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PAUSE MEETS:

Zak Abel

Talks fashion, hobbies and music

Styling: Rhys Marcus Jay // @rhysmarcusjay
Fashion Assistant: Suril Patel // @suril__

Photographer: Filmawi// @filmawi
Featuring: Zak Abel // @zakabel

One to keep your eye on

Zak Zilesnick, better known as Zak Abel, is an English singer/songwriter and musician who at 23 years old has not only established a concrete fan base but one that continues to grow meteorically each day. Most notably, Zak’s 2,674,000 monthly listeners has raked up an impressive 35 million streams on his hit ‘Unstable as well as another 17 million streams on Gorgon City’s UK Top 20 track ‘Unmissable’ on which he featured. Lucky for us Zak was able to make time to have a chat, here is what he had to say.

 Jacket: GCDS @ Selfridges, Top: Just A T-Shirt @ Browns Fashion

You’re a 23-year-old North-Londoner. How do you balance living a “normal” life with being a musician?

With difficulty (laughs). I find it very difficult to unwind when I write a good song. I get home, and I’m really excited. I find it difficult sometimes to sleep when that’s the case. Also when I’m touring a lot, I don’t get to see family and friends. Music is my love and my priority; I wouldn’t change anything.

Who are your biggest musical influences?

Michael Jackson as he bossed so many areas: he was an incredible dancer and singer. Also, song-wise, he spoke about some pretty profound things but did it in a way that anyone could relate to. Especially production-wise, he drew sounds from all over the world and put them into a format that everyone could appreciate. Also, Bill Withers, again, in terms of lyrical simplicity and his vocals. Then Rod Temperton: I love his chords and melodies.

 Shirt: Wooyoungumi @ Coogles, Top: Merz B. Schwanen @ Browns Fashion

Let’s talk about your new single ‘Love Song’. There’s a darker tone to this song compared to your previous records. Does this hint at the direction of your upcoming album?

Not necessarily, no. I think I’m just treating every single song as its own world. If a song has a darker meaning, then maybe the production will become a little bit darker – I’m doing it on a song-by-song basis.

The backing beat of Lovesong has an essence of funk. Talk through how you define the genre of your music.

Soul and funk music influences me. For example, in Love Song, the middle eight (hums the beat), was influenced by George Benson. Definitely soul influences, but I think I’m moving into more of a pop direction, definitely with the stuff I’m about to release. I find that quite exciting as I’ve never really entirely gone there. I’m finding new ways to go there.

You’re already working towards a new album despite only releasing your debut album last year. What motivates you to write music?

I want to be the best songwriter I can be… I want to keep writing and working on that skill set. It made sense to continue writing and not to stop after the album came out. Also, with the stages that are going on in my life, it helps me make sense of them when I write about them.

Who has worked on the new album with you?

I haven’t finished the second album yet; I’m still working on it.

Do you have a title and/or release date for the album yet?

I have a title I can’t share yet but no release date.

What’s your favourite album of the year so far?

I’d say the Justin Timberlake’s ‘Man of the Woods’ album. My favourite track is Wave, I think it’s an original idea, and I love the mix of country and hip-hop with electronic parts as well. Midnight Summer Jam is also incredible.

What is the ultimate song you wait for on a night out?

Off the Wall by Michael Jackson or Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough by Michael Jackson – they’re just super groovy.

Where do you and your mates go for a night out in London?

There’s a place called the Bussey Building, and they have a night called Soul Train. I’m a big soul and disco music fan, and they play some incredible disco records there. When I go there, I find some absolute gems I’ve never heard before. They’ve got different floors which play different sub-genres of soul and funk.

Where are your favourite places to shop in London?

I’m really into Our Legacy; they’re a Swedish brand that makes simplistic designs of high quality. I like Maharishi a lot; I’m really into Japanese, military-inspired stuff – like workwear. I also love browsing in Dover Street Market London, that’s where I get some of my ideas.

What brands would you love to collaborate with?

There are a couple of brands in Amsterdam which I think are amazing – like Daily Paper and The New Originals. Because I know the guy from New Originals and I like the way he thinks…if I were to collaborate with a brand on merch, it would be them. In fact, I’ll probably speak to him about that.

 Jumper: Champion @ Urban Outfitters, Trousers: Loom @ Urban Outfitters, Socks: Uniqlo, Trainers: Raf Simons

What makes you different from the other artists in similar genres to you right now?

I know for a fact that none of them can play table tennis as well as me.

What is your most significant accomplishment so far?

My biggest accomplishment is filling out my debut album. It’s been a dream of mine to put out an album and to say I made an album with Atlantic Records is a huge deal for me – they’re the home to some of my favourite artists: Paolo Nutini, Plan B, Ed Sheeran.

What is the next milestone in your career that you’re currently working towards?

Album two, and I want to have a number one single. I’ve never really thought about it before, but I think it’ll be really fun to have a hit record that will cheer people up.

What are the go-to trainers in your wardrobe right now?

Right now I’m wearing Nike Air Vapormax Laceless Triple Black. They’re very comfortable trainers and they go with everything.

What are your hobbies outside of music?

I like reading. Some people have spent their whole lives dedicated to learning a specific subject and have filtered it down into a book that takes about a week or two to read. I find it nuts that it’s not a common thing that people are reading loads.

What book are you reading at the moment?

I’m reading a book on songwriting. There have been some incredible songwriters before me, and there will be some incredible songwriters after me. I want to learn as much as I can, and I want to be one of the best songwriters in the world.

What makes you different from the other artists in similar genres to you right now?

I know for a fact that none of them can play table tennis as well as me.

What is your most significant accomplishment so far?

My biggest accomplishment is filling out my debut album. It’s been a dream of mine to put out an album and to say I made an album with Atlantic Records is a huge deal for me – they’re the home to some of my favourite artists: Paolo Nutini, Plan B, Ed Sheeran.

What is the next milestone in your career that you’re currently working towards?

Album two, and I want to have a number one single. I’ve never really thought about it before, but I think it’ll be really fun to have a hit record that will cheer people up.

Check out Zak Abel’s latest album on Apple Music

‘Only When We’re Naked’