The space-age sounds of Ted Zed will send you into a hallucinogenic daze fuelled by buzzing electronics and entrancing psychedelia. Zed’s retro-inspired alternative rock is heralded by many as visionary, and with tracks like ‘Believe’ and ‘I’m Gold’ no one is going to contest that.
We caught up with the man behind Ted Zed for more insight into the sound, the imagery and the vision behind the music.
You built your own ‘sound lab’ in your home, tell us more about this…
Ted Zed: “Yes! Recently it’s gotten even bigger and more extravagant….old tape echo machines, synthesisers, guitar amps, obscure records, Fisher Price keyboards and my beloved MPC sampler. It’s become overwhelming to say the least.”
You’ve performed in many unconventional spaces. Do you enjoy the surprise of the unknown? I’d assume almost anything could happen when you’re playing in a barn or a converted pig shed?
“I was performing in those places a while back but now I’ve stopped due to complaints from the local farmers whose livestock started behaving strangely due to the exposure to psychedelic frequencies.”
You’ve live streamed gigs before, how successful did you find that to be?
“It was a cool idea but it’s become more ‘club nights in city’ orientated now and everything in that world runs 5 hours late so our streaming has been neglected.”
You have a DIY approach to all things Ted Zed, from the videos and artwork to the light shows, it’s impressive but how do you juggle it all? It’s a big responsibility but at the same time it’s good to have that creative control…
“I think it’s of vital importance to have input on what you put out into the world, I think collaboration breathes life into what people do and if you can work with someone who inspires you as much as you inspire them, then I think it’s a brilliant thing to let some of that control go. For me it feels like more of a hobby then a responsibility because in the end that’s what got me into music and art, it’s fun to do!”
It must be cool to say that one of your tracks has been used in a Netflix advert?
“Yes! It’s very cool. I got a load of messages saying ‘I’M GOLD’S ON TV!!!’ It’s surreal to see Walter White being a bad-ass with my song in the background.”
You’re playing Wychwood festival this summer. Do you have any more festivals to announce soon?
“I’m currently in pre production for my album so I’m pretty busy, but there will definitely be some festival vibes happening soon.”
Are you much of a festival-goer yourself?
“I like them but I don’t like camping so I’m one of those ‘go for the day’ guys.”
Your live shows are mind-blowing. The energy, the passion, the visuals overload the senses in a good way, it’s like you’re playing for a festival crowd every time you step on-stage. It doesn’t seem like a trait you can just instantly master, how long have you been performing for?
“I impersonated Michael Jackson dancing when I was 8 and was in a school band, but when I was 14 I decided I wasn’t going to play guitar or do any ‘talent shows’ because that’s what the popular kids did. I thought it was massively corny so I would just listen to electronic music and mess around on my synthesizer. I suppose I became a vampire stuck in the dark corners of my room for 5 years of my life, until I got into Jimi Hendrix and decided I wanted to be a performer again – so I started playing in barns…”
I found some footage from an old performance of yours at the KOKO, instantly I gravitated to the intense power of you as a performer and as an artist, you had the crowd hooked. Where does your drive come from to put on live shows like that?
“When a bunch of people get together to share music with you they spend money on a ticket and make the effort to watch, it has to be mutual and the best performance you can muster. If you don’t feel it nobody else will.”
You’ve accomplished quite a lot within a short space of time. What have you learned so far in your career?
“Have fun when you can and live every moment of it, and know it’s easier said then done.”
What has being a professional musician taught you about yourself?
“That it only takes one smile or one person loving what you’re doing to make what you’re doing worth it. In the end, it’s sharing something you feel with others and if they implement that into their own existence it’s the most intimate thing an artist can offer to the world! Crazy.”
What’s the plan for Ted Zed going forward?
“To make an album, work with great people, enjoy the ride.”
See Ted Zed at Wychwood Festival. For more information please visit: www.wychwoodfestival.com