GUEST BLOG: ZAYDE WØLF On Finding Your Own Sound

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Words by: ZAYDE WØLF

ZAYDE WØLF,  just released a new single “Brave,” full of heartfelt moments, he has taken the time to not only make the single, but to talk about it in a guest blog. Poetic and emotional, he produces tracks with larger than life sound while they climb the Billboard charts time and time again. Once called “the dark rock child of Imagine Dragons and The Black Keys,” ZAYDE WØLF’s music has been featured in shows like Shameless, Teen Wolf, The Night Shift and Born This Way to trailers for Jack Reacher 2 Never Go Back, Pride Prejudice & Zombies, Rio I Love You, spots for UFC, the NFL, the NBA, Olympics and more.

The end is a journey.

A question I get very often, is “How does my songwriting collaboration with others differ from writing by myself for Zayde Wolf songs?”  It’s very different. When I am producing and writing with others for their projects, I become the guide and filter for ideas. I am the one who keeps the story and the song moving.

When I am alone working on music, I’m my own superman and kryptonite at the same time.  So I work in circles. I will never write a song from a linear perspective. I’ll start with a beat, then I’ll look at my list of titles, and try anywhere from 1-20 possible ways to sing that title or others.  

After that, I’ll usually walk away for a while or a day, then come back and listen to all of the ideas and see which ones stand out. I’ll take direction from the ones I like, then the process kinda starts over in each section of the song.

Small will equal big.

In order for something to sound huge, you must give it the space to do that. I typically let almost all of my verses in my songs to feel as empty as possible. I keep the track interesting where it’s needed, but I will kamikaze style mute and delete parts if things feel too busy or complicated. A listener can only pay attention to a couple of things musically at one time.

The reason the Zayde Wolf drums feel so big isn’t as much the “sounds,” but the space before and around the sounds.


Take radical chances.

Working in a hybrid digital recording environment, I’m always trying to push a drum part or bass synth to the extreme: resampling an instrument and messing with it until it sounds like something new.

Don’t put it all on the grid.

In Pro-Tools or what ever DAW you use, it’s easy to OVER quantize.  I’m a sucker for making my music ultra tight, however, I leave a lot of my big percussion sounds a little more loose and flammy against the Kick and Snare. To me, it makes each beat within the bar of music feel bigger.

The Wall

People ask me often what that sort of “signature” huge synth bass thing is in my songs and how do I do it?

The big synth sound is a combination of two synth settings on my Prophet 08, a Drone Saw Synth Bass inside Nexus, and a couple of layers of Orchestral Brass samples.  Each of these gets a hefty dose of Decapitator or another distortion. Then, it’s all about the EQ and filtering. After this type of processing you really need to filter off the low end and clean up the EQ around the vocals and drums.

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