Nashville musician, producer and songwriter, Zayde Wolf released his debut full-length album Golden Age on Nov. 4. Working together with other singers and rappers, Wolf crafted a 13-track album that draws on different elements of hip-hop, pop and electronic sounds, while still staying rooted in indie rock.
Instead of telling you about the album, we had Zayde Wolf break down the album track-by-track to show you just a little bit more about the album. He dives into the influences behind each song and shares some anecdotes about recording some of the tracks.
Listen to the record on Spotify and pick up a copy on iTunes.
1. Golden Age
We are living in a beautiful time, if we just realize that and make it a Golden Age. The inspiring and up-tempo title track "Golden Age" was one of the hardest to complete. I kept trying to write the song, but it wasn't happening. In the last week before we had to turn in the record, I took another shot at it. I decided to write the song about me as a little snapshot of my journey. Most of the songs on the album have small chunks of my story, but this one is how music kept pulling me back to being an artist.
I woke up in the middle of the night with the idea of the guitar part that starts this song. I sang the guitar part into the voice memo of my iPhone...then back to sleep. I had already played drums and written other parts of the song, but it was this guitar part that sets the tone for "Hustler." "Hustler" embodies that drive inside each person who wants to be the one who takes it all. The song itself is flooded with heavy distorted drums, synths, and guitars. "I didn't come from luxe or own no diamonds," is the story of everyone who is digging it out every day.
3. Live Life
"Life Life" is an upbeat stompin and clapping song that makes you feel alive. Several Zayde Wolf songs are about overcoming, but this one takes a more fun lighthearted approach in the chorus. For this song, I asked my wife, oldest daughter, and five year old son to sing on this chorus, to give it extra texture and more voices. Doing that is actually worth so much more to me now. It is a beautiful thing to have them forever a part of this song.
Army is the only song on the record with a political narrative and social message inside the triumphant hard hitter. As one of the few co-writes on the album, "Army" was written with producer and friend Geoff Duncan. We wanted to create a heavy and aggressive song that drops really hard in the chorus.
5. Be Free
A week or so before starting this song, I had just purchased a few new huge vintage bass drums. I started creating a huge beat with them by playing them live, then sampling them, and manipulating the drum sounds. Once I wrote the chorus, I had my wife and my friend Jason Eskridge stack piles of vocals in the chorus. This song is huge anthem about rising up being free. "We've got this feeling in our soul, we've got the reason in our bones."
6. Walk Through The Fire
This was a really difficult song to write. Amazing people that are very close to me were going through some very hard things in life trying to hold their relationship together. The lyric "standing in the dust, of what's left of us," is such a real thing that we all go though. I started this song but couldn't finish it. I asked my artist friend Ruelle to come help me finish the idea. She has a beautiful, intimate and honest singing voice. We spent part of the morning talking about heartbreak, and then finished the song together.
7. Born Ready
"I don't believe in no devil / Cuz i done raised this hell / I've been the last one standing / When all the giants fell"
I had been sitting with the lyric, but I wasn't sure what to do with it yet. I knew this song needed to be big and dark and heavy, so I built a huge drumbeat. With the help of my friend and vocalist Jason Eskridge, we built a gospel style choir to go with the song to take it to another level.
I started this beat and track that kind of felt like "Another One Bites the Dust" by Queen, and the chorus line and melody "Keep on walking, like a champion" came together really quickly and easily. However, the verses to the song were impossible, I wrote 12 different verse ideas. Different lyrics, melodies, phrases and I felt like everything was pure shit. My licensing team at Lyric House also works with hip-hop artist Sincerely Collins, so I started the conversation with him about rapping on the song. I sent him the track, and he sent me back true brilliance. All of my verse ideas were dumped in the trashcan after I heard what Sincerely did.
9. New Blood
Stomps, chains, big bass drums, and one nasty guitar riff got this song off the ground. I remember when I was writing the song, there was some real struggle that day. The lyric "I spent my whole life chained to the wall" was a real thing going on inside myself and people I love. The song became about the ability that I can beat that feeling.
10. Top Of The World
As a songwriter and producer for other artists I had this track and beat already on another song. But the artist never released the song, so I wanted to re-purpose the track because I loved the sporty shuffle. "Top of the World" is meant to feel everlasting and fun with flecks of the past sprinkled into it. To take it all the way, I brought on multi-instrumentalist Tyler Summers to deliver a fantastic saxophone solo at the end of the song.
11. Built For This Time
This was the first Zayde Wolf song ever written. I was at a crossroads in my career, and this song was part of the catalyst for moving from producer to artist again after a long time away from singing. The first sound you hear in the song is a saxophone sample that I manipulated, and the drums are layered marching drums pitched down to make them dark and meaty.
I came up with the line "It's good to be king" while watching Game of Thrones and Lebron James this past NBA season. I immediately thought of this lyric:
"I will not run, when destiny comes / I'm dipping my hand in gold / it's good to be king."
I ended up with the one line chantey chorus, and layered piles of drums for the big drum break solo in the middle of the song.
13. Running All Night
Many of the songs on this album started with a beat. A lot of the drum sounds on this song are me stomping, clapping and hitting various non-drum surfaces. I started working with these textures and they set the roadmap for the vibe of this song.