German DJ-producer Zedd is riding high off the success of his hit single "Clarity," but he has an even bigger trick up his sleeve: A handful of tracks he worked on for Lady Gaga's next album, ARTPOP. "I'm really, really excited for people to hear what we came up with," Zedd tells Rolling Stone. "I just really can't imagine they would not like it, to just say it straight up. I think the stuff we've made is pretty fucking cool."
The producer says he and Gaga have finished "around five or six" potential tracks for the follow-up to 2011's Born This Way, which is expected out later this year. "There's obviously more ideas and half-finished songs, but I'm not sure what she will want to put on the album," he adds. "That is all her decision."
Zedd first met his Interscope labelmate at a London event in 2011, after label chief Jimmy Iovine suggested they link up. "We had, like, one minute to talk, and it was onstage while everyone was taking pictures and being really loud. She just said, 'Let's make music.'" Zedd promptly returned to his studio and put together a track that he thought she might like. "My manager played it for her," he recalls, "and she immediately called Jimmy and said, 'I want this guy to produce my album.'"
In the spring of 2012, Zedd opened for Gaga on the Asian leg of her Born This Way Ball tour. They started working together on new material during the tour, and followed up with a couple more weeks in a proper studio. Working with Gaga, Zedd was impressed by the pop star's confident, free-wheeling creative style. "It's amazing, because she does not have to please anyone, and she is who she is," he says. "Her first idea of how we should approach the music was just to be completely open – nothing is too crazy. Whatever is dope is dope. We do whatever we want, and we don't have to make a song that's 3 minutes and 30 seconds just to fit the radio."
Although Zedd is best known for glossy, Top 40-friendly electro beats, he says that isn't necessarily an indication of where Gaga is going with her new music. "We didn't try to make an EDM album – but, at the same time, we didn't try not to make an EDM album," he says. "I've done a lot of stuff that's really outside of what I usually do. There was one song that started from her just giving me, like, 10 words to describe an emotion, and then I had to make this into music. It's been a very experimental way of approaching music."