INTERVIEW with Zardonic

KKM: Hallo Federico! To start can you tell me something about you and talk about your artistic development? Since when do you actually like music?

Hallo Claudia! Danke für deine Anfrage. I have liked music since I can remember. I think I was about 3 years old when I laid my finger in the first keyboard, which was an old Casio synthesizer. That had a lot of influence in what I would do in the future, as well as the music that I listened to in my father‘s car. He loved playing Classical Music and Nu Jazz. I grew up listening to Vivaldi, Smetana, Tchaikovsky, learned how to play the Cuatro (a Venezuelan 4 string instrument that resembles a concert Ukulele), and sang traditional Venezuelan music in school. I remember one of my favorite artists back then being Michael Jackson, whom I still revere to this day and I am extremely sad I could never get to see him live. Then I started listening to stuff like Hanson and Backstreet Boys when I was around 12 and one year later my concerned brother blasted The Great Southern Trendkill by Pantera as loud as he could to exorcise the pop demons from me. As you can probably hear in my music, it did the job right. I started a journey into extreme metal from then on and found my spiritual home in European Black Metal. I wanted to stay Scandinavian, but Schammasch and Ascension are German, Behemoth is Polish, Arkona is Russian, Moonspell and Sirius are Portuguese. We sure owe those crazy churchburners a lot for what extreme music is right now, but there‘s way too many other places to look for black metal as well, even in South America. Anyone who knows their metal can tell that every single black metal musician has probably heard Morbid Visions by Sepultura countless times.

KKM: Is there such a thing as a fundamental idea, which hides itself behind Zardonic?

There are two key things I keep in mind which are somehow represented in the stage costume as well, and those are Evolution and the Balance between Good and Evil. I have learned in my experiences that men who believe to be good are capable of the most unthinkable atrocities if pushed to a specific limit, and I have known my limits very well to know how to not go there again. I thrive to be a Paragon, as much as it is tempting sometimes to be a Renegade. Those who played Mass Effect probably know what I mean.

KKM: How, where, and when did it come to the founding of Zardonic?

I enjoyed the energy that Dance Music gave me, specifically Drum & Bass. And as I was going to raves I realized that something was missing for my ears, so I started bringing in metal elements and there you have it. Zardonic was born. I was dead set on making a living off music since I my early teenage years, and so far I‘ve succeeded. Can‘t complain!

KKM: Why did you decide to name yourself Zardonic? Does it put you behind for a deeper meaning?

Zardonic comes from Sardonic, which is an adjective that refers to the Sardonic Smile (as en example, The Joker‘s smile). I liked the reference because it is something that expresses happiness but hides a macabre cause. It is the perfect flashpoint where the line between Good and Evil is crossed. Probably these days Zardonic is leaning more towards Good than it is towards Evil, so while it has the air of a villain, he tries to be a hero, even if his methods are sometimes questionable. This is why I named my previous record Antihero. It represents who Zardonic was before.

KKM: How was your last album received by your fans? Which were the (scene – sector) press’ reactions?

What can I say? Antihero went to sell more than 10.000 copies all over the world. Charted on three different Top 5 charts in Tower Records Japan, millions of plays on YouTube, and it got me two promotional tours in 2015 and a world tour in 2016 that includes festivals like Loud Park in Japan for 35.000 people together with Scorpions, Rage, Sixx:A.M, Shinedown, Dark Funeral, Nightwish, Amorphis, Enslaved and countless other metal bands that I have a lot of respect for. I could give you countless quotes about the praise of the press both in Europe and America as well. I put together a video streaming the entire album on YouTube which has all sorts of quotes from the media and comments from fans on my Facebook page. It was nothing short of overwhelming because every time I do something new, something greater is expected of me. I hope I can keep up with everyone‘s expectations for the next record, Become. And I think it has because the two recently released singles have garnered already over 100,000 views each and we‘re talking about music that hasn‘t been out for a month. I have older tracks that I put years before and they haven‘t reached this number. There‘s also of course tracks like Bring Back The Glory from my older album Vulgar Display Of Bass, which has over 6 million views right now, but it gets 1 million every year on average. „Takeover“, the first single from Become, is expected to get 2 million per year judging from the statistics and the hype. I think this will really set things off for what‘s to come!

KKM: Did anyone support you, or did you do all by yourself?

I could have never done something like this on my own. I had too many people helping me, including people collaborating on the record such as Celldweller, The Qemists and MC Coppa. Then there‘s the hard work of Entertainment One Music and their amazing team all the way from the United States to Germany, my management Rocktagon Worldwide Music, my agents from CyberGroove, Lucky Bob and Solar Penguin. I probably am leaving some people out, but they know who they are. I thank them every day for the wonderful things they‘ve helped me achieve!

KKM: Do you need any particular inner mood or a special atmosphere when you compose new songs? Are there any particular places where you can better concentrate when you write new songs and lyrics?

My studio is the most sacred place I could think of. I can‘t make music anywhere outside of it, which made it particularly difficult because the last studio I had was in an Attic that had no door back when I was living in Ostfriesland. But my new place near Cologne has a very closed, very well acoustically proofed room where I get the peace and quiet I need. The neighbors don‘t complain either, and that‘s a good thing. We have an amazing community here.

KKM: What are the themes of your lyrics and in which way they influence you? Do you believe that lyrics are more important than music, don’t you?

I don‘t think one is more important than the other. They‘re just different languages. There are things I believe can only be expressed with music, and being that said, Zardonic is an act that mostly focuses on the music, because it uses movement. I am guilty of including things in my music that might be a bit too thought challenging to make it into a dance music track, but I still enjoy doing it, and I like to make it also interesting for the listener. But its main purpose is to deliver music. The message is something that people either will hear, or ignore, but I like to put it out there because I believe it eventually speaks to the people in very powerful ways, even when they‘re not listening.

KKM: What should we know about your story as a DJ?

Well, the first thing is that a lot of people are still confused as to whether Zardonic is a DJ or a band. Zardonic is a DJ. I‘m not playing live instruments because my shows consist of DJ sets. I make the music at home and bring it to the decks to make people dance. And I like it that way. Being a DJ is so much easier than carrying around so many things around to make such little money. I think that‘s the main reason why this pays my dues. I made sure I could have a project where I didn‘t have to rely on so many things to make it happen. I always worked better on my own than on a band anyways, but of course with time I have grown to understand that a team is necessary, whether they are behind the instruments or not.

KKM: How important is in your opinion the image and personal appearance of an artist in the current music scene?

I believe it to be of equal importance as the music itself. There‘s always this debate between people who think that music is all that matters, or other people say it only matters if you look sexy and all that bullshit. Honestly, they‘re different ways to express yourself. And you can‘t, or shouldn‘t have one without the other. Even bands who claim that all that matters is the music have their image. If you look at people like Meshuggah, who are not exactly doing the same thing that Kiss is doing, they themselves have an image. Even if that image consists of wearing shorts and a black T shirt, or having long hair, it‘s still a statement just as powerful as something like Marilyn Manson. And that‘s another example. Marilyn Manson is ruining his career due to a terrible personal appearance and performance right now. Even when his music is good. Even with all the great records he produced in the past. You wouldn‘t take Meshuggah seriously if they wore pink and had fluffy unicorn masks. Because it doesn‘t suit them. So it‘s not like the image is not important. There is simply a different image for different things. In any case, I find it much more interesting to see a mindblowing show than looking at some dude with a hoodie playing some tracks. Especially in the DJ scene, I believe this is important.

KKM: What is your favourite audience? Is there a special one, you would like address your music to? Is there “the” difference between the German audience and the audience abroad?

The main difference I have seen is that German crowds lack a lot of energy. And it makes no sense considering the amazing music festivals and scene that you have produced. So much culture and so little energy! I remember people in Venezuela going absolutely apeshit in the shows. Russia? Top of the game. Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Spain, Portugal, even America which has been way too spoiled by everything still has a very healthy, very energetic crowd. No idea what‘s going on there, but I don‘t think it‘s necessarily a bad thing. Just different approaches to different things. Living in Germany long enough also made me realize that there are better ways to approach life than to completely set your emotions loose and act on your impulses. Emmanuel Kant did a very good job there.

KKM: What can you tell us about your upcomming Live performances?

There are confirmed dates right now in Slovakia, Czech Republic, France, Germany and Switzerland, and more to be confirmed in China, Taiwan, Japan, Serbia, Romania, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, and the list of promoters requesting the show keeps growing. It‘s one of the good things of living in Europe. This is where my crowd really is, and it‘s so much easier to make the shows happen. I am way too humbled because if it wasn‘t for them I wouldn‘t even be writing these words. They truly keep me alive.

KKM: How do you imagine Zardonic? What is it with you on the stage that’s special?

That‘s for you to decide, mein schatz. I can only try to bring my very best. I have found people who look up to Zardonic like some sort of salvation from something they struggle with. That‘s something I like about the music I‘m bringing to the people. It represent strength in the struggle. Others are like „this is just a 30+ yo dude with a mask… boring“. You can‘t please everyone, so all I care about right now is about feeling happy myself with what I do. And so far I‘ve been having a lot of fun!

KKM: How important is the (musical) success for you?

It is everything. I will conquer the world or die trying, or at least conquer that half that likes what I do while completely disregarding the existence of those who don‘t. There is no Plan B.

KKM: How satisfied are you with the results achieved so far and what would you change if you could turn back time?

I wouldn‘t change a single thing. Everything is following its course as it should and I am extremely satisfied, especially because with time I realized that I proved a lot of people wrong. If you believe in an idea and work hard for it, eventually things follow. Of course, a lot of times people think that things happen out of thin air just by believing. You have to project it into the world. Show your art. Have no fear. I have seen SO many talented people who can‘t make a dime with what they do because they don‘t put it out there, as opposed to some people with very little talent that get money for it because they show it. That‘s all it takes. Working hard to be the best you can be every day, and showing it to the people without fear of rejection. I don‘t think it should be that hard to overcome. To me, it‘s very simple. I am awesome and if someone doesn‘t agree, they can go fuck themselves and I don‘t need them. And I can guarantee you there are several people out there who don‘t agree. I‘m not a 10 million dollar check. I‘m a dude with my ideas. Some will like it. Some won‘t. I care about those who do.

KKM: How could you describe your music to those people who haven’t listened to it yet?

If you like Drum & Bass, and you like Metal, you will like Zardonic. If you feel Dance Music could use a little bit of guitars, meet me in the dancefloor. I‘ll make you bang your head while your booty shakes like it had a life of its own.

KKM: What do you want to in the near future (musically) with Zardonic to achieve?

As much as I‘ve mentioned that the Dance Music aspect of Zardonic is the most important thing, there seems to be a natural evolution happening when I compose music leaning towards Classical Music. I think it would be safe to say that I would enjoy composing a soundtrack for a movie or a video game. It‘s a bit of a dream I‘ve always had. I‘ve also produced music for several other artists spanning all genres from Rock to Country to Pop to Drum & Bass. As long as more of it keeps coming, I‘ll be happy to continue doing it!

KKM: Thank you very much for this interview, all the best for the future and of course I ́ll let you know, when I want to come to see you play ;-)!

Thank YOU for your time! I would love to meet you any day. If you ever want to grab a drink. I‘m 1h from Cologne with the Bus 260. Tschüß!

written by Cloudy