Ted Zed is a 20-year-old wizard and would-be true star from Somerset via Sat- urn who sings about Alien Mondays and has an affinity with gold. He is a do-it-all wunderkind who handles everything from his artwork to his videos to his light show himself. He also plays numerous instruments (drums, guitars, synths) and runs his own self-built music ‚Äúlaboratory‚ÄĚ at the back of his house that comprises guitars, keyboards, amps, Kaoss pads, and distortion pedals, boosters, laptops and projectors.
It functions as a portable studio, enabling him to take it on the road: performanc- es - at venues ranging from a converted pig shed to Camden‚Äôs KOKO, where he had a monthly residency at Club NME throughout autumn/winter 2013 - have found Ted Zed triggering and manipulating pre-recorded sounds, samples and video projections while providing live guitar and vocals.
Ted Zed is into ‚Äúelectronic rock‚Äôn‚Äôroll‚ÄĚ. That‚Äôs what he makes, what he believes in. He acquired this belief from his parents, especially his dad, a composer. He learned about music production at college, a place in Bristol where Massive At- tack recorded their first album. A hip hop fan from the age of 10, in his teens he became in thrall to The Beatles for their melodies and Jimi Hendrix for his ram- pant guit-artistry. He also discovered the visionary writings of William Blake. ‚ÄúAll of these people made me want to become an artist with a message,‚ÄĚ he says.
When he was 17, he developed a fascination with the music and mayhem of Todd Rundgren, the far-out American cult musician and multi-talented, proto- electronic whizkid .
‚ÄúHe‚Äôs brilliant,‚ÄĚ says Ted Zed, who admits to having phases where he con- sumes things to the extent that, ‚ÄúI suck the nutrients out of them‚ÄĚ. ‚ÄúI love his craziness and wizardry,‚ÄĚ he says of Rundgren, particularly his run of ‚Äė70s al- bums. ‚ÄúHe does everything on his own. I was so impressed by his produc- tion statements and synthesiser sounds. But he writes great melodies, too, and he is a fearless performer.‚ÄĚ
It was after playing a gig at London‚Äôs Social that someone from the NME ap- proached Ted Zed and told him that he reminded him of Todd. He was, as a consequence, given a four-night residency, over four months, at Club NME at KOKO, where he appeared totally solo, just the lone computer kid with his Ableton and assorted sound lab paraphernalia.
‚ÄúIt was my first gig ever in front of a decent amount of people, and it was all be- cause of the Todd Rundgren connection,‚ÄĚ he marvels. ‚ÄúNow I‚Äôve added a live drummer and a bass player and the live show has gone to another level‚ÄĚ.
ÔŅľWith total self-belief, TedZed set about approaching Pattie Boyd to take his press shots. The Pattie Boyd. Pattie ‚ÄúLayla‚ÄĚ Boyd, former wife of Eric Clapton and paramour of George Harrison. Then he sent some demos off to Dan Carey aka Mr Dan, producer for Hot Chip and Bat For Lashes, and that led to a deal with BMG and recordings with Elliot (Bloc Party) James and Martin ‚ÄúYouth‚ÄĚ Glover, member of legendary postpunk behemoths Killing Joke and producer of everyone from Marilyn Manson to U2. ‚ÄúThe songs I recorded with Youth are more modernistic, and the ones I did with Elliot are more vintage,‚ÄĚ he explains. ‚ÄúThey‚Äôre both very different directions, but they‚Äôre both me.‚ÄĚ
His debut single, I Don‚Äôt Mind, was a superb first foray, all distorted guitar, trancey synths and layered harmonies all in the service of a powerful pop hook. His new release is Alien Monday b/w Souls. The former was written about ‚Äúthat feeling of alienation you get on a Monday on the train on the way to work - you feel like an alien,‚ÄĚ he decodes. With its electro squiggles and irresistible chorus, Alien Monday is, decides Ted Zed, ‚Äúan abstract Dali-esque song with a pop core - I wanted it to sound like a pop song that had been distorted by an alien.‚ÄĚ
Souls, meanwhile, is ‚Äúan uplifting journey‚ÄĚ that Ted Zed penned in order to cre- ate the sensation of being a shooting star. Designed to be sung by huge crowds, it is one of many anthems in Ted Zed‚Äôs arsenal. Tracks from his next EP will in- clude I‚Äôm Gold (‚Äúabout feeling strength within yourself, feeling special‚ÄĚ); Hey Mr Sunshine, a jaunty pop song with Rundgrenesque electronic touches; the surg- ing, tribal, Bolan-meets-Hendrix boogie of Bass Drum; and Believe. ‚ÄúThat one is about escaping into the wilderness and living off the land,‚ÄĚ he suggests. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs got a very positive message.‚ÄĚ
Ted Zed likes to accentuate the positive. And the poignant, and the powerful, and the strange. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm into madness and things that push you out of your comfort zone,‚ÄĚ he declares. ‚ÄúEveryone has madness within them. My music is about tak- ing that madness and putting it to good use. I‚Äôve always been inspired by out- there people, who push themselves,‚ÄĚ he says. ‚ÄúPeople with a secular kind of spirituality.‚ÄĚ
It is his intention to absorb the positive lessons he has learned from his many heroes and use them to make a new kind of exuberant, anthemic, electronic rock. ‚ÄúI just want to be me,‚ÄĚ he decides. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm really confident in myself as an art- ist. I don‚Äôt want to be anything but that. I love the idea of Todd as the wizard in his studio, making songs out of thin air. That‚Äôs what I want to do now. To conjure pop songs out of thin air.‚ÄĚ