It's not unusual for a DJ to start a label, and it's not unusual for that DJ to crack said label open with a string of his or her own productions. Labels are started as safe spaces for creativity and artistic exploration, but what is slightly unusual is being discovered by Mat Zo over Soundcloud on a random whim and then being greeted with an offer to sign with his label, Mad Zoo.
"From the start, I knew Mad Zoo wasn't going to be a label with one genre," Zo says, "but there is criteria I look for in new signings. These include high production quality, texture, diverse emotional content, basically anything that is raw, visceral, diverse and ideally timeless as well. Shadient's music is a great blend of all these qualities. Also, Morgan as a person fits right at home in the Mad Zoo family."
Zo introduces Shadient to the world with "Leidenfrost," a mechanical whiplash of a first single. It sounds like Aphex Twin decided to start funkin' with dubstep. It's got grit, it's full of crunching noise and static. It grabs you by the lapel and forces you to jam. "Leidenfrost" has a sound that's immediately engaging, and it must just be Shadient's style.
"There's a refreshing simplicity about the music that Morgan achieves without sounding bare and empty," Zo says. "Each track stays true to its theme without unnecessary elements which distract from the main idea. What results is raw, powerful, and eclectic electronic music. Morgan's also a good dude, he works hard and has a good heart. What label owner wouldn't want artists like that?"
The two have become quite close. Zo says he met up with Shadient for some pizza when he was in the UK for Christmas and coached the kid a bit on what to expect in the industry and what mistakes to avoid, if he can. It's given Zo a lot to think about and inspired him to look out for more promising talent to welcome into the Mad Zoo fold.
"I hope to encourage artists to try new things and be passionate about their craft," he says. "I've always looked up to Stones Throw, not just because of the music - which I also love - but the ethos surrounding it. Stones Throw allows their artists to be themselves, no matter which way they evolve, and they became a family in the process. What Peanutbutter Wolf did for hip hop, I want to do for electronic music. I also want to avoid heavy branding, you know, slapping a big Mad Zoo logo on everything. I want the artists to shine above everything else. We also want to try new things as a label. For instance, the whole Glare.fm web app that The M Machine made is a good example of what we would like to see more of on Mad Zoo; thinking differently about sharing and selling music. Like, for Shadient's EP we're making limited edition cassette tapes. Stuff like that keeps running a label fun."
Be on the look out for more new artists and sounds coming from Mad Zoo in the close future, and listen to Shadient's "Leidenfrost" below, exclusively on Billboard Dance.