Having a global influence is becoming a widespread aspiration for artists in the UK. With rappers such as Drake showing marked interest in the urban scene, an opening for acts has manifested. The likes of Mr Eazi, Burna Boy and Wizkid have also shown an ongoing appreciation for the soundscapes, solidifying the trend for going abroad. But for ZieZie, international appeal has always been on his agenda. Finally deciding to pursue his aspiration at the end of 2016, ZieZie found success with ‘Fine Girl’ which gained 1.5 million + streams on Spotify. At just 19 years of age, I wonder how the act has been able to navigate the scene.
ZieZie quickly notes that he had to take a risk. “I didn’t want to do carpentry in college, so I knew that I had to give my all to my Plan A”. At this point, I’m curious as to what led up to this sudden moment of confidence at such a young age (17). “Back when I was younger harder music, with less singing was popular. When I started to see a transition over here, I knew that I could be a part of it”.
With a particular cluster of genres gaining attention in this current market such as Afro-swing, Grime and Hip-hop, naturally, aspiring talent tend to flock to these pockets as they are what’s in or trending. I’m instantly eager to assess ZieZie‘s place in the current music market, and whether he took the palatable approach as an artist. “No, I’m super-versatile. Even as a kid I was inspired by the people such as Ed Sheeran, my music is broad and will include all of my favourite sounds.”
At this point, I get the sense that the soloist has more to say. I quiz him on the state of music today and artistic exploration.
“I feel like a lot of people play it safe. You hear the same beats, sounds, overall vibe and it’s too much. I think it’s the fear to explore. My music will be that risk, the chance to explore.”
As we explore these exciting prospects, the RCA signee lets me in on his upcoming releases. “I’m recording Rock inspired records, Ballads, House, it’s so varied.” Doubling down on anticipation of potential label interference, ZieZie instantly expands on his perspective. “The label [RCA] didn’t force me at all, I’m versatile. The people that know me know what it is and how I’ve always been”. Something about the recording artists’ sharp response has me sold, despite his young age, he knows who he is.
We’ve been skirting around RCA for the majority of the interview at this point. It’s a huge feat at such a young age, especially when labels are cutting back and investing less. In the market, there are more single deals, especially within Afro-swing. I tap into the details surrounding the deal and how it came to fruition. “It was so organic, they emailed me after Fine Girl and I only found out days later. We had a back and forth for a while and now Ben Hood is my A&R”. In the industry RCA has had both good and bad days, especially within the urban arena. As the label discussion progresses, again ZieZie is in positive spirits. “They really believe in me, that’s why they gave me an album deal. They are allowing me to explore my potential.”
Artists in the contemporary arena usually have the perspectives of the singles game, churning out track after track once they gain a mainstream hit. With ZieZie, it’s been around 9 months since his ‘Fine Girl’ single, surely the pressure to succeed must be on his mind.
“I think that what I’m doing takes time. I want to release a project and then the album in the next two years. That’s how I want my fans to get to know me”.
Still, the singer notes that a single will be released to introduce the project in the coming weeks. “There’s an edgier sound to this one, I think people will like it”.
As we get ready to wrap up, I remember that ZieZie is Congolese. The nation has hit the headlines over the last few years for its intense political conflict. It’s this aspect of the country that informs one of my final question for the creative; whether there’s a connection between the homeland and the projects / music. “I like people to know where I’m from, that influence is there. I like making it clear to my audience. It’s important to pay attention to your history”.
ZieZie‘s latest single ‘Fine Girl’ is available to stream below.
For more of our #LostCultureMeets click here, only on