Interview with R ZAK

Portland based singer-songwriter R Zak has recently released her debut album ‘Dialectics’ and it’s a remarkable release fuelled with alternative sensibilities. In the following interview, we speak about musical influences, what R Zak would change about the music industry and dream collaborations.

To anyone new to your music, name 3 words that best describe your sound.

I prefer recording because then you can really obsess over the nuances of your sound and make it unlike anything you’ve heard before. Recording is also a much more controlled situation than performing live, kind of like being in a lab. With live performance there are so many variables, and most people (myself included) have to stick to a routine to pull it off. With recording, it’s easier to loosen up expectations and be more experimental, in my opinion.

Do you prefer performing live or recording, and why?

I prefer recording because then you can really obsess over the nuances of your sound and make it unlike anything you’ve heard before. Recording is also a much more controlled situation than performing live, kind of like being in a lab. With live performance there are so many variables, and most people (myself included) have to stick to a routine to pull it off. With recording, it’s easier to loosen up expectations and be more experimental, in my opinion.

Who are your main musical influences and why?

I’m a devotee of such goddesses as Erykah Badu and Bjork, for being so groundbreaking and unstoppable. They really affected me from a young age. Gritty sounds such as Radiohead’s “Kid A”, the Smashing Pumpkins “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness”, and Neil Young’s early 90’s sound have all impacted me as well. Learning to sing songs from my favorite male artists has definitely had an influence on my style of singing.

If you could change about the music industry, what would it be?

I wish there wasn’t so much vanity involved. It should really be about art, about creating beauty and making the world a better place. When everyone is competing or rushing to look a certain way, it makes it hard to say or hear anything worthwhile. On top of that, since artists aren’t fairly compensated for the work they do, they’re forced to conform to expectations. What a vicious cycle!

If you could collaborate with anyone dead or alive, who would it be?

I would love to collaborate with Wendy Carlos. I wish she would teach me how to play a Moog, I’ve always wanted to learn. Her arrangements are so otherworldly, and yet so internal and primordial. It’s so hard to explain how I feel when I listen to Wendy Carlos, but it makes me want to be a more focused person, just to know how to achieve her sounds.

You can follow RZAK on Instagram.

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