Dutch tastemaker and producer ZES is appealing to a new generation of listeners by creating musically diverse and vibrant sounds that appeals to fans across the spectrum. In the past 4 years, ZES has catapulted himself in the Soundcloud community and accumulated millions of streams thanks to his dedication and unique identity in the electronic world with tracks like ‘Do It Again’ and ‘The Final Decay.’
New single ‘Set Mind,’ taken from his highly anticipated upcoming LP, sees him come together with independent record label and YouTube channel CloudKid. ZES sat down with us ahead of the release – sharing his past, present and future endeavors. Take a moment and get familiar with this talented artist!
It’s been a while since your first release ‘Hindsight’ back in 2014, tell us a little about the journey you’ve come on?
‘Hindsight’ was definitely one of the first big releases to see the light of day, however before that came ‘Love Will Take,’ my first ever collection of tracks on Fog Mountain. Now that I have completed my first true feature length album it feels like I have truly entered a new stage of my musical being. The past few years have been a true emotional rollercoaster and in all honesty I enjoy looking back on it. Emotionally unsure or fragile times prove to be great inspiration for me and my music and I cherish both the good and bad times. In the time between ‘Hindsight’ I have released another collection of tracks, ‘Darkened,’ which was a big step into the experimental dark side of myself. Since that release I have been finishing up my master studies in Industrial Design, as well as made a lot of new music to try and find a new sound that aligned with myself.
Over the last few years since the release of ‘Hindsight,’ do you feel your sound has evolved?
I have always been a very instrumental artist in terms of musical structures and emotional elements in my songs, for a lot of the new stuff it feels more infused with emotions also in a vocal sense. It feels to me like I have only just entered a new realm in which I can both create emotional compositions as well as lyrics and vocals to create even more atmosphere. It feels amazing to be confident enough to sing on a lot of my own work now as well.
You’re back with a new single. What does ‘Set Mind’ mean to you? Is there any story behind the title?
‘Set Mind’ is a song that I wrote going through an emotionally intense time. It revolves around the presence of an unstable form of love and doubts about what to do about it. What I express in the song is a feeling of desperation and vulnerability as well as a feeling of confidence and stability. These two opposite emotional mindsets create a sense of tension that I tried to embody within the song. Peaceful, yet also painful. Beautiful, yet also coarse.
How did you come to work with CloudKid on this release?
I sent out the single and album tracks to a select few labels and CloudKid were feeling it. I knew them from when they uploaded a few of my older tracks to their channel and really like the way they work.
You’ve worked with a lot of different artists on your releases. How is the process different when collaborating versus a solo piece?
There’s a very interesting aspect of working with someone else. To me it feels like making music turns from a monologue into a dialogue you have with another artistic and emotional being. For me it has been a great pleasure to hear what other people feel when they hear my instrumental productions and receiving vocals is always an honor for me. Being in the same room with a vocalist and working on a song together is still quite new to me but I feel that it brings a whole new type of energy into the studio that I grew addicted to.
What three words would you use to describe your sound to someone who’s never heard your music before?
Melancholic, unpredictable, fragile.
What environment do you like to produce in best?
I love working in an environment that has no limits and no rules. Within my home studio I have tried to make a comfortable place that suits that. Creativity for me is something that cannot be forced at most times. However I found ways for myself to stimulate exploration through using a lot of hands-on analog gear, which works great for exploring new boundaries.
What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned since you started making music? What have been some of the challenges so far?
I’ve learnt a lot of lessons through making music, most of them are lessons about who I am as a person and why I make music the way I do. But there’s also a lot that I feel I don’t understand yet about the value of music in the world and the universe. The feeling of energy that I get from making music and the feeling you get when you get a vibe going with other artists is still a mysterious and unfathomable thing. The challenges in music for me lie mainly in gaining the confidence to make certain decisions, for instance to start singing on my own tracks, and to not make any compromises in my creative process. However on the opposite site of that I am certain that if you put positive energy into something, it will have a positive effect. I feel quite confident that I am in a place now where I make music that is closer to who I am then ever before.
What’s next for ZES?
One of the main things is releasing my upcoming album. It’s a super exciting time for me to get my new music out for people to hear. Talking about the dialogue in music creation earlier, I also think that a part of releasing new music into the world creates a feeling of dialogue with your audience. And for me that is both an exciting as well as a scary thing to do because the new music is so personal. Next to that I am preparing a new live show that I will be performing when the album drops.
Grab ‘Set Mind’ here.