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J. Zito Gets to the Core with "Colors Off"

J. Zito has been making music for a long time with friends in the Detroit music scene. Emerging from a dark place and gaining some perspective, he felt a need to explore political problems through the music he has created.

If he could have anything, it would be for his music to inspire the listener toward this sort of radical normalcy. Music has always been a critical tool for promoting good ideas in society, and J. Zito hopes his creations can be helpful.

Bringing our attention to J. Zito’s most recent single, “Colors Off,” we get to experience the world that J. Zito perceives through his interpretation of the world’s skewed lens. Using an array of impactful drum hits, distorted guitar riffs, and eccentric synthesizers, the nostalgic feel that makes itself familiar in this song swaddles our headspace in a rhythmic expose of everything J. Zito stands for. Applying complete ease that comforts listeners as they take in J. Zito’s vocal performance, his tantalizing croons serenade us in lyrical motifs that have us latching onto his individuality.

Words like, ‘I see you breaking stuff, maybe we’ve been deranged. Come take your colors off, now you don’t seem strange,’ have us exploring the thought process J. Zito encountered, which evoked such a powerful message. Embracing the psychedelic feel that “Colors Off” has us re-living, this tour through the eras proves itself to be rather enticing with its gravitational pull.

What we love the most about this record is the versatility that J. Zito applies, as he enhances the “Colors Off” soundscape with glimmers of brightness to his unique dark sound that listeners can expect to hear from him. Keeping us on the hook of what his artistic jurisdiction has to offer, we encourage J. Zitto to keep the mesmerizing records coming.

Congratulations on the release of “Colors Off,” J. Zito. After admiring this piece with the official lyric video, we would love to hear about this song's deeper meaning from you. Could you please share some insight? Thanks! Creating this project was a really fulfilling experience. "Colors Off" is basically about letting go of tribalism. The past couple of years kind of blew my mind as people on my side seemed to lose their minds and tear everything apart. Friends were denying reality and saying things that were obviously false; It made me skeptical of the whole thing. “Take your colors off” refers to team colors, political colors, gang colors, whatever. It’s saying that we’re all human, and sure we may need groups, but our common humanity is more important. That’s what led to the song as well as the lyric video. In creating this project I kept coming back to the quote from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the famous survivor of the gulags: “…the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?” It’s an almost trite message these days but at the core, everything I’m singing about is something like that; maybe the problems we see are more internal than we realize. We understand that all artists have a different way of approaching their craft. What does your typical creation process usually consist of, and did you find that “Colors Off” fit into it? For me it’s about recordings like a million little idea snippets, just me and a guitar, that’s it. Then after I let them sit awhile, I sift through them to find what ideas seem sort of sticky. There are usually little words or phrases that emerge from the subconscious in those, and I try to figure out what my brain was trying to get out there. Like, why did I fixate on those words? Or what could they potentially mean to me now? Then I start building on that. While writing this album I also learned a lot from my dad, who learned music theory at a young age. Playing with the key, stepping carefully outside of it to create tension, I did that in several places as a direct result of conversations we had about songwriting. "Colors Off" definitely does that; the chorus uses a pretty classic chord progression but in a way that stretches the boundaries of the key. That technique was super fun to play with. What would you like to be the biggest takeaway from this record? “Before it Gets Better” is unapologetically political. Nowhere do I see a political party that really represents me, and that’s a problem lots of people are having. All of our interactions are a mess, and it’s tearing us apart. It seems to me that we need radical dedication to a few simple principles found all across the political spectrum. This album is saying that it’s not “what do we hate?”, it’s “what do we love?” People on the left love justice and progress, people on the right love freedom and tradition, to those are all beautiful ideas to bring together. Instead of coming together, many people are doing the opposite. They’re calling the opposition evil, saying “just burn it all down”, saying anything to advance a cause, no matter how false. That’s what songs like Everything Goes and Let Me Sleep are about: the cost of lies, destruction, and dehumanization is way too high, no matter what your end goals are. How does your mission statement as an artist speak into who you are away from your craft? “Music for the Politically Homeless”, to me, doesn’t mean being apathetic about politics. It means accepting the reality of the mess we’re in and following those underlying principles we keep fighting about. In my day-to-day life, I’m surrounded by people who disagree with me on how to implement these things. That’s actually a good thing! Iron sharpens iron. We can’t just tear each other apart, tear it all down, demonize and hate each other. We need to love and accept each other because I could be wrong about my favorite belief and you could be right! I’d rather find out than assume I’m correct. Building something great, repairing the structure, listening to different ideas, changing your mind when you realize you mess up…that is so much harder. But it’s remarkably better. What would you like new listeners to know about your music? Every lyric I write and every note I play comes from a place of love. Even the most furious moments on the album are out of love for people in my life. Some of it was written through tears, sitting through stay-home orders and watching everything get politicized, and watching people turn on each other. It all really sucks. But the one thing I want people to take away from my work is that we have incredible potential to build something together if we can learn to listen, stop assuming our tribe is right, start working together to simply solve problems. That’s a bit like what songwriting is to me: a dilemma arises in the form of a little snippet of a musical idea that wants to come alive. I have to look at it from every angle, get outside perspectives, question myself and the truth of what I write, and build something. I don’t know, maybe if we all approached politics like songwriting we could get somewhere. We’re going to need cooperation and careful self-criticism before any of it gets better.


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