with Song River
The Theatrical Legend Behind the Mask: Zardonic
This Is Today's Metal Music Revolution
Since 2004 one of Venezuela's top DJ acts in the world- Federico Augusto Ágreda Álvarez, best known as Zardonic- is a creative heavy electronic dance music force. As a composer, producer and remixer Zardonic creates his own unique style under a trademark mask.
Having recently taken part in the Loud Park Festival at the Saitama Super Arena (Saitama, Japan October 8-9, 2016) Zardonic talks about one of his favorite thrash metal heads from Exodus he appreciates. Along with his extensive knowledge about EDM, its genres, sub-genres, and the meaning behind possibly of how it is a part or not of the 'underground.'
For Zardonic, the legend, the metal electronic master has given his all to be and live his dream.
Get ready to melt your metal power!
Song River: Zardonic as a symbol. Can you define it?
Zardonic: The symbol of Zardonic represents the four vigils of life - Vigilia (Awareness), Potentia (Strength), Constantia (Perseverance), Fortuna (Prosperity). It is an unstoppable force capable of anything that can be imagined in the human mind. It has been written in history several times, watching after us for millennia, in old prehistoric engravings, and even in mother nature (do a Google search for the *Haploa Clymene and you'll see what I'm talking about). It is a Guardian of Light in times of Darkness.
Song River: Listening to your creation, the summation came to mind of electronic metal opera. How close does that fit?
Zardonic: As interesting as that would be, I have to admit I was never a fan of Opera. It is a beautiful art form on its own, just not for me. I wouldn't be opposed to it if someone did it right, though. There is a bit of a theatrical element in the character so maybe you're onto something here!
Song River: EDM is so hard it seems for people in the states to wrap their brains around. With multiple genres, sub-genres, and subatomic genres... well let's just say it... EDM is ever expansive. Wouldn't you agree?
Zardonic: EDM as in Electronic Dance Music will always be expanding, but the current mainstream perception of the term EDM refers to a very specific style that I don't think will be around much longer. It's been done to death. And I think that will add to the driving force of innovators to create new tendencies. The truth is that there are as many Electronic Dance Music genres as there are substances on the planet. If you keep digging, you'll find a new one.
Song River: With countless combinations within composing what skills set advice would you give to those just beginning to experiment?
Zardonic: Start with something that sounds normal. It's easy to make weird from normal, but it's not easy to make normal from weird. Too much experimentation can also lead to chaos and you'll end up making some sort of pointless creation that nobody really wants to listen to. As much as experimentation is needed, familiarity is also needed in art. If you splatter black paint on a white canvas, it looks cool but it means nothing (although probably some art purist is being scammed right now with something of the sort because he's being told it is some piece by a famous painter whatsoever).
If you add two eyes and a grin to the stain, it becomes a cartoon, which people are familiar with. Or maybe a very sad face, or an animal head, or a hand. In this case, you're going from weird to normal, but if you do things the other way around, and start with a face, and then revolve it in a blob, you'll end up shaping the blob like the face you had in mind, and it will make more sense. There is always a form principle, an aesthetic principle, that is natural and must be followed. Then you can basically take that and make whatever the hell you want with it.
Song River: In truth, does there have to be more than just an 'ear' when it comes to structuring EDM in any of its genres?
Zardonic: Music is music, no matter what. Even for good DJing, you need to know music. There's something called 'Harmonic Mixing' which is KEY to every DJ set.
These days we have software that helps us with that, but it's not perfect. And if you don't know the keynotes and the compatibility you might as well be screwing up.
Different transitions work very well as well so it's not about keeping things on the same note all the time either.
As far as producing the tracks go, well, depends on how cheap you want things to be. You can just mash things up and follow a formula and go out there, or you can sit down for once in your life and actually make music. There's just too much bubblegum music out there and all the DJ's get the blame, you know? We live in times where a kid like Borgore with such an impact in social media is making tracks about girls taking drugs up their asshole and has the gonads to say Carl Cox isn't big. I think you get the picture.
Song River: Why is it you think EDM began as an underground motion and is it ready to become mainstream? (In some countries it is, but in many places, it still remains within the confines of a dark dance club vibe).
Zardonic: I don't think the genre defines your level of success. I know more kids making commercial music who can't make a dime than broke artists who make dark music. The underground market is a captive market, waiting to fulfill the needs of those who crave something better than the crap you hear on the radio. The only problem it has is precisely the 'underground' mindset. People are convinced that underground is underground, and it makes no money, and it doesn't sell, and they repeat this message over and over again until it becomes true for everyone.
I said I was going to own the entire world doing what I love whether it's dark or heavy or mellow or metal or underground EDM or whatever I feel like making in the next few hours or next year. So far I've headlined shows in over 35 countries including packed Stadium sized arenas in Japan. That actually sounds pretty mainstream to me, and a lot of my fans complain that I am becoming mainstream somehow. You just don't see me spending my money in mansions and cars and credit like the new rich kids do only to file for bankruptcy years later because my purpose is different. I am not here to make money. I'm here to make history. My fortune is measured in experiences. I can guarantee you I've seen more places than a lot of people with 100 times the money I have in my bank account right now. Money just follows hard work, and there is not one single day I am not working. I've spent four Christmas holidays playing shows, left my home country, my girlfriend who I will always love no matter what because she was an amazing partner, but you have to decide what you really want to do with your life.
It's easy to be a motivational speaker and tell everyone to go pursue their dreams. But have you asked the people, have you asked yourself... are you READY to pursue your dreams? Do you REALLY want it? Let me tell you, I will die before I fail. And if I died trying, the mask is immortal, so I'll be sure to find a successor to continue the legacy after my death. My lifespan is not a limit for me anymore. We are all eternal and our bodies are but a vessel.
Song River: If you were to describe the source of your power to create Zardonic how would you?
Zardonic: I remember every single soul out there that has gone through horrible experiences and are walking the wrong paths because they were not surrounded by the right people. I remember those who told me I couldn't do this. I remember my current situation, how I feel and why. What surrounds me directly and where do I want to go next.
I also enjoy films and I am an avid gamer, although sadly for some of my fans, not an online multiplayer kind of gamer. I'm more of a Single Player kind of guy who enjoys immersive stories like Mass Effect, Fallout or Skyrim. It's a different animal because it feels like you're going to a movie and you have the power to make changes to the plot as you please. Amazing soundtracks.
A side of me is a little inspired by certain kind of villains. The guy that hit me the hardest last time to the point I cried my face out was Apocalypse in the latest X-Men movie. It's a shame how they made him go down so easily, and that's my only complaint about the movie and also the reason why I believe everyone bashed it so much. But the character left a mark on me that could make me write an entire record about him. Beautiful work by Oscar Isaac!
Song River: In October you took part in the Loud Park Festival. How was the experience? Anything, in particular, you yourself took away from it?
Zardonic: I don't think I've had a more mind blowing experience than this in the past. Seeing all those metal heads enjoying a DJ set is absolutely something new to me. The place was packed, the stage setups were epic and I had the pleasure of sharing some quality time with Marcos Rodríguez, my Venezuelan-born friend and guitarist of the legendary German metal band Rage. I was also surprised when Steven Souza of Exodus gave me props for my set. We're talking about EXODUS! These guys pretty much invented thrash metal.
Creativeman Productions put together one of the best shows I've ever seen and with the help of JVC Kenwood Victor Entertainment and Tower Records we continued to promote the solo show I had on Monday after Loud Park, and there I was running around with the mask, Joe Simmons of Rocktagon Worldwide and David Ciemny of Live Talent who has served as a tour manager for anything and everything from Lauren Hill to Lady Gaga. The result was stellar. We put together a crew that did an amazing job with the sound system and the visuals. I'll be posting some videos as soon as I get a minute to open my computer and do it!
Song River: Music in its complexity is meant to convey itself in a universal language. When you perform, write, or even in studio alone... how do you see yourself, your music and the world you are sharing it with?
Zardonic: I am here to prove everyone that at the end of the day, whether I'm creating a certain mystique around the Zardonic character, the guy wearing the mask is just a dude like you or me. And that's not meant to kill the mystery. It's meant to tell everyone that you can do whatever the hell you want and there is no one to stop you from it. If you have the right energy, the right intentions, and the right project, all you need is to put in the hard work and never stop. Things eventually come to you.
You see, sometimes in my shows, I am approached by people with lots of problems. They come to the shows to forget them for a while. Why do you think people so desperately seek drugs? These are kids with everyday issues and I want to work as a catharsis for them. You can't save everyone, but it fills me with joy when someone messages me and tells me my music helped them through their hard times. That is what Zardonic is here for. To give you POWER!
*Also, Haploa Clymene: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a2/Clymene_Moth_(Haploa_clymene).jpg