With innate talent and good training, Zaritza is an artist to watch out for. Influenced by classical Russian composers and contemporary European electronic producers, her pop music links the new with the old. Scroll down to discover much more about her latest single “Slot Machine”.
1 — First of all, why did you decide to make music in America and not in Russia?
Despite growing up in a very isolated village geographically, I was lucky to be exposed to a variety of music that enriched my life and influenced my own creativity. Much of the music was, of course, Russian, including traditional folk music and the great Russian classical composers — Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Glinka and, by far my favorite of all classical composers, Rachmaninoff. In addition, my father introduced me to American/British pop, rock n’ roll music, ranging from the Beatles to Motown to my all-time favorite rock band, Queen. This music from “the West” was so magnetic; it opened up an entirely different world of musical possibilities for me and led me to focus on pop/rock and later electronic music as an artist in my own right. So when I first came to America as a teenager, I immediately felt energized and inspired to explore the music scene here without compromising my values and my authenticity! I first arrived in America from Russia many years ago, I was extremely fortunate to be introduced to and spend a little time with one of my musical heroes, the legendary songwriter, performer and producer Nile Rodgers, who generously gave me musical and career advice that continues to help me to this day.
2 — What’s something you miss about your homeland?
Aside from my family who is now spending more time with me here in the US, I miss Russian nature – seeing miles of beautiful fields, birch trees, getting lost while mushroom picking, all the simple but often magical things and surroundings of suburban Russia.
3 — Are you musically trained or self-taught?
My arts education, on scholarships, included nine years of both dance school and music school, where I trained in my greatest passion, classical piano. Every year I competed in regional dance and piano competitions, frequently placing first. At age 15, I started composing my own music, combining Russian classical with modern forms popular with my generation. After immigrating to the US, I took piano, music theory and musical theater courses at Rhode Island College, and later studied voice with Kathryn LaBouff, chairperson of the voice department at the Juilliard School.
I would hope that my audience connects to my music in their own individual way, finding some reflection of their feelings, desires, experiences or struggles in my lyrics or at least in the tapestry of sounds each tune shows. I love hearing when people find their own meaning to my lyrics and interpret them through their prism of emotions.
5 — What was the creative process behind your new song “Slot Machine”?
I wrote the initial idea on piano (my most common way of writing demo ideas) and then I took it to my friend Chris – collaborator of my new music, a guitar player in all of my live performances in last two years and just an incredible musician overall – and we’ve worked on producing the song together and experimenting with different sounds for a few months. Then, I finished remaining lyrics with my other collaborator/producer and long-term friend Steve who has helped me bring more wild and daring ideas out of me and put the last touches to the song.
6 — What is the deep meaning of a “Slot Machine”?
The title is obviously a play of words, referring to gambling, feeling lucky and free to experience pleasures and deepest desires, even in one night. The concept of the song was originally about exploring sexual fantasies but then it formed into a stronger statement of female sexual confidence, desires, and expression.
7 — Is there any funny anecdote while you were filming the video?
The video shoot was quite ambitious with different scenes involved that all had be done in one night, almost 14 hours of non-stop setting and shooting, so it was very intense and dramatic at times. But the most challenging and funny experience of all was a club dance scene where I had to wear a very heavy costume with chains and belts attached to it, plus the boots! Through sweat and struggle, I was dancing for hours and cursing at myself for creating such crazy wardrobe ideas 🙂
I do support feminism in many ways that are essential for women to function freely without any constrains and additional challenges that men don’t often face. With “Slot Machine”, I express my desire for women to be less oppressed with regard to their sexuality, to always have a choice and power. I’ve always believed that feminism is about embracing female sexuality and celebrating it, as opposed to denigrating sexually aware and empowered women.
9 — What can we expect from Zarita in the next months?
I am currently in the production of my next EP, which has even more focus on my electro-pop influences and a strong emphasis on the visual aspect for my live performance – including choreography, dancers and video elements. I also am planning on a small UK/European tour this coming Spring which might even take me to my native country, Russia!
10 — Finally, how much have you grown up as an artist through the years?
As you always wish to evolve as a human, I certainly hope to grow as an artist as well! Through pain and happiness, disappointments and inspirations, loss and gain, self-criticism and self-praise, you learn more and more about yourself which is essential to artistic growth!
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Exclusive Interview: Paul Mayson Delves Into His Debut Album ‘One Life’
Paul Mayson‘s first-ever album, ‘One Life,’ is like a special mix of his love for House music, blended with different kinds of sounds and cool collaborations from artists all over the world. You definitely don’t want to miss this interview!
1 — With the release of your debut album ‘One Life,’ what are your expectations for how listeners will connect with the music?
My goal was to showcase my story and my sound. And for it to be an uplifting, positive, and summery album. Hopefully, it feels like that! It’s a collection of songs made at the moment, to make you feel happy and free. It’s about embracing life, the good things and the bad. And about doing what makes you happy.
2 — You’ve teamed up with a diverse range of international artists on this material. Please let us know how these collaborations came to be.
It was really exciting taking elements from different genres, working with a group of great artists who come from very different backgrounds, and bringing all of these sounds and flavors together on one project. A lot of artists I meet myself, reach out to the people I’m interested in. I often travel abroad to work on music together and do sessions in London or LA. Sometimes collabs can also happen through the label or the publisher, but ultimately it’s great to have an artist-to-artist relationship.
3 – What compelled you to emphasize the themes of life, freedom, and diversity in this album?
I’m very passionate about House music culture and the way it started. Which was all about positivity and celebrating life together. I love that message and think the soulful, feel-good element of House music is what always really attracted me to the genre. And to music in general, including other genres like Soul and RnB.
A few of the songs (like “Tell Me How” and “I Want You”) were basically made during one big jam session. It’s me just trying out completely different sounds, textures, and rhythms and experimenting with live drums, guitars, and whatever I feel like. Letting go of any rules connected to dance music allows for a really fresh approach to the album songs.
6 – How does the artwork complement the album’s concept?
It emphasizes the feel-good element and the overall message of the album. Life is in front of you, it’s there for the taking. You’re in the hallway, step into the light and embrace life.
7 – Will there be another amazing music video like “Have It All,” dropping in the near future?
We released a really cool art piece and visualizer for the album which I’m very excited about!
8 – Given your ambition to push boundaries within the Dance genre, do you think the bunch of producers already out there could make it tough for you to really stand out?
I think individuality is key. Doing something you’re passionate about. Telling your own story. If you go into that process, the outcome will be unique. Not following trends and doing my own thing is what helps me stand out and allows me to be ahead and I try to keep pushing myself.
9 – Among your studio essentials, what’s the item that you consider the cornerstone of your setup?
Quite a lot of my work is digital. I carry my laptop around and can produce and write anywhere with it, whether it’s my home studio, the studio in Amsterdam, a hotel, or even an airport. That’s what makes it flexible and international! Just being able to work anywhere and get the creative process going. At home I also love my Adam A77x monitors and I also use a Prophet synth.
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Exploring “My Friends”: Tobtok Talks Creative Process And More!
In this exclusive interview, Swedish producer Tobtok discusses all the details about his latest single as part of the ongoing countdown to the upcoming ‘My Friends’ EP. This is a collaborative effort with farfetch’d that you definitely shouldn’t overlook.
1 — Congratulations on the release of “My Friends.” Please tell us more about the influences and musical style that shaped this cool track.
Thanks! This tune has taken inspiration from bits and pieces of tracks I’ve been into over the last 10 years, everything from Daft Punk to Fred Again. It contains a lot of micro samples and vocal lines that are in a similar vein as old French House records, but we also wanted to experiment with the current UK rave sound, which we think ended up in a pretty unique and interesting way.
2 — How did you and farfetch’d navigate the creative process together, especially when faced with differing ideas or disagreements?
We were kind of on the same page with most things to be fair. Jerry from farfetch’d is a very creative guy and he loves to bash out new ideas, which worked well for me to develop into full songs. We worked on every track together in my studio and finished them off together. Of course, we had some different ideas about certain things but since none of us had a big ego, we just compromised. I think when you like the same kind of music, you usually think quite alike.
3 — What sets this collaboration apart from your previous singles?
I think this is possibly the strongest single from the EP. It feels catchy and is super simple yet not too boring. It also has Jerry’s voice in it which is unique to any other of our tracks.
4 — Can you share any funny anecdotes about specific moments while crafting “My Friends”?
We have hidden a few wacky voice notes in it as a sort of ambiance. It can be heard in the second verse or whatever you wanna call it. You clearly hear Jerry laughing about something, but I can’t remember what it was.
It’s track no.3 from our ‘My Friends’ EP which has a total of 6 tracks. It was released via Perfect Havoc on 29th September.
6 — What are your emotions when your music receives recognition and praise from other producers in the industry?
It’s always so much fun to get praise from your peers and colleagues. These people live and breathe music and probably hear way more stuff than the average listener, so I guess they tend to be less impressed by music.
Haha most definitely. I started out with French House which evolved into Nu-Disco. I later jumped on the Tropical House train (quite early on in my defense). Left that and tried something cooler with my track “ABER,” and from there, it’s been more of a mix between UK and Deep House.
8 — Is there any specific music genre you’re eager to explore?
Old School Disco and Soul. I’m a big fan of the 70s as a whole, that’s why I’ve bought a few vintage Roland pieces in my studio and a Rhodes Piano.
9 — Considering the global nature of music today, are there any international artists you’d love to collaborate with?
I love Jungle right now, for reasons made quite obvious in the previous question. They’ve mastered this cool retro 70’s/Motown sound and yet managed to make it sound fresh somehow. I’d love to just hang out in the studio with them and see what they do.
10 — As we conclude, do you feel that there’s a certain formula that artists can follow to produce chart-topping hits?
Nowadays, it’s all about doing something that stands out from what everyone else is doing and probably also adding a sprinkle of nostalgia and familiarity into something. A good example is the new Peggy Gou record which is a massive hit that takes inspiration from ATB but puts it in a new and interesting context. It doesn’t hurt to have a massive TikTok following either lol.
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From Drummer To EDM Producer: Kouss Opens Up About “Can’t Go Back”
You must read this interview with Kouss! He used to rock it as a badass drummer in the Stellar Revival band, but now he’s spilling the beans about how he switched things up and got into making electronic dance music (EDM). The spotlight is now on his latest track, “Can’t Go Back.” Learn more here.
1 — Putting your sound into words, how would you convey the mood and sensations that your music evokes to someone unfamiliar with it?
My music aims to be an uplifting and thoughtful blend of Progressive House and Dance-Pop. Even though the music is very dancefloor-friendly, the songwriting is very Pop-forward. I also love mixing live instrumentation with electronic production to create layered recordings. As a drummer, having live elements mesh with the electronic really brings out a unique texture.
2 — Your transition from Rock music with Stellar Revival to EDM is quite remarkable. Can you tell us more about it?
The transition from Rock to EDM is an exciting and natural creative evolution. I’ve always been passionate about electronic music, so finally being able to fully immerse myself in the genre as a producer and songwriter has been fulfilling. My background as a touring Rock drummer also gives me a unique musical sensibility that I try to incorporate into Kouss Records.
3 — As a drummer, you had to adapt to a different genre. How did you translate your rhythmic background into this new realm?
When approaching any genre, especially Dance music, I’m utilizing my background in percussion to create grooves and drum patterns. The drum parts still come from the same creative place whether I’m sitting behind a drum set or drawing with a MIDI controller. I will say that with EDM I find myself focused more on groove and restraint.
4 — In what ways have Illenium, Zedd, and David Guetta played a role in shaping the sound of your new single “Can’t Go Back”?
Illenium, Zedd, and David Guetta definitely influenced the melodic and atmospheric vibes in “Can’t Go Back.” Their music motivates and challenges me to produce massive soundscapes on the highest level. They’re all melodic magicians, and I continue to be inspired by their work. I also feel like I put my own spin on “Can’t Go Back.” It’s almost like the line between EDM and Pop became blurrier on this track.
5 — What’s the story behind the song title?
“Can’t Go Back” is generally about moving forward and not dwelling on the past. For me personally, it’s about evolving as an artist and person.
I was introduced to Anna soon after starting the Kouss project by “Can’t Go Back” co-producer and dear friend Phil Barnes. The second I heard Anna sing I knew I wanted to work with her. She’s an incredible songwriter and an awesome human. It was an organic collaboration that we’re both stoked about. Definitely be on the lookout for more collaborations with Anna in the future!
7 — How do you aim to connect with listeners on an emotional level through this single?
I aim to connect with listeners on an emotional level through the authenticity and musicality of “Can’t Go Back.” It’s about delivering that special feeling to the listener. We crafted this recording from a place of passion as artists. The lyrics are relatable and cathartic, and Anna’s vocals draw you into this sonic world we created. We also tap into some nostalgia with the Big Room House vibe. But overall the goal was to give listeners an authentic musical experience that resonates with them, regardless of what genre they usually listen to.
Yes, “Can’t Go Back” mixes electronic production with live drumming and live guitars. The live instruments give the song a dynamic texture and human feel. Not every Kouss song will have live instruments, but it’s definitely a major part of the debut EP coming in 2024.
9 — Looking ahead, how do you envision your music style evolving?
I want to continue bridging the gap between organic and electronic. Creatively, I think there’s a lot of meat on that bone. I also don’t want to limit myself to a single genre or style. I love all types of music and ultimately hope to develop a sound that draws from those diverse influences and experiences.
10 — Lastly, reflecting on your journey so far, what’s been the most memorable or rewarding moment of your music career?
Working with talented musicians and creators who are excited about my music has been humbling and inspiring. I didn’t expect it, but the reaction to “Can’t Go Back” has been both unexpected and validating. It’s so cool to see the song played in clubs, gyms, and cars. I’m truly fortunate to share my passion for music and connect with listeners who share the same passion.