[INTERVIEW] ZABO Reveals His Experiences With Rapid Success + Music Marketing
Native to Toronto, Canada, midtempo producer ZABO is currently on a relentless rise within the dance music industry. Aside from his signature industrial sound, ZABO is a prime example of social media’s efficacy in music marketing. Following his recent EP, Dusk and Dawn, ZABO’s trajectory towards massive success has only become more assured.
Due to his social media prevalence, the viral sensation has solidified midtempo’s potential to captivate a mainstream audience in addition to well-versed fans of dance music. iEDM had the opportunity to encounter ZABO shedding a light on his experiences throughout his rise to notoriety, marketing strategies, and influences behind his production style.
Read iEDM’s exclusive interview with ZABO below.
iEDM: You have recently experienced a rapid rise in success, partially due to TikTok’s effectiveness in creating massive song trends. This is a more recent phenomena in the music industry. How does the sudden surge in listeners affect your mentality? How do you feel about thousands of people utilizing your tracks in their own creations?
ZABO: It’s really great to see that my music is reaching a wider audience! As artists/musicians, we love when other people can enjoy or relate to the music we make. As for everyone using my music in TikToks and Instagram reels, it makes me so happy every time I see a new one. People are really creative in the different ways they use my music!
iEDM: What was the inspiration behind your Dusk & Dawn EP? Did you have a specific idea for the project from the beginning, or did it develop and change as you spent more time creating it?
ZABO: When I first made “Bing Bong”, I loved how dark and energetic it was, and thought it would be cool to make a similar song with a more uplifting vibe to contrast it. Once both songs were done, I felt it was fitting to put them in an EP together!
iEDM: Midtempo is a slightly newer subgenre in the dance music sphere, with a smaller (and growing) number of massive artists compared to genres such as dubstep or house. Since there are not as many artists who have been producing this specific sound for decades, where did you look for inspiration in the early days of your career? Did you look up to EDM producers of other genres?
ZABO: I’ve gotten inspiration from many different genres (EDM & non-EDM). Anything from 80s metal to dancey pop songs. Sometimes, it can be something as small as a bass progression that gives me an idea of something I can do in a song of my own. In terms of electronic music, I’ll hear certain sounds in some songs that I want to experiment with and play off of to see if I can make something similar work in a song of mine!
iEDM: Different regions of the globe tend to have a special affinity for certain genres of EDM. Where have you found to have a surprising number of fans?
ZABO: Definitely, China! My song, “Drown” gained a lot of popularity there in 2019, which led to me playing a bunch of shows there before COVID shut everything down. It was super surprising to hear that my music was doing well there and it led to some really cool opportunities!
iEDM: You have worked with talents such as Arius on “Death on the Dance Floor”. Who is another artist you would love to collaborate with? Are there any joint projects in the works that you are excited about?
ZABO: There are so many artists that I’d love to collaborate with! Rezz, Blanke, & Deathpact to name a few! I have a few collabs in the works right now that I can’t wait to finish up, and I recently finished one with an artist named MashBit. He’s a really talented upcoming bass producer. We’re hoping to release it later this year!
iEDM: You previously released your track, “Somber” exclusively in China, which was a unique choice in terms of marketing strategy. What was the reasoning behind this decision? Did it yield a different response or payoff from your other releases?
ZABO: When I made “Somber”, I felt it was a little too mellow of a song compared to what I was releasing at the time, so I was hesitant to release it. But since China had shown me so much love that year, I thought it would be cool to release it there and see what people there thought of it! It actually became the top used song on their TikTok platform (Douyin) for a little while, so it was a really great response!
iEDM: You recently made your debut in your hometown, Toronto. What is the experience that comes along with returning home as an artist in the midst of accomplishing your dreams?
ZABO: It was such a blast getting to play in Toronto for the first time. One of the best parts about it was that so many of my friends got to come to the show and share that moment with me. My dad also came too and he loved it! Was definitely a special moment for me!
iEDM: If you could release an official remix of any track, what song is in need of a midtempo rework?
ZABO: I’d love to do a midtempo remix of an 80s rock song. I think “Shout At The Devil” by Mötley Crüe would be dope! They’re my favourite band so it’d be sick to do an official remix for them!
iEDM: You are widely known to create entertaining explanatory videos about your process while creating the majority of your tracks. What motivates you to share so much of your knowledge with your audience? Are there any drawbacks to “sharing your secrets” behind your production style and sound design?
ZABO: I find as the viewer, that kind of content is entertaining! I’d love to see some artists that I look up to do breakdowns of their songs, so that’s why I do it! If it’s something I’d wanna see artists do, why not do it for the people who like my music? I don’t find any drawbacks to it. I think spreading knowledge and tips to anyone aspiring to be a producer is part of the fun. If I can help anyone get better at what they do, that makes me a happy dude!
iEDM: Following your deserved influx of new listeners, are there any smaller artists you are hopeful will receive similar growth in the future?
ZABO: There are so many producers out there that deserve more love for sure. I could list so many, but some that stick out are: KYB, BADVOID, Pretence, HD-4884.
iEDM: A large amount of the artwork behind your projects displays a futuristic, dystopian, industrial theme. Is this a direct reflection of your signature mechanical sound?
ZABO: Definitely! I feel like that dystopian vibe is exactly what I picture in my head when I listen to my music!
iEDM: Many of your midtempo counterparts have opted to present “faceless” projects in which their identities remain shielded or entirely hidden. Can you speak on this unique trend? Is there something about the ambiance of the genre that inspires artists to detach the art from their personal lives?
ZABO: I think it’s really good at creating a buzz and mystery as to who that artist is. Is it a side project of an artist that we already know or is it a new producer that just decided to stay anonymous? People love to try and sleuth and figure out who’s behind these projects. It creates a lot of talk and speculation, which I love. The midtempo genre in general usually has a spooky or dark vibe, so that adds to the mystique!
iEDM: We see sporadic influences from other genres such as punk rock, rap, and reggae on bass music. Have any genres outside of EDM inspired any of your music?
ZABO: I touched on this before, but I get inspiration from so many genres! I think as an artist it’s good to listen to a bunch of different styles/genres of music, because you never know where you might find inspiration!
Photos Courtesy of ZABO
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