In October of last year, international rap legend Dr. Dre came to Taiwan along with Snoop Dogg to promote Beats by Dre, a brand of personal headphones. On May 17, the company held an event at the W Hotel, where headphones inspired by the Taiwanese flag were given to a handful of Taiwanese athletes. A party followed at Luxy.
Such publicity events are par for the course, but as the company is focusing on Taiwan as a gateway into Asia, it plans on throwing a string of Beats by Dre events to connect with the country’s culture. And that’s good news for music fans.
“When Beats has a party, it’s an opportunity to celebrate sound and emotion collectively and a chance for us to meet people who are locally inventing and moving culture,” said Luke Wood, president and COO of Beats by Dre. “The Beats brand is not a visitor; we want to live in culture and to do that we need to build long term, sustained relationships with the Taiwanese creative community.”
The company recently teamed up with global cellphone giant HTC.
“Through working closely with them [HTC], we got to learn more about the local culture and the creative community here, and we realized that we can really become part of an authentic culture in Taiwan,” said Luke.
“There is a thread [here] that understands American hip-hop,” he said. “And whenever there is that subculture that understands and responds emotionally to hip-hop, it’s usually ground zero for Beats.”
For the Beats by Dre event on May 17, German DJ Zedd (real name Anton Zaslavski) manned the decks. The 22-year-old classically trained musician was in town supporting Lady Gaga for her two shows in Taipei.
Zedd is no stranger to Taiwan. After opening for Deadmau5 in May last year at the New Taipei City Exhibition Hall, his performance left many attendees saying he outplayed his own idol.
“I’m a big fan of Deadmau5. He has been one of my biggest influences in electronic music; so being compared to him in a way is a big honor,” said Zedd. “It was really great coming back here. I was counting [the] days to be back.”
And second time around he didn’t disappoint. The young DJ energetically delivered a set full of sing-a-long electro anthems, and songs from Justice, Avicii, the Chemical Brothers and Pink Floyd, to a packed house. While playing Bart B More’s recent hit Brap, Zedd cut the music and encouraged the crowd to get on their knees. When the beat dropped, they leaped to their feet amid a flurry of confetti for the most memorable moment of the night.
Besides Deadmau5 and Lady Gaga, Zedd has also toured with Skrillex and produced remixes for Fatboy Slim and the Black Eyed Peas. His take on dance music has been labeled ‘Zedd style.’
“At the time this term came up, I mostly produced choppy, complicated and complex electro house, which people at that time were not really doing a lot,” said Zedd.
But his classical music training may also be why his signature sound catapulted him to the top of the charts.
“A lot of my music (although it’s electro mostly) is influenced by classical music. The chord progressions (especially on my new album), will be a lot of the times really classical. I realized that a lot of the EDM [electronc dance music] scene doesn’t really know classical music so it kind of made it a challenge for me to bring it into my music.”
Zedd credits Justice’s influential ? album for pushing him into the electronic dance music scene. “I had started liking electronic music but needed something to push me to do it; and that was Justice,” he said. “That album gave me the last bit of inspiration I needed to actually start producing myself.“