On January 10, 2020 Producer Dojo released the Cypher 16: Trippin’ Down Memory Lane EP and within 48 hours it became the #1 Beatport release across the board in downtempo, breaks and dubstep. I caught up with Cypher curator, Zodiak Iller (Jesse Edelman), to learn more about the magic behind the scenes.
Jesse, really nice work on curating Cypher 016 Trippin’ Down Memory Lane. Tell us more about this Cypher Challenge and what important lessons did you learn along the way?
So I feel when I listen to so much of the EDM being put out these days it’s just “everybody fucking jump!” or “1, 2, 1,2,3,4 Lets GO!”… and you know that’s great and all and totally has its place and time but I need more out of music most of the time. Unless I’m in full party mode those bangers for the sake of bangers don’t do much for me. Music with an emotional message and story are timeless in my eyes.
My goal was to encourage people to write music that evokes emotion in the listener. Tugs on their heart strings. Hits them right in those nostalgic feels. Hence the name Trippin’ Down Memory Lane. It was weird turning down actual bangers from the cypher, but if they had no melody or chords, no story or nostalgic feeling samples they didn’t accomplish the task at hand.
Lets see important lesson learned… Time management and dedication. Giving consistent feedback to all the ninjas, making the graphics, videos, working 2 full time jobs and keeping the Zodiak afloat was crazy!
Tell us about your song “Almond Iller” that you and your collab partners wrote for the Cypher.
So Almond iller was just the combination of the names of the peeps involved with the song. Kinda like a celeb marriage I guess lol. My stage name is Zodiak iller, my friends Ryan and Kelly’s collaboration project is called Almond Mocha. To be honest I was just stoned and needed to save the ableton project and thought Almond iller was clever and silly. I met these two wonderful people at Producer Social in Reno a few years ago now and we just naturally became friends in time. I normally don’t collab with people because it always turns into this EDM AF thing and they are just not like that, plus with Kelly Proud on the vocals I knew I’d get instant emotions out of the listener so yeah it was kinda a no brainer. Also the fact they just wanted to make music for fun and did not give two shits about my label connections was a big green light to me.
What was the most challenging aspect of curating a mixtape and do you have any advice for future curators?
I’d say probably time management and sleep deprivation. Like I said earlier the feedback, making the graphics with the help from Ryan RV VanDuyn on the cover art I might add, making the mixtape, all of the videos, 2 full time jobs and zodiaking… Shit was nuts. I’d still like a monthly per diem for caffeine from the Dojo ;).
Do you have any special shout outs/nods of recognition that you would like to give to any Ninjas for their efforts on this challenge?
Absolutely will give some shoutouts!
6th Street, ALWAYS kills it on the vocal game and I used samples from his song throughout the mix to make it feel like a DJ set where someone revisits a theme the whole time.
House Ninja, he wrote this latin edm song Ven Pa’ Ca with super sexy vocals and I just happened to go to Mexico right after finishing the mixtape. So naturally I got drunk and danced to his song for like a week.
Is there anything else that you would like to share or promote?
Sure, I don’t just make music. I also make all sorts of cover arts for people, show flyers, social media content, and just general photoshopping. Also very talented at making music visualizers. I will leave links below of examples of my work. To hire me for any of this, email [email protected] and let me know what you need.
Examples of my design work:
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For the full 27-minute Cypher 016 mixtape check below. Enjoy!