It took one single tune getting on AK1200’s Weapons of Tomorrow CD for Zardonic to hit success, however it was a long road getting there. Now the DIY artist is one of the top and most controversial in DNB today with releases on Dieselboy’s Human Imprint, Cymbalism and Big Riddim. Some see his fame as gimmick while others see it as hard work and dedication. Although despite the criticism and endorsement, no one can argue that through his accomplishments, Zardonic packs arenas around the globe.
We sit down with Federico Agreda aka Zardonic and take a look at the man behind the mask discussing life growing up in Venezuela, his musical influences and what’s in store for the rest of 2015.
I never would have thought this, but it seems that metal is very big in Venezuela. Did you grow up listening to metal or was it something you found later in life?
Dude, it’s so big it’s insane. If you want to have an idea of how big Metal is not only in Venezuela, but throughout all of South America, check out Dark Funeral’s “Attera Orbis Terrarum Part 2” DVD. We are talking about an underground Black Metal band which packed venues in Mexico, Guatemala, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, Argentina, Chile, and the list goes on. If there’s a healthy scene for every single musician out there, that’s Latin America. We thrive for new bands, and there’s a place for everybody. I heard a bunch of things since I was a kid from early rave music to pop, until Metal struck me in 1998. I had of course to do my homework as I had missed nearly 20 years of Metal history hahah. Pantera was the first band that got me into the whole metal melomania, I had heard before some Metallica’s commercial stuff and GNR. Thought Metallica was ok, thought GNR was absolute fucking cheese save for Slash. So I wasn’t all that interested. Then I heard the real shit, and went from Pantera to Cannibal Corpse to Deicide to Dark Funeral to Marduk, and to this day I’m still looking for new bands to listen to. Of course, as you grow older, you’re less likely to be impressed by a metal band. But I’d still say Behemoth is one of those bands I admire with the heart of a fan. Beautiful music, beautiful shows.
Was drum & bass a big thing in Venezuela as well? How did you end up getting into DNB?
Drum & Bass was probably one of the healthiest electronic underground scenes back in the day, together with Hard Techno. There were several crews getting events going and everybody was all about it. It started with Simpl3 Crew in Caracas. DJ Alex aka Modovisual is a Venezuelan legend. Ask DJ Fresh about him. He’ll tell you what’s up. I’m not sure what those guys are doing these days, but that crew set the foundations for everything else to happen, including Dikru, BSK, Hermandad de la Jungla, Beat-Army, and countless others. I always liked the beat but thought something was missing in it, then I heard Dieselboy’s “The Dungeonmaster’s Guide” and it changed my life. That was some of the most violent stuff I had ever heard. And then I went to the darkside and discovered Current Value, then also heard about Counterstrike also starting their career and followed them closely as they were the only guys pursuing the metal / DNB sound. Some of the nicest and most authentic people I’ve also met in the scene too. And then Limewax happened. And now you have The Hard Way. The way I always saw it, DNB was the Death Metal of EDM. And that’s why I always liked it.
Who were your biggest DNB influences that got you into producing it yourself?
Dieselboy, Counterstrike, Technical Itch, Pendulum and a lot of electronic metal hybrid bands like Ram-Zet, Fear Factory, Celldweller and such stuff.
You recently made a statement to the likes that it was hard to find inspiration in DNB as of late and that it was hard finding tunes that you could incorporate into your sets. This for some reason sparked a lot of controversy. Would you like to touch on this or why you think people got so upset over something that seemed like a reasonable opinion?
Because that’s the Internet for you, and honestly I don’t care anymore. I’ve been caring too much about what people say and after that happened, I just realized how happy I used to be when I didn’t give a single flaming fuck. So I’ve started to overlook people’s comments a bit more. Everyone will always have an opinion, and specially DNB elitists (weird though because I was actually bigging up the oldschool heads for their style of DNB) always have a go at it. This dude Sol ID or something, some dude from the UK who books people I think and knows the some of the Hospital guys, whatever. He just tweeted the other day something like “I can’t believe these clowns have Random Movement opening for Zardonic. Shame on them.”, referring to the Plush show @ SXSW. I don’t know what you think of a guy that calls honest promoters “clowns”, but that’s exactly the kind of people that I avoid. They contribute absolutely nothing to the world. So yeah, I think they can keep their own little A List world with their own DNB and play it for DNB people. I’d rather do the Pendulum approach and play my shit to everyone, whether it pleases the scenesters or not. The DNB scene is actually the reason why DNB never got big. It’s the unhealthiest thing they have, their own scene. Ever asked yourself why Pendulum is so hated by the DNB scene and still they are hands down THE most successful DNB act in history? That tells you a thing or two about how things work in the DNB scene.
There’s a large subculture in metal that is into masks, is this why you wear one or is there a deeper reason; maybe a political statement?
Honestly, the whole thing started as my own marketing scheme. When I had that idea you didn’t have deadmau5 or Destroid or V for Vendetta. But it took me a while to do it because I wasn’t sure how to make it happen. It started with a logo that is based on my face. Since I realized nobody was relating my logo to my own music act, I decided to put the logo in my face so nobody would ever forget it. There is a certain black metal influence to it, of course. And I believe I am yet to discover deeper reasons behind it. All I know is, what started as a fun marketing campaign became something completely different when I looked at myself in the mirror with the mask on for the first time.
You’ve recently finished up a tour with Sid Wilson aka Starscream of Slipknot. How was the tour? Any highlights or interesting stories from the road on this?
We just did a show together at SXSW and it was great! There are some Slipknot afterparties for which I’ll be performing aswell but we’re waiting for confirmation. I’m more focused on my own tour to be honest, as I have at least 15 dates confirmed for an European tour that will happen in May and June, and at this point we’re waiting for more to be confirmed. Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Hungary, Estonia, Russia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, and hopefully more countries will confirm! I’m extremely pleased to make this happen and we should have an official list of dates soon.
A while back you did some Nine Inch Nails remixes. How did you get linked up with doing these?
It wasn’t a direct link. You know that NIN has been giving away remix parts forever now, so I took the parts of a bunch of NIN songs and did remixes of my favorites. What happened was that I sent my remix of “The Hand That Feeds” to John B, and he LOVED it, then he played it at this festival with a bunch of guys and everyone was going crazy about it. That’s when Dieselboy hit me up to get my tracks signed on Human Imprint, and from there we went up and also released on AK1200’s imprint Big Riddim Recordings. I owe Dave Damian a lot. If there’s people I love and respect, that’s them.
Who’s your favorite metal band of all time?
I hear you have a new album that going to drop here pretty soon. Can you tell us more about that?
A new album is coming out in Spring 2015. It’s been a while, but it’s taken its time because we want it to be perfect. The original mixes are all done and in the words of Mike Gigantor of Evol Intent, it’s “The second coming of Ministry meets Knife Party”. I think that’s the most accurate description of what the album will be. We’re waiting for some remixes as we want to do a double CD and bring something special to the table. I also have a bunch of remixes to be released soon for Celldweller, Joanna Syze, Damage Inc, Nitro-Noize, Nightrage, Evol Intent and a bunch others. This year is gonna be HUGE!
Are there any final words or thoughts you’d like to share with us today?
Yes. To all the fans out there, remember YOU make this possible, and if it wasn’t because of you, we wouldn’t be there. I know this is a line that a lot of bands have, but it is the truth. Fans are the people who truly make the scene happen. And to all aspiring producers out there, don’t let the opinion of some oldschool jaded assholes get in your way. These people are nothing, believe me. I’ve met them. They think they’re entitled to the genre of music they do and they can’t even pay their rent off their shows. You keep pushing forward your own way, you do your own shit and don’t let anything stop you. You have no one to please but your fans. There’s nothing big or major about anyone, when they face true willpower. If you really want to make it big, you will. You just have to truly want it. If you’re giving up before you start, this isn’t for you.