Reworking of old classical rock with postmodern Dubstep

Aena Cho

Zeds Dead is a Canadian electronic music duo from Toronto, Ontario composed of two members:  Dylan Mamid, or DC, and Zach Rapp-Rovan, or Hooks (Wikipedia).  They explore a diverse variety of genres that amalgamate aspects of electro house, hip-hop, glitch, and drum and bass into their largely dubstep platform.

In “Gimmie Shelter”, they take The Rolling Stone’s music and deconstruct and fragment it, almost beyond recognition. This mix of the two completely different genres of music, the classical rock and roll of the 60s and the complete anarchy of dubstep, is definitely unique, and a very post-modernistic way of reworking the past from a historical perspective. Zeds Dead both captures the original eeriness and seriousness of the original Rolling Stone’s music and multiplies and distorts it by incorporating the echoic, repetitive sounds of their unique Dubstep beats into it.  Many aspects of the original are kept, but the guitar, which was formerly viewed as the most important instrument to rock music, has been eliminated and replaced with computerized/digitalized basslines.  The end result is Zeds Dead’s own new, unique musical expression.  This indeed represents musical dialogic process in which a new musical expression or genre emerges from re-interpretation of old music.

Zeds Dead’s “White Satin” which is based on Moody Blues’s “Night in white satin” is another good example of such musical dialogic process.  In this piece, we first come to recognize “the basic grammar” of the piece – which is the original melody of “Night in white satin”.  But as it is combined with Zeds Dead’s dubstep beats and sounds, we come to perceive/appreciate it in the new musical context of dubstep.

Dubstep, which Zeds Dead music is based on, is a new, hybrid music genre of the postmodernism era which came out of the modern electronic dance music in the late 90s.  The style does not favor four-to-the-floor beats, instead relying on spaced, syncopated percussion that the listener typically adds their own mental metronome to (Wikipedia). It is obviously dependent upon computer technology, particularly digital sampling and distortion. It makes heavy use of other people’s work, deconstructing the traditional concept of “author” as an original creator (Less than 3). Original works obviously are influenced by previous works, and the fact that Zeds Dead does something so unique with a piece that someone else created, speaks to the possibilities of quotation as creation.


Zeds Dead. Wikipedia.

Zeds Dead. Less Than 3.

Dubstep. Wikipedia. <>

Zeds Dead. Gimmie Shelter (The Rolling Stone remixed)

Zeds Dead. White Satin. San City High, 2010