It's easy to get lost in the hypnotic haze of electronic dance music when you're surrounded by thousands of fans swathed in colored iridescent lights. But for Zedd, who's perched on a tall platform in the midst of LED screens and clouds of smoke, the experience is as much a visual journey as it is an auditory one. "Certain things sound a certain color or at least remind you of a certain color," says the German electronic house artist, producer and disc jockey. The 25-year-old Grammy Award-winning phenomenon unleashes a rainbow of beats from his new True Colors album at Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica Sept. 30. "Every song has a certain type of color, and every song has a certain type of lights and visuals, and certain effects," Zedd says of his concert. "So when I play it, it looks perfect."
Q. How is True Colors a departure from your earlier work?
A. It's a departure considering I haven't had the courage to put an almost fully acoustic song on an album before. True Colors is about showing other people who you really are. Some people knew me from "Clarity" and "Stay the Night," some people know me as the producer for Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, and some people know me from being a DJ, but I want people to see every side of me. That's why I decided to put every type of song on the album and make a song with a rock band, make a song with a rapper, make a song by myself, make a song with other producers. Those are my true colors.
Q. As a DJ, how do you approach your concerts?
A. A typical DJ is known for going out there and reading the crowd and playing something on the fly. Nothing is prepared, and it's all spontaneous. Before every show, my team and I sit down for a long time and talk through what I want to play. I started recording shows every night for two years. I would watch it and take notes. We rehearse a lot, so it's really synced and it looks really tight. I take it more from a concert perspective than a DJ standpoint, and that's what makes the shows so beautiful. All I care about is giving people the most amazing night of their lives.
Q. You debuted 10 of the 11 tracks from True Colors by hosting secret shows for fans. What inspired that decision?
A. I wanted my fans to hear the music first, and I wanted them to hear it in the most special way possible and somehow relate it to what that song means to me and the color that's in that song. We went way overboard, and we went to the absolute extreme. We rented Alcatraz and colored the Empire State Building and went to the most amazing places possible. I got to meet the 50 most active and dedicated fans in each city and have real one-on-one time with every person.