In lieu of Ben Zaidi‘s jam-packed October 2019, we sat down with the Future Soul musician to discuss all levels of his esteemed career to date.
Before plunging into the read though, take a listen to his new single “365” below:
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What was your inspiration for “365”? Who are these “mother fuckers looking lame right now”, and have you venting through your music?
“365” was one of the first songs I wrote this summer after a long period of running around, caught up chasing music opportunities on both coasts, missing birthdays & leaving a lot of people in my life waiting around. I knew in most of these cases i was in the wrong, but I kinda felt like telling people to just chill out and deal with it. You can’t please everybody, and while usually in my music and in my life I try and keep the peace, every once in a while you gotta let people know what’s good. I’ve written a lot of subdued, melancholy music over the last couple years, and after a lot of that I guess it was just time to put the guitar down, channel some ’03 DMX, and talk my shit.
Have you always leaned towards writing music within this hybrid Future Soul sound or did you play around with other genres in the beginning before finding your niche?
Growing up in Seattle at the turn of the millennium, my musical inspiration was pretty bipolar. On one hand were the grunge singer-songwriters of the 90s, and on the other were early 2000s rappers. I ended up picking up a guitar and learning to play & write more melancholy ballads than anything else, but all the while those rap lyrics were rattling around in my head. My love of hip hop has only gotten stronger over the years, and I think it breaks out into my own music from time to time.
How would you describe Future Soul to someone who can’t hear?
Bill Withers singing over an 808 drum machine.
Can you make a quick playlist of songs that perfectly capture what Future Soul is?
Who are the two artists that have impacted your sound the most?
Chris Cornell and James Blake.
What is your guilty pleasure track today? What do you have on repeat that would surprise us?
“Kid Cudi” by Playboi Carti. It’s not really a “guilty” pleasure, except in the fact it’s not out officially yet, and may never be, so I have to chase down leaks on youtube.
What’s a day in the studio like for you?
I wake up and brew some tea, maybe play some piano. Find some chords and sing some melodies, then spend a while pacing around with a notebook trying to find the words that fit them.
What’s a day outside of the studio look for you?
Reading for a while in bed (right now i’m reading War & Peace ). Walking over to my sister’s apartment––she lives down the street and is 4 months pregnant. Probably bringing her some snacks and mineral water. going to a coffee shop and taking care of some video editing or graphic design or something. Coming home and cooking dinner with my girlfriend, maybe some kung pao tofu. Hanging with my roommates, having a beer & listening to tunes.
What’s in your pocket right this moment?
I’m…not wearing pants right now.
Where do you see your career taking you throughout the next 5 years?
Hopefully all around––I’m enjoying being on the move right now. Would love to spend more time writing next year, maybe in some different places. I spent some time in London last year, and would love to live there for a bit, if they don’t continue to fuck the whole country up. ultimately, I hope my career takes me farther out, to more and more people, and closer in––nearer to the reason I do this shit. Which is: giving people words for the things they feel. Ever closer to that would be good––deeper into the difficult emotional terrain that needs to be mapped so people can find their ways in and out.
Catch Ben Zaidi on his ‘Abandonism’ Tour, happening right now!
11/8 – Constellation Room – Santa Ana, CA
11/9 – Hotel Cafe – Los Angeles, CA
11/12 – Johnny Brenda’s – Philadelphia, PA
11/13 – Middle East Upstairs – Boston, MA
11/14 – Rough Trade – Brooklyn, NY
11/23 – The Drake – Toronto, ON
11/25 – Schubas – Chicago, IL