Interview With The Musical Architect Himself: Zo!
I had to get an exclusive with a friend of Distinguished Detroit and I am very honored and pleased that he agreed to be the first. Not only is he a highly acclaimed/talented musician and composer, he is also the self-proclaimed King of making macaroni & cheese (smile). As a major part of The Foreign Exchange camp, producing music and touring with indie music’s hottest band on the planet, Zo! is a very humble and down-to-earth cat who willingly gives listeners a glimpse into the workings of his craft. And he is a son of Detroit so it only seemed fitting for me to feature the big homie and share with DDET readers the love from one of our own. Read below! =)
Zo!: Well, that’s kind of the point. We come from getting the CD, we read the linear notes as the music is playing and you wanna know who played what. But then, you want to take it a step further, like, how did this come together? I’m a big documentary head so anything autobiographical, biographical…I’m all into that. So I think that it’s dope that if I’m in a position where I can do that for other people, then I’m going to do it. It also helps with people connecting with your music. They feel a deeper connection with your music because if you feel like you’re apart of the process then you are going to feel connected to the song a little bit more. It’s not just something you’ve downloaded off the ‘net and thrown in your ipod real quick. I’ve had this talk with Phonte before because nowadays people don’t live with the albums. Before, you would take it in, run it, but you would also know about it. So with stuff being downloaded and being real quick, there’s no details behind it. Shoot…a lot of people still don’t know that I don’t sing! People still ask me and say things like “I loved your voice…”, you know, but I don’t sing! They just download it and have all this music and don’t know what the hell to do with it. So, that’s a part of it, as well.
LiLi: That just goes to show that you’re just as much a music fan as you are an artist or a musician because you understand the fan side of it- us wanting more than just the music but the whole experience. That’s what I appreciate about you, most definitely!
Zo!: Thank you!
LiLi: Have you ever thought about doing a video documentary for any of your upcoming projects, or The Foreign Exchange, period?
Zo!: Yeah, I’ve thought about it. But um…I think the documentary would probably be boring. (laughter)
LiLi: Why?! Because y’all are some clowns and I think that would be the best thing ever! Y’all really need some video footage! (chuckles)
Zo!: I do have video footage of us making Return of The Mack.
LiLi: When I heard that song I said ‘they were in the studio clownin’! I need that video footage, man! That junk was hilarious!
Zo!: But the thing is, normally we’re not in the studio together…
LiLi: Oh! Okay…
Zo!: So, we’re sending files back-and-forth, taking advantage of this technology. But if we were in the studio together, we would have had to do a documentary together a long time ago. But I think it would be boring because they would say ‘okay, they’re doing the same thing for this song. That’s all he does? Okay…’ Even the damn camera man would be bored like, ‘man you did this shit yesterday’!
LiLi: (Laughing) You gotta switch it up man, come on…
Zo!: Yeah, it’s the same formula but, it works!
LiLi: Right! Well, I hope so because we need to see that, most definitely! When I read your studio campfires I envision it all but then I’m thinking ‘man, this needs to be on video!’ Just keep that in mind for the future and make sure I get it first! I’m just playin’! (chuckles)
LiLi: So out of all of your albums- and I know it’s hard to pick a favorite- but when it comes to the process of putting an album together, which one did you have the best experience with?
Zo!: Mmm…I don’t know…
LiLi: Gotcha! No, I’m just playin’ (laughter)
Zo!: I know right! Um, I would probably have to say Sunstorm, process wise just because I worked with so many different people. I guess result wise, there were eleven vocalist on that album. To be able to get eleven people moving in the same direction, to me, was an accomplishment. So I would probably say that one. (laughing)
LiLi: That makes sense! Okay! Who are some of you favorite vocalists to work with that you have worked with in the past?
Zo!: Well, Phonte obviously. With me and him at this point it is unspoken. I send him something and he’ll send it right back.
LiLi: That is ignorant chemistry right there!
Zo!: It’s like me and him having a conversation…it’s nothing! Sy Smith very much so because with her it’s very effortless to come up with stuff. The same when performing with her. When we performed a couple months ago here in D.C., just the two of us with a percussionist, we didn’t rehearse! We had a set list and agreed on some songs and said we may play all of them or we may not. We may play some shit that’s not on here and we did five or six songs that weren’t even on the joint! She’s like me in a way where she likes to have fun with the music. She’s very flexible as far as where the music can go. Very easy-going to work with. No one show is the same. And on top of that she is super professional! We get asked all the time, ‘why don’t you work with so-and-so’ but we work with everybody for a reason. We work with people who not only have talent but they are folks who got their shit together. This is the company you want to keep when dealing with music because it’s not that common! You get a lot of cases where somebody is just super talented but if I can’t get a call-back from somebody then we can’t work off the break! I can’t trust you to call me back or not do some shady shit with the music, so it’s got to be a lot of things that line up. But I would say those are my top two.
LiLi: Okay! That’s what’s up! Besides Black Thought- which I read on your latest campfire story about working with him but it didn’t work out although eventually that will happen- who is an artists that you want to work with in the future?
Zo!: I would love to work with Faith.
Zo!: Yeah, I’m a big Faith Evans fan! I’m a huge Faith fan!
LiLi: Same here!
Zo!: We always have the arguments of who’s better between Faith and Mary J and…
LiLi: Oh…come on! (laughter). I love Mary, don’t get it twisted! But Faith…vocally!
Zo!: To me, it’s no contest! You know, someone else may say differently but that’s my opinion. I love Faith! Her vocal arrangements…and I don’t even pay that much attention to the lyrics but even her writing…she’s just dope, man!
LiLi: She sings so effortlessly!
Zo!: She is probably top on my list, vocally. Probably her and Lala Hathaway.
LiLi: Well I most definitely appreciate you taking the time out to chat with a sista, via Skype and I look forward to you and the FE camp coming back to Tha D. We need your music, man!
- Zo3hree5ive’s “Just Visiting Three”….Finally! (distinguisheddetroit.com)
Posted on November 16, 2011, in Distinguished Artists and tagged Detroit, Faith Evans, Independent music, Magic Stick, Phonte, Sunstorm, Sy Smith, The Foreign Exchange, Zo!. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.