Hailing from Oakland, California, instrumentalist, and producer Z3TH3R teams up with Zimbabwean recording artist Ulenni Okandlovu for two new reflective singles, "Goodbye" and "What It Means."
Z3TH3R is the solo project of (Z)achary S(eth) Gre(er), who was inspired by a cacophony of all things from nature field recordings to heavy alternative guitars and 808 beats. Z3TH3R continues to explore infinite sonic soundscapes with help from fellow recording artists like Ulenni Okandlovu, founder and the lead vocalist of experimental duo Bantu Spaceships.
The two recently paired up for their lush recent singles, "Goodbye" and "What It Means." Okandlovu explains the former as "a prayer for loved ones to endure and stay strong in tough times." The second song, "What It Means," is said to be "a cry from deep within for those seeking a chance in life," notes the Zimbabwean recording artist.
Hitting play on "Goodbye," this piece opens with a hazy and soft electric guitar melody picking away at our hearts. As Z3TH3R's production and instrumentals begin to sweetly expand into this dreamy and lo-fi sound, Okandlovu makes his soothing vocal appearance while grooving into a smooth rap that reminds us to remain strong during such unexpected and turbulent times. We truly appreciate the introspective yet inspirational feel of this single; it's safe to say that it arrived at a better time than ever.
Jumping into the second single, "What It Means," Z3TH3R opens the song with another spacious and celestial sonic soundscape that slowly develops into this heavy and rumbling drum break to enhance the intensity. Okandlovu showcases his broad vocal stylings in this track while serenading us with his sweet falsetto that chills us to the bone. His airy harmonies add another reflective layer while singing about how everyone deserves an equal chance at life no matter their situation and circumstances.
In need of some hope and sweet sonics? Get your fix with Z3TH3R and Ulenni Okandlovu's recent singles, "Goodbye" and "What It Means," now available on all streaming platforms.
We genuinely appreciate the uplifting and relatable themes within your two new singles, "Goodbye" and "What It Means." What was your primary source of inspiration behind these songs?
I was feeling collaboratively isolated during the pandemic, so I initially decided I would produce a "social distance beat tape" with other artists. Long story short, I created a google drive folder, uploaded a bunch of tracks, and then shared it with a bunch of singers, songwriters, and rappers. Ulenni dug into a few of the tracks and sent them back to me to produce and mix. The tracks took on a life of their own from there.
What was your collaborative experience with Ulenni Okandlovu when creating "Goodbye" and "What It Means?" What was that creative process like behind the scenes?
The collaboration with Ulenni was simply a few emails and a phone call. Ulenni chose a couple of tracks he liked, emailed me stellar vocals (really so much good stuff to work with), and then produced it. It was a smooth process. I chose to add textures, transitions, and signal processing based on what Ulenni was trying to portray.
What did you want to make the listener feel and experience when hearing both singles "Goodbye" and "What It Means?"
Ulenni had a clear vision of what the tracks would be about. "Goodbye" is a traveler's song about stepping into the unknown and having to part with your loved ones. I tried to push these ideas in the song's production with a dusty lofi soundscape. I want the listener to feel the freedom of the road and the swirling thoughts of self-doubt that can come with following one's intuition. "What it Means" is a call for compassion and healing for our broken world. It's a reminder to take care of one another and show love where we can. The sound design in this track is a reflection of the epic struggle that modern systems place on life itself and the power the collective has to change it: a war cry, a rising up, a grief ritual.
How do songs like "Goodbye" and "What It Means" represent your growth as an artist? Would you say these songs are more complex than your first few releases?
Its been a treat to be working one on one with artists and have them embellish my compositions in ways I could never imagine. Working with artists by just sending wave files back and forth via email is such an exciting way to collaborate and has brought many surprising results. Of course, every collaboration is different, but there is something magical about hearing Ulenni's voice over my beats. He weaves his poetry and unique vocalizations so beautifully through the tracks - it gave me so much to work with and took the tracks to a place I could never have imagined. I don't think these tracks are necessarily more complex than what I have previously released as a solo artist. Still, they are a clear example of how collaboration can open up new realms of creative potential. I look forward to releasing more tracks this year with Ulenni and other artists, so please follow me and support me to stay up to date on everything he and I are creating.