Hear ‘KaiZen,‘ the second album from Canadian-based artist Zacarias. His ability to channel the fluctuating experiences he went through the pandemic on this material is quite impressive. He packages all his emotions into mellow and groovy RnB tunes, which opens the door for you to feel what he sings. Likewise, lyrics have proved him as a musical force on the rise. Learn more by reading this exclusive interview.
1 – Thanks for your time. Did the lockdown change your stance on making music?
Yes. Before, I really enjoyed visiting friends and collaborators when working on new music. But I think I’ve gotten somewhat used to passing around ideas on Zoom or WhatsApp. I definitely don’t think I have slowed down, but it is weird and it took some time to find my groove.
2 – How did you come up with the idea to name your new album ‘KaiZen’?
The name ‘KaiZen’ comes from the Japanese words “kai 改 (change)” and “zen 善 (good)”, which means “good change” or in modern terms “continuous improvement”. That word in Japanese comes up in my mind every so often and I guess you could say it found a permanent home.
3 – What was it inspired by?
2020 for me marks a year of change. Literally, figuratively, mentally, spiritually. I had recently become a father in 2019. And after a few months going into 2020, I lost my day job. Many of my friends and family were suffering from the pandemic. And the same with me. I lost people to the pandemic. It was tough. And even despite this, I didn’t stop writing. Instead of slowing down, I challenged myself to release a song a week. Because of this tight creative space, I started to just go with ideas that I would’ve otherwise said no to just because I had to get music out. I even started collaborating with new friends. Eventually, I ended the challenge mid-year and came up with a lot of stuff. Some went to collaborators to release, and the rest stayed with me. I noticed a decent amount of songs I had were all about change and dealing with it. They were, kind of, ultimately about good changes. Improvements. So, I thought this collection of songs represent MY improvements. My changes for good.
4 – From start to finish, how long was the process to record this material?
About two years. Much of the music was written, produced, and recorded in late 2019-2020, but some older material sprang to mind and became part of the album too.
5 – Did you experiment with new music elements on this album that you haven’t tried before?
I wrote to beats, which I rarely do. I normally produce or co-produce. This time around, I really let the emotions and circumstances influence the music and the songs. I would hand-drum and sing a new song idea in my car or in the shower or with a guitar while babysitting my kid, then the next thing you know I’m recording those at my studio. Before COVID, my friends and I would try writing, recording, and mixing demos in less than 30 minutes because I was a father. The recording and writing process really differed from that of my previous album, ‘Manilaman,’ where I really had all the time in the world. Whereas with this project, time was of the essence, for the most part. And I really worked with what I had.
6 – Do you consider songwriting as something personal? Tell us more about the lyrics on ‘KaiZen’.
Songwriting is definitely personal, in the sense that it goes deep within me and makes me feel or think very critically. I do write about my reality or my past, but I also write about things that didn’t really happen to me, but strikes me as real as reality. Like this one song “Memories” is very very personal to me because it’s a heartbreaking experience, but it never happened…to me. Or “Zodiac” isn’t something I would do these days, but I feel strongly about if and when I would be attracted to someone. The song “Louisiana” was all in my head! But “Little Sunshine” is a song about being a parent. “The Moon” is a song for my wife. “Who’s To Say” is about the 2020 political events. “I Wanna Love You” is about my teenage years. The lyrics all point to a theme that I want people to encounter and experience and that’s what I think KaiZen does.
That’s a really tough question. I love all of them. Songs are like children to me… they all need love and attention. But if I were to rephrase that question and say which song is doing the best for me? It would have to be “The Moon.” It’s an older song that’s made its way to this project and I’m so happy and proud to see it here.
8 – Do you have plans to drop a music video?
For this project, I did drop a music video for “Why Did You.” There aren’t any visuals planned at the moment… but you never know what might show up online. ?
9 – What about a virtual concert?
I’ve tried Twitch Music and I do honestly want to give it another try. It’s hard for me because I love giving the audience an intimate and personal experience. And sometimes the highest resolution screens and the highest quality of audio just won’t do. But I am going to try again. 2021 marks the year!
10 – What are you looking forward to in 2021?
Growing with my family in love and wisdom. As a lifelong learner, I look forward to learning more. I’m looking forward to the new music artists will release. I look forward to the next chapter in my music career and for more people to discover me.