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BTD Interviews Musical Artist Zale

Written by on June 23, 2024

BTD Interviews Musical Artist, Zale

Let’s set the tone right now for our audience, how would you describe your music?

Free. Firstly, my music moves through many different genres – Reggae, Dancehall, Hip Hop, RnB, Jazz, Afrobeats. To me, my music is not confined to any particular genre or system. You’ll hear singing, rapping, instrumentals, chill, hype, the whole spectrum. You’ll also notice that in my lyrics, there’s always an undertone of freedom and a reminder to explore and be yourself.

I would like to know what sparked your interest in music, and how did you develop your unique blend of genres? 

I grew up in Jamaica which has a rich culture of music and dance. I grew up with music all around – parties and dances, going to drum circles in Spanish Town, my mom blasting oldies while cleaning on a Sunday, coming home from school to watch BET, MTV or RETV. And my mom got me a keyboard and a guitar when I was a kid, which is what started my interest in instruments. I was blessed in high school to have friends that played instruments, and they got me into genres like blues, rock and metal. Then I went to college in Vermont, which exposed me to more genres like indie folk, bluegrass, EDM and even afrobeats from my African friends. I love music and I like novelty. So I am always searching for new music to listen to. That shapes the music I create as well.

I see you have lots of talents. That must keep you very busy 😊. So how do you balance the different aspects of your music-making process – singing, rapping, instrumentalism, and production?

It’s challenging sometimes having many different pursuits and skills that I want to improve. But the truth is I wouldn’t feel complete if I only did one of them. So I use that as my compass – when I feel like something is missing it might be that I haven’t been singing enough, for example, so I’ll scratch that itch. I just follow the passion and try not to overthink it too much.

Who are your musical influences?

So many! Bob Marley, Damian Marley, Beyoncé, Usher, Michael Jackson, John Mayer, J. Cole, Erykah Badu, Ed Sheeran, Jacob Collier, FKJ, B.B. King, Queen.

Now that our audience has gotten to know you a little bit better, let’s talk about your two songs that we have in our possession, “Air” and “Sunday”. Two very nice sounding tracks I might add. Can you tell us about the significance of “Sunday” and “Air,” ? What inspired these tracks? Which is your favorite of the two and why?

Thank you!

I wrote Air for someone I was in love with at the time. It’s a song about connection, love, trust and comfort. She was a person that did a lot and took care of a lot of people. I wanted her to know that I saw her and that she could let her guard down with me and be the one that’s taken care of.

Sunday is also about love and connection, with the added theme of travel and exploration. I’m trying to paint the picture of taking a spontaneous trip of someone you love and embracing the freedom of life! We explore the world and explore each other.

Oh man it’s so hard to choose a favorite. I can’t do it!

Do you have any specific themes or messages that you aim for to convey through your lyrics?

Yes. As I mentioned, a big part of my message is freedom – freedom to be yourself, to explore your curiosities, to create, to live! I also want to spread love. Love for each other; love for humanity. And inner strength. I want to empower people through my songs.

What do you hope the listeners take away from your music, and how do you want to make them feel?

I want them to feel love. I want them to feel free. I want them to feel powerful. I want my music to make people feel brave enough to be vulnerable and strong enough to take control of their own destiny.

You mentioned wanting your lyrics and sounds to build community – can you elaborate on what that means to you, and how you hope your music brings people together?

Yes, firstly I want my songs to inspire people to be themselves and not fit into external expectations. Through that, I hope that people who listen to my music, encourage each other to do that and maybe that will breed pockets of communities in which people are accepting and encouraging and help one another to go after their dreams.

On your song “Air” I hear a background singer. Is this someone you collaborated with? Do you collaborate with other artists? Speaking of collaboration, what artist would you love to collaborate with either past or future?

Actually that other vocal is also me! But the first song I released on Spotify, called Darkling Thrush, was a collaboration with my friend Rae on the chorus with me and my friend Kailash on the flute. They really made it a beautiful song. And for my latest song, Journey, I used a beat made by a Jamaican producer, Sonovic. Very talented producer. I’ve never met him but I’m a fan. So far I haven’t done as many collaborations as I’d like but that is a focus for me moving forward. I hope to collaborate with artists from all over the world. All those people I listed as my influences are on my collaboration bucket list. But the list is much much longer!

I know as an artist, there are always ups and downs, challenges. What are some of the challenges that you’ve faced as an artist, and how have you overcome them?

A challenge I’ve faced is imposter syndrome – thinking I’m not as good as some of the other extremely talented musicians around me, especially instrumentalists and vocalists. This sometimes creates a fear of putting myself out there. But that limits my growth. So I have this thing now that if I feel scared to do something, it means I have to do it! Growth happens outside of the comfort zone. And I’m really lucky to be around such talented people – it pushes me. And for a confidence boost, I lean on my strengths – my creativity and my writing.

If I was in the studio while you are getting ready to record a new track, what would I see? Would it be quiet, straight to business? Perhaps some fun telling jokes? Take us into your world and share what that might look like.

Lots of dancing, vibing, freestyling and fun! I like to freestyle to experiment with ideas, especially if the song is at an early stage. And if we lay down an instrumental that’s just fire, I don’t fight the urge to let it move me to dance and freestyle and take videos and enjoy the process. But when it comes time to lay down the final vocals, it can get more serious – doing multiple takes and listening critically for imperfections. The hours can be long but the time flies by.

Are there any new projects or collaborations on the horizon that you’re excited about?

Yes! I’m excited about my next few releases. You can expect a few more singles from me in 2024 and an album in 2025, with many collaborations with artists from different places around the world!

One last question before we close, by the way, it’s been a pleasure getting to know you. The question is, what can you tell our BTD Radio listeners about you that you have never shared before on any other interview?

It’s been such a pleasure, thank you for having me! Wow! Well one thing the music community may not know is that I also write software. And I haven’t announced this publicly yet but my team is working on a platform which will help independent musicians and creators to amplify their business efforts. It’s still in the works but I believe it will change the game and I’m very excited about it! We plan to launch next year. 🙂

Thank you so much for chatting with me. You guys are doing great things and you ask insightful questions. I’m grateful for the platform to tell my story. Much love to the BTD team!

– Zale

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