An Interview with Ed is Dead: Part 1
Part I: On the Past, Influences and Mainstream Music
So often in modern music, producers and artists are simply infatuated with gaining wealth and fame without any regard for the quality of their music or about the stories they seek to narrate. Mainstream electronic music has arrived to the stage where big name DJs ‘simply push play’ and dance around to their music. It is therefore always a relief and a pleasure to discover new artists whom are actually interested in creating a personal style and providing well-produced music that challenge the listener. Ed is Dead is a young, Spanish producer with an extensive and varied musical history ranging from rock and flamenco to jazz and electronica. Throughout our hour-long conversation, we spoke about his career, influences and his new album ‘Change.’ Two main points struck me: firstly, Ed is capable of mastering and exploring a vast range of sounds and genres in a quest to create his own style. This should be clear to anyone who listens to ‘Change’ and other works and belies an extensive knowledge of musical genre. Secondly, Ed loves music. These two characteristics make sure that he invests time and extensive consideration in concocting tracks that tell a story and elicit strong emotional reactions along the way. On top of it all, Ed is a kind and engaging individual. As our chat was so extensive, we will be releasing the interview in several parts. Be sure to check back in the coming weeks!
In this first part, we speak about how Ed got into music, his influences and his projects.
The Hippo Collective: How are you?
Ed is Dead: I’m well thank you!
THC: Where are you now? Madrid?
Ed is Dead: Yes, where are you?
THC: I am in Milan! Thank you for taking the time to have a chat with me on behalf of The Collective. It is a pleasure to meet you and I am quite looking forward to this opportunity!
Ed is Dead: Thank you!
THC: To begin, could you talk about your past career? In particular, could you focus on when the period when you started DJing and producing electronic music?
Ed is Dead: I started playing 15 years ago, but I didn’t start with electronic music. I jumped into flamenco to begin with and then moved to drums in secondary school. Then I started touring with bands, metal [rock] bands and went around Europe and the United States. Then I started to study music production. I was always involved in [some form] of music. Then when I was twenty, I decided I wanted a ‘bigger picture’ and not to focus on one instrument and produce my own songs. That is when I started to focus on personal production. Music has been a hobby for the past 15 years or so. It was never a professional interest until [more recently]. Now it’s part of my life! I love to DJ, it’s a normal part of my life- to play music.
THC: You have spoken about many different types of music, from rock to flamenco. When you started DJing and producing your album ‘Change’, what influences were key to the album’s creation?
Ed is Dead: I do not really know when I started making ‘Change’. When I had seven songs, I realized I could group them and make an album! The only thing I wanted was to not focus on one style or imitate other [songs and artists]. Given that almost all electronic music is now produced with a computer, you start by setting a tempo and that small procedure already in a way forces you into one style or genre. I didn’t want to focus on a particular genre. The only thing that I thought of during my writing process was not to imitate any songs or artists. For example, I love [Giorgio] Moroder but I didn’t want to imitate his style. It’s hard because the second that I feel I’m getting to close to a particular sound, I [realize] I need to find my own voice. That’s the most difficult part!
In terms of influences, I love a lot of music! I’m always listening to music. I love Bjork because she’s always searching for new ways of expression and constantly evolving. For me, that’s the thing: not to get comfortable with [your] sound and not say ‘OK I’m done, I’m not going to move from it.’ I like constant experimentation. That said, I come from rock, you know from bands. I think there’s a little [rock] in the album. Of course, it’s still electronic but the structure and the importance of the vocals [are similar to those of rock].
THC: What is your main motivation or idea when you produce new music?
Ed is Dead In the songs, [emotions are] one of my biggest factors: in electronic music we have to make people feel something. But we’re always thinking: ‘when the drop comes, let’s have a big baseline’ and ‘let’s smash the dancefloor!’ That’s cool but what are you telling to the people? You have to tell a story and in my opinion, some producers have forgotten this. They want ‘big sounds’ but what are you telling the audience?[Salvador] Dali, for example, has had a big influence on my work. He has that point of craziness and he was never attached to the establishment. I’m the same way: if the industry goes in one direction, I go the other. I just want to express myself.
THC: It is interesting you should mention [Salvador] Dali, a great individual who focused greatly on visual art. I know that in the past you spoke about the importance of matching visual productions with audio cues and songs. From what I understand, you have worked with filmography in the past and for some pretty big names including Elle España and Beefeater Gin. Could you tell me about this creative process and the meaning of these projects for you?
Ed is Dead: These projects are very special for me. Most of the time, I am given the video which is almost complete. I simply go to the piano and start making the music. I love it because if I see a girl walking or a man breathing, I get to imagine how the audio sounds and then create it! Frequently, the video producers simply put a song and [send it off].
However, there’s a lot of vocabulary that you can insert. I always record to the audio track, to the girl’s or the boy’s words, so that I can match the song with the feeling of the video. I think this process enriches the music and the images. Personally, movies, pictures and films are important influences in my work. For example, if I have a bad day and watch a movie that blows my mind, and then start playing the piano, it can be an important source of inspiration for another project or production.
I feel that the quality of [mainstream] music is decreasing with time. If you listen to the charts from the 60s, 70s or 80s, you find Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson. Their songs were so complex and now it’s so simple and too easy. You have to experience other disciplines or forms of art to bring back complexity. This is why audio-visual projects can be so important.
THC: Thank you Ed for your responses! Let us take a quick break.
The Hippo Collective would like to thank Ed is Dead for taking the time to chat with us. Stay tuned for Part II and all other subsequent parts. Check out Ed’s album ‘Change’ on SoundCloud: and Buy his album on iTunes here. Finally, visit his Facebook page for information about new releases and projects:
Thank you for reading!