Growth is learning to improve with the skill you are constantly practicing. The Sacramento-born, Los Angeles-based producer and vocalist ZAY (all caps) is proving his growth in each project he releases. But, much like the title of his last release, he is slowly getting better.
“I’m trying not to limit myself,” he says.
Right before his 11th birthday, he started to take up the art of production. He re-established himself as a solo artist last year, and today as a 23-year-old, he’s finally started to feel good enough about his talents to share them with the world. Most recently, he is gearing up to release “Spree,” the debut single off of his debut album coming later in the fall.
Coming into his own as a solo artist was a decision different from his entry into music. With his recent releases, he felt like, “I had shit to say, finally. I feel like I never have much to say, or at least I didn’t know how to say it or know that I had a lot to say,” he explained.
ZAY is putting everything into his music. He didn’t know the hobby he found as a child would turn into something serious. He figured since he was making decently good songs, he might take a chance on himself to release them.
In his career, ZAY is expressing emotions he’s felt in his life. “I’ll just casually mention some sad nigga shit or some mildly traumatic thing that happened, and I’ll just talk about it,” he said. “I think that’s kind of important.” In his music, he touches on experiences that have shaped his life up until this point. He realizes that none of what he’s gone through is anything to be ashamed of.
On the contrary, it’s a cathartic experience.
A lot of his album features songs where he expresses his vulnerability. Much like the song from his 2021, I’m Slowly Getting Better EP, “Therapy,” he dove into times where he had to get things off his chest.
“The whole EP, those three songs, I’m just really sad on it, about various things,” he explained. “Whether it’s like how I view myself, relationships with people that failed, or life feeling mundane.”
In his work, there is an air of optimism. Even in the title of I’m Slowly Getting Better, ZAY is hopeful of surpassing any past version of himself. “I think I want to be okay. I’m just going to try because it’s all I can do,” he said. This new album is where he pieces everything together.
“I think I’m talking most candidly about the shit I’ve been through and how I feel about it,” he said.
ZAY’s EP even helped him find himself. “It was kind of a reintroduction to myself and how my shit is supposed to sound, but I think it sounds like me,” he said. With the forthcoming album, he has more space to explore his range. The seven songs featured on the album will let new and old listeners get a better glimpse into who he is through and beyond the music.
“I have to get deeper with this shit after a certain point,” he said. Although he’s diving into more specific feelings with his music, he has been growing and learning more about being an artist and a person. With his new album, ZAY is digging deeper into specific details about the events in his life. The transition from the EP to the album made him more sure of himself as an artist.
“I think I got more sure of myself after realizing I can put together an EP,” he said. “I think I felt more confident making the album, and I think I sound way more confident.”
Beginning as a 10-year-old in Sacramento, he’s now transformed into a person who is sure of himself and sound. ZAY feels like he has grown to become a person who accepts failure and knows that it won’t be the end of the world.
“I think that’s the most important thing I learned in the last year or so,” he said. “I really don’t gotta compare myself to other people because everybody’s fucking up whether they know it or not.