Name: Dustin Zahn
Occupation: Producer, DJ
Current release: Dustin Zahn's Gain of Function, the long awaited full-length follow-up to the deep, dark and diverse Monolith, is out via Rekids.
If you enjoyed this interview with Dustin Zahn and would like to stay up to date with his work, visit his profiles on Facebook, and Soundcloud. Zahn also runs his own label, Enemy Records, with a highly recommended podcast, where he invites guests like Cosmin TRG, or Peder Mannerfelt to chat about a wide range of musical topics.
[Read our Cosmin TRG interview]
[Read our Peder Mannerfelt interview]
We also highly recommend our more expansive Dustin Zahn interview, where he talks about a wider range of topics.
How would you describe the relationship between technology and creativity for your work? How do you work with your production tools to achieve specific artistic results?
To me, some of the most exciting artists are those who have the perfect combination of self-confidence and technical ability. The byproduct is creativity. I try to stick to production tools that provide the steadiest amount of creative output possible. I try to avoid technical hurdles and limitations.
If I need to start plugging in a bunch of shit to make a sound, there’s a great chance I’m going to lose the vibe in that process. So if I don’t understand how to do or use something, I just move on. I make an effort to overcome that technical obstacle on a day where research is the focus, rather than creativity. I’m a big fan of separating tasks across various studio sessions.
To some, the advent of AI and 'intelligent' composing tools offers potential for machines to contribute to the creative provess. Do you feel as though technology can develop a form of creativity itself? Is there possibly a sense of co-authorship between yourself and your tools?
I think the first part of your question refers more to machine-learning. In order to develop a true creative process, it would need some form of opinionated consciousness.
Do we REALLY need machines with opinions? We already trained these robot assholes to do parkour. Who knows how far it will go. Really, society ultimately wants sex robots but they don’t want ones with a neural net. “Wait, this thing has had opinions and suggestions…the entire time? Burn it now!”
I guess that answers nothing, but be careful what you wish for.
Do you personally see a potential for deeper forms of Artificial Intelligence in your music?
I’m already on the AI bandwagon. I treat it like a session musician that I can call on when I need that kind of vibe.
It’s great because you can exploit the computer’s efforts and it can’t complain to anyone about it. Yet.
What tools/instruments do you feel could have a deeper impact on creativity but need to still be invented or developed?
So I’m kind of a moron. My music theory only goes so far. I wouldn’t mind a proper device that is basically like the Akai MPC pads but for chord progressions. Just pick a root and a few mood descriptors, then the machine loads the various chord progressions across the pads for you to chop up and play at will. I think that would be great to bridge the gap for the stereotypical modern producer who has a great ear, but can’t play an instrument very well.
I’m sure that type of thing exists in some form of computer/midi combination, but I want “the box.” You know?