Zedd‘s résumé speaks for itself. As a go-to producer for major pop acts such as Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande and Selena Gomez, and the recipient of a Grammy for Best Dance Recording in 2014, the EDM star has been catapulted into the upper echelons of the music industry. All of these successes culminated in his chart-topping second studio album, True Colors, and a subsequent world tour which sold out iconic arenas like Staples Center in Los Angeles and New York’s Madison Square Garden.
During the Los Angeles Film Festival at a packed theater in downtown LA, the Russian-born, German-bred DJ and producer, real name Anton Zaslavski, hosted the world premiere of his new documentary, True Colors, which follows the multi-talented artist on the biggest tour of his life last fall. The screening (which he even designed a special Snapchat filter for) was followed by a moderated Q&A and a surprise acoustic performance alongside special guests Kesha, Aloe Blacc and Echosmith’s Sydney Sierota.
Here are five major takeaways from Zedd’s new True Colors documentary:
1. Zedd is an exceptional multi-instrumentalist
Raised in a musical family, it’s no wonder Zedd and his older brother, Arkadi (who is featured as a regular commentator throughout the documentary and still plays guitar with his brother today), play an unfathomable amount of instruments. Transitioning from classical to jazz to death metal, he attributes his hit-making ability to understanding elements of various genres and cites electronic acts like Daft Punk and Justice as primary influences. While his brother jokingly claims “Anton was so lazy,” home video footage of Zedd proves otherwise, showing the budding musician playing virtually every instrument from piano to guitar to percussion. Other guest commentators like his management team and Interscope label head, Jimmy Iovine, attribute his sonic versatility and melodic ear to his multi-instrumentalism. With a piano instructor mother and guitarist father, “we had no choice but to pursue music,” affirmed his brother.
2. Zedd’s devotion to his fans is unparalleled (and vice versa)
The documentary is strung together by emotional moments of his fans on various scavenger hunts in different tour stop cities across the country where winners are treated to elaborate grand prizes such as a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon, a night’s stay at Colorado’s eery Stanley Hotel that inspired horror classic The Shining, and a rave inside of an underground cave in Texas — each location hand-selected by Zedd to pair with a different track off his True Colors album. In addition to the amount of care and attention to detail put into these opulent experiences, another poignant moment came during a meet-n-greet backstage at one of his shows with Zedd taking the time to have a personally tailored discussion with each fan, sometimes up until minutes just before his set, and even after the stage production crew had left late at night after the show. “Can I give you a hug?”, asked a trembling female fan. Zedd’s response: “You can hug anything you’d like.”
3. Zedd’s focus is unwavering
Maintaining a small, yet supportive circle of family and passionate team members helps the 26-year-old global sensation keep his feet firmly grounded in the small town roots he was raised in. Anton doesn’t partake in any illegal substances, nor does he drink; instead, he closets himself in the recoding studio always working on new material with no time to even consider a vice. If there’s ever a role model for the digitally-obsessed millennial generation, it’s Zedd. He’s just an ordinary guy living an extraordinary life… with a pure heart.
4. Zedd is a natural-born pop producer
As if we needed reminding, the documentary explores the process behind some of Zedd’s most infectious pop anthems alongside stars like Ariana Grande, Selena Gomez and Foxes with commentary from the latter. But it’s the heartfelt remake of the project’s title track, “True Colors,” with embattled pop star Kesha that really hits home. With a headline-making comeback at Coachella back in April, Kesha took to the stage for the first time since the sexual abuse allegations against Dr. Luke to belt out a remake of the track after Zedd offered her a chance to record music again free of charge. That moment came to life after the documentary screening when Kesha performed the soul-melting ballad and received a standing ovation. Unlike most producers searching for a major pop collaborator, Zedd now sees himself being summoned by industry A-list. Even musician and actor Jared Leto, who’s featured as a commentator in the film, gushes over Anton’s natural aptitude.
5. Zedd embodies the modern rock star
If the True Colors documentary proved anything, it’s that EDM icons like Zedd are unequivocally the new rockstars. Footage of super fans sprinting after Zedd’s vehicle and trembling to the point of tears during backstage meet-n-greets are laden throughout the film in between scenes of jaw-dropping crowd sizes at heralded venues such as Madison Square Garden and Staples Center. Unlike the mystique of most music legends past and present, the core of Zedd’s fame rests in being relatable and mastering a near real time social media experience for his followers. Anton attributes much of his global recognition to maintaining an over-sharing relationship online with his fans who fantasize about what he’s like in real life only to find a lanky, quirky, half-shy young man whose average height is exponentially overshadowed by his impressive musicianship and sincerely humble demeanor.
Zedd shares preview and premiere details for ‘True Colors’ documentary
Listen to Zedd and Kesha’s collaboration “True Colors”