words by Rheanne Cruz
NY-based artist, Zuli, just released his debut album On Human Freakout Mountain. Prior to the full release, he gave us a sneak peek of his band’s insane energy with singles like "Kubadiver" and "Follow You." I got the chance to speak to him about his musical history and visual inspirations, which you clearly can’t miss in his style.
On Human Freakout Mountain has been out as of October 20th, so treat yourself with a full listening sesh and check out his insane music videos!
So is Zuli your real name?
It’s my last name!
When writing OHFM, did you overcome any mental blocks?
I mean when I first did the EP that came out in 2015, it was the first time I did a project like that, recorded and done all the writing completely by myself. It was great at first, and all these ideas were coming. Literally right after, I started playing live sets, and I only had like 25 minutes worth of music. Like I thought, ‘I need to write more songs’ and stuff like that. It was a bit of a challenge because forcing yourself to do something like that never works. It never pays off, so it was difficult in the beginning. Then it started happening naturally, and before we knew it, I had a whole album’s worth of material, put it down, and here we are.
Have you had any trouble defining yourself or putting yourself out there as an emerging artist?
Not too much. Luckily, I have a really supportive community from where I’m from, we’re in it together, and working with PR people. I’ve got a little bit of the ropes from booking shows in New York, and I was able to kind of get it started. But in the grand scheme of things, still an emerging artist for sure, and stilling trying to make things happen.
Is there anything you want your listeners to take from the music?
Not really I guess, because I think, the main thing - even with music I listen to on my own time - you’re gonna take from it what you are and that's the beauty of it. Many of the songs are really honest, genuine, and come from stories of friends or myself, so they kinda apply to a lot of things in life. I try to write with a broad spectrum as opposed to laser focus, like you can't take anything away from it if it’s exactly pen to the paper what happened. I just hope people enjoy it and take something positive from it.
Do you have any visual inspiration for your music videos or album covers?
There's been a little theme of Stanley Kubrick, even directors like Wes Anderson things or like that, with neat centered framing. There's even a theme going on with the new album and promo with the messy collage feel. We try to keep it consistent but overall it comes from a things I would want to see, or trying to go with my gut.
Do you have any favorite songs?
I think it’s "Follow You." I really love that one. It feels like a straight up nice song I can play on the acoustic guitar. I also like Neither am I and Still Believe on the new album as well. They’re honest songs and the inspiration came quickly; it was one of those scenarios where just you strike gold. Some things just happen, you sit down, and write a song.
Would you say you’ve been playing instruments or working as a musician for a long time?
I’ve played classical piano since I was 5 and I started guitar at 11. I started getting serious about playing in bands in high school, and got more into indie music. It's been a steady progression of playing in bands, writing, and working on the craft.
If you were to describe your album in two separate adjectives what would they be?
I would say it’s eclectic a little bit, but also focused. I think it has a lot to offer and there's a little something for everyone. But it also really speaks as a collection opposed to certain individual songs.
Are there any styles you wanna try in any upcoming albums?
I’m definitely gonna do something more dancey. I’m really loving rock n roll lately; i'm sure the next one is gonna be even harder. At some point i'm gonna do something dancey, I just gotta figure it out.