In brand new “DEMONS”, we see Atlanta native ZAIA pounding the pavement in distorted, trippy and hellish visuals, which work to accelerate the heart rate on loop. And the track sees simmering and intense production, mixed with atmospheric guitar sequences, and the artist’s distinctive spit. How can we not stan?
Since his breakout single in 2019, “Blue”, the rapper has been making waves due to his genre-bending sound – merging hip-hop, trap, funk, indie and more. In just-dropped single, “DEMONS”, ZAIA paints the picture of having an unhealthy infatuation with a lover, who threatens to claim his soul, and more…
We caught up with the artist and talked early inspirations, vulnerability and five-year goals…
What was the moment you realised you wanted to make music?
About 5 years ago in the 10th grade, I got kicked off the basketball team before the season started for fighting in class. I got suspended and for some reason just started writing music about it to YouTube beats. I shared it and people thought it was pretty decent. So I put some music out and got a couple listens and people began to know me for doing it so I kept it up.
Who did you grow up listening to?
The first CD I ever owned was a bootleg copy of “Food and Liquor” I got at my uncle’s barbershop when I was a kid. My mom and I used to ride around listening to that a lot. She had her oldies like Luther Vandross, Marvin Gaye, Bobby Caldwell, etc. and just hits that would be on the radio at the time. I really didn’t dive deeper into music until I was old enough to understand it and respect the craft as an art. That’s when I started listening to people like Kendrick, Cudi, Kanye, and the new music that would come out at the time.
How would you describe your genre?
To be honest I’ve always struggled to answer that question. To me it definitely draws inspiration from a lot of different genres like hip hop , pop, rock, and lo-fi with darker, introspective thoughts but still something that makes you want to move. I make it for me and people like me. People that don’t do so well with relaying their feelings to others or expressing themselves, people who just replay situations in their head and think of all the alternative worlds that could’ve happened. I don’t have a specific name for it, so I don’t know how to explain what that genre is.
Where do you get your inspirations from?
All my inspiration come from situations that I’ve either been in or things I’ve seen that I’ve had opinions on. My main motivation in even doing this in the first place is a cliche generational wealth reason. I really just want to be able to take care of my people and to be able to put my people in positions to be able to take care of themselves.
What is “DEMONS” about?
“DEMONS” is about the thoughts in the mind that you run from and don’t face head on. By not facing those thoughts and conquering them they never really go away and you’re stuck running from them. It’s supposed to convey how those thoughts can drive you insane and change your whole state of your being. And at then end of the day it’s on you to evoke change for the better or conquer whatever it may be.
Do you feel really vulnerable putting out music so personal to you?
Only a little bit not a whole bunch. If wanting the people who listen, to like your music is considered feeling vulnerable then I guess. But if it’s like scared that people will use the music to attack myself or my character, or call me trash I don’t really give a fuck like that. I really never give things like that, that much energy.
Who would you love to collaborate with?
Carlos Santana, hands down.
What’s next for you/what are you excited about?
I don’t know, I think that’s the beauty of the music and this life. I don’t know what’s next for me. All I know is in my plans are better music, bigger shows, connecting with my supporters, and more respect and I’m looking forward to it.
What’s your five-year goal?
Five years from now I want to be respected amongst artists who’ve I’ve looked up to. I want to be noticed as someone different that stands in what they believe and be somebody people listened to for any situation. And… I’m trying to be taking somebody ankles away from them in a celebrity all star game. But mainly just making good music and money, doing the things I love to do.