Over the last several years, Zedd has helped pushed the envelope in dance music and blur the lines of genres by teaming up with pop stars, rock stars and rappers to feature on his songs. And this year, the 28-year-old has done it again with his newest single "The Middle" featuring country star Maren Morris and production duo Grey.
"The Middle" follows Zedd's Liam Payne collab "Get Low" and his hit "Stay" featuring Alessia Cara. "Stay" is nominated for two iHeartRadio Music Awards this year for Best Collaboration and Dance Song of the Year, and additionally, Zedd is also up for Dance Artist of the Year.
The Story Behind "The Middle"
"The Middle" is everywhere lately, getting play on the radio, and on TV featured in several Target commercials ... and it's a definite ear worm. Zedd's latest masterpiece took months to create, and as he tells iHeartRadio, "This was one of those songs that just didn't wanna come to an end." The producer/DJ explains that he had reworked the song in different places several times, and even went through about 15 different singers, until he finally find Maren, marking the first time Zedd has worked with a country artist.
Zedd tells us that the vocalists he was considering to sing "The Middle" range from up and coming singers to A-List stars. He explains of the collaboration with Maren and how he chooses which singers to feature on his songs:
"I wasn't going for a country singer, I really never care who the singer is or what genre they make. I just don't like genres generally. I wasn't going for any specific genre. I had people that were completely unknown, like up and coming people who I saw in a YouTube video to A-list super stars. There's a lot of people who sang it, even though I already had a vocalist, who just wanted to sing it, which is awesome." He adds, "We've had a wide range of all sorts of singers cut it, which is a process I typically go through. I rarely have a song where I pick one singer and just stick with that. I am really open about recording several people to really try to find [the one], sometimes I don't even know exactly what I want, and by recording people, you kinda understand what the song really needs. 'Stay' was exception where I knew exactly that Alessia was the one, but typically, I record several singers."
Plans for 2018 & New Music
"The Middle" is only the first piece of new music that fans will hear from Zedd this year, as he's been working on "some really exciting collaborations." And he's continuing to push the boundaries as he continues to blend genres together. He tells us, "I have some really exciting collaborations with some up and coming people, with some famous people that have never done a song like this before. And I'm really experimenting with genres, if you wanna call it that, and really mixing things together that I think haven't really quite been mixed together like this before, in combination with a singer that people don't expect. I think its always something refreshing to hear."
Speaking of exciting collaborations, Zedd sparked a few rumors of a possible Sam Smith team-up in February after he posted a picture of the two of them to Instagram along with the caption, "Z+S." Sam is known for his incredible voice and beautiful ballads, but has dabbled in the dance music world before having been featured on a few Disclosure songs. So, teaming up with Zedd would be venturing into new territory for Sam, and it sounds like it may be new for Zedd as well. He explains of his songwriting process:
"I typically start with just, a song. So every song sounds like ... usually piano and vocal. You can take that into any world you want. And some of those songs I've been working on, I honestly don't even know how to make them into a song that sounds electronic because they're just partially gospel-y and weird, but amazing at the same time. So, I will surprise myself with where I take the songs, and I'm super excited to share it with my whole team. I have felt like the songs that I'm working on right now are the strongest songs I've ever worked on and the most diverse and most intelligent. So, I'm really excited to release more music."
Album Or Singles?
Zedd last released an album in 2015 with True Colors, his sophomore effort. His debut album, Clarity, was released just three years before. So, is another full-length record on the horizon? Or will Zedd be focusing on singles? The answer is another album could very well happen. He explains:
"I've always been an album artist, originally, and obviously I've had singles that kinda stood out. But I took the time to write albums. And with 'Stay,' I just decided to just try something new and release a song very quickly after I finished it. And it's been working pretty well so far. But I'm working a little bit too fast because I can't really release more than one single every ... call it four months. Some we're making more than that, so now I'm considering maybe making an album out of that. I wasn't really planning on it, but I'm kinda getting hungry to sit down and just make a consecutive piece of music. So, it could very well happen."
Photos: Rachel Kaplan