Meet K.ZIA, a Berlin-based Afropean singer, songwriter and composer. Her music fuses R&B, soul and pop but first and foremost it centres community, togetherness and the love we have for each other and the world around us. In 2018 K.ZIA released her debut EP RED, followed by singles like Mon Mood, Sanctuary and her newest release, I Got Your Back. For this interview, DADDY asked the artist about writing, spirituality and of course her music.
K.ZIA: Music has been a part of my life ever since I can remember. Being the daughter of artists, I have always been surrounded by artistic expression in all its forms. I was lucky enough to have been brought along on tour quite often by my mom and started singing early on. Right after finishing my Master’s degree, I started working in music professionally. I moved to Berlin and explored its music scene through jams and open mics to get to know musicians and feel the vibe of the city. Within the first weeks, I got bookings where I could perform the few semi-finished original songs I had. From there, small gigs kept popping up, usually unpaid until small paychecks started coming in. I developed my artistry, worked on my craft, artistic direction, and live shows and have come quite a way from where I was four years ago. I’m grateful.
K.ZIA: I don’t have one single way to create. It really depends on the setting, the mood, the people, the purpose, and my emotional state. The one thing that does remain is that when I write for myself, I cannot do it if I don't feel it. All my songs are close to me because they’re all based on experiences I've lived or witnessed. That’s the process for me: authenticity, real stories and emotions. Other than that, it can be writing in a notebook by the water because I have things I need to express; humming a melody to a beat I was sent by a producer or being in the studio and finding toplines with other songwriters after a long conversation about something that’s been going on in my life...
K.ZIA: It hasn’t happened yet actually. I’ve had people tell me that they’ve heard me and have received videos but I don’t listen to the radio that much so I haven’t had the chance to catch myself yet… It’s a milestone I have yet to reach.
K.ZIA: If we define afrofuturism as a combination of futurism and historical moments of Black history, I don't really see my art like that. I see myself as part of the alté movement in which we approach afro music in a modern and alternative way. I push boundaries and combine worlds that are known but not necessarily assembled that way. Alté compromises a diverse range of styles and I can definitely relate to that.
K.ZIA: I consider myself a spiritual person. I believe there is more to life than our material bodies, and my goal is to live focusing on that mostly. I believe everything is energy, what you are, how you act, the spaces you are in, the people that surround you, what you eat, the animals, plants... And it takes work, patience and paying attention to align yourself with the right energies for your soul.
School, western society, media etc. blocks us from the strong bonds our ancestors had to their spiritual realm. I’m trying to unlearn, disconnect to reconnect, grow my spiritual language, and develop my radar.
K.ZIA: In Brussels that’s “Woluwée st Pierre”, the neighbourhood I grew up in as a child. Even though I never go there anymore – because barely anyone I know lives there anymore – it’s home.
In Berlin, I love my home, my cocoon. As I travel a lot, it’s the place I enjoy being in the most. Other than that, any place where I can have good food... and there are lots of those places in Berlin. And lastly Tempelhofer Feld, the closed down airport field. I honestly think every big city should have a place like that. A big horizon and open space where people can breathe, run, skate, have picnics, do yoga, dance, grow fruits, plants and veggies, meet up for long walks, think, scream or shoot music videos.
K.ZIA: I’m releasing the album I’ve been working on: GENESIS. – and hopefully that will lead to starting a tour. Live music, which is one of my strengths, has been really tricky in the past two years. I’d really like to accompany a great artist as a supporting act on tour and anchor myself more in the United States and in the UK.
Personally, I want to find peace of mind again and make sure I live in the moment and maintain a healthy lifestyle close to my loved ones whilst pursuing my career.
K.ZIA: It’s harder than it looks. Like for real, but it’s also one of the things I’m the proudest of: Allowing myself to live this dream despite all the risks and sacrifices it takes.
Believe in yourself and fight for your vision – and most importantly surround yourself with creatives, supporters, loved ones, smart people… Without others, it’s impossible in this industry.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
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