Zaeden: Without Missing a Beat
The New Delhi producer discusses his journey from being a college dropout to becoming the first Indian artist to sign with Dutch label Spinnin’ Records
He might be only 21, but New Delhi producer Sahil Sharma aka Zaeden has more or less figured out what he wants from life. He initially gained popularity thanks to his remix of Coldplay’s 2014 track “Magic” receiving airplay on Hardwell’s online radio show. “I made the remix just for my sister. I suddenly started getting a lot of shows in India,” says Sharma.
Encouraged by the positive reception to his music, he went on to remix various other popular tracks including Maroon 5’s “Animals” and Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself” before finally collaborating with American producer Borgeous on the 2015 track “Yesterday.” The song was noticed by Dutch label Spinnin’ Records, eventually leading to Sharma becoming not only the first Indian artist to sign a three-year deal with them but also one of the youngest artists on their roster. Mumbai-based DJ duo Nina & Malika [Nina Shah and Malika Haydon] were amongst the next to be signed, opening doors for the collaboration on “Never Let You Go.”
As someone who started making music at the age of 14, Sharma has worked hard to prove to his parents—and himself—that he has the talent to pursue music as a career. “I didn’t get their support at first,” he says about his parents’ reaction to his career choice. It didn’t help that he dropped out of college to pursue music. But through time and patience his parents did come around. “I slowly did things that made them believe that I can do something in this field. So now they come for my shows and support me,” says Sharma.
The producer has just wrapped up a Europe tour and is currently traveling across India to support “Never Let You Go.” The track has amassed over a million views on YouTube since its release in July. Based on a riff composed by Shah, the song took all of four days to be put together—the bigger struggle was finding the right vocalist. After initially trying out a female voice, Sharma and Nina & Malika settled for the throaty vocals of Dutch singer Cimo Fränkel. Says Sharma, “With this song—you can’t really play it live or at fests, it’s a radio song. So I was scared to put it out and see how people would react.” He adds that the track surpassed the popularity of “Yesterday”—something that can be attributed to the audience’s love for simple, melody-driven tracks which can be enjoyed anywhere rather than just at a club. “People around the world want something fresh. That’s what producers are trying to do—come up with simple vocals and catchy sounds. There’s a whole shift of music.”
Citing the example of reigning electronic producers like Skrillex and Diplo collaborating with Bieber, Sharma feels the vocals-and-dance music combination is the key to appealing to a wider cross-section of listeners. “People like my dad like the track,” he says with a laugh. “So it’s seen a great reaction from a lot of generations.”
Sharma’s itinerary is packed for the rest of the year with three more upcoming releases, including two radio-friendly pop tracks, and his take on the 2004 super-hit Caribbean-esque track “Tempted to Touch” by Barbadian artist Rupee. “We just bought the rights to the song,” he reveals. “It should work because it was such a big hit in India. I’ve been testing it out live and I’m really happy with it.”
In addition to continuing his solo tour, Zaeden will be joining fellow Indian producers Anish Sood, Sickflip and more on September 2nd 2016 for the launch of Raja Baja, Delhi-based EDM producer Nucleya’s second studio album.
Check out the video for Zaeden’s “Never Let You Go” with Nina & Malika below: