ZAYDE WØLF, the musical alter ego of Dustin Burnett, didn’t take a break after releasing his album, Modern Alchemy, before dropping a new single, “Cold-Blooded.” Not only has it topped charts within days of its release, but the alternative song has also been slated as the new theme song for the Chicago Cubs.
Outside of making music, Burnett directs and produces his own music videos, and doubles as an entrepreneur. As the co-owner of a drum company called That Sound that provides live drum samples, Burnett is passionate about the song-writing process and understands how crucial inspiration is.
I sat down with the artist to learn more about “Cold-Blooded” and his ongoing projects.
Ariel Zedric: What’s the significance behind your artist name, ‘ZAYDE WØLF’?
Dustin Burnett: A few years ago, my wife and I were working on baby names. I threw in the name “Zayde Wolffe” as a name for a boy. My wife was NOT even gonna be chill about a child named that! So, luckily for all of us, it was a baby girl, and I kept the name for a while. It wasn’t until I was working on some new music, and a song called “Built for This Time” that I took the name and “ZAYDE WØLF” was born.
Tell me about the inspiration behind your newest single, “Cold-Blooded”.
Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, and Game of Thrones. A lot of the song inspiration comes from how hard it is to make a comeback and do something great. The song is about the focus, mentality, and grittiness that it takes to rise up.
How is it similar to your album, Modern Alchemy? How is it different?
I’m always trying to be true to what I feel like those big Zayde anthem songs should sound like, but I’m also always trying to push the boundaries on what they could be. The verses in this song are more hip-hop leaning than most songs I’ve done.
Many of your songs have been featured on different media platforms, from being in YouTube videos to TV shows. If you could pick any movie for “Cold-Blooded” to be featured in, what would it be?
It would be cool to have “Cold-Blooded” in some kind of rad new action film, or it would also be cool to have it used in a comedy. Can you imagine some funny scene but it has “Cold-Blooded” playing in it!
As a music producer as well, walk me through your creative thought process when preparing to make music.
Most of the time song ideas come to me when I’m not in the studio. I always have my phone near the shower or while I’m driving, so I can record those ideas. I might get a title or a hook at any moment and I try to write them down when I can.
You also double as a businessman! Do you have any big plans for the future of That Sound that you can share?
In That Sound, our goal is to always make cool drum samples and beats that inspire someone to write a new song. We’ve got a few new libraries we are working on right now, but I’ve also been trying to juggle all the momenta that Zayde Wolf is making! It’s a lot of fun to have my hands in a few different business spaces
Explain the personal and professional struggles you’ve encountered in the music industry thus far. How have they molded you?
It’s impossible to predict where struggle might end and where success might take over. Most of the time it isn’t how you thought it would happen.
I grew up in a very small town and my family didn’t have a lot of money. My parents and I would put instruments in lay-a-way in order to pay for them. After a while, we had acquired drums, guitars, and turned our garage into a hangout band room. I thought I would be an immediate star.
Plot twist, I wasn’t. I struggled hard, made dumb choices, let the worst get to me.
Now I write about all of that stuff in the songs. Sometimes, it’s almost like I’m just writing to the younger me.
Have you ever doubted your choice to pursue music? If so, what’s kept you going?
Before I moved to Nashville, I almost quit music and took a job at a chemical plant. It was a good job with a steady salary. At the time, I thought it would be a good idea to leave the struggles of trying to make music. I got a call one night from the guy who was helping me get the job. He had been working there for years. He told me, that I should move to Nashville as I had talked about, and take a chance there for a few years. He said that this job would always be here if I wanted it.
He died a couple of years ago, but I got to tell him thanks before he passed. I’m so glad I took his advice to not quit on music.
Tell me about a moment in your career that has left you extremely proud.
This past year I started my own record label, and one of the artist I signed called VELLEV got his first music license. It was really amazing to see that happen.
Who is your biggest inspiration? Why?
It’s hard to say. I have a lot of people who I have looked up to, but I think my biggest inspiration is “failure.” I think I just didn’t have a choice to fail. I had to figure out a way to make it all work. And that is still a driver to me.
Do you have any advice for aspiring artists in the field? How has your success story panned out?
Always be true to yourself and the music you want to make. Be loyal and work hard at your craft. You might have to write 1000 songs before you write one that is any good, but that’s ok, it’s what you signed up for!
Any last thoughts?
Feature Image Credit Sean Hagwell, Courtesy of Zayde Wolf