When the dance music world heard bass monster Kill the Noise and melodic house kid Mat Zo were teaming up for a tour, the reaction was a collective wut?
"We weren't really too sure ourselves," says KTN's Jake Stanczak. "Mat comes from a different world, I come from a different world.
"We thought either people are going to look at it as something really exciting or people are going to not get it."
At the time when the two DJ-producers decided to join forces and form Kill the Zo, they both felt locked into repetitive patterns. Nights out became a matter of routine, which, for a true artist, can be a real downer. So with this new collaboration, Jake and Mat hoped to challenge themselves and their fans.
"It was a little bit of a test," he says. "But I can't complain. It's going well."
The partnership began after the Internet friends realized they both lived in Los Angeles, took the relationship to the next level, started messing around in the studio, jamming for fun, and discovered a rare kind of musical chemistry.
"He has a lot of interesting ideas. There's stuff that I do that he's really interested in trying to learn, and same with me," Jake says. "I think that's the reason why it works, because we always end up having a lot of fun just learning new shit. It's a great personality combination."
Together, they found a way to hit the reset button on their creative processes. And when their agents started calling around for possible gigs, promoters were hungry for the idea. Soon, the announcement of an 11-date tour had fans and critics buzzing.
Now, after a few live dates, the collab doesn't seem so far-fetched, even to the early doubters. Zo finds himself increasingly inspired by drum'n' bass. KTN loves surprising fans with a wide range of genres in live sets. And Kill the Zo offers both performers a chance to break free from stereotypes in a way that most fans can appreciate.
"Unless you're just some weird music Nazi, most people are into a lot of different kinds of music," Stanczak suggests. "It's more about the vibe of the show than anything else. The people go in there expecting it to be something different. The same kid that would scowl at you if you played something he doesn't think is cool would be jumping around with his buddies, because they came there expecting that to be the vibe."
As Jake and Mat push the crowd, they're attempting to reinvent their own routines. In the studio, they'll challenge themselves to write the part that people would expect from the other. They use one another's sounds to inspire new modes of thinking and experiment with techniques in search of a whole new style. The goal is simply to give people the opposite of what's expected.
"I think that people, at the end of the day, whether they know it or not, they want something new," Stanczak insists. "That's what being a DJ is all about to me. Being a tastemaker and a visionary takes some risks."
As time goes on, the collective reaction to Kill the Zo keeps veering further from wut? and closer to yeah! Just last week, Jake and Mat released their first official track. Meanwhile, new songs are in the works and a European tour is probable. They also hope to push the boundaries on the live element, maybe even one day release a proper EP. They're figuring it out as they go, but that's why it's fun.
"It's given me a lot of hope," he said laughing. "There's ideas everywhere."
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Crossfade's Top Blogs
Kill the Zo. A collaborative project from Kill the Noise and Mat Zo. With Wuki and Sluggers. Presented by Poplife. Friday, May 23. Grand Central, 697 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The party starts at 11 p.m. and tickets cost $30 to $35 plus fees via ticketfly.com. Ages 18 and up. Call 305-377-2277 or visit grandcentralmiami.com.
Follow Kat Bein on Twitter @KatSaysKill.