James Zero - Interview
1. Tell us your rap name and where are you from? My name is Zebby James Zero, but I just go by James Zero and I'm representing Central and Western Pennsylvania.
2. What made you start making music? I started making music over a decade ago after being inspired as a kid by my favorite bands - blink-182, Simple Plan, and MCR. I learned to play guitar and make terrible recordings on my laptop. Over the years, my music taste broadened and my ability as a recording artist compounded exponentially. After making instrumentals and electronic beats for years, I decided to put my voice and my feelings into my music.
3. Who are your influences in rap? Being from Pennsylvania, I was exposed at an early age to Mac and Wiz. I've always gravitated towards the true intellectual OGs from yesterday's era, like Lupe Fiasco or Nas. As of recently, some of my favorite hip-hop artists are the guys from BROCKHAMPTON.
4. What is your take on the underground rap scene right now? The underground rap scene has so much raw power and potential right now, but the content is very polarized. I've always been a huge underground rap fan and growing up, I was a huge fan of King of the DOT. The distinction between "Trap" and "Drill" came after I was in the scene. To me, there's a lot of real rappers that have talent or are otherwise grinding right now - and then there's whack artists. I don't really get down with the "Dababys" of the world, the "Uzis" of the world, or the "Lil this-or-that" of the world. I think Tyler, the Creator was instrumental in showing young artists a path in which they could take things and do things for themselves on a level that can make a lot of waves. The influencer and streamer market compliments how someone could grow. There are rappers, like Harlow, that went through the underground like a hot knife through butter
5. As an artist who has to compete with thousands of others for streams/plays, what makes your music worth people clicking on? Everything about James Zero is really different to what artists are doing right now. I'm 100% self-produced, self-written - everything. Because I'm classically trained on my instruments and grew out my audio engineer side over the years, I'm going for a fidelity of music that is often found in classic blues rock - similar to John Mayer or even Clapton. The songs are written in a way to be abstract for the listener to ascribe their own meaning. Most of the songs are very different in chord progression, using uncommon progressions and time signatures. One of my songs on my recent album is written in 7/4 time while also being a good song in general. Usually, when artists step outside normal boundaries, it's not so good.
6. You have 1 person to thank, who would it be? I thank Katelynn Guarino for being an inspiration, a distraction, and a motivation for me to achieve my goals. She is a wonderful, wonderful person and so close to me.
7. What is your process for recording music ? The music always come before the lyrics, but at times throughout my day, random lyrics or rhyming phrases will come to me. I like to mess around in the studio and really feel out a certain theme I'd like to write about. If what I'm writing about is sad, I'll choose an instrument and some melodies that reflect that, and I'll keep going until I find something I like. Once I get that spark, everything comes so easy, and I work very quickly.
8. Any upcoming projects or singles fans should be getting ready for this year? Last year, my band and I released a live concert show on YouTube and it was fantastic. We would really like to come back with some new and additional friends for Round 2 this Summer. I would also like to release a song or two that I wrote around the time of last album as I go into the studio this Summer to record the follow-up to that.
9. What keeps you motivated and on path towards your goals for music? Please refer to question 6.
10. What impact do you want to have on the world? Years ago, I would play piano on Facebook or Instagram Live. On a few occasions, some viewers commented that my playing helped their anxiety and their depression, and it helped them to calm down. That's what I want from James Zero - music that speaks to all kinds of people.
11. What's your best collaboration experience with another artist or producer? I love making music with Luna Solana, one of the artists on my record label. She was also on our last live concert show that I was talking about before in the other question. I think she has a great voice and a great sense of musicality. I hope we can make more music with her and plan more releases.
12. Who does all of your cover art or do you make your own? I do everything - I really am the hardest-working musician in central Pennsylvania.
13. Who makes most of your beats or production? Please refer to the answer of the previous question.
14. What can we expect next from you in 2022? Recording a new album this Summer, another live concert before I finish that, and maybe a song for you before the season is over.