An Interview With Charting Songwriter and Grammy Nominated Producer ZAYDE WOLF On His Latest Songs and More!
Posted On 02 Feb 2017
ZAYDE WØLF is the new project from Billboard #1 Charting Songwriter and Producer and two time Grammy Nominated producer Dustin Burnett.
Burnett started his music career as the front man of The October, a band inspired by the Cure and Echo & the Bunnymen. After years on the road Burnett reached his burn out point in his mid-twenties and moved to Nashville, and put a pause on his performing career to focus on writing and producing. Burnett found success working behind the scenes as a writer and producer working with artists like Tyrone Wells, Us the Duo, Augustana, Dave Barnes and more. He also started a drum sample company, That Sound that has become the goto for songwriters, producers and mixers.
Burnett was pulled back into his artist career almost by accident. He was asked to work a song for a film trailer by the Los Angeles licensing company Lyric House. Unable to find anyone to sing on the song he created, he decided to do it himself. The response was so overwhelming positive Burnett decide to forge ahead creating his own music under the moniker Zayde Wolf, combining his history as a producer with his talents as a singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist.
To date Zayde Wolf’s music has been feature in more than 75 films, TV shows, commercials, video games and movie trailers.
Check out Zayde’s music here:
“Hustler” : YouTube | Spotify | Soundcloud
“Running All Night” : Spotify | Soundcloud
“Champion” : YouTube | Spotify | Soundcloud
“Born Ready” : YouTube | Spotify | Soundcloud
Learn more about Zayde in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! Now that 2016 is over, what are some words you would use to describe the year? What have been some of the highlights for you and your music? What are you most excited about for 2017? Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions?
Hey! Thanks for having me. 2016 was truly mind blowing and surreal. I have to really take a step back from this year to really acknowledge everything that happened, and everyone who came along and fell in love with the music. 3 Major music highlights would be: Having a song in the Jack Reacher 2 trailer for Tom Cruise, The Cleveland Cavs using one of my songs in a highlight reel, and Microsoft using one of my songs for the Keynote at E3.
2017 is a wide open blank slate, and that is amazing.
I don’t really make resolutions, but I always spend a couple of days making goal lists at the beginning of each year. Two big goals for me are to spend more time out of the studio on life adventures, and to also have a song on Billboard this year. Also, abs. I really want abs. (Laughter)
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall some of your first musical memories?
My mother says I sang myself to sleep as a baby. I remember sitting at the piano at age 5 and learning things by ear. My mom sold that piano, to buy a keyboard that made beats. Then we sold that to buy me my first guitar. My parents always encouraged me to make music, and saved their money to layaway instruments for myself and my brothers.
I’d like to know more about how you fell back into making music. I understand that it was almost by accident?
I’ve always been making music and producing, songwriting, and mixing for other artists. But being Zayde Wolf was a complete accident.
I had not been the voice of a project for over ten years. I was using all of my creative resources for producing other artists.
I was developing some new material, and my plan was to have another guy sing the songs. I had most of the production done, and even some of my vocals on the tracks as a demo. But, the singer didn’t work out as I planned. Since I had spent so much time on the songs already, I decided to finish them. I hashed out the remaining parts and sang the songs myself.
Why did you decide to go by an alias and not your own name? How did you come up with Zayde Wolf?
That’s a funny story. My wife and I have three children. When we found out we were having a third, we decided to not find out the sex of the baby and let it be a surprise. So, we picked a boy name and a girl name. I was pushing hard for the baby to be Zayde Wolf if it was a boy. Turns out, we had a beautiful baby girl.
So, Zayde Wolf was born a year later instead. After I finished the songs, I wanted to get some real feedback on the material. I figured if I called it Zayde Wolf, instead of my name, I would get more honest feedback.
I sent it to Jessica Cole at Lyric House, and she was all over it. She said: This is amazing, who is Zayde Wolf. After I told her it was me, she told me: Make more of these songs right now!
Zayde was born.
Your music has been featured in more than 75 films, TV shows, commercials, video games and movie trailers. Out of all of these, what stands out to you as the most rewarding?
I think the most rewarding thing happened early in 2016. We had just gotten going, had a few licenses, and then we got a Netflix promo. But it wasn’t the Netflix promo that was rewarding. It was when I watched it with my wife and saw her face and she had the chill bumps all over her. We knew things were going to be different after that.
What was the inspiration behind your debut album, “Golden Age”? What was it like finally writing, producing, mixing and mastering all your own material? How long did it take to put this collection together?
Golden Age was nearly a year in the making, but I didn’t specifically set out to make an album. We had a batch of a few songs early in the year that started licensing really fast, so we hurried and just released those songs as an EP called Rare Breed. Then the songs just kept coming and the momentum was building.
Jessica kept pushing me to dig deep. The song Golden Age was the last song written, and when it was finished, we knew we had a record.
How is the sound of “Golden Age” different or similar to anything else you’ve worked on in your career? Do you find that it’s a mixture of everything that you have worked on in the past?
Golden Age is probably everything I’ve ever learned, all in one record, but it’s also every boundary and rule broken as well. Zayde Wolf didn’t have a box to live in, he didn’t even know who he was supposed to be. And I think that is one of the things that made it special.
Who are some of your favorite artists and what bands continue to inspire you and your music? Who would you love to work with in the future?
I love pop and alternative music. I’m inspired everyday by the new and the past.
I’d love to do some features on some other records. It would be awesome to do a track with Flume, Jon Bellion, Tove Lo, Lorde… someone might have to make me stop.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
I want people to be inspired and feel like they can overcome any obstacle in their life. A large part of my story is written into the Zayde Wolf songs. It’s all about coming up from the bottom, overcoming, and believing that you can make it.
When you aren’t performing, working in the studio, what do you like to do for fun? How do you unwind from it all?
I’m a dad of three. There isn’t a lot of unwinding! As a family we do our best to take a couple trips to the beach each year. I love it there. I get to really be unplugged. I also love the NBA, and really enjoy going to the games.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers regarding yourself or your music?
2016 taught me several important lessons.
I could have quit on these songs. I could have said, “I’m too old to reboot as an artist.” Instead I pulled together all of my skills to try something, and push through a door that was opening. Took some risks, worked really hard, and made smart moves.
I want listeners to take that attitude with them. Do your best, be kind, and you can overcome.
To quote Neil Gaiman:
“The world always seems brighter when you’ve just made something that wasn’t there before.”