Catch up with Toronto-based artist Zolo, watch the video for his latest single, "Thought That Counts", off his forthcoming EP, Mindless Thoughts, and look for more from Zolo World soon.
What got you interested in music and in solo work?
Zolo: I guess growing up, as a kid, I watched soccer, so soccer was my number one thing but I always liked music, like Prince, Michael Jackson, Daft Punk - just various artists. I loved Michael Jackson. I had a friend of mine and he was actually the one that formed the band that I was in and he was like, 'man, you wanna come in this band?' because, every time they would write songs, I would suggest this and suggest that and I was like, 'okay, cool, let's do it,' and then that's how it kinda started.
Do you remember the first song that you wrote?
I think it was a song called "Mechanic". The whole song was, basically, referring to a female and you're going to be her mechanic [laughs] so we used car references like, I think it was, 'I'm a mechanic, I'm going to tune you up,' and, yeah, it went like that. It was pretty cool.
Which other musicians would you say you have been influenced by?
Definitely, David Bowie; I like David Bowie a lot, just his style and his concept. I love Coldplay's sound. I like Kanye West. I like Lady Gaga, obviously. Swedish House Mafia when they were still around. Yeah, those are the ones that I can think of off the top of my head right now. And, obviously, I like Drake since he's from Toronto.
How would you describe your sound to someone who had never heard your music before?
First, I would say it's feel-good music, definitely, with a message. Second, it's a fusion; it's pop elements, it's got some hip-hop elements, some electro - it's got some different sounds. It's got some Caribbean sounds, some island sounds, just a fusion of different music but, overall, I would say it's feel-good music.
What were your inspirations behind your single and video for "Thought That Counts"?
Well, "Thought That Counts", the actual song, I was, you know when you're a child and you're 5, 6 and you're sitting there thinking, 'man, when I get older, I'm going to change the world? That's why they come up with superheros like Spiderman, Batman, all these guys that basically save the world and get rid of villains, because you see so much going on in this world and that we have our own villains and we always wish that we could just change the world. But, growing up, as you get wiser and you lose your kid imagination, you realize this world is kind of shitty and at the same time you know it, you can't really do much, and so it comes down to it's the thought that counts and if we all have that same thought, we could and would change the world.
The video kind of shows it a little different; it just shows a guy that basically is struggling through life and has goals - and we struggle so much sometimes and we all have our dreams - and I guess his wife is there to support him and so she ends up making a new board for him and gets him to be successful and gives him that drive, because we all fall off course sometimes.
Are "Brand New" and "Thought That Counts" indicative of what we can expect to hear on your new EP and could you tell us more about Mindless Thoughts?
Yes, the new EP's called Mindless Thoughts. The reason why I called it Mindless Thoughts is because it's an oxymoron: you can't really think and then be mindless, but my actual thoughts come from my heart. So, it's a fusion of songs, like "Brand New" is going to be on there and "Thought That Counts" is going to be on there and I have a couple of other songs, some more funky crossover songs. Yeah, I've got some really cool songs with the same energy, same vibe, and it's all a transition into feel-good music again.
Do you have a track off of that new record you'd call your favorite?
Yeah! My favorite song on it is "Top Of The World". I wrote the song basically on the concept of, I met a girl and you know that crush stage feeling where everything is going good? I felt like I was on top of the world, so that's the song basically. It describes what's going on, how she makes you feel, and the chorus is, 'she's on the top of the world'.
What do you hope that your fans and listeners will be able to take away from your music?
What I really hope that they take away from it is just that, one, they understand it and, number two, they can relate to it. Maybe every song's not for you, but at least one of the songs you can relate and put that in your every day world, like, okay, this is what this makes me feel; so maybe a girl or a guy meet their partner for the first time and their partner makes them feel on top of the world, or maybe they're struggling with something so it's the "Thought That Counts" that gets them inspired to keep going. Then there's other stuff like that, so that's what I'm hoping they take from that.
Is there anything you want to add?
I want to talk about the whole Zolo World. Zolo World means freedom is power and we're very strong about that and being yourself no matter what or who tells you to be something different: if you want to be the coolest nerd, be the coolest nerd; if you want to paint art all day, paint art all day. Love yourself and be yourself because, again, freedom is power. Your freedom is your power.