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.
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Exclusive Interview: Jenna x On Debut Single “When The Party’s Over..”
Jenna x emerges in 2021 with “When The Party’s Over..” which is an incredible debut single that plays equally as well at the party, at the afterparty, or the next morning. Definitely, the best asset is her melodious singing voice. Scroll down and learn more in this exclusive interview.
1 — First of all, how would you describe your sound?
My sound is constantly evolving within Pop, but it’s more cinematic. I envision each of my songs as a scene from a film and try to capture everything that would be there—the temperature of the sunlight, the scent in the air, the city sounds, and the words that are being spoken.
2 — Why did you pick “When The Party’s Over..” as your debut single?
It was the exact type of sound and message that I wanted to release as my debut single. I also think that it’s a good representation of me as an artist because it’s a song that I really tried to be honest with myself about, as well as the other parts of myself that I am revealing, like my inner thoughts, emotions, and philosophies.
3 — Is this song based on a personal experience?
Yes! The party in my song is both literal and figurative—I, like anyone else, have gone to a party or a large gathering just to fill the emptiness I was feeling inside, only to leave with a greater sense of loneliness. I’ve also felt like I have nowhere to go emotionally, which is the figurative part of the song.
4 — What’s your favorite line from it? Why?
The entire chorus is my favorite part, especially the “will there be anyone to watch me die / someone just shows me how to cry” part. I think they really capture the essence of the song and are the parts where I am the most direct with what I want to say. The second half of the chorus is almost like a cry for help you can’t ever let out.
For me, they usually come together but for this song, the lyrics came first. I had a clear idea of what I wanted the song to be about lyrically and then used the melody to fill in the blanks.
6 — Given the situation the world is in at the moment, do you miss partying?
I’m not the type to usually enjoy large parties, but I do really miss gatherings with my closest friends. But who knows—by the time this is all over I might be dying to go to a huge party.
7 — What makes you different from other singers?
I like to think of my music as very visual—I always try to paint a picture with my music and focus on what the music is painting. Each sound is like a color I use to paint the song, and the way they are delivered are the brushstrokes.
I think I had a lot of phases where I was into different types of music and different artists. I grew up listening to singer-songwriters like Stevie Wonder and The Beatles. I was always fascinated with how brilliant and revolutionary their melodies and lyrics were. Later in my teens, I had A Great Big World’s albums on repeat. A part of me is also in love with classical composers, like Elgar and Rachmaninoff. The second movement of Elgar’s Serenade for Strings is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I’ve ever heard.
9 — When you’re not at the studio, how do you usually spend your time?
Usually prepping for studio time! But if I’m not working on music, I’ll watch movies or binge a show. Right now I’m on season 4 of Criminal Minds, and it’s been sucking me in. I’ve also been really busy these days with my new release and everything that goes along with it, but I’ll still find time to video chat with my friends and listen to my favorite albums on repeat.
10 — What are your plans for the upcoming months?
Working! I have an EP coming out in February, so I’m prepping for the release and other music that I’ll release during this year. The upcoming EP is part two of the story of loneliness I started telling with “When The Party’s Over..” and the more colorful, visual part of the story, so I’ll be working a lot on perfecting that. I also hope to be wherever I can be with my music, doing whatever I can to express myself through it.
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Dar.Ra Talks Latest Single And Confirms New Album In 2021 — Interview
Following the release of his latest single “Rise Like The Sun” along with its proper EP, Dar.Ra also plans to drop a new album in 2021. ‘Ballads For The Down-Trodden’ has been confirmed to be out by the end of January. In this exclusive interview, the British artist talks about the recent single, the most important details on the upcoming album, but also his various side projects, which include his own radio show.
1 – Can you reveal to us the name of your upcoming album?
I have two new projects out, a single called “Rise Like The Sun” with 6 killer remixes. One from Columbia and one from Sri Lanka from a killer Producer called Vidula who did the “Lights” remix from the new kinda normal album.
I did the other mixes which have a tribal House feel and an Ambient 6 am Chill Out mix. All mixes have a Sunshine title, from UK Sunshine mix, Indian Sun mix to Australian, Indonesian, USA, and Columbian mix. It’s all about not being dictated too in your time here and “Rising Like The Sun” every day of your life.
The other project is more of an alias back vibe and is a compilation of slower more Ballad type songs that I have had released over the years. I am doing a radio show called The Kusha Deep Radio show which is going out around the world through various Radio outlets and I did this show which featured some of the laid-back tracks I’ve done and I thought it would make a great album of torchlight songs. The album is 12 tracks long and is titled ‘Ballads For The Down-Trodden’ and is out later this month.
I am also working on a new album of songs for the spring with a new single planned for the first quarter of the year release.
2 – Were there specific things that helped you get creative?
I’m always inspired by life, it’s hard not to be unless you shut off from what’s going on around you. Even in the middle of a global pandemic, I had two singles out “Stand Up For The Heroes”, “Rise Like The Sun” and the ‘Whisky n Honey’ EP plus two remixes out. I also started doing a new project which is now syndicated around the world called The Kusha Deep Radio Show, which started off playing tracks that I had out over the past 25 years.
I also started doing a TV show with a Washington DC-based journalist MJ Godfrey which is a cultural review show looking at things happening in the UK and the USA. I’ve also written the next album to follow up on 2019’s ‘New Kinda Normal’. If you stay open to ideas and let them flow it’s a natural vibe for staying creative.
3 – Are you discovering new sounds on this new record?
I explore different sounds all the time, I’m getting known for merging styles and creating new hybrids like Rock Step a vibe that featured on the ‘New Kinda Normal’ album which mixed the elements of Rock and EDM together which you can feel on tracks like “Nightstepper,” “The Beat” and “Heart Shape Pill.” There’s also a genre called Gothic Soul which you can hear on tracks like “The Lights” and “Whisky n Honey.” I was feeling the Latin vibe on “Rise Like The Sun.”
I wanted something uplifting that holds no allegiance to what’s happening in the charts but has a classic Santana vibe mixed with that Gothic style vocal.
The actual record itself is truly global, the mixes and mastering were done all over the world, the drums recorded in Italy, the Horns in Portugal, the rest in the UK. I love that about the technology vibe that you can work with people everywhere now.
4 – How many tracks will there be on the album?
The album ‘Ballads For The Down-Trodden’ has 12 tracks and “Rise Like The Sun” single has 6 mixes on it. The new album will have around 12 tracks on it as well, value for money I say!
5 – What themes will the new album explore?
The new album has some wide themes such as loyalty on a track called “No Time For Tears” which has a cool Rock vibe about it. There’s a track about power struggles with relationships on “Don’t Make Me Beg.” There’s a track about migrants looking for a safe place to call home on “Renegade Serenade.” At the moment, it’s looking very love-oriented in one way or another.
6 – Did you collaborate with other artists?
I do work with other artists when the vibe is right. I’m doing a track with a producer called KDX in the UK, a Deep House kinda groove.
7 – What makes your latest single “Rise Like The Sun” special to listeners?
It’s honest, it’s real and it’s played with passion.
8 – What exciting projects can we expect from your label Kusha Deep Records?
All the above and more.
9 – Can you tell us more about your 2021 tour?
We were supposed to be doing a US tour last year, not sure how things will pan out this year but would be good to get out on the road again for a bit.
10 – The global pandemic forced the music industry to try innovative things. What do you think about private live zoom concerts?
I played Rock the Lockdown back in May and we had a few thousand people all rocking out to the set. I also did a US online tour in the summer which broadcast shows into the venues from my studio. I’ve been doing lots of interviews from Brazil to America, Australia, and the UK online which is ace as you don’t have to drive anywhere. Less hit on the climate and you can hit so many more people with a live stream if it’s set up properly.
Nothing will take the place of a jam in front of people, but I think the live stream is here to say alongside the live gig. I love technology though so it’s all good in my book. Be safe out there and looking forward to partying with you all soon!
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Quickfire Interview With: SOUNDQ
Hailing from Krakow, the cultural capital of Poland, Kuba Kubica aka SOUNDQ carries the flag of innovation when it comes to producing electronic music. The interview below is very clear and gives you a deep insight into his art. Scroll down to read his answers.
1 – You’ve been composing songs since…
Year 2000. The year when computer records got screwed by the two 0s was the year when I started programming a dodgy Korg workstation.
2 – You got involved in the music realm because…
I found it liberating not to have to depict anything. To be able to express what I feel without saying or drawing what it was.
3 – Your sound is…
As incomplete as I am. There’s always at least one element causing some imbalance. You’re never quite sure if it all won’t fall apart.
4 – Your biggest inspiration is…
I am most creative when I’m deadbeat and stressed out. So, in a way, pressure inspires me – or rather makes my creative juices flow faster.
5 – People should listen to your new track “Bad Lot” because…
It offers a glimpse into a complete world – fatalistic, sexy, and dangerous.
6 – If you want to know who SOUNDQ is, listen to the track…
“Bad Lot.” And if you’ve heard it already, give “This Heart” a spin.
7 –Your most memorable career moment so far has been…
Crossing the Ural Mountains in -30 degrees Celsius to play a death metal gig in Jekaterynburg.
8 – Your dream is…
Long forgotten the moment I wake up.
9 – Your next release is called…
“Disco Turista Antifascista.”
That’s a tough one. I’ll go with “My Kingdom” by Future Sound of London.
11 – Your favourite place to write songs is…
I love coming up with ideas when I’m traveling. Not a lot of occasions for that in 2020 though.
12 – If you weren’t an artist, you’d probably be…
An Instagram influencer pretending he’s a XIXth Century French flaneur. All dressed in epoch clothes doing product placement for travel gear and shit.
13 – You’ll only stop making music if…
I don’t think I have it in me to stop.
14 – In a few years, you want to be…
Able to go out without a mask, play gigs, laugh together with large groups of people. Travel to big cities and get lost wandering through them.
15 – What are you doing for the rest of the day?
It’s evening already, so I’m going to be busy writing music till late.
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