Clever worldplay and a banging beat is usually all you’d need to move a hit between the increasingly thinning lines that once divided hip hop and pop. “Writing Away”, the debut single from Queensland’s ZEKIEL has that in spades, but on top there’s also a genuine, earnest expression of lost love, plenty of character, and a penchant for melody that should easily put this at the top of playlists for the rest of the year. Here’s just four reasons we think this could go down as a clear fan-favourite as we enter the tail-end of 2018.
Melody for Days
ZEKIEL’s heavily melodic flow sounds perfect for the sizable pockets of this beat, and blends in nicely with the breezy sung chorus. Most importantly, it highlights just how steady the young rapper-songwriter is, and with him navigating such a beautifully layered production such as this, hopes are high for any future material – which hopefully isn’t far away.
We asked ZEKIEL if this was an indication of what is to come:
Writing Away was a great place to start. It’s an easy listening tune that a lot of people can relate to.. I’m glad it’s out in the world. It deserves to be heard.
Behind the scenes I’ve been experimenting with heavier rap themes. I feel It’s good to diversify and explore your sound, although a lot of the music I’ve made over the last 12 months definitely sits in the same ballpark as ‘Writing away’.
My aim is to make music that people can connect with.. I mean I make the music, I’m connected with it regardless but I want the people listening to feel like they are apart of the story or message I’m trying to convey.
The Beat is a Banger
Formed by production duo DREXL, the beat on this thing is an instant earworm and appropriately lifts ZEKIEL’s performance without overwhelming it. The thoughtful, celestial keys that float through the chorus tie in nicely with the emotive songwriting while a sharp synthetic chord punctuates some clever wordplay.
That the beat elevates ZEKIEL is no accident. The rapper appears to have wanted something that really lifted him out of this world to tangle with the song’s profound lyrics. “Writing Away” comes from a long-term relationship ZEKIEL says disolved when he and his partner couldn’t see eye-to-eye after their lives went in different directions. “Nothing meshed, and we lost the magic”, he explained. “My biggest coping mechanism was being able to write music and, I suppose, drift away into that whole new world where you can just create what happens.”
He Pours his Heart Out
Written in a caravan located on a beach in northern NSW, “Writing Away” is a very strong showing for ZEKIEL as a songwriter. Like all good raps, it’s both clever and expressive enough that anyone who relates should immediately find something to connect with. Gems like “righting my wrongs in a righteous way” imbue the verses with plenty of character while the chorus is perfectly written to bounce along with plenty of rhythm. Many artists take a few singles before they hit their stride with songwriting, but ZEKIEL has nailed it from the get-go.
The Video is just as Stunning
Australian artists are spoiled for choice when it comes to shooting locations, especially if they want their video that be characterised by natural charm and possess a sense of tranquillity and otherworldliness to complement the music. About half an hour from “Gracevan”, the aforementioned van in which ZEKIEL wrote the track, is Murwillumbah in north-eastern NSW, the setting for these crisp, gorgeous and pretty damn magical visuals. Wispy pink and blue smoke spend plenty of time swirling around video star Alia Warner who plays opposite ZEKIEL in and around this expansive forest dreamscape. Perhaps the best shots are of the rapper staring up at the sky from a rowboat, floating upon an isolated lake with calm, contrasted with the thoughtful writing sessions that are shown in the 1948 refurbished caravan that was shipped from the U.S.
“We just wanted to have something very slow and visually catching without it being too much like a storyline”, said ZEKIEL on the video he shot with directors Nick and John from the Jaen Collective. “It’s just super visually satisfying”. He spoke more about the experience with the AU:
Shooting the video was an amazing experience. The whole crew at JÁEN collective (GC directors/filmmakers) made me and Aaliyah (writing away model) feel so comfortable. It was my (and Aaliyah’s) first filmclip so it was nice to be rookies together. She really brought energy to the set and ended up the star of the clip.
Murwillumbah is just beautiful. The JÁEN collective chose a few locations around the area after we decided on the direction we wanted to go in for the video. I had a vision of a very surreal and almost unattainable dreamscape in a forest and Murwillumbah was a perfect fit. The visuals for this song really highlight the track and I’m super happy with the end result.
With these four components making one hell of a song, ZEKIEL is surely poised to be one of the bigger names to emerge in the Aussie music scene this year and should see this become a swift summer banger as the country prepares for festival season.