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  • Writer's pictureSpyros Psarras

Interview: Zero-B1

The Sanctum is honoured to have you, Zero-B1! Listening to your latest ‘The Zero Experience’ raised a number of questions but let’s take it from the very beginning. What drove you to become a lawyer? Was it a childhood dream of yours or did it come later in your life?

My dad was a Barrister and he pretty much with my mom drummed it in me that I was going to be a lawyer. There was no other career choice. So luckily enough I had the aptitude and perseverance to study and qualify as a lawyer. It wasn’t really a childhood dream of mine. I wanted to be a football player and play for Spurs.

Under what circumstance did you decide that you need to produce your own music and how did you start making it happen?

I learnt how to record and produce in the mid 2000’s. Although I did nothing with it. It was a great hobby but I stopped producing around 2009 and only restarted again in 2020, when I stared recorded myself playing guitar. I quickly realized that I still loved doing it after many years. I went to a studio in late 2020, to record a track I was working on…It's actually ‘Be Who u Wanna Be’ now, but it had a different concept and lyrics at the time. However, after spending quite a bit of money and time, I found the whole process cumbersome and hurried and I wasn’t happy at all with the result. I realised the best way to capture my sound was to record it myself. During my process, I can change my mind 1000 times and try out different ideas, voicings or arrangements. I need control of my recording environment.

What was the first piece of music you released worldwide and how did it feel to offer your ‘first child’ to the world? What are your thoughts about it today?

My first song release was ‘Oceans’. A soul/rnb song. It was released on17 January 2021. Intentionally on the day of my dad’s 1st year memorial celebration. The memorial had to hold a few months later than originally scheduled because of Covid. I produced the song, wrote the lyrics and played the electric guitar on the track. I then found a brilliant vocalist called Syauqi Destinaka, online who brought the song to life with her vocals and the rest as they say is history. The song holds a very special place in my heart because it’s my first song and I proved to myself that I could make top quality music.

The Hi-Lofi Chronicles, Vol. 1 is your first long release on the streaming platforms and it’s entirely instrumental. Which gets the best of you? Producing music or performing? Please elaborate on this thought.

I honestly think producing music gets the best out of me. Ideas and concepts flow quite quickly when I’m locked in. It’s such a fulfilling part of the process. Creating something out of nothing. Time suddenly moves at warp speed. It’s amazing. Trying to fit the ideas together. With performing, it’s such a thrill to play the songs in real time to people, especially when you can see and hear them moved by the music. It’s also the purest form because when playing live, I’m not constricted to the recorded format of the original song and can freestyle and go with the flow. A lot more instrumentation and crowd participation. I enjoy performing a lot but haven’t gigged as much as I would like to. This is an area of the craft and artistry that I plan to do more of this year.

Your latest album The Zero Experience is a truly healing journey for the listener as well as food for thought. Was it just as healing for you too? What was your vision for this LP?

The album has definitely been healing for me. To explore my place in the world as a British born Nigerian/African in Europe. My world view as it has, in part, been shaped for me in regards to my history, religion and politics.

Can you please say a few words about those divine creatures, Dorian Arielle, Grace Daniels and Ava Athalia? How did you come together and what qualities of them attracted you?

I met these amazing singers through networking online. Immediately appreciated their talents and sent the songs for them to listen to and to help me work on. Grace Daniels wrote and performed her verse on ‘Long Time Ago’. Dorian Arielle wrote and performed the phenomenal rap on ‘Pray’. She also provided the vocals on ‘Be who u Wanna Be’. Avia Thalia provided her vocals on ‘Wetin I Do?’. When I write, I often write with female vocals in mind. I don’t know why that is but I like the sense of chemistry between male and female vocals. Also, I’ve always loved female vocalists like Natalie Cole, The Staple Singers, Sade, Raveena, Snoh Alegra, Queen Latifa.

If humanity could take the lyrics of one of your songs to heart in order to change, which song would it be? Also, is there a track from The Zero Experience that you hold closer to your heart?

‘Be Who u Wanna Be’ would be that song. The song means a lot to me because I see so many people not living their true authentic lives because they are concerned with and controlled by other people’s opinions of them. ‘What will they think or say?’. To a large extent, the song was also therapeutic because I have been guilty of this too. The additional vocals on the chorus were provided by my 11-year-old daughter, who I wanted to also impart this sentiment to. ‘Be who u want to be, not what others want you to be, not what they think you should be’. That is how you will find your true purpose. And if you try and fail at least you tried. I also hold the song dear because I got a wonderful Nigerian guitarist called Sabi Guitarist who provided additional highlife guitar. I wanted the clash between a standard jazz chord progression and melodies, with African highlife guitars and it came off great.

Are there any albums or artists that inspired you to make music or even shaped your own sound?

These artists definitely inspired me and continue to shape my sound: Fela Kuti, Osita Osadebe, The Oriental Brothers, The Funkees, Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, The Staple Singers, Betty Wright, Raveena, Michael Jackson, Bill Withers, Soul2Soul, Groover Washington Junior, Heavy D, New Edition.

Without any intension to be invasive, what is Zero-B1’s greatest power and worst fear?

Greatest power, I am always optimistic regardless of the circumstances. The glass is always half full. Worst fear, leaving the world without fulfilling my true potential and purpose.

As a human, a lawyer, a musician, there’s a huge spectrum you’re performing in. But in the end, how would Zero-B1 like to be remembered?

A thoughtful and considerate person who advocated for justice and positively inspired others to change the world.

Enjoy Zero-B1 right here:


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