It’s a chilly night at Fort York in Toronto as fans start pouring in the garrison for Friday’s event. Within an hour or so, one of Canada’s most successful electronic acts will take the stage for the sold out Mad Decent Block Party. Toronto’s own Zeds Dead has been touring in support of their new EP, “Somewhere Else”, which reached Top 10 on the iTunes album chart in July.
The duo consists of Dylan Mamid (DC) and Zach Rapp-Rovan (Hooks) who have been producing music since 2004. They recently performed at the sold-out Tomorrowland festival this past July in Belgium, attended by 400,000. For EDC Las Vegas, the duo performed for 300,000 in June.
Deep house, drum and bass, glitch, and hip-hop have further added to their foundation in dubstep. They often play an amalgamation of several. When interviewed, Zach commented, “In a way we’ve sort of been training people not to expect any certain style, just good music.”
While Zeds Dead preferred not to comment, the recent ban on kandi at block parties is evident. There are no kandi bracelets or necklaces, but flower wreaths and other vibrant accessories make up for lack of color. While many fans have expressed discontent with the ban, thousands still attend the block parties in favor of music over aesthetics.
While Diplo is the driving force behind Mad Decent, Zeds Dead will take the stage last in the city they call home. When asked about this decision, the pair brushed it off modestly, but it’s clear there may be sentimental reasons for headlining. “Somewhere Else” has also debuted #1 on the iTunes Dance Album chart in U.S. and Canada, taking the spot from fellow local Deadmau5, who also hails from Toronto.
Diplo’s set begins after sunset, waking the crowd up with remixes of popular tunes like Fancy and Dirt off Your Shoulder. As light gets darker, the side stage is rammed with photographers and twerk-ready girls. After several festivals, they are now seasoned to react when Diplo beckons them on stage to twerk around his set. The candy-colored graphics on the screen behind only seem to enhance the hip-hop nature of his craft. Fans continue to scream, holding up enlarged diplo-heads pegged on signs.
As twilight closes on Diplo’s riling performance, Zeds Dead peers from the side lines. Taking the stage next, the dubstep elites finish the night with astonishing energy, playing some classics and current bass anthems, dotted with appearances from their new EP. The vibe is heavy and electric, bringing their signature sound to the ears of 11,000 devoted fans. According to Dylan, the pair has some sleepless nights ahead of them.
“Yeah, we’re going straight from the after-party to Detroit, play a block party there, then go straight from there to Montreal. We’ve got four shows in 24 hours.”
After parties are when Zeds Dead have expressed they can really have fun, experimenting with deep house or hip-hop that wouldn’t be in the plans for a large festival. “We go weird at afterparties,” Zach commented.
It’s no secret that Zeds Dead has a soft spot for afterparties. In 2010 they founded an event with fellow Torontonians, the Killabitts, known as Bassmentality. The weekly event allowed the group to play music without the limits of club owners to restrict their creativity. Although it began as a free event in the basement of 751 Lounge, soon there were top international talents from the likes of Skrillex, to Caspa, Borgore, and Nero playing.
Zeds Dead has grown a colossal fanbase since their enshrinement in bass culture. Most of the music produced has been offered free to download; the duo’s popularity grew internationally before any official release. Associating with Diplo and Mad Decent has been a way to work with people who have the “same business model” as Zach stated. Mad Decent Block Parties also used to be free. By Zeds Dead offering an endless stream of free music to their fans, as well as Bassmentality which began as a free event, the pair have proved that they truly care for the music and nothing else. The Canadian duo and a caregiving label like Mad Decent look like a match made in heaven for the foreseeable future.