Mad Zach is one of the most interesting personages in contemporary electronic music. He is one of the world’s foremost experts in controllerism, which is the practice of using software controllers (MIDI, Open Sound Control, joystick) to create and perform music. He’s been finger drumming for almost a decade and his skills are masterclass. Mad Zach’s music is pure innovation, so much so that Aphex Twin rinsed one of his tunes live last year. Mad Zach essentially embodies the concept of the electronic musician, and his ocean of knowledge about production is channeled with ferocity into one-of-a-kind dynamic live performances.
Mad Zach came up in the Bay Area electronic music scene, and his sound is rooted in hip-hop and West Coast bass. He’s collaborated with fellow Bay Area native G Jones so many times that the two are virtual partners in crime. As trap, dubstep, and future bass have evolved globally in the past five to ten years, those sounds have entered the Mad Zach laboratory where they’ve been reconfigured. His sound eludes classification, but in a phrase it's a hybrid of hip-hop, dubstep and trap. However the influences interacting in his music are more numerous than the buttons on his midi-pads. His most recent release, “The Visitor”, demonstrates how chimeric Mad Zach music has become. Having moved to Berlin, Germany a few years back, his sound has assumed a bit of the darkness so ubiquitous in that city’s techno scene. That’s not to say Mad Zach was peaches and cream to begin with; his work has always involved a bit of eyes down business.
Many were first introduced to Mad Zach in 2015 through the Ableton Push video, where Zach skills what was then the new Ableton Push controller as only he can. This, or any of the countless videos on his Youtube channel, illustrate the performance style that Mad Zach brings to his live sets. “When I perform, I’m typically rocking a couple midi fighters and a twister for mixing and effects,” Zach told Ariel Hawk of Smoothie Tunes in a 2015 interview. A Mad Zach performance is as live as live gets in electronic music. It’s freeform, groovy, and supremely dynamic. Zach’s music is not beholden to any semblance of the build-drop format. It’s instead a mercurial, evolving groove highlighted by anticlimax and subtle interplay between provocative note arrangements, and subdued but dazzling soundscape.
On March 8 Mad Zach will roll into Brooklyn, New York laden with gear and keen on expanding and potentially blowing minds at Brooklyn Bazaar. Billed as an Afterdub evening and presented by Good Looks Collective and Sermon, the show includes support from the steady-handed audio surgeon SubDocta and the DMV-area dub deviant ChoppyOppy. Catching a Mad Zach set is an opportunity not to be overlooked. The performer was originally part of the recent G Jones & EPROM tour, but he had to drop off and ended up playing only a couple dates. The soundman's return to the road is thus all the more exciting.
Familiarize yourself with Mad Zach music on any platform, scoop tickets to his Afterdub performance, and gird your loins.