The grind doesn’t stop for this talented singer
As our first year as a platform reaches its last few days, it is only right to celebrate with a talent like Brooklyn’s own Zaxai. After all, 2017 was the year in which the soulful singer began to see his hard work and dedication into his craft, begin to gain momentum. The year in which he described as his best year yet was filled with gigs and projects such as his very first EP “Rendez-vous Chapt 1.”We caught up with Zaxai to talk to him about his cultured beginnings and the grind of being an indie artist. As you’ll read, he described his journey as having simply a wallet and a dream. After the year he’s had, that dream is that much closer to being attained. The underrated talent has put the work in, and we predict that 2018 will be when it all takes shape.
1. Where are you from and how did your upbringing help shape your sound musically?
I’m from Brooklyn, NY but my family is from Haiti. Both places are important to me. Growing up in Brooklyn and living in an Haitian household, I was exposed to so many different genres and cultures! Latin, Russian, Asian, African American you name it. It’s just a melting pot of cultures. Even now, I perform every weekend at a Russian club where I sing In English, Russian, Spanish, french and Italian. I forced myself to learn to sing in those languages. I’m always bombarded with new sounds. My mom was all about Gospel music growing up; both American and Haitian. My father loved listening to Michael Jackson, Elton John, Celine Dion, Lionel Richie and the commodores, Stevie and other international artist like Elvis Crespo, Garou etc. Brooklyn is one of the heart beats of Hip-hop and R&B. There’s a certain “swag” that only comes out of Brooklyn. My music mostly blends Brooklyn feels with gospel and Caribbean vibes, but I’d be in remise to say that those other cultures didn’t play a part.
2. IG tells us 2017 has been your best year yet. What were some of the new heights and accomplishments that your were able to reach this year?
From the beginning of the year, by the grace of God It has been non stop blessings, opportunities and new accomplishments. Whether it be with my own brand and band “Zaxai” or Performing with my other band I.E.T, it’s just been a grind I’m thankful for. In January, I had the chance to perform for Young Jeezy’s birthday party alongside Forbes magazine. The list of artist in attendance were Fabulous, Mack Wilds, Teyana Taylor, Karen Civil. I even took a pic with Iman Shumpert. Directly after we did another party for Forbes and in attendance we’re two of my fav artist Fabulous and Swizz Beats!
I had 4 major shows and a couple of minor acoustic ones this year and every one was packed out! I released my first ever E.P called “Rendez-vous Chapt 1” with my very good friend “Phinestro”. Within the project I first released two singles, one of which has 5K streams on Spotify (“Luv U 2 the Moon and Back”) and the other, “Move With Me” which has gotten more International traction. It’s reached countries such as Brazil, Argentina, Paris, Haiti, Japan, Dominican Republic and Iran. I released my first music video and that was for Move With Me. I did my first ever television performance and interview. It was small but still a milestone. I traveled to 5 different countries this year and got to perform in 2; Montreal and Mexico. I also had the chance to perform in front of Brian McKnight and got to pick his brain a bit.
3. How would you describe your style as a musician? Who do you hope to collaborate with going forward?
I would say My style is very Soulful, Singer-songwriter, pop. My favorite artist of all time is Michael Jackson. In today’s market, John legend, John Mayer, Bruno Mars and Usher. Most recently Anderson Paak, Miguel and Adele.
I would say my sound is a blend of MJ, Adele John legend and Bruno Mars, at least that’s what I’m told. In the future I’d love to do a song with John Legend, Adele , Miguel, Anderson Paak, Chance the Rapper and Bruno Mars. This is a necessity! Like I need to! I would also love to have a beat produced by Swizz Beats, Pharrell Williams and Timbaland. I totally love those guys as producers and artists. I admire all of these artists.
4. What’s the toughest thing about being an up and coming indie artist like yourself?
FINANCES and building a fan base. My band consists of friends but at the same time, I still have to pay them something and most shows don’t pay enough to do consistent gigs. Often times, I’ll either bring my guitar and perform solo or I’ll bring out a fraction of my band. All together we’re 10 pieces so I only bring everyone unless it’s a full show or industry showcase. It sucks cause we’re all friends and always fun being with each other and often miss one another. So, I’ve saved up a lot of money for 2018 and signed up for many gigs within and outside of New York. Also, there are important aspects to artistry and marketing like pictures, videos and etc. That all takes money. I have no backers, just my wallet and a dream. The second is a fan base because without consistent gigs, you build fans slowly so I’ve also focused on my online presence as much as possible.
5. What’s next for you? What do you foresee for yourself in 2018 as an artist?
In 2018 I hope to continue this zone I’m in. In my mind, nothing has changed and I’m still taking everything week by week.
I do hope to perform in more cities and countries along side my band. I plan on doing more famous venues within NYC AND BIGGER SHOWCASING like BET Matters. I don’t know whom to contact about that but If there’s a will there’s a way. I’m currently working on my solo EP which would technically be my second. This one is more singer songwriter, soulful. I’m working on a series of music videos for them to create one big short story. I also hope to gain more followers and fans. I know all the pieces are there, it’s just putting them together like a puzzle. Lastly I look to finally chart on the billboards. I know it’s possible, just takes the work!