Artist Interview: Zak Abel

‘To each their own’ references how everyone has the right to their own personal preferences and Zak Abel highlights this idiom in his newest single, ‘Be Kind’. 

Hailing from Hendon in North West London, this singer-songwriter has been writing songs since the ripe age of 14. His European tour was sold out and his music’s reach has broadened globally reaching fans in Southeast Asia. His most notable collaboration is with artist Kygo in which he wrote and featured on the track ‘Freedom’ which amassed over 79 million streams on Spotify.

His newest track ‘Be Kind’ itself is an upbeat song with an extremely memorable melody and a striking sense of optimism in its sound. The most impressive part of the song is its bridge where it pulls back the instruments and allows Abel’s vocals to shine through supported by choir-esque vocals in the background. 

I’ll let the artist explain the inspiration for the song himself.

Zak Abel: The song was written last year when I was in LA. It was actually the first time that I had written in America. And I wrote it at a time, where there was so much divisiveness and intolerance, especially on social media. 

I was just like “Man, I really wish we could be more kind to each other” especially towards people who might have different experiences of life to us. 

Those things [different experiences] aren’t very important.

The quality of your character is the most important thing. So let’s just be kind to each other.

CSM: Where is the first place you would perform once restrictions are lifted?

ZA: I think there’s an obvious answer here and that’s the US. So much of my favorite music has come from the US. When I think of 70’s Funk and Soul, it’s all basically just American music. I would just love to experience that for myself. 

I’ve also never actually toured in the US so to be able to do that would be amazing.

CSM: What is your favorite song to perform?

ZA: I know my label would love me to say ‘Be Kind’. Actually, “Be Kind’, I think the La, la-la-la, la-la-la-la-la

Having the crowd sing that and being able to adlib over that would be pretty dope.

CSM: What are some hobbies that you have gained due to the pandemic?

ZA: Before the pandemic, I was doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, which is essentially rolling around and hugging strange men for an hour or so. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to do that.

However, there’s a game on Playstation 4 called Overcooked, probably the best game ever created. Me and my flatmates try to complete all the levels. Once you’ve completed all the levels, there’s the white star which you can get which basically tells the world that you’re a huge nerd. So we are just trying to be the biggest nerds that we can possibly be and properly beat the game.

CSM: How has your writing process changed due to the pandemic?

ZA: It has resulted in most of my writing sessions being done over Zoom. Also when I’m recording, I’m recording in my bedroom or my living room.

Actually half of the vocal on “Be Kind” was recorded in the living room. Which is cool.

I was also working with the producer in LA and he was controlling my screen over Zoom. Controlling my computer, engineering my vocal. Just amazing. 

It has honestly opened my eyes to what can be achieved without being in the same room as someone.

CSM: So you have an upcoming album. How is this album different from the previous ones?

ZA: I can’t say too much because I’m still working on it. But I think it’s more soulful in terms of the production style and also in terms of what I’m doing vocally.

Also from a song writing point of view, I’m challenging myself more in terms of depth in the lyrics. 

I really like the album so far and I can’t wait for people to hear it!

CSM: What is the best piece of advice that you’ve got from somebody?

ZA: The best piece of advice that I ever got was to define your own criteria for success in music. 

I come from a sporting background. I used to play table tennis for England and it’s very easy to know when you’ve won. You’ve won the tournament, it’s done. 

With music, it’s not so simple. What’s better? A number one single or Bon Iver’s first album. They’re both great but for different reasons and different sets of criteria.

Define your own criteria for success otherwise it gets complicated.

CSM: Lastly, what would you like to tell your fans, the Zak Pack?

ZA: I love you! I appreciate you! And I am so excited to see you all hopefully when all of this is over.

Thank you Zak for taking the time out of your day to do this interview! Also, a big thank you to the team at Island Records for setting the whole thing up! 

Be sure to listen to ‘Be Kind“, if you haven’t already! With more singles on the way, we can’t wait to hear more of Abel’s new music!

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