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Spotlight Interview With J..Zito

Updated: Sep 23, 2021

A brand new album from J.Zito delivers some absolutely tasty classic rock that blends into 90's radio rock and garage all with a series of sweet choruses and memorable hooks to go along with that addictive fuzztone vibe.

The Before It Gets Better album is bright and driving with an emotional backbone and a number of production trickery and style that gives the record a certain character.

Melodically driven, cinematically toned, and all with some edge alternative roots that show face here and there, Before It Gets Better actually keels getting better from start to finish.

Songs touch on singer-songwriter, and back to that slightly dirty garage rock sound you become attached to in the first place.

There is something nostalgic feeling about this album and it can really wash you away with its aesthetic and feel right from the get go.

You can hear the absolute fun this must have been for the artist to perform and track.

This release holds little back in the way of utilizing vocals and an instrument, laying down riffs that grab you, and creating an atmosphere that makes you think twice about what you just heard.

It even gets eerie at times and can overwhelm your brain in the best way possible.

You become engulfed and that is something you barely find in music anymore.

With such a great and deepening rock release, we wanted to have a chat about the record and about one of the main single from it called "Colors Off"; a song that we found to be delightful and intriguing .

The single comes with an alluring video that we have attached below for your viewing pleasure.

RAG: Let's start with the "Colors Off' single. This track has a great warm feel to it and feels like a very pop oriented track. Where did this track come from?

Thanks for checking it out! Yes, “Colors Off” is probably one of the more pop-leaning tracks on my new album “Before it Gets Better”, which is out now. Conceptually, it emerged from my growing disdain for tribalism in our culture. By “Colors” I’m talking team colors, political colors, gang colors; whatever signals we use to divide humans up. Sure we need groups, but not at the expense of our common humanity.

Musically it was driven by a need to return to guitar-heavy music after years of exploring what I could do with synthesizers in electronic music. There’s still elements of that exploration here, particularly in the drums and samples, but at the core this is guitar music! It’s sort of a return to my roots.

RAG: The video was amazing watching that painting unfold. Did you paint that?

Thanks! Yes, that was me. I’ve loved painting and drawing since I was very young. I’ve thought for years that it would be fun to put my love of music together with my love of visual art. Finally doing it was really satisfying.

RAG: I'm hearing several rock styles and indie-pop undertones. Who are you really influenced by?

It’s hard to pin down exactly where all my influences come from! As a kid I loved alternative rock and heavier music. Nirvana was one of those bands that blew my mind at an early age. I got into harder rock music from there. But there was always this background hum of the Beatles because of my dad, who’s a huge fan. I remember listening to “I Am the Walrus” and being like…wow, you can do this with music?! That eventually led me toward Radiohead which led me to post-rock, shoegaze, electronic, and indie bands. Boards of Canada, My Bloody Valentine, Sufjan Stevens, Pedro the Lion, Arcade Fire, Bonobo, Tycho…I also get a lot from hip hop; Nicki Minaj, Jay Z, early Kanye. The list is huge and still growing. But I still return to rock music too. Bands like Foo Fighters and Tool still scratch a very specific itch for me. I think there’s a hunger out there for guitar music these days. It’s pretty interesting that Fender guitar sales skyrocketed early in the pandemic!

RAG: At times this record sounds like a concept album. Is this true?

Yes it‘s got a consistent running theme for sure. It’s an unapologetically political album, but hopefully not in the typical way. It’s a criticism of extremism, lies, and violence that are used for political ends. Nearly every track attacks that idea from a different angle. We’re in such a crazy time politically, and ultimately my work is a call to nonviolence, coexistence, and acceptance of those who are different.

RAG: I feel like you'd be awesome to see live. Are you planning any live shows in the near future?

Thanks! Covid has definitely thrown several wrenches in that process but we’ll see how things pan out. I have several musician friends in the Detroit scene who I’d love to collaborate with again.

RAG: What are you doing when you're NOT working on music?

I’m also an automotive designer and I love spending time with my family. I’ve found a great balance in my life to be honest. I’ve worked for years to figure this out! Work, family, and art all can feed each other in incredible ways if you know how to set boundaries and appreciate what you have.

RAG: This single and video felt like a massive undertaking. Do have any advice for upcoming artists out there?

Yes! This actually connects back to the previous question. We all have obligations, we’re all exhausted, we all have a million excuses. It can feel impossible to be creative sometimes. But if you truly want to accomplish anything, you have a lot more time than you think. Set aside an hour or two per night, just a couple days out of the week. Dedicate it to your craft. Show up. Be consistent, but don’t be hard on yourself when nothings coming. Be willing to walk away and wait for inspiration to strike if necessary. Those little investments add up over time until suddenly you look and see you’ve completed a project. If the alternative is doing nothing, then at least do that!

RAG: Who are you listening to right now?

Lil Nas X just released the album Montero, which I’ve been waiting for because the songs Montero and Industry Baby were so incredible. What an artist! So I’ve been listening to that on repeat, and it doesn’t disappoint. Billie Eilish and Finneas are geniuses. The new Modest Mouse album might be my favorite of the year. He’s speaking precisely my language; there’s not a bad track on that album in my opinion. My brother Paul [an animator and musician out of Portland who helped tremendously on “Before it Gets Better”] and I have also been obsessing over Tame Impala’s entire discography lately. The way Kevin Parker utilizes psychedelia without sounding dated is so inspiring to me.

RAG: What kind of things really inspire you to write?

Lately it’s the crazy state of the world. Everything is so polarized and political, it’s all wrong. I want to inspire people to let go of the extremism, learn that the person next to them who thinks the complete opposite of what they think might actually have something to offer. If we could just learn to listen compassionately to people with whom we disagree, we might grow more than we expect. This divisiveness has to stop.

RAG: What's next for you as an artist?

I’m planning to start a series of cover songs. I released several on my YouTube page a couple years ago and I’m really proud of them. I thought it might be fun to do that again while making some space for new original stuff to begin simmering. But honestly who knows? I try to do whatever comes naturally. Plans in the creative realm are nice but they often get replaced!

RAG: What people are musicians do you really look up to?

Thom Yorke is probably number one on that list. I respect that guy creatively so much. But there are a lot more. I’d add Amber Bain of Japanese House, Fiona Apple, Kendrick Lamar, Maynard Keenan, Justin Vernon…I could go on! The list is pretty huge and comes from all sorts of genres.

RAG: Before we go, what would you like to say to fans of the music?

I’d leave people with the message of “Colors Off”. We live in a time when it’s incredibly tempting to assume our team has it all figured out and we just need to trust them. Resist that temptation! We need each other, even if the people we disagree with seem crazy, there may be more to them than you think. Learn to listen and ask questions with the genuine intent to learn. I admit I’m still learning to do this consistently, but whenever I do, it diffuses all the tension. That’s what every word of “Before it Gets Better” is pointing to. If you want to fix this massive problem, start by getting your head straight and loving those around you who might be hard to love sometimes.


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