The Masked Warrior – Zardonic On His Latest Effort Antihero
If there’s anyone we can trust to bring the robots when it finally comes time for World War III, we can always rely on Zardonic to pour on his ever blazing drum and bass sound to the battle. In our exclusive interview with the Venezuelan music prodigy, Zardonic touches ever so slightly on politics and revolution, which in a very subtle way reinforces what we’ve already known about music: it’s a rally cry.
“The main idea behind it was ‘The Heroes Have Failed,’” Zardonic says. We always praise icons, follow doctrines, quote quotes, but do we really have a better world because of the teachings of Gandhi? The efforts of MLK? JFK? […] Jesus Christ? Buddha? How have all these figures truly shaped our present, and are they really that important? In the name of all these figures, war has been waged, people have been killed, all because we seem to blindly follow a ‘great other.’
“But we seem to forget these are the things that really matter, and this is the people that truly matters. The true heroes. […] The Antihero is the cult of personality against the cult of personality. It is the mask against all masks. True freedom of mind. True justice. A desperate escape from our pretty mesmerizing reality into the real shit, if only for a brief moment.”
Indeed, Zardonic’s new album Antihero an uprising, and a noisy one at that. The same signature drum and bass romp is ever present, but this one features ventures into sounds that you probably would not guess, including the ever polarizing genre of dubstep.
“Between you and me, I love Drum & Bass and it’s what I grew up with, but you get tired of the same sounding beats after 11 years. I needed to expand in order to keep the creativity flowing. Getting out of Drum & Bass is what made me get back into Drum & Bass. So I’ll keep this project a multigenre project. It’s all the more fun. I can’t be free if I can’t have creative freedom.”
(Check out the rest of the interview below in which we also discuss Zardonic’s side career as a video game character.)
Indeed, Zardonic’s journey into music is truly one that is masterful and exciting. This isn’t simply an electronic musician putting fingers to keyboards; this is an individual going out and seeing the world, thinking of ways in which he can use his craft to make it a better place. It’s a magician stringing sounds together because when he does so he doesn’t simply make a song, he wields a weapon. It’s an alchemist, a mage, and a warrior all in one, the masked Zardonic.
24- In 140 characters or less, describe Zardonic.
Z- Zardonic is the revolution, the unsung hero, the new dawn, the impossible, the beyond, the truth, the alpha and omega, the light and flame.
Z- The main idea behind it was ‘The Heroes Have Failed’. We always praise icons, follow doctrines, quote quotes, but do we really have a better world because of the teachings of Gandhi? The efforts of MLK? JFK? Jefferson? Bolívar? San Martín? Constantine? Jesus Christ? Buddha? How have all these figures truly shaped our present, and are they really that important? In the name of all these figures, war has been waged, people have been killed, all because we seem to blindly follow a “great other”. It’s like this abstract, non-existent, intangible “thing” manipulates us, when we forget that the true heroes are the people who are right here and right now, you and me, your mother, your teachers, the hard workers who make us a sandwich for a minimum wage, the old lady who smiles at you and tells you “have a good day” and the last thing you care about is if she’s left wing or right wing, what religion or color or nationality she has.
But we seem to forget these are the things that really matter, and this is the people that truly matters. The true heroes. Yet we repeat the same erratic behavior because political groups use the very well effective cult of personality to breed suffering and destruction, to keep our society at the edge of chaos. They did it in my homecountry after the passing of Hugo Chávez, and it’s no different than what they did in North Korea, the USSR, the church, the Roman Empire. The Antihero is the cult of personality against the cult of personality. It is the mask against all masks. True freedom of mind. True justice. A desperate escape from our pretty mesmerizing reality into the real shit, if only for a brief moment.
24- Antihero is a conglomeration of so many sounds, but it’s still got that cohesive edge to it that sounds very Zardonic. Does this lend itself to the theme of the album, or is it something that just seemed to come naturally?
Z- A bit of everything. Between you and me, I love Drum & Bass and it’s what I grew up with, but you get tired of the same sounding beats after 11 years. I needed to expand in order to keep the creativity flowing. Getting out of Drum & Bass is what made me get back into Drum & Bass. So I’ll keep this project a multigenre project. It’s all the more fun. I can’t be free if I can’t have creative freedom.
24- What were some of the challenges of putting this record together?
Z- Well, I started writing this record when I was still in Venezuela and then the so-called “peaceful protests” started. I’m not gonna get into the details of it but while it wasn’t happening throughout the whole country, three blocks from my house I could hear bombs, shots and screams every single afternoon. It enraged me because as much as I agreed with the cause, I was strongly against the methods which only made matters incredibly worse. The pain of finding plane tickets outside of the country was a decisive factor aswell since I knew I had to get out of the country. I have no other job but being Zardonic, so if I can’t get on a plane to play shows in Russia I might aswell starve to death, and that’s not happening. Thankfully, with the help and support of Entertainment One Music, I got enough advance royalties to set up a studio in the USA where I continued to write, mix and master the album. So if it wasn’t for the help of Cybergroove and Tamizdat who act as my sponsors for the O-1 Visa, Entertainment One Music, and Rocktagon Worldwide, I probably would be living under a bridge somewhere in South America or would be living somewhere illegally, but under no circumstances I could bear living another day in Venezuela. It’s just not a good place to be anymore. I’m hoping it will be again because I want to play there so badly, but it has to be right.
24- Was there a particular song that gave you most difficulty? Which one did you enjoy producing the most?
Z- I liked them all in a different way with equal strength, but I think Against All Odds is my favorite, can’t stop playing it on my live sets.
24 -Which of the remixes did you enjoy the most?
Z- All of them had something incredibly strong to offer, but I think it’s a tie between the Rusty K Remix and the Heavygrinder Remix.
24- We also need to talk about you and video games; tell us a little about Warlocks vs Shadows and how on earth you got that kind of gig.
Z- I know right? You don’t really get many musicians turned game characters for some reason. Michael Jackson, Kiss, Iron Maiden, 50 Cent, Savant, not many more I can think of although I’m sure there’s more, but it’s not something common, specially not in Latin America where I haven’t heard any other musician becoming a playable character. I believe game developers see the potential when they see an image that is iconic, and that’s something I always wanted to achieve. Best of all is the game is actually good! Most games based on musicians or celebrities are really underwhelming, but this was a fun game to play and I believe it opened the door for many more to come!
24- Are there any particular video game soundtracks that you personally enjoyed? You can go into detail about any ones that you enjoyed too, if you wish.
Z- Anything where Nobuo Uematsu (Final Fantasy series), Yuzo Koshiro (Act Raiser, Shinobi), Yoko Shimomura (Mario RPG series, Kingdom Hearts series) and Takeharu Ishimoto (Legend Of Mana, late Final Fantasy series) are involved is probably in my favorite soundtracks of all time. I also remember fondly what Trent Reznor did for Quake I, which remains my favorite game in the series. Nothing could top it. Quake I was the real deal. It was about shooting nails to crucified zombies and hungry shamblers, plus it was full of all the satanic stuff back in the 90s when we all thought Satan was real. After that it all became this thing about shooting alien machines. Not bad, but Doom had already done the whole machine meets demon thing. I’m also guilty of having played all sorts of official and unofficial expansions to it: Malice, Zerstörer, Nehahra, you name it. Damn, I’ve played way too much for my own good and don’t plan on stopping yet.
24- Whether it’s something you’ve seen in your video game endeavours or in Antihero, how much do you think you’ve grown as an artist since you’ve first started doing what you’ve done?
Z- Well, when it all started I was still in school and mom was paying the dues. Now music pays my dues. When your music is the thing that keeps you on your feet, when you have real life responsibilities and it stops being a game, that makes you grow the fuck up. I’m way more open about music genres than I used to be and feel this need to expand into something else, but at the same time I believe right now I’m more about doing my own thing than I was before.
24- Is there anything in music you have yet to accomplish that you hope to do in the next five years?
Z- Yeah. More money lol.
24- What’s your current tour status?
Z- I just finished a 20 date tour in Europe promoting the new album, plus shows in Las Vegas and Sri Lanka in August including appearing Live on NBCSN World Series Of Fighting, New York in September and a show with Combate Americas plus more to come in the US for October, November and December. Something about Latin America happening soon too, but I don’t know all of it. I’m sticking strictly to shows that will grow perception value. There’s too much to do yet in the studio.
24- Finally, if you were a dessert, what kind would you be?
Z- If I were? I’ve BEEN a dessert! Cupcakes FTW 😀
24- Thank you Zardonic for taking the time to answer our questions!
You’ve got it man! Always a pleasure to talk to you guys 🙂