Performed live on Friday 23 June from 4:00pm – 5:00pm
Zak Abel is a 22-year-old British artist whose debut album One Hand On The Future is due for release in 2017. As well as featuring on the Gorgon City hit single, Unmissable, Zak has worked with notable artists such as Kaytranada and Joker. His latest single, Unstable, has already garnered close to 20 million Spotify streams. This year Zak played his first two sold-out gigs at London’s Scala venue. He plans to tour in the autumn.
ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: OUR CHAT WITH ZAK...
From what artists do you get your inspiration for your singing style?
"I'm inspired by a lot of 70s soul singers. People like Marvin Gaye, Bobby Womack, Tim Maia…"
What age did you start to learn the piano and know you wanted to sing?
"I started to teach myself piano at the age of 14. I've always been singing though. I only really started learning piano so I could play chords to sing my favourite songs over."
When you start working on a new idea or song what is the first thing you do to kick-start the idea?
"For me a song normally starts with chords, then melodies, then lyrics – in that order. I find when get the melody and chords, it makes me feel a certain way, which dictates the subject matter of the song I'm writing."
Unmissable with Gorgon City was your first UK top 20 hit released on YouTube initially, how did this collaboration arise?
"I was 18 and working with a producer called Jepordize at the time. His manager liked my voice and so when Gorgon City needed a vocalist for their tune, she put me forward to sing it. So I was sent the demo vocal of Unmissable and loved the song. I gave it a go and they really liked my version so they went with it!"
What do you think was the catalyst for the record deal you were offered with Atlantic records in 2012?
"My dazzling jazz hands. No, in all seriousness I'll never know exactly why I was signed to Atlantic. One of their A&Rs had heard some songs I had written and sung through a friend of his and it started there. I went in and had a very nerve-wracking meeting with the head of the label who made me sing and play guitar. Before I started he said basically, ‘right, you’re going to sing and play now and either I will like this or I won’t’, which was great to hear two seconds before you’re about to play to a record label! I’m just happy that he liked it!"
You originally set your sights on becoming a table tennis champion and had already won the Cadet Boys' singles title in 2009?
"What made you move more into music when you were the UK number one?
I felt as though there was a creative side to me that wasn't being fulfilled. I had so many things I wanted to say and feel. I wanted to express that and music was the only outlet for me."
"You have collaborated and sung with many artists including Kwabs and featured on his track Cheating On Me – what was that like?
A dream come true. Kwabs is such an incredible artist and Cheating On Me is one of my favourite songs. I supported Kwabs on tour and the idea to have me on the track arose when he asked me to duet with him at the Roundhouse. It went down so well that he asked me to record a version too."
What producers are you working with at the moment?
"Sky Adams basically produced my whole album. He's a half Nigerian half German dude with a huge, blue afro. If you'd seen him, you'd know about it. We're both into soul music and pop music but we also had a real interest in African production sounds, which were pretty integral to the sound of the album."
"We recently heard a hint of your track Awakening on Made in Chelsea, when can we expect this release? Is this your next single?
Haha! Good old Made in Chelsea! Nope my next single is All I Ever Do (Is Say Goodbye)."
What are your favourite tracks on your new album and why?
"My favourite track on the album is probably Deserve To Be Loved because we all deserve to be loved! It's a sentiment that I feel is so important and I'm proud to have expressed it on the album."
Your biggest headline show this year was in Scala, what was it like?
"Scala was one of the best moments of my life. Seeing the audience smile and sing along to my songs is the best feeling in the world and it's why I make music. I can't wait to do my next headline show at Koko in October!"
What are your plans for touring, where are you going next?
"I have a lot of great festivals lined up for the summer – including my performance at Bicester Village, which I think is going to be such a good vibe. I'm doing my biggest headline show in London at Koko on 10 October! I'm also going to do a number of headline shows around Europe too."
This year are we going to be seeing you at any festivals?
"Yes! I'm doing Secret Garden Party, V Festival and El Dorado festival, to name a few."
What’s next for you this year?
"The album will be out soon, so I'm excited for everyone to hear it, it's been a long time coming! Lots more gigs, and perhaps a couple of features too. Keep your eyes peeled!"