At ADAPTURE, we are driven by both technology and creativity, and are curious as to how these elements push people to new levels of innovation. We strive to make connections with like minded people who share the pursuit of these ideals. In our next CONVERSATION series, we spoke with Zach Treble / @z.d.b.t.
Hailing from Vancouver, this multi-faceted artist, also known as ZDBT and Phost, offers a unique perspective into his musical journey. From his early encounters with music as a child to his deep-rooted affinity for drumming and involvement in various bands, ZDBT's evolution as a musician is nothing short of fascinating.
A connoisseur of diverse sounds, ZDBT's creative DNA thrives on defying categorization, shaping his identity as an artist who boldly breaks free from conventional norms. His commitment to constant evolution shines through as he describes his relentless pursuit of unique creative avenues, skillfully pushing the boundaries of genre conventions.
Our discussion also ventured into the impact of ZDBT's music on diverse audiences. His dedication to crafting music that elicits a range of emotions is evident, as he strives to transport his audience through a tapestry of euphoria, introspection, and profound emotion.
Interview & Photography: Shane Long
I think it all started from messing around with Rebirth and Reason as a kid. Rebirth is early Windows software that emulates two 303s, an 808 and a 909. I think that's where I first started messing with music production or writing songs, but I played drums and was really active with bands my whole life. I’ve always played in tons of different bands and I was obsessed with heavier music. Growing up having Napster and Shazam it was like having the world at my fingertips, so I definitely got into a lot of weird shit at a young age. That sort of informs a lot of the stuff that I do now, because I was listening to everything. Lots of obscure heavy niche stuff, I guess.
How heavy? Oh, like as heavy as it gets. Lots of grindcore and, crust and black metal and death metal. Some of my favorite records of all time are Death metal records. That's my favorite shit. I have to be in the mood to listen to it now, but I used to, live and breathe it. I’ve always listened to electronic music. My uncle worked in a record shop, so he always put me on shit. He gave me Enter the 36 Chambers when I was like 11 or 12 and, always made me mix tapes with lots of like hardfloor and Orbital, lots of 90s, techno and trance and all sorts of shit. I remember at a super early age being in his car being shocked at the speed of some double kick drum work and he was like wanna hear fast and put on Strapping Young Lad CD right there. He put me on a bunch of stuff, but the rest of my family was really into music as well, so I was lucky.
Zach is wearing the Relaxed Fit T-shirt in Black, Tie Dye Long Sleeve in Black and Standard Fit Chino Pants in Black
HOW DID IT AFFECT YOUR WORK AND HOW HAS IT EVOLVED OVER THE PAST TEN YEARS?
I'm evolving all the time as a person and my tastes are evolving. I make so much music for different reasons (as an exercise, for work, for pleasure, music to play out, or even just meditations with the instruments at hand) and It's just whatever I'm feeling at the time. One thing that really drives me is what my shit's going to sound like next year, you know? Because every year I notice this progression and I learn my instruments more and I explore different creative avenues. You're always trying to fight, not doing the same thing over and over. Not having the same ideas or being obsessed with the same chord progressions or sounds, but to get creative with what you have in new ways is what pushes me. That's what has pushed me through the last ten years.
The past ten years? Well, I always kind of felt like part of the community, but always a little bit of an outsider because in Vancouver. I feel like what I was making ten years ago is now really popular again or is becoming more like what DJs are playing in Vancouver. I remember when I was buying tons of records in my early days and DJing and throwing parties and raves, like there wasn't really many people doing that style of dance music in the city. I've always been influenced by a lot of things outside of my immediate community and It’s not that I'm like trying to be in my own lane entirely, but I think my interests have always been my own and not very influenced by what's happening in Vancouver music wise. Any like minded people with similar taste I’ve met over the years I’ve held super close.
I think Vancouver is kind of like a secret hub for people have made waves and there's lots of great musicians that are from Vancouver or spent time here and become great DJ's/producers. Some people have appeared to be hip to it and some over romanticize it and some don’t even really say Vancouver is where they came up but it’s definitely helped shape me. I'm influenced by everything not just what's happening with my peers or people that are like, at the top echelon right now. I guess what's always driven me is like the affirmations of like bigger DJ's playing my music that I thought no one would or maybe like a small handful of people would like. But then it ended up getting played at huge situations and I realize that some people do fuck with this. I have to remind myself sometimes that what I'm doing has some merit. Because a lot of the time I'm making stuff in my head and I need to know and just stay just true to my taste. I'm wondering because I'm constantly having, a crisis about what kind of music I should make or what I should be doing and it's kind of hard to navigate now and stay authentic.
YOUR MUSIC ACTUALLY INCORPORATES A DIVERSE RANGE OF GENRES, SUCH AS TECHNO, EBM, ELECTRONIC, R&B, HIP HOP HOUSE AND DUB. HOW DO YOU THINK THIS CONTRIBUTES TO THE UNIQUENESS AND INDIVIDUALITY OF YOUR ARTISTIC IDENTITY?
A lot of people that make music, especially now that everyone's got Fruity Loops and Ableton and they just want to make the same shit that everyone else is making. You can tell because, when I'm digging for gigs for stuff I want to play, it's crazy how much stuff just sounds like other stuff. I'm guilty of using some things but it's kind of in the vein and aesthetic of the genre. But just creativity wise, I think a lot of people are just doing the same thing and it's tried and true you know, but I think making sure that you listen to all sorts of music is super important. A lot of the people that really love making music are influenced by a huge range of music. You have to have a deep love for all types of music or just sound in general to make authentic music.
There's all the resources in the world to make all any kind of music, it's important people try to make their own sound. It's hard, but I'm always just trying to do weird things. For the most part, I think why I make music is because when I'm making something I start to feel something, anything from sadness or happiness or whatever. That's the most important thing. The most fun for me is getting lost in a loop. Sometimes I'll have something playing for like hours and hours. I'll make just tiny little changes, it's not just to play whatever the first thing that comes to mind. Sometimes I try to trust that first reaction. But there's something about the process of listening to something for a long time and taking it in. I also think it's just important to just like keep moving and making just make tons of music because something pops up that sticks.
– "You have to have a deep love for all types of music or just sound in general to make authentic music"
Sampling is a huge part of my creative process and also pushing my instruments into weird territories. I think it's important to use actual instruments and take them to places that you don't even know where they're going to go. There's so much exploration that goes into like every sound that's in all of my music. Running the machines through different routing and every time I come in here I'm plugging things in differently, or if we use this instrument for the drums or what if I sampled this. YouTube is amazing because you can find tons of stuff. Finding a YouTube where someone uploaded their record collection and they only have like 200 views on all of their tracks and you're in territory that not many people have ventured and it's like something has uploaded 14 years ago.
AS A LISTENER, I'M CURIOUS TO KNOW HOW YOU THINK YOUR MUSIC RESONATES WITH DIFFERENT AUDIENCES WHO MAY HAVE DIVERSE MUSICAL PREFERENCES OR BACKGROUNDS?
I struggle with that question every day. I don't know because some of the music I've made obviously people really like, for example, when Virgil played my music at Coachella it was huge for me and I was super honored, but you could see the audience was like, What is going on right now? What are we listening to? You know? That's cool, but I also know that not everyone fucks with everything that I do so I can't let that be my motivation. It's also such a cool opportunity to have my music played in a situation like that and I wasn't thinking of it being played in that situation when I made it. I take myself out that thought pattern or headspace when I'm making music because I think that it dilutes what you're doing.
But sometimes I'm making music like if I were to play at Printworks. I would want to make something really out there and it would sound awesome on a big system in a room like that. Sometimes I make music to play at a hypothetical party with a hypothetical lineup or i’ll make something I want to drive around listening to or go to bed to. I'm not necessarily thinking about who's going to listen to it. I'm more thinking about the environment that it should be listened to. Especially now with how fast people listen to music, I think imagining what kind of moment or the context in which it would be listened to rather than who and what playlist it could be in. I feel like if you make something niche that you think is cool, people don't know it's cool until they hear it, right? Or I'd rather make something that like becomes its own thing than like try to make something that, like, fits somewhere.
Because I want my main goal when I'm making music is to make people experience something or experience what I want them to experience. It's usually some sort of euphoria, melancholy, or introspection. Like happiness, sadness, deep thought, all of that in one. How can I make you go to all these places in your life in a moment with one sonic package?