(cover photo by Von Rutabaga)
Windsor’s Zach Kaskas, better known by his moniker Zillie Holiday, is a multi-disciplinary artist and musician that is dedicated to pursuing the limits of his vision, while in the process contributing to the collective potential of everyone that he works with. As yet another promising member of the RARESOUNDS collective, last week he released the track and video for “Orders” (prod. by Datsunn), and today we’re getting more heat in the form of a pair of tracks, “Just Jazzin’ (feat. Sam Be Yourself)” and “Last Night (feat. Jemille Ali),” which were both also produced by Holiday’s longtime friend and collaborator Datsunn. Emcee recently spoke with Holiday about his influences, his process, and what we can expect in the future, you can read the conversation below:
Do you remember the first album that you ever purchased / the first album that was significant for you?
Z: You’re gonna laugh at this one: I used to be a huge fan of Nelly. Nelly was my go to when I first started listening to hip hop.
I also remember watching the video for Tupac’s “Dear Mama.” I didn’t even know who Tupac was at the time, but I knew that he died, and that his death was a significant moment for a lot of people. I remember listening to that when I was like 11, and I was just so sad that Tupac had died, even though I’d only listened to maybe a few of his songs. I knew in that moment that it was some heavy shit, you know what I’m saying?
Kind of going off of that, what first inspired you to start making music?
Z: I think… it’s funny because I kind of hate listening to my voice, it’s like “wow that’s really me?” But when I first recorded something, just some basement joking shit or whatever, I recognized that there was this aspect of being able to convey a message, that was the reason why I wanted to start creating music.
Obviously that comes with the whole debate about what’s being put out now, it’s not all about the message, it can be more about the “wow” factor. But for me, it’s just being able to present something meaningful. Even with just a single sentence, someone remembering a particular line that I spit, I’m like damn that’s dope. That’s why I like to make music, to hear other people’s perspectives on it. Because automatically I’m my own worst critic, I just hope that it resonates with someone that’s listening.
Could you briefly describe your musical progression up to this point?
Z: It’s really been up and down. I’ll put out a couple tracks and they’ll get a good response, but people’s attentions spans are all over the place, that’s just the way it goes. For me, I’m still at a point where I feel like I haven’t quite reached the level I’m trying to get to. I’m always writing a lot, but on top of that I’m also in school and working, so it’s all really been a rollercoaster of trying to build something with potential.
That being said, since we’ve been releasing this videos pretty consistently, gaining some momentum and creating a lot of content, plus releasing merch and all of that, I think we’re starting to have a better understanding of what the formula is for getting people’s attention. At first it was just making stuff to make stuff, which is good, but now we’re starting to think about how we can strategically make an impact on the people that are hearing our music, and we’re really approaching the cusp of what we all want to be doing creatively and professionally, which is a great feeling.
Going on a bit of a tangent, it’s really dope that we’re always pushing each other. I think we’re all doing some really dope shit, so to have a solid camp around us to continuously push each other forward, that’s really the key. It’s almost inevitable at this point, we know what we’re doing and what we want to happen with it, so it’s just a matter of keeping that same energy.
Really I just wanna keep making music. If we can keep doing things that are progressive and relevant to what’s going on right now, that’s all there is to it.
Getting into “Orders,” tell us more about the song and the idea behind the video.
Z: With “Orders,” I wanted it to be a sort of cover page for who I am and what I do. It doesn’t have a hook, no catchy loops or anything, and it’s cool that both the track and the video were done in one take. Because for me, I wanted the simplicity to draw attention to the lyricism, I love using word choice to convey a message.
Even beyond that, the track is just a statement to show people that I can emcee, that I’ve got something to say. The next project will have some groupie hooks, some things to sing along to, but this first one is the proof that I have a purpose driving the music, hopefully laying the foundation for what’s coming next.
It’s kind of funny though, because Stef and I really didn’t plan the video. The whole backdrop was there waiting for us, we just followed the vibe that we were feeling and took advantage of the moment. I felt like that fit well with what we do, these things are really off the cuff with how we connect and collaborate. It’s all very natural, so I’m happy that the song and the visuals came together in a very organic way, I just think it all makes sense.
What should we look out for next from you and the crew?
Z: I want these new tracks to be like a sophomore tape, something that shows what I’m capable of. On top of that, we’re always working on more videos and other content like that, just trying to keep people engaged and interested in what we’re doing.
Plus we’ve got Butterfly Goods starting to take off, which is dope. It’s really just a passion project of mine; I haven’t been motivated too much by the business aspect of it, I’m just tryna present more of my visual work: logos, illustrations, graphic design, etc. Releasing that along with the music is just another way to offer my creativity to the world.
Wrapping up: is there anything else that you’d like to mention?
Z: Shit man, keep the peace, let’s just love one another. That’s my message: if you’re open to supporting people rather than judging them off the hop, often times they can turn out to be totally different than what you think. Just stay grounded, learn from everyone, and overall maintain a constructive presence.