SOCIAL STUDIES: An Interview with Musician, Producer and Educator, Zo!
Special to Informer | , John Richards | 6/11/2012, 3:52 p.m.
Washington Informer: Who were some of your other musical influences?
Zo!: They're so many, there's too many to name.
Washington Informer: Just like your top 5.
Zo!: I would say the Mizell Brothers are definitely (in my) top 3. I may have to look at my iTunes, I'm gonna mess around and forget like five people. Definitely Earth, Wind & Fire, I think composition wise, live performance wise and making stuff sound big. Definitely Dilla, that's another one as far as like making your sound diverse. He makes the hard core hip-hop record, (then) he's flipping them up and producing for cats like (Erykah) Badu. His style, pretty much defined the so called "Neo-Soul" era. Let me think of somebody else; of course you've got Stevie (Wonder) and the different Motown producers like Norman Whitfield and cats like that. Quincy Jones is another one, that's another huge one. So I'm definitely leaning on him (Jones) more towards scoring and writing actual compositions so that you have different movements, different phases and different changes. I'm a real, real big music nerd when it comes to that type of thing. It's almost to where I don't even hear the lyrics, I'm paying so much attention to what's going on in the music.
Washington Informer: How has living and working in DC influenced you musically?
Zo!: It's given me a different look on it. When I first got here, it took me about three or four months to even make anything; just the new environment and trying to take everything in. The thing is, DC has a real dope nucleus of musicians as well. So I think the influence here, it's definitely more of a live instrumentation influence. It was different for me coming here because as a musician, I had to get used to being called in for gigs that was something new for me. In the D (Detroit), you're a musician normally you're with a crew and that's your crew and y'all do gigs together and that's it. Here, you know you can play with any group of cats. So, you know you just get a call and "Yo we need a keyboard to do this gig, you free?'' And then you just go play. You get around some of these top musicians man and you know, you get back home and you're ready to put something down or just sit down and practice for a few hours, just to keep your chops up.
Washington Informer: What are some of the instruments you play?
Zo!: My primary instrument is piano/keyboard, secondary would be bass guitar and my third would be drums because I've gigged on the drums before. My last instrument, my weakest, instrument is guitar. I call myself a studio guitarist, because you know you're able to start over and we recorded a lot of good stuff, but I haven't gigged on the guitar yet.
Washington Informer: I've read that you're also a music teacher. How do you find time to be a touring artist as well as a music teacher?