Some people seem to be born with a gift at creating music. It’s something in their veins and no matter what they’re gonna do, the talent will always be a tangible quality. Now imagine if two of this kind of creatives who are coming from the opposite sides of the world and with a global pandemic going on decide to get together to create something unique. This is literally the story of the electro/Hip-hop duo JV/ZUU, the result of two hard workers who truly believe in their dreams. Their first release called “THE DRIP” boasts already a sync placement on a national TV advert in the USA for Zaxbys and currently broadcasting across 25 states. We’ve been captured by the high level of production and we wanted to discover a bit more. It’s definitely true that collaboration is the key to success.
YMX: Hey JV/ZUU, how is it going? some of our readers might not be familiar with your project, how would describe yourself, in a few words?
JV/ZUU: Hey! So basically, JV/ZUU is a colaborative project. JV = Johnny Voltik & ZUU = ZUU Music. We have both been hustling as individual artists for a while & met around 5 years ago shortly after Johnny had emigrated from New York to London. We made a handful of tracks together over the years and our friendship grew stronger and stronger. Eventually we ended up living only a few streets away from eachother in Finsbury Park so the locality helped strengthen our bond. It was really the pandemic which launched our project. All of our touring completely fell through in the blink of an eye so we were without an income and had a lot of time on our hands. Long story short, we started making music several days each week and gradually our project took shape. We landed a huge sync with Zaxbys for their latest TV advert & at that point didnt even have a single piece of music released under our new name. We knew this had huge potential so we decided to start releasing the music we made during 2020. ‘The Drip’ is the track which got the big sync deal so its excellent to release the longform version properly today!
YMX: Your current work is the result of a long journey; What first drew you to making music?
JV/ZUU: For me, it was listening to Rage Against The Machine when I was a young kid. That really spurred me on. The power, energy and production of their music still hasn’t really been touched by anyone else since. Johnny was really inspired by artists such as Prince for his musicality, songwriting & creativity. What ultimately brought us together as artists was a fortuitous jam session at ‘The Others’ in London. I used to loosely help run one of the monthly Jam nights there. Johnny attended one night & I had some Biggie samples on my controller. I was dropping these samples over the top of the live musicians and Johnny was rapping the following line. It was seriously dope. We got in the studio together the next weekend.
YMX: What would be your dream collaboration?
JV/ZUU: I think we would both really love to fuck with Machinedrum or DJ Rashad (RIP). We always bump their tracks when we are hanging out or looking for inspiration.
YMX: You recently released “THE DRIP”. Can you tell us how that project came about?
JV/ZUU: What spurred ‘The Drip’ on was getting our track synced with an american TV advert. At that time it was still a demo & actually just the intro was all we really had. They loved it so much they wanted to hear a ‘longform’ version as they wanted us to do an actual release. You will hear a switch-up around 50seconds in. This is where Johnny and myself decided we really wanted to distance ourselves away from the advert (which is 15 seconds of the intro). Saxbys really pushed back on us turning their palatable bouncy hiphop tune into the half-time-lyric-driven-808-slammer which follows the intro but we refused to make any changes to the longform version. We were completely prepared to walk away from the deal or not release the track at all if we had to compromise on it musically or lyrically beyond the intro. I’m really proud of us facing up to this huge brand and telling them ‘No.’ several times in a row without actually having signed our contract to secure our publishing deal. It all worked out great though.
YMX: What inspires your songwriting work?
JV/ZUU: I personally get really inspired by my cheap-ish little bits of hardware which I have sat on my studio desk. I’d much rather make a beat using something I can physically touch. Its a cliché to say this, but I actually don’t really like the VST (digital) synths and stuff. The less I do inside the computer, the better! I always play live drums on the JV/ZUU stuff too. You’ll hear it in the Drip. In actual fact, the outro is essentially just me grooving on kick, snare & hats. I feel that gives us an edge. Waaaay too many producers rely on premade loops or sample packs when it comes to drums.
YMX: We are all missing live music at the moment. Once on the other side, which music venue would you choose for your first gig?
JV/ZUU: This is a tough one. Johnny and I have played some killer venues over the years. I think a list of our favourite London venues are: Grow, Colours (Hoxton Bar & Grill), The Jago, The Cause, Hootanany’s etc… The list goes on and on!
YMX: What’s your band strategy in terms of music promotion? Direct-2-fans or via the “big dogs”?
JV/ZUU: I want to say direct to fans, but the huge sync we got certainly helped! TBH, we are still unsigned, unmanaged, have no PR team or anything so its the wild wild west vibe at the moment. This is why we are really honoured for YMX to cover us at such an early stage. Having only just dropped our debut a few hours ago, its really tough to get people to give you a platform. There is a landfill of shite bands out there, we hope our music will do the talking as we gain some traction in 2021.
YMX: Finally, what are your plans for the future? (releases, gigs etc.)
JV/ZUU: We have an EP coming in spring 2021. I’m really proud of it from the production side because every track is made using hardware and live drum-kit. It’s got this weird fusion of lo-fi hardware with hard hitting production. Johnny’s lyricism on that E.P. is mind blowing. I think the hiphop heads are going to enjoy disecting it for sure.