Behind the Music: Interview with Zaska

‘Do whatever music makes the hairs on your neck stand up, even if it’s electro yodelling ska!’

Describe Zaska in no more than 5 words. Feel good, stanky, modern soul.

Who are the people at the centre of Zaska? The main organiser is myself, Max Zaska. The band has had more than 50 musicians play with us since 2011 so it literally changes from show to show! It’s a whole community within itself 🙂

Why and when did you first become involved in music? My oldest brother Rolf taught me how to play when I was 12. I was hooked immediately and I haven’t stopped since.

Your collaborators are incredibly wide ranging, how do you choose who to have involved? I am very lucky to be in an incredibly talented circle of friends. All the collaborations I’ve done, have just kind of happened naturally from hanging out or playing in different projects with people.

Who haven’t you collaborated with yet that you would love to? Oh sheeeet! There are so many! Within Ireland – Kojaque, Rejjie Snow, Niall McCabe, Fehdah to name just a few. Outside of Ireland – Daniel Cesar, Vulfpeck, Hiatus Kaiyote but I could go on and on!

Where is your go-to place for writing new music? I’m super lucky to have a home studio/man-cave out the back of my house where I go to get my creative flow going. We live in the country so it’s super quiet which is great for getting in the zone.

‘I’m hoping to spread a positive message about the importance of community to the world.’

It’s clear that your tracks have many influences, how do these affect the writing process? The big mix of influences and styles is kind of normal for me as I studied Jazz performance for 4 years. Through doing that, you just get so used to genre-mashing that it becomes the norm after a while. I try not to put any barriers on the creative process and just go with whatever I’m hearing and feeling at the time.

Talk us through what a Zaska recording session would look like. A bunch of lads in dressing gowns playing some stanky sheeeeet 🙂

Do you prefer being in the studio or performing live? I would have to go with performing live. There’s not a lot of things that would make me happier than going to play in front of a big bunch of smiling faces. I absolutely love the studio too, but sometimes it can be intense and repetitive. In a live situation, I’m always more relaxed.

What releases/gigs do you have coming up in 2019? I have my debut album “It Takes A Village” coming out on the 1st Feb! It features over 25 incredible Irish musicians and I can’t believe it’s so close to being released! After that, we’ll be releasing some more singles and videos from the album. Were also in the middle of booking a national tour to support it. I would love to get over to the UK this year too though!

What do you hope happens following the release of ‘It Takes A Village’? I hope to get a call off Kanye West asking if he wants to collaborate on his next album 🙂 Just kiddin’. A huge dream of mine is to tour internationally and bring the stank overseas to all who need it. I’m also hoping to spread a positive message about the importance of community to the world. At the same time, I want to showcase the incredible family of musicians I work with and let everyone get a deeper understanding of who I am as an artist.

Your music, in every aspect, seems to be centred around bringing people together. How did this first come about? It came about through having such a big band 🙂 In order to play shows, I always had to find new people to fill in and after a long time of doing that, this communal quality seeped into the group and my music. My album “It Takes A Village” is all about the importance of community.

Who was the first musician you saw live? My guitar teacher Danny Tobin played at a small bar in my home town of Bray. I was way too young to be there but he had a word with the bouncer. It absolutely blew my mind!

What would be three pieces of advice you would give to others trying to make it in the music industry?

  • Do it for yourself. Do whatever music makes the hairs on your neck stand up even if it’s electro yodelling ska!
  • Be in it for the long game, enjoy the ride and know that it could take 20 years just to get anywhere.
  • Be open to the fact that a lot of being a musician these days has so much to do with the online world and nothing at all to do with playing or writing music. If you can find creative joy in doing all that, you’re on to a winner!

And finally….. You are told you can only listen to 3 albums for the rest of your life. What are they and why should everyone else choose the same?

Thanks Zaska for chatting with Listen to Discover.

Follow Zaska on: Twitter and Facebook.
Listen to and watch Zaska on: Spotify and YouTube.
Find out more about Zaska’s music at: Track Review: Zaska ft Louise Gaffney: It’s Ridiculous.

Zaska is part of Listen to Discover’s #FridayFindsFeaturedArtist series which you can keep up to date with on Twitter and Facebook.

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