Sometimes a project happens completely by accident and snowballs its way to success–this is the case for Billboard #1 charting songwriter/producer and two-time Grammy-nominee, Dustin Burnett. Just as Burnett felt burnt out on the industry, he got involved with the licensing company, Lyric House, whom requested he create a song for a movie trailer. Burnett was unable to find someone to sing on the track and instead recorded his own vocals–thus resulting in a unique new music project called ZAYDE WØLF.
Dustin’s newest project has managed to turn heads with its debut album, Golden Age, which includes dark distortions and inception-like samples. Perhaps the perfect description of ZAYDE is simply the dark rock child of Imagine Dragons and The Black Keys, of which Dustin says, “I love both of those bands, so I’m happy to take that compliment.”
With the project already featured in more than fifty movie trailers, video games, The Rio Olympics, The NFL, Various TV shows including Dancing with the Stars, it’s seemingly only the beginning. The newest video for the single, “Built For This Time,” didn’t start off as a music video, but rather with Dustin’s son asking him if they could make an “adventure movie.”
Dustin said, “After we had a couple of hours of just having fun shooting, I tried cutting it to the song. It came to life immediately, and I knew we had to shoot more!” From there, Dustin knew he had hit on something with the Red Riding Hood vibe, and the video became a DIY family project.
With “happy accidents” playing blissfully on Dustin’s side, the next set of songs–an EP called The Hidden Memoir–is available for pre-order now. Check out the video below, and then peep our Q&A with Dustin below.
OTW: Why did you decide to call this album Golden Age?
Dustin: Sometimes I step back and look at what Zayde Wolf has accomplished in its 13 months of existence, and it all feels like an unreal dream. I think it is appropriate to say that Golden Age itself came from a dream as well. My friend and business partner, Jessica Cole, called me one morning saying she had a dream. In the dream she saw the completed Zayde Wolf record, and it said Golden Age on it. All of this happened before I even considered attempting to make a full length record.
OTW: The songs titles seem to mostly reference strength and overcoming, as in “Born Ready,” “Top of The World,” and “Built for This Time.” Was this a conscious decision?
Dustin: “Built for this Time” was the first song that I started to write for Zayde Wolf. At the time, I wasn’t planning on being the singer of the project. I had no plans, or the desire to do an artist project again, or be the voice and face for Zayde Wolf. I had the track with no lyric yet. The first words out of my mouth when I started to sing was: “Standing there on the edge, ain’t scared of what’s ahead.” The song was writing its own motivation for me in real time.
OTW: While they are inspirational, the songs also carry a certain kind of “Darkness”? Where does that come from?
Dustin: Like so many others, I grew up just barely getting by. My first bed was a dresser drawer used as a bassinet. My parents put my first guitar on layaway for about 12 months so that I could learn to play. We didn’t have many new things, but I had the freedom to create and dream. Zayde Wolf is just trying to tell the story of that dark, uncertainty and the ability to dream and overcome. Inspirational music used to sound like bad words to me, but we are living in a time where I think relevant positive energy is so important.
OTW: Some people believe rock music is dead. Would you agree with this statement?
Dustin: I think rock music is always changing. Right now, it isn’t the most popular genre, but people are always going to be drawn to something with a little more grit and teeth on it. In the last 5-6 years, we’ve seen genre lines pretty much disappeared. It’s almost only voice and attitude that pushes something into a genre now.
OTW: In the past, Nashville was known for being the town where country stars were made–you clearly don’t have a country sound, what would you say the music scene is like now in Nashville?
Dustin: I travel to LA a few times a year, and most of my team is in LA. However, I still live in the Nashville area, and I love it here. Nashville is growing in many ways right now. The culture, the food, the art, sports, and especially music. The pop and alternative scenes here have exploded, and the creativity rivals London and Los Angeles. Nashville will always have a glowing neon crown of country music on its head, but its arms and legs moving it forward aren’t just country. I have to give a shout out to all of my Nashville friends!
OTW: Your music has appeared everywhere from movie trailers to Dancing with the Stars–how does it feel? Did you expect that this project would turn into this?
Dustin: Zayde Wolf is bigger than we ever planned. I’m still trying to catch up to what happened.
Dancing with the Stars was a big surprise. I’m not sure how much time I have to tell this story. I was in LA playing a party for Lyric House. During our rehearsal a guy named Arthur came in because he heard the music. We were working on the song “Live Life,” and he was loving it. He asked if he could come back later that night. He brought is roommate who was one of the music supervisors for the show. I’d like to believe that the momentum is all based on the positive vibes and inspiration in the songs.
OTW: What do you think being a former producer has brought to this project as an artist?
Dustin: The last time I was a singer in a band was over 10 years ago. Recording and producing other artists just keeps sharpening the tools. The process of taking a creative partner approach as a producer just made me learn how to write better songs. It made me constantly evolve and challenge myself.
OTW: Where did the inspiration for the video for the song come from? What made you decide to have a Red Riding Hood/Stranger Things theme?
Dustin: My son loves acting out scenes from TV shows, movies, and video games. We didn’t start this as a music video. My son just asked me if we could make an “adventure movie.” After we had a couple of hours of just having fun shooting, I tried cutting it to the song. It came to life immediately, and I knew we had to shoot more! My son had the red hoodie and I knew it would be a very bright contrasts against the dark forest. My wife made the comment that it looked like a Red Riding Hood vibe. From there I went online trying to find cool Wolf masks. I found these 4 masks and then I spiced them up with spray paint and mini LED lights in the eyes.
OTW: What was it like using your son in the video? Did he already know all the words to your songs?
Dustin: I have three children, and I feel super lucky that they enjoy and request to rock out to my songs. My son already knew most of the song. He’s just 5 years old, so the biggest part was just keeping a 5-year old from being distracted. God bless Steven Spielberg.
OTW: What can we expect from this project in 2017?
Dustin: This alternate version of “Built” in the music video is being released with a couple of other songs as a small EP called The Hidden Memoir EP. It is available for pre-order now and contains the music video version of “Built for This Time,” and alternate version of “Heroes,” and two new songs. My long-term goal this year is to do another 5-7 song EP of brand new material and release several singles. I have several new songs started that I’m pretty pumped about. A couple are more pop-leaning and different than anything I’ve recorded so far for Zayde. There are some new songs that speak more into relationships, as well as a couple new heavy-hitter anthems.
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