You’ve heard experimental dance music, but you haven’t heard it like this.
“I can sound like a Miami Vice soundtrack, an old school video game or an ‘80s hair metal band,” said Bienen sophomore Zach Robinson. “It’s easy to make dance music, but it’s hard to make it sound good.”
A guitarist as well as a composer, Robinson has worked on a variety of projects including Dracula Mountain, a band back in his hometown of Los Angeles, and The Earth is a Man, an instrumental experimental band of Northwestern students. His biggest project right now, however, is solo. D/A/D is electronic dance music with Robinson’s own unusual twist.
“My music is dance music, but I don’t DJ,” Robinson explained. “I play my music. I have my computer, my keyboards and my guitar. There aren’t dance music artists that use guitar as much as I do.”
In November, Robinson brought his unique sound to Chicago for the first time at a loft party. “It was a good test to know where my music stands with people that had never heard me before,” he said. “People were really into it.”
The D/A/D project really began to pick up the pace this winter. On February 6 Robinson played a show at Chapman University in Orange County, opening for his friends’ band Super Mash Bros. He then played at the Shea Stadium venue in Brooklyn, New York on February 12.
“It was surreal. They paid for my flight and they gave me food,” Robinson said of the Chapman experience. “I’m on Mayfest and A&O, so I’m used to doing that when people come to us, but not the other way around.”
Now playing at college universities and concert venues, he has come a long way since he started playing guitar at age 12. Robinson, however, didn’t start getting into composing until he was 15. He was inspired to write music by the scores of his favorite movies.
“I’ve always been into really triumphant movies. I remember walking out of Pirates of the Caribbean thinking, ‘What was in that movie that makes me want to be a pirate so badly?’” Robinson said. “I figured it out as I got older that all of the movies I really like, it’s because of the music.”
Listening to D/A/D, listeners would never suspect Robinson was once inspired by Pirates music. An eclectic smattering of sounds influences his current project, from ‘80s synth funk and Italo Disco to jazzy hip hop and metal. These artists include Chromeo, Ratatat, Fleet Foxes, Dragonforce and Giorgio Moroder, who wrote the score for Scarface.
The name of this unique project is derived from Robinson’s facetiously self-titled but talented group of friends, The Future Dad Society.
“It’s a joke, but we have a Tumblr,” he said. “All of our friends who have released their music can put their stuff on it for free.”
Ideally, he wanted to call himself D.A.D., but that name was taken by an ‘80s Danish rock band, so he decided to go with the forward slashes.
One of D/A/D’s extremely well-received tracks is a remix of Yelle’s “Ce Jeu”, featured on the EP Super Motives. “When I play that song [at shows], it immediately brings it to the next level.”
He said he was nervous about playing this song, at first. “I really didn’t know how they were going to react. It was one of the first things I did when still figuring out what D/A/D was going to be and people really liked it.”
Moving forward with this project, Robinson has a simple goal.
“I want to play for crowds I don’t feel comfortable in front of and to get my name out there.”
Super Motives is available online as a free download.