Meet the Swedish pop sensation who’s transporting us back to a much simpler, more carefree time with her latest offering, “Stay This Way”.
Life before lockdown – full of hugs with random strangers, snack-sharing with office besties, bumping bodies on a sticky dance floors, kisses hello, goodbye, and everything in between – seems like a distant memory now.
Here to remind us of those carefree moments is Swedish pop sensation Zikai with her nostalgic new offering, “Stay This Way”. Drawing on her dual heritage, Zikai combines airy pop melodies with up-tempo Afrobeat elements to powerful effect, unlocking feel-good memories in the process. Featured on the track, Roc Nation’s Kes Kross charismatically cements the mood with his buoyant vocals which send us floating back to a much simpler time.
“‘Stay This Way’ is about a time in my life that felt so simple and free,” explained Zikai, on what the track means to her. “The song allows me to look back to a happy time that I never wanted to change. I wrote it two years ago, but it feels particularly relevant now.”
Created with producers Jim Ouma, “Stay This Way” marks Zikai’s first outing of 2021, following the release of her high-energy debut EP “Make You Mine” last year. We caught up with the rising R&B-pop icon below, talking musical inspirations, the importance of timing, and what she’s got in store for us next.
Check out the interview below…
Hey Zikai! How is everything! How has lockdown been?
Hey!! It’s been pretty boring. But it’s quite nice living in Sweden during this time of the year watching the snow outside the window. Cabin vibes.
Have you picked up any unusual skills?
I’ve started getting into producing. I think I’ve become a lot more independent musically in general. I’m very happy about that.
When did you first start music? And when did you realize this is what you wanted to do?
I’ve always loved singing for as long as I can remember. But I was probably like 13 when I started writing my own songs. I remember I named one of my first songs “Cold (ft. Kanye west)” and hopefully one day I’ll be able to finish that…
Where did you grow up and how did it influence you sonically? Who were your musical heroes?
I grew up in Stockholm with my mom who’s Swedish and my dad who’s from Ivory Coast. I grew up with both Swedish pop music and afro beats and I absolutely think that inspired me a lot. I’ve always listened to a lot of different music, but Drake’s probably been my biggest idol throughout the years.
You wrote your new single “Stay This Way” two years ago, what made you want to release it now?
“Stay This Way” ft Jim Ouma & Kes is a song about a time in my life where it felt easier and freer. I’m reminiscing about a time of euphoria and that type of feeling you wanna stay in forever. I did write it back in 2019 but it feels extra relevant today. And the sound of it still feels fresh. I’ve always wanted to drop it, I guess I’ve been waiting for the right timing…“When life were this easy and we could afford to be free. One more night baby. Will you, make this one count for me.”
And what was the creative process like?
I wrote it together with my fave top liner Kee Ingrosso, producers Jim Ouma and writer/artist Kes Kross. We had actually made a whole other song that day, but Jim Ouma wanted to show us another beat right before we called it a day. Me and Kee looooved the vibe of that beat so we tried some melodies and words – 30 minutes later, “Stay This Way” was born.
What’s your favourite lyric on the track and why?
“City of angels city of dreams, we got the world right at our feet/ And if we get champagne problems maybe one day we can solve em.”
I don’t know exactly why those are my fave lyrics, but I guess it just gives me this image of someone living in the moment and really enjoying life as it is…while being in a big, beautiful city. Something I should do more often.
You received a nomination for Rookie Artist of the Year last year, what was this like?
It felt crazy. I remember being at a Denniz pop after party in 2019 thinking, “I really wonder when or even if I’m ever gonna be invited to the actual award…” Little did I know, I was about to get nominated one year later. It felt surreal and I’m so grateful!
How does it feel to be releasing new music when most of the world is in lockdown/everything feels so uncertain – what do you hope your music will bring?
It feels strange not knowing when I’ll be able to perform again in front of a real audience. But I do take comfort in knowing that we’re all in this together and you just have to find other ways to be creative. I hope my music can make people think about something else for 3 minutes, maybe dance a little, feel good.
Who would you love to work with and why?
I’d love to work with Drizzy, Drake, he’s literally my favorite. I’ll keep answering Drake on that question and manifest it until the day our collaboration becomes reality!
You released an EP last year, so what can we expect from you this year?
I’ll keep dropping songs all year but this year you might see me do some more features… Keep your eyes and ears open!
What are you most excited for?
I’m most excited for things to get back to normal. Until then I’m most excited to get back in the studio and create new songs.