“I actually suck at Ableton,” – Multi-talented Zazou gets really honest in exclusive interview

The mad talents of composer, live performer, and instrumentalist Zazou has captivated the international Deep House & Slow Rave scenes in recent years. His unique sound reflects his rich musical background in pianos and guitars, while drum machines, synths, and effect pedals enhance and fuse them all together to create vibrant soundscapes that are fresh, pleasantly surprising, and never, ever, monotonous.

Known to be a versatile one-man show, Zazou is always pushing himself into new frontiers. His musical exploration has brought him together with producer and veteran DJ El Mundo, and they have been an absolute banger in the scene. What’s really exciting for our team at HMWL, is their upcoming release under our label, the El Mundo & Zazou remix of AHDM’s Walking Moments.

We caught Zazou for a chat in between his Berlin club nights and plans for the upcoming festival season.

Walking Moments EP

Hi Zazou, we love the dreamy and soothing remix of ADHM’s Walking Moments that you’ve done with El Mundo. Would you like to tell our readers how you two have infused your own flavours into the original track?

Hey there, well you see, El Mundo and I have a somewhat unconventional approach to remixes: every original that we work with has, let’s say, 2-3 elements that we really like. We’ll isolate and loop them, add temporary drums and just wait for the inspiration to kick in, while jamming on the song’s essence. Soon enough, we’ll come up with something that we like and then just continue building on it, until we’re satisfied.

This process can take several weeks, as we prefer to not force a song’s completion just for the sake of it. By the end of this process the remix will have a unique flavor, and sometimes be only loosely connected to the original. This means no disrespect to the artist though, quite on the contrary: we love every single original, which we turn into a remix – it’s actually a precondition. 

Why ADHM? What was it about the original mix of Walking Moments that attracted you?

ADHM and I were already connected via Soundcloud and had chatted about music every now and then, even before the remix became a topic. So when he sent over the link to Walking Moments, and asked me whether we’d be down to do a remix, it kind of came naturally – even more so, since the song is super groovy.

Zazou’s music

Tell us about your childhood hero and how they influenced your life and music?

My childhood hero was a guy my age called Malte. We hung out during our elementary school years, and I looked up to him, because he was always a step ahead of everyone else. Having relatives in the U.S. he came in touch with rap music, skateboarding and basketball, etc.. early in his life. Obviously I imitated him, and made sure to copy his tapes collection by recording whatever he lent me. We’re talking Dog Pound, Nirvana, Faith no More, Cypress Hill, NWA and the likes. Between the ages 14 and 17, rap music was everything to me.

After that my taste in audio diversified and went in all kinds of directions. I actually started composing electronic music very late in my life, and got into it in my early 30’s. I guess the hard rap kicks from my past somehow connect to our current work, which is also well… kick drum music.

How many instruments can you play? What are these?

I started taking piano lessons at the age of ten, but moved on to guitar a couple of years later, because of Benjamin: all the girls in our music class were amazed by his skills, so obviously I had to get his teacher’s number. By getting into electronic music, I kind of made a full circle, since most things I do happen on a synth. So I guess the piano lessons paid off in the end.

Be right back. I need to grab some candy.

Some minutes later…

Welcome back! We see that teaming up with El Mundo has been a fruitful experience, at least for the fans, we can’t get enough of your releases. What’s the most beautiful thing about working with this person? And what’s the thing you dislike most about him (yes, we all love a little gossip sometimes)?

Not many people know that, but I actually suck at Ableton. I’m a “haptic” person: I like to turn knobs, punch keys, use my FX pedals with my hands, instead of with my mouse pad and so on. El Mundo, on the other hand, is an Ableton geek, which is what makes our synergy so special. I’m just lucky he likes most ideas I come up with, and enjoys creating full-blown songs from them.

There is only one thing I’d love for him to modify about his work style: he’s a f***ing perfectionst, in both a superb, and slightly subpar way. El Mundo can get lost in finding the right balance of the layers and mixing of hi-hats and shakers for hours. I’m not kidding. I mean the result is always top notch, but sometimes I wish he’d be more like: “Ach..good enough!”, and move on, so we could release even more songs per year. That being said, working with him is a total blessing.

Tell us about a hidden talent you have. Feel free to send us a video of it too!


Dreams and hopes

If you could collaborate with anyone, dead or alive, for your next release, who would it be? And why?

Pat Metheny because his guitar style shaped me as an artist, Dizzee Rascal, to explore the junction of Rap and House more, O/Y for his otherworldly drums, and Rødhåd because I really feel drawn toward his dark vibes, and would love to explore that side of me.

So, what’s in the pipeline? What is next in terms of gigs, festivals, releases, that our readers should go crazy about?

Our next big weekend is going down mid May, when we’re gigging in Munich, Amsterdam, and Mykonos. There are more gigs lined up. I guess follow us on IG to get more updates 😛

This is something we’d like to do a little more often, to use our featured artists as a platform to inspire the next generation of producers and musicians. So Zazou, tell us, what advice would you give to someone looking to become an electronic music producer?

Keep your expectations low in the beginning. Most of what you’ll create will likely not live up to your hopes and dreams. Don’t pay attention to hypes, instead focus on what you enjoy doing. If you haven’t done so yet, take keyboard lessons. Make sure to find a teacher who can teach you about chords and scales – completely omit learning to read notes! Just a couple of months of lessons will kick-start your artistic development.

Get Splice, so you don’t have to start from scratch. Learn Ableton. Co-found a party collective. Feel free to copy stuff from songs you love. Get all of your equipment second-hand. That way you’ll have much better gear for the same price. The most essential items you’ll need when you want to get into hardware are: 

    • synth
    • drum machine
    • sequencer-sampler combo
    • reverb pedal
    • mixer
    • (decent) monitors
    • and last but not least: coffee.

Follow Zazou on Beatport: https://www.beatport.com/artist/zazou/336437

Don’t miss thier next gig, follow El Mundo & Zazou on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/elmundo.zazou/

Binge El Mundo & Zazou on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/elmundozazou

Prefer Spotify? Add El Mundo & Zazou to your playlists: https://open.spotify.com/artist/7J2lIaohyBPQWvs2JjQDaG