Reid Zakos is a Calgary based Pop singer/songwriter with a strong dance and theatre background. Since the start of his career, he has gained over 90,000 video views and gained radio play within Vancouver. Reid recently released his banging debut EP 'Legends & Myths' and it is a dynamic sonic experience through and through. The EP opens up with "Myths Interlude" and is a short but sweet little instrumental that consists of a modern but retro synth that plays a simple yet rhythmically interesting mysterious chord progression that sets you up for what the EP is about to deliver. The first full-length song on the EP "Gladiator", is a high energy dancing pop record that reminisces of classic early '2000s pop but with a modern flair and production to it, that perfectly suites Reid's enchanting vocals.
Reid's vocal performance is something to keep attention to, "Gladiator" has incredibly powerful vocals that dynamically switch from being laid back flowing perfectly on the beat to intense singing with strong melodies in Reid's jaw-dropping baritone range.
The following record "Purity" brings the energy down into a feel-good chilled dance piece that will make you want to dance while holding a cocktail. The retro-sounding synths contrast the vocals in a beautiful way that allows them to shine on their own and just vibe out without having to worry. Towards the end of "Purity", the record breaks down into something that's got a little hint of hip-hop with some modern EDM sound design in the bass that leads. "Smoke" comes in and flips the switch in instrumentation and vibe, this one features a sparkly acoustic guitar, explosive punchy drums, Dante on vocals providing a beautiful duet with Reid. The vocals completely take over this song, as Dante delivers an incredibly passionate and intimate performance that Reid matches with his intense style that gives a gorgeous flair of style to every lyric. This leads into the soft emotional ballad "Villain" and this one will hit you right in the feels.
There is almost a noir atmosphere here, "Villain" features a soft patient piano, ethereal vocal pads, upbeat organic percussion, and a strong almost raspy performance from Reid that is full of character. This release is an emotional rollercoaster that will take you from being sad to being almost regretful. "Blurry Now" with Jayden Mckenzie brings the tempo up and introduces interesting vocal effects with vocoders and creative filtering that dynamically evolves with the phrasing. Fresh new harmonies are introduced that magically suites the nostalgic storytelling being painted in "Blurry Now". The closing record "Legends Outro" hits you with all of the energy that you experienced in the EP. There's magical synth pads, a beautiful singing soft lead, intense drum grooves, and funky keyboards. Reid Zakos' impressive vocal range and performance are matched by the various duets that perfectly complement each other and deliver a beautiful experience. Overall this is a dynamic rollercoaster of an EP that has something in it for everybody.
Welcome to BuzzMusic Reid Zakos! Wow, what an EP, there are so many different waves of emotion going on. How do you connect personally with each song?
“Gladiator” means the most to me out of all the songs. I feel like it’s essentially my life story etched into a fierce dance track! Resilience, self-acceptance, empowerment, and freedom is what I hope people feel and hear when listening to it. As I’ve said before, and like so many other artists, I was bullied a lot growing up for being so “extra”, for being theatrical, and discriminated against for my sexual orientation. Performing and writing songs has always helped me escape and express myself, writing this song in particular really helped give me strength and perspective about my life. When I sat down to write it, I knew that I didn’t want to write about love or relationships. I wanted to empower myself and the listener. I feel like we are all gladiators ultimately fighting to be who we are and who we want to be, so I hope people can relate to the song in that sense.
“Purity” is about entering a new relationship with someone who re-invigorates your spirit and gives you a fresh start. It was produced by SoulAce and there’s an epic dance break in there!
“Smoke” is about when a new love emerges and somehow they seem to possess every quality you’ve been wanting in someone and then some! You don’t know if you’re ready to surrender your heart again just yet, but you kind of want to.
“Villain” I wrote with Tess Anderson. It deals with inner demons, feeling like an outcast, depression, and when people perceive you as the “villain” in certain situations, even if your intentions were always pure. It’s theatrical and full-on drama mama! It also showcases my vocal range the most on the EP.
“Blurry Now” is about falling in love and having it feel disorienting. Everything else gets blurry and fades away.
The vocal duets that you have are something truly incredible, how did you find these amazing singers to perform their duets with you? What was the recording process like with them?
Dante and I actually met because we were taking the same songwriting program at the Nimbus School of Recording & Media in Vancouver. “Smoke” was written during a random jam session that Dante and I had one day after class. She was playing her guitar and I just started singing the line “out of the smoke” over and over. We quickly came up with a catchy melody and the harmonies followed effortlessly after. We were definitely kindred spirits and naturally worked so well together. We would finish each other’s melodies and lyrics. We recorded using the studios at the school, and came back to the song a few months later - not only did we change the lyrics, but I also got Kaan Altinbilek (who produced by the previous single “Respect Me”) to remix our guitar and vocal demo into the final product.
With “Blurry Now”, Jayden Mckenzie was visiting me in Vancouver, and we were writing for his new EP while sharing a few glasses of wine. While building a track we started humming melodies until we accidentally wrote the hook while joking about being tipsy. Jayden is an alt-pop artist & a producer from Calgary, who also happens to be my partner so, when it came down to writing and creating a song together it was more effortless than I thought. We finished recorded the demo in my apartment in less than two hours, and then Jayden finished mixing & mastering it back in his home studio in Calgary.
The overall sonic style of this definitely has a flair of retro while also keeping it modern. What had influenced you to go in this artistic direction? What about the influences that makes them influence you?
I grew up in the ’90s and early 2000’s so, I’m not sure where my retro tendencies come from. I guess I’ve always enjoyed retro vibes that sound modern like you said. I have been told before that I remind people of George Michael and David Bowie, but they’re not necessarily direct influences of mine.
I would consider my biggest influences to be Gwen Stefani and Lady Gaga, while I also love Madonna, Britney, Christina, and Dua Lipa as they’ve all had retro influences that sound fresh in their music.
Gwen and Gaga have always meant the most to me on a spiritual level because their music helped me accept myself and so many other people. They have always celebrated their uniqueness in such an inspiring and kind way, through music, fashion, and videos. I hope to be on their artistic levels one day. I’m supposed to see them both live in Las Vegas in May but I’m not sure if I can go any more since COVID-19 and self-isolation have begun. I’ve been lucky enough to see them both live before, but I hope I still can! I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy during this weird time. I hope this virus slows down soon, and I also hope people use their time at home wisely and not take their creativity and self-care for granted.
I was a dancer before I started writing my own songs, so I’ve always been drawn to the great dance-pop choreography icons like Michael Jackson, Madonna, Beyoncé, and Britney. People that can really move and own the stage and their power.
I also look up to queer artists like Troye Sivan, Adam Lambert, and Elton John because they own their sexual orientation in such a brave and inspiring way.
As an artist, you definitely have experienced a diverse range of styles from music to dance to theatre. How has taking part in all of these helped shape the artist that you are today? Has any of these experienced helped shape the way that this EP had turned out?
Absolutely! Dance informed me how I want to experience music. Theatre inspired intention, humanity, and expressing vulnerability. I wouldn’t be the artist and performer that I am today without all those years of dance, going to theatre school, moving to Vancouver, and studying songwriting.
It all informed the work that’s on the EP and what I plan to do with it. I’m so grateful to my friendships with Dante Hart, Tess Anderson, and SoulAce for all the work they did on this project, and of course my partner Jayden Mckenzie.