INFORMANT: “A few years ago everyone was saying that Zedd’s synths were actually just samples of an electric razor, which I’m sure they weren’t.”
COLLECTOR: “Who do you mean by ‘everyone’?”
I: “Just, like, people on the internet… Anyways, then, he, Zedd—I think it was on April Fools Day—Zedd posted a video of himself actually recording a razor and making a joke song from it, so I guess the rumor reached him, even.”
This contemporary legend was shared by a high-school friend of mine who produces music. I called him to ask if he could think of any folklore from either that professional field or our time in grade school together. As soon as he said it, I remember him also telling me this contemporary legend in his bedroom/studio, when the rumor was just coming out. It seems like the legend arose inside of the online electronic music community, in which my friend participates. “A few years ago” would have been when the subject of the legend, the major producer Zedd, was becoming incredibly popular, so it seems the popularization of this particular story would have been fueled by the insecure jealousy of young people like my friend, hoping to make it big, who felt that Zedd did not put enough effort into his work to deserve the fame he was achieving. Interestingly, this story also incorporates the folkloric tradition of April Fools Day. Zedd’s acknowledgement of the legend’s existence suggests it must have become quite widespread through the internet, and likely helped perpetuate it further, because he chose to neither confirm nor deny it, preserving the uncertainty necessary for a legend to persist. I believe this piece of folklore also works as a sign of the times in music. Whereas the legends that certain early rock albums contained secret satanic messages obviously reflected the cultural discomfort with the rise of that new genre, this legend quite directly addresses concerns over the ambiguity of electronically produced music, in which you never know if sounds are ‘real’ or synthesized.