I'm about to introduce to you an artist who currently holds the most played album on my iTunes of all time. Just to put that into perspective, this guy has had an album out less than two months at the time of writing this article; yet I've listened to it more than any album in the two decades I've been alive.
His name is Zak Waters and he takes the best of R&B, fuses it with EDM; and believe me when I say his music will make you get funky and want to dance. More so than any artist I've heard before. He was kind enough to answer some questions for us, and I don't think I've ever seen a pop artist this passionate about his craft...
Hey Zak, thanks for taking the time to talk to us here at Popshade, why don't you tell us a bit about who you are and what you do?
Well I am a singer, songwriter, producer, DJ and avid body roller born and raised in Los Angeles
"Lip Service" was one THE best pop albums of last year. What does the album mean to you?
Well thank you! That's quite the compliment. The Album to me means a lot. I think I was really set on releasing a full length record because I wanted to show the entire scope of who i was as an artist. Based on my EP and what they've heard from my collabs in the dance world, most people would think I'm just a "dance" musician. For instance a lot of people are suprised when they come see me live and find that I have a full live band with back-up singers and all! When you listen to the record, it makes sense that there would be a live band and not just a DJ. It was really important for me to show the whole picture with this album. songs like Dear John and Over You really show a side of me that people hadn't seen yet and I was curious to see the reaction.
You've done a few massive collaborations! Everyone knows "The City", and "Not Coming Down" was the song of our Summer. How was it working with Madeon and Candyland?
It was incredible working with both of them. Madeon I became a fan of very early on, and when he sent me the track for The City and asked me to write it, I jumped on it immediately. It's always so exciting to work with someone that you were a fan of before you started working together. Working with Candyland was also great, although I didn't know of them before our collab. I am most definitely a big fan now. I think my favourite part about working with such talented and young producers is the geeky producer conversations we have about gear, new plugins, DAW's, soft synths ETC... I've learned alot from both Madeon and Ethan from Candyland, they're both insanely talented, passionate and knowledgable about what they do. So it's always amazing sharing knowledge with these guys, as they have so much to offer.
What's your favourite track off the album, and why?
I think it would have to be a tie between Over You and Dear John. Over You is great to me because it's so personal. Lyrically it's such a real topic and something that we all do trying to get over someone. Replacing and transferring feelings onto someone else, albeit briefly and always unsatisfying in the aftermath. I feel also that it really defines me as an artist. It has the slow parts that evoke the R&B vibes and then the drop comes with the EDM flare. To me that's exactly where I want to be. Dear John is the other favourite for the same kind reason. It's kind of an ode to all of the older R&B classics I grew up listening to. When I was like 16, a song like Dear John was exactly what I would have pictured my self doing as an artist when I grew up. I think if I could have listened to that song as a 16 year old Zak, I would have been very proud and jealous of myself that my 16 year self didn't write it!
What influences your music? Besides pretty ladies of course ;).
Ha pretty ladies always. First and foremost. I mean I'm pretty sure people have done far worse things over women than make music. I mean people have died! But for real. I listen to a lot of music. That inspires me a lot. But I always come back to the same ones, the classics that i feel define me not only as a musician, but as a human. I still listen to PYT by MJ and get so pumped to try and make something great!
I wish I could say like, "oh I see a tree, and it's beauty makes me wanna make a funk song." it doesn't work like that for me. I get inspired by sitting down at the keyboard or guitar and messing with sounds and chords. It's just what I do as a routine really and then the inspiration comes eventually. Sit at the computer, scroll through synth presets... find something cool, tweak it, and I'm off and running!
What can our readers expect if they come down to one of your shows?
It's funny. For some reason people NEVER expect to see what they see when they come to one of my shows. I think it's because my record is a modern style of disco and electronic so a lot of people assume I'm maybe a DJ? Or maybe like those dudes who have a mountain of synths that two people on stage pretend to do things with? Maybe in their mind I'm sitting on stage pressing buttons and singing? To me its weird that people are surprised because to me it's obvious to me. I have a full live band, insane drummer, funky ass bass player, twin back up singers, keyboards, guitars, confetti cannons, home made lights, big foam glowsticks and smoke machines. We don't fuck around!
But seriously, the shows are fun. Really fun for real dance parties with a live band. I think that's what surprises people. My shows are more like traditional shows which I guess people don't expect because my record is more modern sounding. I really wanted my shows to flow like a DJ set. It sucks when you go to see a really fun dancy type band and right when you get into it, the song ends and then you have to awkwardly stop dancing. So I really worked on the fluidity and energy of the set making sure to string as many songs together without ever stopping the beat.
At the end of the day my music is mostly about dancing and fun so the shows should be the pinnacle of that. The record should be like "cool lets listen on our drive to work to wake up, and maybe get ready before we go out" but the show should be like "Holy shit! I can't feel my face!!"
Your music just makes us feel good man. It makes us wanna dance, and puts a smile on our face. Is that your intention?
YES. Making anybody feel anything (myself included) is exactly my intention.
After "Lip Service" we expect very big things from you in 2014, but what do you want to get out of the new year?
I'm really hoping to travel a lot this year. I feel like LA has been really great to me but it's time to leave the nest and share my confetti blasts with the rest world I've made a lot of material over the last 3 years and I just need to get out there and play. I want to play Europe and Japan and Australia. I don't think that's too much to ask is it?
Finally, where can our readers find you?
I'm doing a Full US + Canada tour with Betty Who starting March 22 - April 19th. I can't wait! It's a perfect fit for me and I'm in love with her EP so I cant wait to hear it live for a whole month!
I'd like to thank Zak for taking the time out to answer these questions!
Well, there you have it. I don't know if you noticed, but I bloody love Zak's material and expect very big things from him in the future. His record is ridiculously funky, and you will be dancing less than a minute into it, I assure you.