Zak Abel has accomplished a lot in his 21 years. He has worked with the likes of Avicii, released two successful EPs and has just released his debut studio album. The singer’s current single ‘Unstable’ is climbing charts all around the world and the video, which was shot right here in Cape Town, is raking up thousands of views on YouTube. This week, Zak speaks to us exclusively about the hit single, his upcoming record and he has a message for his South African fans.
You’re making waves with your new single ‘Unstable’. What inspired the song?
The song was inspired by my own instability. I suppose I wrote it as a song to my loved ones that I felt I’d let down, as if to say “I’m aware that I can be a bit up and down and I know it can be bloody annoying but I still love you and I hope you lovee me too”
The track is rich in African rhythms and beats. Where did this production style come from?
I love highlife music so I really wanted to try and incorporate some highlife elements into my own music, along with the soulful elements too. I worked with a producer called Sky Adams on this song and pretty much the whole album. We really clicked.
You shot the music video in Cape Town. Was this because of the African elements the song encompasses?
I’d love to say that the location of the video shoot was based on the feel of the track. But if I’m being totally honest with you, I just happened to be on holiday there at the time and just by chance a super talented director was also out there at the same time. So it worked out well.
What was the highlight from your trip to South Africa? Could you explore or were you just here to shoot the video?
The highlight of South Africa was definitely the food. You could pretty much rock up anywhere and get an incredible meal for pretty cheap. Of course things are only cheap because of the ridiculous inequality there but I hope that gets sorted out soon.
What is the concept behind the video?
The aim of the video was to highlight the instability of youth. I think in the society we’re living in now, there’s a lot of pressure on young people to fit in, to look a certain way, or to be as successful as this person or that person. I feel like a lot of people (myself included) have felt like they don’t fit in in the world or haven’t found their path yet. So I wanted to convey that in the video
At only 21, you’ve achieved a lot in your professional career. How did your journey begin?
It began with a love for music. I remember watching and replaying Michael Jacksons VHS tape of all his music videos as a kid and thinking to myself, “I wanna do that one day”. I started writing songs at 14 and haven’t stopped. I signed to Atlantic records at 17 and then started developing my sound and experimenting musically. It’s been a mad journey so far. I’m looking forward to seeing where music takes me next.
You’ve worked with people like Avicii, Gorgon City and more. What’s the biggest lesson someone has taught you with regards to your musical career?
I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned to far is to be very clear with yourself and others about what you want, and then also being open minded enough to let yourself be creative and enjoy the ride.
You’re releasing ‘Only When We’re Naked’ soon. What can we expect on the album?
You can expect some soul, some funk, some pop, and more than anything, full nudity throughout.
Do you have a message for your South African fans?
Yes! I loved South Africa so much when I came last time. I want to come back as soon as possible and I’d love to do some shows next time I’m there!
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