Before The Music Starts Interview Series – Z&Z
Started from the bottom and on their way to the top, Z&Z are a pair of well established Salt Lake City producers with a unique story. This duo is a true example of modern day immigrants living the American dream to obtain a better life. Today we talk with Z&Z about their story, one that we can all be inspired by.
HOW DID YOU FORM THE NAME Z&Z?
(ALLEN) When I started Djing I went by Zar, the last three letters of my name. Then I started a side project called Zig Zaw, so I kind of kept the Z thing going. When I met Omar his alias was Unofficial Zie. We tried to think of a good names, but it was hard to think of anything we didn’t find dumb. We then decided to combine our names Zig and Zie. This is how Z&Z was born.
HOW DID YOU MEET?
(OMAR) Through a friend. I met a client while I was djing and he suggested I meet Allen.
(ALLEN) We met the summer of 2015. In September 2015 we decided we wanted to form a duo project together. Basically within two months of knowing one another we decided we wanted to form a duo. Our first show together was in October of 2016.
HAVE THERE BEEN ANY CHALLENGES OR MAJOR PROS BEING IN A DUO PROJECT?
(OMAR) There are pros and cons to being in a duo. Pros would be two people, two brains, working together on the same project. I’m better at some things and Allen is better at some things, so we work well together. Cons may be I want to play one song and he may want to play another, but at the end of the day, Allen is better at music so it’s his decision. I excel more in the marketing side of the business so I handle most of that.
(ALLEN) The way our personalities work, we aren’t too conflicting with one another. We give and take with what tracks get played and let one another pick tracks, we have that balance with one another. We’re pretty easy going and I don’t believe we have ever been in a huge fight over Z&Z.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO PREPARE FOR A SHOW?
(ALLEN) I usually take time and prepare a set. Our sets change depending on where we are playing as well. Once I get the set together we meet up, play the set through, and make and necessary changes. We tailor our sets to who we are opening for. We would never play an opening dubstep set for Bingo Players or Chris Lake.
(OMAR) We really like to explore different genres and love to play everything. If you want us to play a trance set we can play a trance set even through it is not our normal style.
IF YOU WERE TO WALK OUT OF THIS INTERVIEW AND FIND A WINNING LOTTERY TICKET FOR 500 MILLION DOLLARS, WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH YOUR MUSIC PROJECT?
(OMAR) I would like to create a place for other DJs and producers to practice and learn. After that maybe throw my own music festival.
(ALLEN) I would also like to start a festival, but down the line start a record label. Probably create a record label that helps other people. It can have classes held in a studio, a place to create and learn, like what Omar said. I’d also like to make it very affordable for low income individuals.
WHAT IS THE END GOAL WITH YOUR MUSIC PROJECT?
(OMAR) we want to go as far as we can. It’s something we both love, we’re passionate about, and don’t do it for anything other than the music. We want to show people what we listen to and go with the flow.
WHAT GOT YOU INTO EDM? HOW DID EACH OF YOUR STORIES START?
(ALLEN) our stories started separately. I didn’t get into the edm scene until about 2014, I feel like im a late bloomer for my age. I had a friend who I listened to a lot of hip hop with. She showed me a Flosstradamus track and it was their Original Don remix. She showed me that song and I instantly fell in love. It was so similar to hip hop, I immediately connected with it. At the same time I was making hip hop beats for my little brother. Once I listened to Floss I realized I could make trap music in FL Studio. I started making trap and then started getting into dubstep. After dubstep bass house started to become more of my thing. From there I started to like more and more genres of edm and tried to make each one I liked. I feel like that’s where my horizons broadened.
(OMAR) Trance and Tiesto. As soon as I heard his song Adagio for Strings in 09 I realized his music was the shit. After that I decided I was going to become a dj and put mixes out. Most importantly I wanted to get involved in the business side. I was more interested in the artist management part and throwing my own events.
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS YOUR BEST TRACK?
(OMAR) I’d probably go with The Climax, I just love that song and think its sick as fuck. As far as what’s out, its my favorite.
(ALLEN) We have a lot of new stuff that is in the works, I’d say some of that is my favorite. As far as what’s out, The Climax is my favorite, there’s just something about it. What I really liked about it is how quickly it came out. I completed the track in about four hours. Whenever songs come out of me that quickly they tend to be my favorite because I knew it all came from the soul.
IF YOU COULD HAVE YOUR FANS REMEMBER ONE THING ABOUT YOU, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
(OMAR) the ultimate goal is to be remembered by our music
(ALLEN) I would like for people to remember us by the impact that we made on them with our music. Also, if they have met us, I want them to remember us as who we are. We try to be as genuine as possible and go down to meet them at each show.
OUTSIDE OF EDM, WHAT DO YOU LISTEN TO?
(ALLEN) Not that much anymore. I’m always looking for new music to play. Every day I’m searching for music, it feels like it never ends. I love old skool 90s hip hop, that would be my go to if I was trying to take a break.
(OMAR) I could listen to Eminem all day long. I like a huge mix of music from indie bands to commercial music like pop you hear on the radio. The radio song are so big because people like it. If you can reach that many people, props to you.
ANY ADVICE YOU WOULD GIVE TO AN ASPIRING DJ OR PRODUCER?
(OMAR) I’d say if you want people to support you, you will have to support them. Obviously show respect to the people who have put in the work. Also network and don’t be afraid to ask questions or reach out to someone who you feel is better than you.
IS THERE SOMETHING YOU ARE REALLY PROUD OF THAT YOU NEVER HAVE A REASON TO TALK ABOUT?
(ALLEN) Both Omar and I have a similar upbringing. I am a son of an immigrant. My mom was a single mother and when we came to the states we had nothing. I’m very proud of being able to overcome so many obstacles I faced because of that and getting to the level I’m currently at.
(OMAR) I moved here from Jerusalem when I was 16 by myself. My brother had moved here two years before me. I stayed with him, living in my uncle’s basement. I slept hungry and didn’t speak english a the time. Soon I got a job as a dish scraper, when people finished eating the waiter would being me dishes to clean before heading to the washer. Once I learned english I was promoted to busboy.
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Ethan Freeman – V2 Presents Intern