher. We’re also working with a lot of other artists. We want this label to be a lot more than just electronic music – especially in the area of something like hip-hop.
DSD: You have worked with some amazing MCs: Sean Price, Freddie Gibbs…
Hooks: We’ve managed to work with some of our idols. As you mentioned, Sean Price, is one of my favorite rappers. It was awesome to be able to work with him before he passed. And on this new record, we have Pusha T, Jadakiss, Styles P, and a rapper from the UK named Ghetts.
DSD: Anyone out there on your wish list?
Hooks: We just did a track with Redman. He’s also one of our top favorites, so that was awesome. I think Busta Rhymes is someone that we would like to do a song with.
DSD: It has to be mind-blowing when you come into these collaborations as a fan first.
Hooks: It really is mind-blowing. Growing up, these guys were legends to me. The idea of ever working with them was so far-fetched.
DSD: Hip-hop and EDM seem quite entwined right now…
Hooks: At the end of the day, what is the real difference? Both are made electronically. It’s not like hip-hop is made on organic instruments. The only real difference is that hip-hop has someone rapping on it. Other than that, it’s very similar. And there are all kinds of styles. But electronic music seems to have a lot more predispositions about it. Hip-hop’s roots are definitely in electronic music with people like Afrika Bambaataa and Kraftwerk.
DSD: Are you trying to synthesize it all?
Hooks: We have been doing that since we started. We want to merge the two worlds. But I also think hip-hop production has a lot to do with our style because that’s what we did before. It’s filtered in there.
DSD: What’s next?
Hooks: We’re constantly working. But we just finished the record. My whole world was this album. We were working on it until just a few weeks ago. I was consumed. But I’m really excited. I feel like this is our best work.
When: 8 p.m. Oct. 30
Where: Observatory North Park, 2891 University Ave., North Park