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With the rise of the “producer” in recent years, audience focus has slowly shifted from the front of house artist to the masterminds behind so much of the music we hear. As the internet draws back the curtain across the music industry, the spider web of songwriters, producers, technicians and artists is much less of a secret. In fact, this collaborative effort is celebrated with both artists and audiences alike anticipating the heady mix of talents across a track.
Big names like Jamie XX, Timbaland and Pharrell have blurred the lines between artist and producer, jumping between both roles. And more often than not, the results when a producer steps out from behind the soundproof glass are some of the best. This definitely seems to be true of London producer and newly fledged solo artist Dom Zilla. Best known in the last few years for his writing and producing, including co-writing Lulu James‘ hit song Be Safe, Dom Zilla has now stepped into the spotlight with his own debut EP release; Chasing Days.
London’s Dom Zilla makes the move from the producer’s chair to the spotlight as a solo artist with his debut EP Chasing Days, a moving collection of electronica.
With two songs from the EP dropping over the last couple of months, the idea of a solo project has been in Dom Zilla’s mind for a while. Speaking about making the transition to working as a solo artist, he says it “Was quite organic. I didn’t rush it but I felt I had something to say and something to express musically.” Clearly luxuriating in a writing process that answered only to his own direction, he also commented “Not saying that I don’t like working with people, but on my own project I had to feel like I had complete control and knew exactly what I wanted to do. Or what result I wanted to achieve”.
His first solo effort, Take Home which features on the EP, grew out of a remix for UK artist The Lake Poets. Looking to get more experimental with the sounds, the track morphed into something in its own right, and setting the tone for Dom Zilla’s solo style. Blending beats and guitars with heavy atmosphere, raw sounds and trip-hop feels, this first offering from Dom Zilla has all the hallmarks of the producer’s deft hand.
That same deft touch extends from the writing right through to the recorded sound. Also making his debut as a vocalist, Chasing Days showcases Dom Zilla’s soulful yet human voice. Citing Steely Dan as a vocal influence, as well as Marvin Gaye’s croon for the falsetto moments on tracks like Cold, he plays with layered and effects rinsed vocals as part of the rich soundscapes he creates.
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Take Home launched Dom Zilla with a warm, dream laden vibe as he melts synths and vocals on top of minimal, skittering beats. Transitioning as the track progresses, the drop into a jungle style finale is unexpected but well judged. Dom Zilla plays with some hefty styles across this one track alone, naturally progressing the sound as it builds. Not one to rest on his laurels Dom Zilla followed up with his the second release, Cold, which channels a similar stripped back, sensual feel to Massive Attack’s Teardrop. A heartbeat pulse keeps time, shot through with an industrial metallic sound. The soulful vocal pushes to a breathy falsetto, melding with the instrumentation as another layer in the melody.
Even with Dom Zilla’s gloriously sparse production, intent listening opens up a wealth of sonic layering. From the heavyweight lines that carry the track; beats, synths and vocals, right through to the whispering cascades and delicate vocal effects that round out the sound. The third track on Chasing Days, as yet unheard before the full release, is the groove laden What You Want. It sits somewhere between a retro dance feel with its pulsating beat, that smacks of heady dance floors, and a new soul vibe brought out by the vocals.
Elements of techno creep into the repetitive tropes than run through the layers, this is definitely Dom Zilla’s most club friendly track. Descending to a bassed out, looming electro build and subdued brass fanfares, What You Want really is a hybrid with so much richness in its texture. The solid, compressed feel of a 90’s dance track is combined with the heavy atmosphere of modern electro.
Feeling both experimental and purposeful, Chasing Days is a sonic playground of influence and inspiration. With so much variation built behind him in his work with other artists, it’s clear that Dom Zilla denies the boundaries dictating genre and style. Taking the elements that express what he needs and working them together masterfully to create the sound he intends. And in the murky, sweaty flood-waters of a market over-saturated with electronica, Dom Zilla could well float to the surface with this breath of fresh air.
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