Traveler is a one-man electronic music band comprised of the American producer Zander Tron. Hailing from Santa Barbra, California, this young talent has graced the stages of EDC, Burning Man, and Beyond Wonderland. However, his DJ moniker “Zander” is only a part of who he is.
Traveler is a producer with the melodic finesse that captivates his fans and fellow artists. OneEDM had the opportunity to talk with the West Coast musician as he shares his makings of becoming a respected and popular festival veteran.
OneEDM: You have opened for some stellar electronic music talent. What do you pull from each to help Traveler grow as an artist and musician?
Traveler: Well, when I find out who I am going to open for, I typically try to put together a set of original music that caters to that artist. Something that is not too heavy or too commercial within their sound. What I take out of it is, that I make music for those shows which then inspires me to make music in different avenues.
The more diverse the artist, the more diverse I can be. On a side note, I would like to say how fortunate I am to be able to play those shows. The reason I get those bookings is that they are mostly in the Central Coast and Santa Barbara, which is my hometown.
You have performed at some big name stages and festivals during the span of your career. Do you ever become numb to it? Or is it still a jaw-dropper when you book a big show?
That is always a jaw-dropper and I am always pumped when I land those shows. It as always different, every single time I play there are always unique challenges. I never get nervous, but I get super anxious, and I make sure I’ am always super prepared. If I am going to play an hour I will have 60-80 songs I can select from and take it as it comes.
How important is it to you to build good relationships with other artists in this industry?
It is important to build relationships with other artists, but it is not something I go out of my way for. I am really just focused on my own thing. Obviously, the people I admire, it feels good to get their support. I have been so blessed to have support from all of these underground artists in the Burning Man community.
I am also really happy with the artists that I know. However, I am not out there trying to make new friends at every show. I appreciate it more when it happens naturally. It is cool to get to know people organically.
What was it about your Black Rock City trip that ignited your musical journey back in 2009?
Wow. So I went out there to go see Armin Van Buuren as this little virgin rave child and came back as a psychedelic hippie-raver. It changed my style as well as my taste. I was into electro and trance and out there, but then I was exposed to bass music.
I could not believe all the artists that I never heard of, so I started researching all these underground Burning Man artists and it was all I wanted to do from then on. Before the trip I was a DJ, after the trip I became a producer. I stopped Djing for a year or two because all I wanted to do was original music.
In 2011, I played after Emancipator at Burning Man and I played all original music for the first time. I remember looking in the crowd and seeing other artists. I was like “Oh my god they are here for my set”, which was one of the most gratifying moments for me as a producer.
You and Vowerk have a great track together titled “Go with me”. Would you say stepping out of your normal sound and approach to music is a positive thing?
Totally. Every time you step out of what you are used to and try something different, it just makes you a better artist. I actually have a lot more commercial stuff I write and have, I just do not release it, but I guess now maybe it is time. I try to always write music that has a solid song structure to it but also takes elements of the underground culture to try to make some kind of a hybrid.
The Vowerk track was based on my original writing so the commercial aspect is what he did. The vocal, the arrangement, and the sound design. Martin has a crazy good ear for making stuff suited for radio and all together it was a great experience for me.
Please talk about “Outside In Equinox”, your own festival you are throwing with your label this September?
“Outside in Equinox” is my festival concept that has been years in the making. I co-founded a festival with my production company about seven years ago called “Lucidity Festival”. I left the production company about three years ago to focus on music and start my label.
Now, I get to finally throw a festival that has been in the works and running in my mind for quite some time. It is going to be in Santa Barba on September 21-23. The 22nd is the actual equinox and the exact time summer changes to fall, and the festival is going to be representative of that.
There is going to be a lot of different types of music and no other festival at that time will have as of eclectic of a lineup, as beautiful a camping ground, an intimate setting, and as many local and west coast residents that are representing their communities. There will be an element of technology that we are bringing to the table, health & wellness, and tons more interesting amenities.
What are the differences between Zander and Traveler? Can there be one without the other? Or is it like the yin and yang within expressed through music?
I think that they both need to exist in order for me to be happy as an individual and as an artist. I can not always play what I make and I cannot always make what I want to play. For example, two years ago at EDC I played an Art Car set. I played really heavy psy-trance and fast bass-house. Quite frankly, I do not have the appetite to sit in front of my speakers and make two hours of original blow-your-head-off banger music. I would lose it.
As far as the differences, Traveler is all original music that is eclectic melodic and filled with chord progressions that is tangible and sensible. Zander is all open format and I will play whatever suits the booking. From top 40 to hip-hop to house. But it is all good. As Zander, I get to play all my favorite hip-hop tracks. But as Traveler, I get to play all of my original work.
Do you feel artists in this business run into the problem of compromising their art and sound for the sake of getting it out there?
Yes, it is very apparent. Artists get big off of being unique and original. But once they see they can be even bigger, they take their sound and make it less original and end up all sounding the same. I have been an underground act now for eight years and I am growing within my community and not sacrificing my sound.
You have to keep your integrity as an artist because fans can cut through that crap. When you see an act that is really authentic, it resonates. It is all about energy.
Please tell us about your latest release “Moruga”?
“Moruga” was written about a year ago with one of my friends Peitzke. He did a bulk of the writing and then I produced it out and took it over as a Traveler track. Peitzke is a great guy and we have a good relationship and help each other out on tracks.
I think everybody needs friends like that in the industry who will A&R you properly and keep it real. But back to “Moruga”, it has a melodic techno-beat with an uplifting vibe. The entire track is based on chord progression with a moving bass line. It came out from Outside in Movement, my label.
On one of your social media posts, the caption reads, “Traveler, a musical journey created to inspire a positive way of life”. How do you stay in a positive frame of mind when being surrounded by new people nearly every day who do not always have positive energy?
It is so difficult as an artist. We all go through this cycle of where you question yourself, “Do I suck? Am I good?” You go through this rollercoaster. I believe everyone needs a creative outlet. Creation pushes and advances society. It expands everything. I try not to spin music with profanity because it is negative, and I also make music in 432Hz which is sound healing.
Was this always a vision for you?
I never really imagined myself as an artist. It kind of just happened. I always played music and growing up I played tons of different instruments. When I really started to produce my own music, I took on this artists identity. But all in all, the artist lifestyle chose me.