ZEKE BEATS has had an incredible journey so far. The turntablist-turned-bass music producer has been churning out forward-thinking releases for about five years, but the past two years have seen him take his productions to a next level. From his groundbreaking Dispatch EP, to his single “Yuck” via Deadbeats, a release on San Holo’s bitbird label and much more, we’ve seen him go from the underground to a highly sought after status within the music scene.
Hot off of REZZ’s Mass Manipulation tour, we chatted with the Australia native in honor of his brand new Devastate EP with Buygore. The 4-track collection follows his recent “Toast” remix for Foreign Beggars and stands as his first major release for 2018. Featuring the title track premiered by Skrillex-owned NEST HQ, the EP offers another original track and two fiery collaborations.
Opening track “Devastate” offers deadly synth sounds backed by extraterrestrial vocal samples, and unbelievably hard-hitting drums (a ZEKE BEATS signature). “Static,” the other original track, opens with a melodic and cinematic structure, as he tells us more about below, and builds up unbearable tension before trap horns, gritty 808s and intricate percussion take the stage. What makes ZEKE’s music stand out is his ability to stray from expected sounds and structures, and put all of his creativity forth into every aspect of his productions. Next, we reach his collaboration with talented co-Aussie Blanke–and I have to say, it might be the hardest song I’ve ever heard in my life. WHAT THE F***, you guys? “Chaos” sounds like they took a spaceship to Mars, hopped into a swimming pool full of LSD, collaborated with some aliens from 3018, and sent the final result down to Earth in a Tesla. I mean, wow. Finally, we reach “Hypnotize” with Shaman, which closes the EP on an exemplary note. Another “WTF” moment, the collaboration is a complete anomaly. Like a heavy dose of synesthesia, I imagine intermittently blinking strobe lights that scintillate in time with the savory 808s and celestial white noise frequencies.
In terms of bass music, your sound is very distinct, thanks to your signature analogue basslines and hip-hop and grime influences. Who would you say influences you the most production-wise?
Furthermore, do you think your sound would have gone in a different direction if it wasn’t for the physical element of analogue gear? And do you have any advice for producers looking to incorporate some of that into their production?
I definitely think so… working with hardware was such a fun way to learn the basis of synthesis, what basic wave forms sounded like, what textures etc.
Going back to your roots, your start came from turntablism — making your sets one of the most exciting I’ve ever seen. What is the process like for you to put together a new live set
Sometimes things just happen to fall in place but sometimes I get stuck… I like to make little routines which I can perform throughout my sets and hopefully turn some heads. A lot of the time I like to key mix so first of all I make a new playlist and then sort by BPM and key and see what my options are. But in saying that I also don’t restrict myself only to those options.
You recently came off of multiple stops with REZZ for her Mass Manipulation tour. What was that like?
That was absolutely insane! REZZ is such a great person and we really clicked. It all happened so quickly that we only got to hung properly after the very last show of the tour!
This week marks the highly anticipated release of Devastate on Buygore, which is my favorite EP of yours yet. What was your vision for the EP and what do you hope that listeners take away from it?
One of the synonymous visions I have for all of my music is to create something uniques which makes people go “whoaa!” This EP especially showcased more of a musical side to ZEKE BEATS having melodic and orchestral breakdowns and instruments… which only has been highlighted before in the collab I did with BeauDamian on bitbird.
Do you have a favorite track out of the collection? It’s almost impossible to choose, but mine is “Chaos.”
Thats a very tough one, I like all of them too much!
You’re gearing up for your first North American tour of 2018 in honor of the EP. What can fans expect when they see you?
A whole bunch of new, mind blowing unreleased music including remixes, collabs and originals… combined with some #realdjing :p
Everyone will probably kill me if I don’t ask this, so … any details on “Humanoid 2.0?“
lol, yeah EPROM and I are planning on hopefully releasing it in April. More deets to be announced soon!
Last, but certainly, not least, who is your favorite character on The Office?
Being a massive Office fanatic, it would have to be either Dwight or Michael 🙂