I have spoken to many music producers throughout my time and many of them find it a dream to have their tunes played at events and even in video games. While many shoot for the stars, not all of them are able to reach their goals and soon enough shut down. However, FedericoÁgreda is one of those producers who never knew the phrase, "You can't do it," and pushed himself to succeed. Diverting all his creative energy into Zardonic, the man has created a musical outlet that fuses both EDM and metal into one wholesome project. His fruits are not dry, though, as he continues to push his music further and further, appearing in video games and even on live events for MMA tournaments. I talked to Ágreda about all his recent happenings regarding Zardonic, including his brand, spanking new album "Antihero".
Hello there! You have been making quite a name for yourself recently, but before we get into all of that, our readers are not so familiar with your project. Tell us a little about Zardonic and what you do.
Ágreda - "Zardonic began as my electronic music act out of several projects I had, most of them which were Industrial and Metal. Over time, Zardonic was the project that caught the most interest and I ended up getting so busy with it I couldn't afford composing black metal anymore. So I ended up bringing Metal into Zardonic so I could please my own needs. I have a natural drive to compose Metal. If Zardonic was pop, I'd have to have something like Anaal Nathrakh on the side. But I like doing things the hard way, so I'm pushing a project with underground music into the forefront of the mainstream. And it's working, the fans love it, creates commotion and promotion. Everything else is simply a matter of time."
Let's go back in time. When was it that you first started to create music? Were you turned onto it by a friend or sheer interest?
Ágreda - "I remember creating music as far back as when I was 3 years old. I had a little Casio synthesizer, and I also had one of those My First Sony recorders. I used it to sample the shit out of everything I heard. So you could say I was born to create electronic music. The Metal part came during my teenage years. All that anger against the world, and there's still a bit of that left. I've learned to chill out but there are things I still see about the way the world works and the way society works, and I just can't be happy about it. That's why Zardonic is like a big Fuck You to all this cheesy happy comfortable state of mind everyone seems to be obsessed about these days. How does it even make sense to you that people want to dance to Avicii when the world is so fucked up? It's a 'forgive and forget' / 'let it be' philosophy that I think is for the weak. So you could say I'm the one that gives everyone that 'tiny little push', quoting the Joker on The Dark Knight, to turn everything into chaos so people can vent out all that pressure. That's what I find rejuvenating and healthy about heavy music."
You definitely have a love for both metal and heavy electronics alike. Would you say that you prefer metal over electronics, vice versa, or do you have a love for both?
Ágreda - "That depends on what style you're talking about. Good music is good music and shit music is shit music. On the metal side, I love Emperor, Behemoth, Nile, Septic Flesh, Machine Head, Carcass, Sepultura, Metallica to name a few. That doesn't mean I like Limp Bizkit, and whether the purists say it's not Metal, that IS metal. It's just a shit form of metal. Then you've got Electronic Dance Music. Innovators like Nero, geniuses like Deadmau5, aliens like Aphex Twin and shit like Martin Garrix. So it's not about genres. It's about what's good and what's bad about it. I don't think there's a single genre I hate entirely except for maybe Dubstep or Trap, but there's still always the one artist that makes you feel like 'Damn, this is Dubstep... but it's GOOD.' When that happens, it's an anomaly in my system, but I embrace it."
Which artists, current and past, inspire and influence you the most in the metal and electronic fields?
Ágreda - "I like people who push the boundaries, you know? People who struggle to take what they love to the next level. Sepultura, for instance. Those guys pretty much defined an entire generation of Metal, even their early works are considered part of what shaped the oldschool Black Metal sound. And they are the only band from Latin America to emerge to such a level playing music that heavy. They had way more guts than a lot of guys and they came from such a humble background. That is what I admire. Innovators like Devin Townsend as well, although I lost a bit of respect for the guy. I don't like how he ditched Strapping Young Lad saying it was part of this 'negative phase' in his life and now he's pretending Devin Townsend Project doesn't have the same energy in it. Strapping Young Lad is one of the most amazing metal bands in history and if its own leader doesn't respect it, then how does he expect the fans to respect it? He can't escape himself. Not even pulling ridiculous moves like interviewing himself. That's almost Kanye West level of ego right there. And, for the record, that is absolutely not a good thing."
I know that your music has been getting more and more noticed lately, but when was it that Zardonic first started to become noticed by public eye? And were you shocked that so many people appreciated your music?
Ágreda - "Not shocked. If I was shocked it'd feel like I don't believe in what I do so I wouldn't expect it to have that reaction. When you work hard and you make something good, the only natural consequence is to win. I actually think this is way too far from being where I want it to be and I'm not stopping until everybody talks about it the same way they did about Michael Jackson in his days. I want to breathe life back into people, wake them up. They've been dormant for too long."
Is there any one comment that someone made about your music, either negative or positive, that you remember the most? And why?
Ágreda - "I force myself to forget the negative. I turn it into music. Keeps me inspired. And I'm glad you asked me that because I didn't know if it was actually working or not, but it is, because the first thing that came to my mind was something so positive it broke me down to tears. I was in a bit of a rough patch last year, moving out of Venezuela into the United States, getting all this stuff done, paying the dues, investing in the right things. When you can't stop making something become big, your net worth is close to 0, because if you get a million dollars in your bank account, you look into things to invest a million dollars into so you turn that into a greater show, greater music, greater everything. And so on. It's a step by step process. So the story behind the whole positive thing, I was gambling in Las Vegas the second time I was around for the World Series Of Fighting 22 on NBC, had no cash. Manager hands me cash. I put it in and I fucking win. After I won, I paid him what he gave me and gave him 20% of what was left. So this other day I called him about something else that came and I needed to give him 20% of that, so I was like 'Hey man, I'm about to send you money. Do you need a report of it?' and he said 'No, just money is fine.' So I'm like 'You sure?', and he said 'Dude, anyone who gives me 20% of what he won in Las Vegas has earned my undisputed trust forever. You're the most stand up guy I've ever worked with.' Right there man, right there. That's what I'm talking about. All these people keep pushing this shit like I've been doing something wrong, but I'm not. And getting that from your manager gave me so much motivation I still remember it to this day."
Enough about the past, let's move onto the present. Recently, your single "Bring It On" became the main theme of NBC's MMA World Series of Fighting. How did this deal happen? Who were you approached by and how did they hear your music?
Ágreda - "James Jeda CEO of Rocktagon Worldwide man. That's my manager. He makes big shit happen. He handed the music to them, they loved it, asked me for it, and I joined forces with Mikey Rukus for it since he is very well known in that scene. Best move we've done in a long time. Just to give you an example of the stuff James can pull, I'm on this interview and in a couple hours I need to show up at The D for a show that's gonna air live on YaVeo on DirecTV and then NBC Universo. Anyone and everyone from Rey Misterio to Daddy Yankee are out here. I'm not a fan of Daddy Yankee exactly, but if I hate a certain kind of music doesn't mean I hate the people who make it. In fact, I hate more people who make the music I like than people who make the music I don't. And you know what? It doesn't matter. I get away with playing the heavy shit I love and everybody will witness it. And that's how you break a brand."
I also heard that you've become a bit of an icon in both video games and comics. Starting off, you are a video game character in "Warlocks vs. Shadows". Tell us about the video game and how you became a part of it.
Ágreda - "Polish company One More Level hit me up during my recent shows in Sopot and Warsaw, they wanted my music to be on the game trailers and we spoke about the possibility of having Zardonic as a featured character in the game. After getting the green light from the label, management, legal team and all them bureaucratic whatnots, I jumped in and got deeply involved with the development of the character, to the point I designed all the SFX and voice acting for him. It was extremely fun and everyone loves it. All of the Latin and Hispanic media jumped on it as well because there is not a single Latin American musician that has made it to a videogame as a character before. Only guys like Michael Jackson and Britney Spears pulled that off. But things are changing man, let me tell you. The Latinos are coming!"
This is something that I have heard about, but don't have much details on. You are slated to be in a comic book. Can you tell us about the comic at all and what your part in it will be?
Ágreda - "Can't give much details about that one right now. The people upstairs won't let me yet."
Let's talk a bit about your new album now, "Antihero". What does the title stand for? And do you think that this will be Zardonic's most definitive work to date? Were you trying to stick to one theme or the other? Perhaps even a concept? Or did they all come along separately without anything tying them together?
Ágreda - "It is absolutely the most definitive work to date. I was angry, you know? Angry at the way the world works. Everything is polarized. Everything is left and right. Everything is black or white. Everything is heroes and villains. What about the guy in the middle who gets a shitstorm from both sides because he refuses to be red or blue? What about the guy that would rather scream in a song how mad he is and vent out all the negativity instead of throwing a fucking bomb that wipes out an entire city? What about the guy who is done believing in idols and gods, and wants to look at the true heroes of our society? The hard working teachers, mothers, the dude who keeps this hotel room clean and shiny because they have to feed a family while these fucking bigots are complaining about illegal immigrants? And I'm not even saying criminals shouldn't be deported. But what these fat fucks fail to understand is that crime has no name, no passport, no race, no sex, no colors. Criminals are criminals and they should be punished to the fullest extent of the law, and out of the law too. I know people from my homecountry who deserve a bullet in their fucking head, not 5 years in prison. But it's not because they're Venezuelan, or Mexican, or Hispanic, or Black, or White. It's because they are criminals PERIOD. Antihero is me realizing that nobody in the fucking world understands this, everybody is manipulated, and all it takes is a fucking disguise. You have a hispanic last name, you're done. Even if you were born in the United States. And same happens in Venezuela dude. If you're from the States, you're with the Evil Empire. If you dress in red, you're with Chavez. If you have the 7 star flag instead of the 8 star flag, you're a traitor from the 4th republic. Quoting the lyric from Against All Odds: 'Real eyes realize real lies, and in our eyes you're all DEAD!'"
Musically, what were you trying to do with the album? I understand you always try to fuse EDM with metal more so than any other artists. Do you think you were able to deliver that while maintaining a hardcore edge with "Antihero"?
Ágreda - "I don't know anyone who can deliver it the same way. Most are either too much on the Metal side like Celldweller, or too much on the Electronic side like Counterstrike. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of both. I usually quote Counterstrike as one of my strongest inspirations and play the living hell out of their sets, but when it comes to the specific sound in Antihero, I worked hard to find that exact needlepoint that would make the record sound like a Metal album on a home system, and like a Dance album on a big rig. Try it and you'll see exactly what I'm talking about."
You have a ton of remixes lined up for the album on the second disc. Out of all the remixes you had on the album, which is your favorite? From what I've listened to so far, I prefer Darksiderz hardcore remix of 'Override'.
Ágreda - "Everyone did a great job, can't really pick just one or two because I'd end up picking all of them. But if you'd really push me to pick just one or two, probably a tie between Rusty K and Counterstrike. Balls to the wall heavy and relentlessly hard."
I'm more than sure that you have shows lined up for "Antihero". Will you be playing in support of the album and, if so, at which locations?
Ágreda - "I did a 20 date tour in Europe actually for that purpose. It was kind of a pre-release tour. The post-release tour is still in the works, but I'd say it's safe to say I'll be hitting Latin America soon as well as the United States. Living in the US helped me build a lot of connections, and everybody is all about pushing this forward. I've even found people who make music I don't relate at all to who are my fans. And I feel bad because I wish I could say the same for their music, but it's the same case with Daddy Yankee. I'm not a fan of Pittbull's music, but I sure am a fan of the guy. That guy walks and inspires respect. And that inspires me."
Do you have anything else in the works right now that I may not have mentioned?
Ágreda - "Truckload of remixes, some for the big dogs, some for the underdogs. Stay tuned in the Facebook page and subscribe to the mailing list at www.zardonic.net and you'll get all of it. Too much to mention right now and I gotta jet!"
Lastly, I would like to thank you for your time and the space below is yours!
Ágreda - "I'll give you a quote by Mr. Doctor which has always been my inspiration: 'A man is less likely to become great the more he is dominated by reason. Few can achieve greatness, and none in art, if they're not dominated by ILLUSION.'"
...on tour you live excessively, faster than real life, you suck it all in and ride the bomb, so to speak, and after the touring is done, you spit it all back out in the studio, however, it has undergone a process of digestion in the meantime, and that is the motivational momentum for me.
KMFDM, Apr 25 2011
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.
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