Melbourne based musician and creative Zii is gearing up to launch his latest EP in Through These Eyes, coming through the Evelyn Hotel on April 1st. Embarking on to the local scene last year with successful releases in “Belief” and “This is Afrika”, Through These Eyes is undoubtedly going to be a perfect introduction for many to Zii’s sound, his artistry and where he draws his musical influences from.
Ahead of the EP’s launch date, we took some time out with Zii to find out more about the new EP, who he feels inspired by and how this new music represents where he is at creatively and as a musician moving forward in 2016.
With your latest EP Through These Eyes, how do you think your artistry has changed or developed since the release of Belief & This is Afrika?
In the last few months, my focus has been on learning how to fully express myself as a musician. After completing my project, I found that I was still very insecure in how I present myself on stage and that was a limitation. So being a part of a creative jam session at the Evelyn Hotel, this helped me get to know myself as a performer, which has now started to reflect on projects I’m working on now.
Has there been a particular part of the creative process that presented itself as a challenge – and how did you overcome it?
Working with a lot of musicians when recording has always proved to be interesting. Being an introvert, I find that explaining the concepts that are in my head has always been difficult. In the last three years, I’ve invested time in learning different instruments so I can translate what’s in my head into something that the musicians and producers can understand. Unfortunately, this often leads to me being labelled as a ‘multi-instrumentalist’, which I’m not comfortable with, because I’m far from it.
How would you describe the flow of the music on this new EP and what have you been enjoying the most about rocking on the journey of making this music?
This EP is a reflection of both my influences and thoughts. Having migrated to Australia with a vision to study and work in IT, there’s been lots a lot of challenges which have influenced my world view. I really wanted to use this project as a way to talk about them after hearing that most of my peers have the same challenges. The secondary idea was to learn how to make music by working with musicians that I admire. It was stretching, creatively, but really encouraging to see the final product. I can’t wait to share it.
Your music is fuelled by positivity and there seems to be quite a lot of ambition driving its delivery – how crucial has it been to keep it real and ensure this level of honesty is realised through the writing and its delivery?
I’ve never really seen myself as a musician but instead, music was always a way for me to get to know myself by writing stuff down. It just so happened that how I think and feel is either described by a melody or something that has been pigeon holed as ‘poetry’, which translates well to hip hop. So the positivity and ambition that is reflected in my music exists because these are conversations I have with myself when I’m working through life and because music is for sharing I’ll share myself with the world, hoping that it encourages someone.
How do you hope people receive this music as a representation of you as a creative?
I’m hoping people engage with the heart behind the music. The honesty in the music itself was never meant to be for fame or fortune, but to be an encouragement to those around me. If I didn’t have music, I’d probably have something else to enable me to encourage those around me. That’s the heart of life, by my definition.
Who have you been listening to recently who has been inspiring to you, whether or not it’s in music or any other type of art?
I listen to a lot of soul music, namely Robert Glasper, D’Angelo, Kendrick Lamar, Hiatus Kaiyote, Sampa the Great, REMI, Lecrae, Andy Mineo, Gary Clark Jr and John Mayer only to name a few. Miles Davis is someone that I’ve started to appreciate as well for both his musicianship, but also for what he has done in the Jazz scene.
Producers like Nile Rodgers and Quincy Jones appear on that list because of how they approach music. There’s so much inspiration out there, I think it would take me a lifetime to mention all of them, but those listed artists come to mind almost instantly.
What do you have lined up for 2016? New year, new opportunities!
More music! I’ve just finished demoing my next project coming out after Through These Eyes and I’m excited about that. I’ve already started putting concepts together for an album but most importantly, more shows because that’s where I love to be – on stage vibing with everyone.
How would you describe the live set up you’ve been working on? What’s exciting you about bringing this music to a live capacity?
The live setup we have is really young. We’ve had a few rehearsals as a band and it’s sounding really tight. I don’t want to oversell it, but I think coming to the show on the 1st of April will help you understand. The band members all have different backgrounds musically, which was done intentionally, so the way the music is presented live is unique and inspiring.
Zii launches his new EP Through These Eyes at the Evelyn Hotel in Melbourne on April 1st. Grab your tickets here!