Back in October, Zeds Dead opened a new chapter in their career with the launch of their own label, Deadbeats. Slating their debut album, Northern Lights, as its first release, the Toronto duo passed the torch on the imprint’s sophomore release to French upstart, Nebbra — the imprint’s first signee. Nebbra’s EP, You, provided an eclectic mix of future bass, trap, and glitch hop, showing off the producer’s versatility and making for a stellar second release on the label.
Zeds Dead have been an integral part of the rise of bass music, and their influence will continue to grow with their Deadbeats imprint as seen with Nebbra. To dive more into the story behind the label’s launch, Nebbra sat down with us to discuss how he became Zeds Dead’s first signee, the composition of the EP, and his plans for 2017. Additionally, he’s crafted an exclusive mix to celebrate the EP’s release that features an assortment of bass-driven cuts from his library.
Be sure to check out Nebbra’s full interview below and listen to his exclusive Deadbeats mix.
How did you first link up with Zeds Dead?
The first time i was in contact with the Zeds Dead guys was a virtual one. My manager, Row Weber, knew the guys and their team, and I was following their work for a very long time. I loved their work and how they made their music evolve. So when I knew they liked my kind of music when they heard it, it just matched. They where preparing an album of remixes for “Somewhere Else” and, they asked me if I was up to remix one of their tracks. Even though I liked all their tracks, I really loved “Collapse,” and the remix did great.
How would you describe your sound?
I can’t really put a label on my sound. I am inspired by many things and my tracks are built initially with a mood, a feeling; it depends if I’m in a good place or a dark phase. There are no particular style that I use, because i can’t say that is future bass, or trap, or even pop. Let’s say that I like to blend genres together in electronic music.
There are so many beautiful styles in electronic music, but in my opinion they are not exploited the way they should be. I believe it is when you mix different kind of music that we still manage to get some originality and some new artistic levels. This is what I am looking for above all: something unique and different.
How did you know it was the right choice to become the debut signee on Deadbeats?
I didn’t really ask myself if it was the best business plan. I don’t work like that. Let’s say I created a lot of tracks to build a first EP, and Zeds Dead wee finalizing Dead Beats when I was finalizing my EP. Musically speaking, we understood each other musically. They like my universe and i like theirs. This is an EP that could fit in what they were looking for their new Label.
So let’s say I just had many good signs to release this EP on Deadbeats, and I don’t regret it at all. On top of that, I was doing the first part of some shows on their tour, and they are just the best in real life, as much as I thought they would be, so this was another sign to confirm the choice to work with them.
Can you give us a quick breakdown of your ‘You’ EP and how it all came together?
For real, I made many more tracks than what I have on the EP. I was first going to create an album, and then I realized it was not really the best time or choice to bring such a heavy project. It was better to first release an EP.
The label Deadbeats listened to many of my tracks, and we made a common selection of 4 tracks that would fit together, and that would fit their expectations too. On those four tracks, 2 have a vocal. I created all the tracks without any vocals, and then we had some toplines suggestions coming.
For “you” it was extremely fast when Mike Sabath: when i heard his toppling and i placed it on my track, it was just a revelation. It was the same for everyone around me. “Fire away” was initially not for a vocal, on my opinion. I thought the instrumental was quite heavy on its own. We had some toplines that didn’t quite work for us. And when I got Octavian’s toppling and i placed it, i thought “wow, this really brings something more to the track”. He brought the track to a level which it could not achieve on its own.
“Gladiator,” it was kind of funny how it got on the EP. When I was asked to send some tracks to Zeds Dead for their label, I sent a lot of tracks, some of them were recent ones, and some others had been done almost a year before, and they were not all finished, but I wanted them to have as much content so they could see what they liked. My manager came back to me and told me that they loved Gladiator and that I needed to finalize it.
You need to know that i don’t know how to organize my work, so when they told me that, I had even forgotten about that track. He had to send me back my mp3 track that he kept, so that I could remember which track it was. I had no idea . When I heard it again I thought they were right, that it had potential, so I worked on it again and it got on the EP.
As for “On the moon,” it is a typical track where you think “i”m doing a track, and i will let my imagination go wherever it wants.” There were no barriers or any restrictions.
It is the kind of track that I need to do once in a while, and to do it, I just thought “I’m going to build a track, doesn’t matter if it soft or hard or lunar.” And they liked it too, so that is really cool.
What can fans expect next?
What is certain is that they will hear way more projects in the year to come than in 2016. The past year was more of a construction/ transition year for me. I have a lot of projects done , and also some others i’m working on. I hope to bring a new EP for 2017 even bigger and some heavy collabs with artists that I love. I now have a great booking agency with AM Only and with Unity Group and I am ready to go on the road. So they can also expect to see me a lot more for shows. What they all give me while I was doing Zeds Dead’s first part during the tour was amazing.
I hope I can give them as much as I got, and that I will be able to make it up to their expectations. I know a lot of fans ask me to come near their cities, so I hope i’ll be able to come where they want to see me.