Zane Gold [Interview]
Penticton, B.C. – Zane Gold treads a fine line between pop, R&B, and hip-hop: the overall sound is as smooth as his voice and as bright as his eyes. A small town boy, he still holds that hint of shyness that young artists have before their egos explode, and he represents his home of Penticton proudly.
Zane’s musical background varies from basement polka jams to reserve tours with Aboriginal group 7th Generation. But he’s come out with his own style, and stubbornly ventures forward to preserve an individual artistry, expanding on what everyone else is doing to keep his edge.
HipHopCanada caught up with Zane at his practice space in Vancouver to talk a little about his family, his future, and what makes a dime.
HipHopCanada: Penticton’s a little out in the sticks; how has that affected the way you make music?
Zane Gold: Well, the way I make music is basically just what I listen to. Everything that I’ve done up to this point has been influenced by other artists; what I’m listening to on the radio, what I’m buying on iTunes, stuff like that. I guess coming from a small town I have a different mentality. Coming to Vancouver has been just crazy. It’s busy, there’s so much life, there’s so much happening. And there’s so much more culture here too that I feel like maybe if I would have grown up here I’d have a different approach to the way I do music. I’m glad that I came up in a small community, close with all my family and friends.
HipHopCanada: Coming into all the craziness of Vancouver, what’s challenged you?
Zane Gold: Being away from my family. In Penticton I’ve got my dad, my sisters, brothers, my nephews, all that stuff.
HipHopCanada: Is your family musical too?
Zane Gold: My mom’s side is, like my grandpa used to come over with all his sisters and they’d play violin, accordion, organ, and they’d have jam sessions in the basement but it would be polka music, really weird music. I got a few polka songs remixed on my next album (laughs).
HipHopCanada: What do you feel that your current place in the musical community is?
Zane Gold: I see myself as a pop artist right now. The music I’m doing right now is very current to what’s being played on top 40 radio right now. Also I want to stand apart in incorporating more of a hip-hop feel to dance music – but that’s happening so much, it seems like everyone’s doing that now – so I wanna give it a different edge, do something that nobody’s ever done before. Maybe start reviving remixes of 70s, 80s, even 90s songs, giving them a different twist, more high-energy tracks that maybe are familiar to people but at the same time, are not a copy or I’m stealing an idea. Just a new trend, a new twist.
HipHopCanada: What song would be your first pick?
Zane Gold: “Send me and Angel” by Real Life would be a crazy remix. It used to be on this movie called RAD, I listen to that song now and it brings me back, it still gives me that vibe, that feeling.
HipHopCanada: Your single “Like a Dime” is on MuchMusic, can you tell me your interpretation of that concept?
Zane Gold: “Like a Dime” is the first single I did as a solo artist. There’s always so many different takes on that track. The initial reason I wrote that song was basically about false images, about a very good looking girl with no substance to her. She always thought she was a ten out of ten but I always thought that looks and attitude are a whole package. So that’s why I wrote that, “I’ll make you feel like a dime even if you ain’t one.” You’re in the club, you see beautiful people and you really don’t care at that point what their attitude is like because everyone’s just there to look around and have fun. It’s not personal. What you see is what you get. But I like to let people have their own take on a song, because halfway through writing one I can see that it means more than one thing.
HipHopCanada: Well that seems to show your small town side, it’s nice to look beyond the immediate appearance. What about your latest single “Galaxy Destroyer”?
Zane Gold: “Galaxy Destroyer” is just about a girl who people fall for and she’s just cold hearted. I’ve been through a few relationships where I’ve had my heart broken and felt like my galaxy had been destroyed, so to speak.
HipHopCanada: How do these songs compare, musically?
Zane Gold: “Like a Dime” is more of a slower grind to it, while “Galaxy Destroyer” is a dance song, upbeat. “Like a Dime” has a bit more of a message, is a lot more hip-hop, a hip-hop backbone to it. People who just love hip-hop love that song even though it’s not really a straight-up hip-hop song, not necessarily a rap song, but the vibe and the beat and instrumentals, and just the way the hook’s written, the substance and the verse and lyrics, just says hip-hop song.
HipHopCanada: You were with a group called 7th Generation a few years ago.
Zane Gold: Yeah, we actually disbanded about a year ago. The thing with 7th Generation was, that they were a group that were together for about ten years. Then about seven or eight years in, they were always kind of changing their core members and would bounce out the third member. I ran into them in Penticton and they asked me if I wanted to join the group. They were doing a lot of shows, they were touring everywhere. They would go to Alaska to do shows, they’d go to reserves, they’d talk to youth, anything they could get their hands on to share their music and message, they would do. And I love that about them. I thought they had a really amazing work ethic. But where I thought I could play a role is helping in the production of it. They were recording it themselves and I thought I could help. I started producing, writing stuff, doing hooks, and brought them from this really underground hip-hop to a little but more mainstream sound where people were bobbing their head to it and liking it. The album I worked on, Self Titled, actually went on to win People’s Choice for pop album at the Aboriginal Music Awards, and also the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards which was a huge one; they’re of Aboriginal descent and I have a little Metis in my blood.
HipHopCanada: Do you feel connected with that heritage?
Zane Gold: I do, because I grew up in Penticton and we have a reserve that’s right next to Penticton. I grew up and am friends with a lot of Aboriginal people. Spent time with their families and seen the way they live and the cultures and traditions. I feel connected, but I felt way more connected when I joined 7th Generation because we were going to reserves, talking to people, seeing the youth and talking about big issues like drugs, alcohol, teen pregnancy, and that sort of stuff.
HipHopCanada: Do you want to continue that vein of community interaction with your solo career?
Zane Gold: Always. When I left 7th Generation, the reason was that I wanted to do my own work, something more like what I was listening to. I wouldn’t necessarily outreach to the community through my music, but I’m always involved in the community.
HipHopCanada: What’s your next project?
Zane Gold: We’re working on getting an amazing stage show put together when I open for Shawn Desman on August 5th . We’re gonna be setting up for tour very soon, you can see the tour schedule on zanegold.com when it goes up. Or blackphoenix.ca. I love to do collaborations with other artists, especially hip-hop. Favorite rapper is Method Man, he’s got the style that would be insane. I’ve worked with Belly, something with Maestro would be cool, he’s the godfather of Canadian hip-hop. I’ve always like Classified’s work but I would never work with an artist just because I think it’s cool, I think there always needs to be a reason to do it. But I love that backpack hip-hop style. I’ve worked with Run DMC, across the airways, but we did a track together called Kings and Chiefs with 7th Generation. Nice guy.
HipHopCanada: What about the album?
Zane Gold: I haven’t released an album yet, just releasing singles while I shop around labels. We have the showcase on August 17th, that’s gonna be huge. Got a mixtape coming out called Dime Status in September.
Written by Amalia Judith for HipHopCanada