"This transition is nerve-racking" - Zaeden on becoming a popstar

From being the first Indian and one of the youngest DJs to have their tracks aired on Hardwell’s radio show to being one of the few Indian acts to have played at Tomorrowland, Zaeden is already conquering the music industry and representing India globally!

Zaeden started making music at the wee age of 14 and has worked hard to make a name for himself. Known for his melodydriven tracks, the 24-year-old constantly strives to push the boundaries of his musical palate and brings in the element of surprise with each release. In a candid interview with OnRecord, Zaeden talks about his journey, his first Hindi original “tere bina,” why he quit DJing, and his plans for the future.

Fresh off your Ushuaia, Ibiza debut, how was the whole experience of being the first Indian to play at the world’s biggest clubs? 

It was amazing playing at the biggest club in the world. I have always seen my favorite artists play at this venue and it was honestly a dream come true for me to take the stage and play for such an awesome audience. It’s a great feat to be able to play with the dynamites of the world and be recognized for it and having taken your name along with the big stars. All of it was the ultimate thrill that we loved and lived.

Your Euro trip didn’t end there, you also played at the Smash The House stage at Tomorrowland. How did it feel to return to Tomorrowland and what’s so special about this festival?

It is always an honor to represent India at such a big level and sharing the stage with Lost Stories is double the fun! This was our third time playing at Tomorrowland and it felt just like the first time, the nerves, the thrill, the crowd, it was super exciting and massive for all of us!

Your set’s highlight was you debuting your new single “tere bina” during the performance. Tell us something about the track?

It was the surprise element in the set. And to be honest I didn’t know what to expect since the track is in Hindi, I didn’t expect the crowd to understand but I could see the audience enjoying the melody and swaying to it. It’s honestly the best feeling in the world when you know your track is well received and appreciated even with such a diverse audience. 

And to give you a little insight into the making and composing of this track, it took me only 15 minutes to create the melody and the very next day we were at the studio (Ferris Wheel) arranging and recording the track. This track has a special place in my heart since it marks the initiation of my transition from being a DJ to a pop artist.

JioSaavn listeners are already showering their love on “tere bina,” would it be possible for you to walk us through its production and songwriting process?

Once the vocal melody was done, Kunal was roped in to write the lyrics. He’s great with words and our lyrics sensibility matched, his words are deep but simple and that’s what I wanted for this track! It comes from a very simple yet nostalgic place and the lyrics mirror the same emotion. Also, my fans are the coolest set of people, they have supported me from the beginning and loved all of my work and I feel blessed that they appreciate and give so much love to the tracks and music I create, they are honestly the best.

We also love the official music video featuring Amyra Dastur, you both look so cute! It’s simple but accentuates the essence and the feel of the song. Who’s the brain behind this simple yet amazing concept?

When the song was ready, as an artist, I had a visual in mind and I personally feel it’s a safe song and I wanted the video to be cute and young. I wanted to get on with the nostalgic aspect of the song and the GIF treatment really brings the essence of it and what the song actually wants to put across. Disha Rampal (director) and her team really understood the vision and stayed true to the aesthetic.

What inspired you to bring the live element into your shows and how did you prepare for yourself to sing?

I’ve been training for over a year now and this transition is nerve acking but also exciting, but to be the powerhouse on stage I’ve been formally taking vocal classes, edging up my dance routine, and making sure I don’t leave any stone unturned to make this the best live set I could put for my fans and the audience.

While you could sing in English, what made you take up Hindi singing and songwriting? 

Hindi is my mother tongue, I’m comfortable expressing in Hindi, also the other challenge with English is the accent and also the fact that most of my covers are in English I want my originals to be in a space that I am very confident with sharing my art in.

With your onset of singing career, does that mean, it’s the end of Zaeden, the DJ?

I don’t see it like that, it’s a transition and I believe that giving 100% to one artform is more important and the live bit is going to be more entertaining and more dynamic, the fans are in for a treat. This time the set is huge and I want to be out there jumping and feeling the vibe along with my fans.

We’re seeing global collaborations happening all around us, who would you like to collaborate with, and why?

This year we met J Balvin at Tomorrowland and I honestly feel our vibes really clicked. I see a collab in the near future if he wants to jump on the Hindi Pop bandwagon. I am sure he’ll slay it. Also, Rosalia.

For you, 2019 wasn’t just about music, you also landed on GQ’s Top 100 best dressed. How does your music co-relate to your fashion and vice versa?

Comfortable and free-flowing yet strikingly different is what my fashion is all about and that is what my music is about as well.

Do you have any plans to try something new with your music that you haven’t tried before; maybe gaming, es-ports or something to do with fashion?

Fashion is something I feel a little vocal about and love exploring besides music and I think I might do something around it.

Over the last few years, non-Bollywood content is picking up pace in India; what do you think about the state of non-film independent music in India?

It’s an exciting place to be because the window to experiment is greater and since I’m new to this I feel I can try and test what works best for me. Also, as a beginner, this is the best place to pick it up from. I have multiple fellow artists who are creating strikingly great non-film music and I feel that only paves the way forward for every other artist who’s maybe thinking of taking that leap towards non-film music.

Also, what are your thoughts on the state of pop music and EDM here? Do you think we are reaching a saturation point in terms of sound?

Pop culture in India is exploding right now and the artists are not inhibited about their work. It’s exploding and giving a lot of independent musicians a pathway to get on with and setting a benchmark.

Wrapping up this conversation with your vision 2020 and what can your fans expect before the end of this year?

I’m going to let the music do the talking!

Experience the magic of romance with Zaeden’s new single “tere bina” only on JioSaavn.