Popular in the dance music circuits as the “Justin Bieber of EDM”, Delhi-based Sahil Sharma aka Zaeden, who began DJing at 14 years is one of the first Indian electronic music producers to play at Tomorrowland, Belgium and Marenostrum Festival, Valencia, Spain.
Zaeden’s latest track "Never Let You Go" is a pop infused dance music summer track in collaboration with electronic duo Nina & Mallika of Elektrovertz. The single found its release on behemoth record label Spinnin’ Records. With Cimo Frankel on the vocals who has been responsible for hits with Armin Van Buuren, the video was shot across Europe.
Why did you choose to be a DJ?
I suppose everyone loves to hear to music, that too well-mixed in a continuous flow. I used to listen to live sets and mixtapes by other artists like Markus Schulz, Gareth Emery, Armin Van Buuren, etc. I always had these set of tracks which I wanted to hear in a mix tape, so I started off learning the skill of mixing. I started learning about music before djing, but later on, everything fell into place.
What was your parent's reaction when you told them that you want to be a professional DJ?
Parents have always been supportive. My father used to hesitate a bit initially, but success was quick enough to get him going. He supports me the most and backs all my decisions. There used to be a stereotype in the minds of Indian families, that DJs are only the ones who are hired for entertainment at events like marriages and birthday parties, which is totally wrong. These days DJs are topping the Billboard charts with their production skills and they work with famous pop stars, so it’s all about what direction you take as a musician.
How did you juggle with Djing and studies?
I was not a brilliant student, to be honest, but I used to work hard enough to score decently average marks in school. College was even a bigger task, so I dropped it for my sound engineering course. DJing was never tough for me, it feels natural. Production demands time and I had enough for it because it was something of my interest, so I used to devote all my free time into it.
Where do you get inspiration for the hook line?
I get it from one of the biggest songwriter's Max Martin. He has been working with all the top pop stars from the Backstreet Boys to Justin Timberlake and has written many inspiring songs for me. I follow his skills and stay involved with my writers for the final product. If you follow the basics right, you get the right hook.
Tell us about your gig at Tomorrowland, Belgium?
It was a dream come true when I joined the stage with "Borgeous", we played our track there and the crowd went wild. There were 50,000 people in front of me and I was at the world's biggest dance music festival watching the audience going mad on my tune. It was undoubtedly one of the best experiences of my life.
How was it performing alongside Borgeous?
Borgeous is a very humble person, he inspires me a lot especially from what circumstances he came from and became a platinum record producer. He has been a great mentor so I'll always be honoured to join him on any platform. He is a gem of a person.
How did the remix of Coldplay's 'Magic'; ‘Animals’ by Maroon 5 and ‘Love Yourself’ by Justin Bieber, happen?
They were unofficial bootlegs; I just worked on them because I liked them. Crowd support was immense on these remixes, though. I got support from one of the biggest star DJs like Hardwell, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, W&W, etc. So it was a good choice to work on those tracks.
People say Zaeden uses the same synths every time with little variation. Comments?
I agree, I used to tweak the same synth for my remixes, as it was my signature at that point, but in my recent track I've changed my style completely. Even for the future tracks, I have a lot of surprises planned.
Tell us about your new track "Never Let You Go"?
The song defines bonding and love between two people, the official video is self-explanatory. In the video there are two thieves/lovers, who get some money, they spend it till they go bankrupt, they stick together, regardless of the situation, they never let go of each other. Though you never plan a story in mind as a producer, you just follow your music skills and prepare a piece of music to flow within a short time frame. After that, we have a songwriter who provides lyrics to your music and defines it professionally so that people can relate to it. After that, we find a good vocalist who fits the track well. I am really happy to see the response worldwide; the video crossed a million hits on YouTube in just 20 days, which is a great success for us.
What is the EDM scene in India?
It's already growing at a huge pace, I mean look at Nucleya. He transformed the Bollywood dance music, so I have a lot of respect for this guy as he combines fresh international genres with Bollywood influences. This already has improved the scene a lot by raising the bar; even International artists like KSHMR are using Indian influences, which are working globally. People are much aware of our culture now. "Lean On" the most famous track of this era was shot in India showing the culture and dance. Lot of youngsters are getting into music schools and colleges across the globe to learn the art of music making. So it’s a fresh thing for India and will be accepted all over India in no time.
What is your opinion on your moniker "Justin Bieber of EDM"?
It's pretty handy (laughs). Justin Bieber is huge; I can't be compared to him for now. But yes, it does help promote a certain image. Youngsters are looking forward to whatever I do; the clothes I wear, the new tattoo I got, almost everything. They are following me for a lot more reasons than just my music.
Your future projects?
I am reworking an old famous track by an artist I can't disclose yet. I might work with "Raghav" who is very famous in India for the vocals. This would be something big because I'll be tweaking something which is already known, with Raghav's angle it can get a great commercial value in India. I have one more pop and groovy track, “City of the lonely hearts”. Lovers would relate to this one really well, Spinnin' already loves it; just making some final alterations before I share some concrete info.