K.ZIA is that rare artist that blurs the lines, she defies genre and manages to fuse R&B, Soul and Pop music in a truly unique and inspiring way. Born in Brussels and currently based in Berlin, she is very much a citizen of the world.
Her father is from Martinique and her Belgo-Congolese mother the internationally acclaimed Zap Mama. She has lived a life amongst many cultures and has travelled the world of music. She describes herself as Afro-European but to try to put this incredible artist in any kind of box would be a mistake.
I had the honour to ask K.ZIA some questions and I hope her beautiful answers inspire you to seek her out and join her on an amazing journey.
EP: Your new project is called Genesis. There’s an obvious suggestion of beginning, of creation. Does this indicate a move away from your past material or is it more to do with your ongoing voyage of discovery and the beginning of understanding the duality of K.ZIA and ZIA?
K.ZIA: I Wouldn’t say I am actively moving away from the past. The past is a part of me, it’s been the preparation to where I am now. So indeed definitely more of on ongoing voyage and the beginning of a new cycle.
Some people say every seven years your mind, body and spirit transition into a new state.
I am turning 28 this year, it’s the fourth cycle of my life and I truly feel like it’s a new beginning. I say the beginning of “anything” as I have no idea what the future holds for me; it’s exciting.
I feel like a grown (still to evolve) woman now.
I feel like I have a clearer view on my artistry and place as a human on earth.
I have found my life intention, so this is the start of a new path I am walking.
EP: The video introduction to Genesis is beautiful and shows the dichotomy of personality, of sexuality, that rages within so many of us. How do you balance keeping your feet on the ground and your head in the sky, how do you balance the two spirits of a mother spirit and a wild spirit, gentle warmth and burning fire?
K.ZIA: Something I wasn’t ever able to relate to or adapt to, in our western, modern society is having to put everything in boxes, labelled. Humans are much more than just this or that. And while digging deep into myself, I found out that there was more to me than I knew and decided to let all of my parts express themselves instead of trying to round out all my edges to fit in one mood/genre/energy. So how do I let all these things live freely and how do I let both K.ZIA stay grounded and ZIA with her head in the sky ? I guess every moment and situation has it’s best reaction/way to deal with it. Sometimes gentleness will work more than strength, but sometimes a fire will be more efficient than warmth. I believe I have to listen, keep my heart and third eye open to best feel how to move about in this world.
EP: You speak of reconnection. Sometimes if you take somebody’s hand quickly, the hold that you have is adequate but uncomfortable but if you ‘disconnect to reconnect’, let go to get a firmer hold, you find the connection you have is comfortable and firm. Is that how you feel with your music, with your approach to ‘Genesis’.
K.ZIA: Absolutely. Not only with music though but my whole existence. Younger I had fixed views, plans, opinions that had to be unlearnt. I indeed let go, to allow myself the space to have new things enter my mind, and get a better grasp. I hope I’ll find the time and energy to do this several more times in my life as I grow.
But yes, at the end of the day, my music is a translation of my life and mindset so of course it also translates into the music.
EP: The new single, ‘Sanctuary’, speaks about love being the remedy, and hate being the enemy. In the UK at the moment we have had a sad and racist reaction to black English football players missing penalties in the Euros. It was incredible to see the hate met by a wave of love for the players from all over the country. What was the inspiration for the message of love and hope in the lyrics and especially in the mantra at the conclusion of the song?
K.ZIA: Sanctuary’s story was created with two good friends of mine, Lavon and Sedric. I told them I wanted to have a song about a safe space, a place where we are free to be ourselves and together we embrace our differences and celebrate love. I gave them a list of words amongst which was “Sanctuary” and the mantra that you find at the end of the song. They created this beautiful song to which I said “yall really got me” when they first showed me the draft version of the track. The mantra at the end of the song was written a few weeks prior, when I was trying to define what I want to be about as a human and artist. I’ve created my own guidelines and bible with the values I want to constantly refer to and go back to, in order to stay on track. The ultimate goal is to reach a point where I can detach myself fully from narcissistic ego-led emotions and feelings and only move with Gentleness, love and empathy.
EP: On a more general note, who would you say are your musical inspirations? And, given that your very much a citizen of the world, have you found inspiration in many different cultures?
K.ZIA: Very much so, I got a lot of input which makes it difficult for me to name a top 5, but to name a few : Zap Mama, my mother of course as my number one inspiration, and then artists like Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, Beyonce, Michael Jackson, Etta James, Alicia Keys, alongside Opera singing and Bollywood Movie songs.
EP: You are based in Berlin at the moment I believe; what made you choose this City of unification as a home at the moment and where are the places you call home?
K.ZIA: I used to pass through Berlin from time to time to go to another city close by and it’s like the soul of Berlin was always calling me somehow. I had the feeling it was a place I needed to be in. So in 2017 I decided to do it in Berlin an allow myself to experience it during an internship I had to do for my master’s degree. Almost 5 years later, I’m still here. It’s been an amazing experience and I am very grateful for the exchanges and people I’ve met. It’s the first place in my life where, despite not being German and/or speaking the language I felt like I belonged. Strangely. I think it’s because a lot of people who don’t belong elsewhere come to Berlin to be “free” or discover themself in this open minded city. And that spirit and environment felt like home.
EP: Your videos tend to have a real story telling quality to them. Are you very involved with the visual representation of your music.
K.ZIA: I love storytelling and cinema. It’s something I’m really looking forward to implement even more in the future, I want to make short films and cinematographic music videos with parts with no music and just a story being told. I love to act as well and am very hyped about developing that side of my artistry.
Another thing I love, is Fashion. Being an independent artist limits me sometimes in the creation of my universes because of budget limitation but I want to explore fashion and cinema. Visual arts are strong communicative tools and tickets to journeys in any world imaginable.
Bringing that and music together is a killer piece of art to me. I am indeed very involved in the visual representation of my universe and am so excited to bring more and more artists on the journey whether they be graphic designer, fashion designer, sound designers, directors, photographers … you name it!
EP: The title of your single ‘J’fais mes Bails’ is quite a street expression and is not easily translated into English. How would you describe the sentiment behind the song and do you find singing in French fulfilling because of nuanced expressions like ‘J’fais mes bails’? With your wonderfully diverse background, do you have a favourite language to sing in or does it depend on the message?
K.ZIA: These are great questions by the way ????
So I’d translate J’fais mes bails into “I do my thing”. Zia is someone that lives unapologetically. She knows her values and will not bend herself to try to explain or justify her ways to ignorant or close minded people who criticize and downgrade when they don’t understand the other. That’s the vibe of the song “des fois je fais des choses qui ne sont pas trop acceptés, je connais mes valeurs je ne vais pas m’éxcuser” – Sometimes I do things that aren’t quite accepted, I know my values I won’t apologize for it”.
While growing up in France very often I was perceived as strange, coming from an artistic background and having grown in foreign countries. Younger, i would try so hard to blend in, and detach myself from all these eccentric traits. Today, I no longer do that, this is what “JFMB” is about ????
Singing in French and English is very different indeed. When I was in Primary and middle school, I was in private schools. When I moved to France for Highschool I went to public schools.
During those two periods of my life i was surrounded by people from very different social, ethnical and environmental backgrounds. When I speak French I’m a lot more “street” and a lot louder, when I speak English I’m a lot calmer and laid back and that also translates in my music.
EP: Can we hope to see you play live in the UK anytime soon. I personally can’t wait to see you sing these songs live?
K.ZIA: Hopefully soon, things are starting to open up again. My management and I are really looking forward to being able to plan live shows around the globe <3.
EP: Finally, is there a release date planned for the new project? Are you planning a full length album soon?
K.ZIA: Yes Genesis is going to be an album, my first; where both ZIA and K.ZIA will be expressing themselves… and it looks like the album will be shared with the world this winter ????
Some things in life are inevitable. For a while, that inevitably was a new Shrek movie with an updated pop cover like “I’m a Believer” from Smash Mouth. These days it’s a new Despicable Me movie, this time in the form of spinoff Minions The Rise of Gru. And just as we all predicted, the new Steve Carrell led film comes stacked with a loaded soundtrack headlined by St. Vincent.
For her contribution to the Minions: The Rise of Gru soundtrack, St. Vincent covered “Funkytown” by Lipps Inc. Her version was produced by Jack Antonoff and continues a run of luck for the musician that earlier this year saw her win a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album.
Antonoff also gave St. Vincent a shout-out for her album Daddy’s Home when he won Producer of the Year at the Grammys.
Announcing the release of her funky cover, St. Vincent took to Twitter and wrote, “Excited to say the @Minions (including @jackantonoff) and I have just released our version of ‘Funkytown’ from #TheRiseofGru soundtrack. Shout out to Gru and them…” Included with the post was a graphic of St. Vincent as a minion.
Joining St. Vincent on the Minions: The Rise of Gru soundtrack are Tame Impala, Kali Uchis, Brittany Howard, Thundercat, Caroline Polachek, Diana Ross, and Weyes Blood, just to name a few.
The album will be released on July 1, coinciding with the film’s theatrical release. You can listen to St. Vincent’s cover of Lipps Inc. “Funkytown” below!
Back in October of 2021, Parmalee released ‘Take My Name’ as the second single from their third studio album. It was written with and produced by David Fanning, producer of the massive hit ‘Carolina’ that introduced me to the band back in 2008, Ashley Gorley and Ben Johnson. Robyn Collins of ‘Taste of Country’ described the song as “a musical marriage proposal” and lead singer of the band, Matt Thomas, says it was inspired by the marriage of brother Scott; he says “it made me think about what I would want to say to my future wife.”
Some songs almost become bigger than themselves when they tap into the lives and moods of everyone and this is very much one of those songs. It’s not difficult to see why this song has been adopted by fans all over the world irrespective of their taste in music; its words conjure all the romance and love that you’d hope to feel when you ask someone to marry you. It’s lyrically a shopping list of everything you feel at the moment you realise you’ve met the one, even if that’s after only a short time. I remember proposing to my wife after just 8 weeks and if I try to remember what I was feeling at the point I proposed and tried to put it into words I would hope it was very similar to this song. Now over 31 years later and still happily married I listen to this song and it brings all those feelings back in a rush so why wouldn’t it be the perfect song to overlay a proposal, sing at the wedding or just be part of the moment; it’s how I’d love my sons to feel when they propose to their partners.
Parmalee are very aware of their fans needs and were quick to record a wedding version for such occasions with a less catchy percussion and a softer piano focussed vibe than the original version. There have even been brilliant occasions where the band has turned up to “crash” a wedding and sing this song to the happy couple reminiscent of Maroon 5 and their song ‘Sugar’. None of those guests will forget that wedding in a hurry!
With all the interest in the song and the brilliant videos and messages the band have received, they felt the time was right to make their own narrative video to accompany the song as an addition to the previously released visualizer. The ‘Wedding Version’ video of the romantic song was filmed in Gallatin, TN and directed by Shane Drake. The heart-warming story follows the journey of the protagonist through middle school and all the way to adulthood featuring kids from a local school, an original 1968 Mustang Shelby GT350 and appearances from the band with the lead being played by frontman Matt Thomas.
“From the jump, the fans have really latched onto this song in such an amazing, life changing way- our fans have been the reason for so many of our own major milestones, so it means that much more to us that folks are using our song for their proposals and weddings and allowing us to be a part of those major moments in their lives. We wanted to pay tribute to the fans who have been on this journey with us since the beginning so in the music video you’ll see a story of love and loyalty unfold across the years-but don’t expect to see any weddings or proposals – the fan created videos far exceed anything we could depict. We love watching them.”
With over 135 million global on demand streams, the song has raced up the Country charts, outpacing the band’s previous single, the multinational Number 1 smash ‘Just The Way’ with Blanco Brown and has been popping up all over TikTok with creators playing the song over proposal and wedding videos and even sparking a trend of using the sound of the song and writing “if your man doesn’t make you feel this way then what are you doing?” over the video.
Coming from their recently released album ‘For You’, an album that has garnered critical acclaim with American Songwriter calling it “authentically real, genuinely inspired” and Billboard saying that “Parmalee find itself in the enviable position of being able to tap into multiple audiences”. What is very clear is that Country music is slowly starting to find a new, younger audience in the UK to stand alongside the existing fans of the genre. Zack Bryan has recently found himself high on the Spotify album charts and UK stars like Ed Sheeran have appeared alongside Country stars like Luke Combs at the Country2Country festival. Even Tom Odell has found himself headlining the British Country Music Festival in the Summer. Parmalee may be the band to really break down the barriers between Country music and the UK Charts with this song as the musical genre of this release is far less important than the honesty and emotion of the lyrics and Romance will always break down all of the barriers, or at least I would hope it would.
‘For You’ is out now and can be streamed and downloaded here. Find out more about Parmalee and their music online on their official website.
This Copenhagen DIY pop artist has managed the difficult task of mixing her soulful voice with vibrant dreamy production and lyrics with real streetwise attitude. The result is something that has given her the hit single ‘Obvious’ which Danish radio loved and the internationally acclaimed single ‘Back to Business’. Now she is releasing the excellent lead single ‘Summer’s Already Gone’ which sounds very modern Bond in its lo fi production but tells an unusual love story. Not a story about falling in love with a person, but about the love affair that always ends; the affair with Summer.
“I wanted to write a song that could represent both the fearlessness of the magical Summer days and the truly blue sadness of the re occuring love story it actually is when Summer eventually comes to an end. I know it’s a heartbreaking, melancholy feeling but it’s also everything I love about Summer.”
The song was written in Mercedess’ living room with Danish indie superstar Goss and the guitarist Søren Breum and is produced by the critically acclaimed artist Vera. It allows the velvet of the artist’s voice to tumble over the muted trumpets, break beats and flirty acoustic guitars and strings bringing to life the seasonal heartbreak.
The fact that it is about the love and anticipation felt for Summer is almost more poignant this year as we embark upon the first free Summer for a few years. The affair with Summer this year promises to be a torrid passionate affair as we’ve been apart so long but the heartbreak of its end will be felt more keenly. This song will be the soundtrack to the affair for sure.
The single is released on the same day as the debut album from this exciting new talent. Mercedess says of the album: “Casa Fantasia is an album about longing for closeness and honesty. These songs are an escape from reality-a place to feel free and be yourself. Writing it was a personal journey and process to me that hopefully will make space for creativity, art and emotions for others too”
The album promises to do just that with the artist’s melancholy and yet warm and dreamy vocals and marks an exciting new chapter for an artist destined to find international acclaim with this collection of music. Summer may come and go but I’m sure the appeal of Mercedess will be perennial.