Get To Know Jonah Zed [Interview]

Ian Hansen

Rapper, singer, and producer Jonah Zed has made a name for himself in 2021 with consistent and versatile releases sprinkled throughout the year. The Toronto native made an appearance on Patrick Cc:‘s project, Launch Sequence, and it indeed has launched him into a dominant year with a variety of singles and his EP, Summer in Slow Motion. Get to know Jonah Zed down below.

What got you into singing and producing?

I have been writing songs on the guitar since I was really young. I was probably seven or eight years old. I didn’t really know what I was doing. At 12, I started messing around with Garage Band. I would do digital production. In high school, rap was a cool thing so I started recording the neighborhood rappers. From there, I started networking the underground Toronto scene. I started networking with 6ixbuzztv and working that scene hard. How I got to those places, was becoming everyone’s recording engineer for free. I would then start to sneak my beats in and got plays that way. It evolved into me writing songs again.

You said you started as a recording engineer, how important is it to be able to do everything?

It’s important because it’s possible there are people out there that do it. If you don't you’re kind of behind. Today, it is really accessible to make music digitally. It’s important, especially as an artist, to be well versed in all of it. You don’t have to be an expert in everything, but to at least know what you’re talking about. There can also be a downside because if you’re decent at everything, you might micromanage every little thing or be obsessed with small details that don’t matter or thinking you can do it all without anyone. It’s really important to have a team you trust.

You’ve had a busy year releasing a lot of music. Take me through your EP and tell me what it means to you.

It was the kind of thing where I wanted to put together some kind of project or the summer. It kind of ended up happening. As far as the artistic direction and the title, Summer in Slow Motion, I feel like there are a lot of moments where you wish you could just pause to absorb it a bit better or get a better understanding of how you’re feeling. That is where the title comes from. What if you could take these emotions and complex feelings and slow them down and dissect them.

How therapeutic is it to put those emotions out there into a project for people to relate to?

It comes from a real place. I might’ve exploded if I didn’t make it. Some songs I make having fun because it’s a song. Other times, it’s like something I need. There are a couple songs on the project, specifically “Happy Now,” but that came from a night where I was down bad. I made it and cried for a bit. It helps me. My writing process is a healing process.

Your most recent song, “Cake Walk,” what went into that?

The homie Watson, the other guy on the track, my best friend and I met him three years ago in Los Angeles. We recently went again and we’re staying with him and we were vibing. He inspires me because of his writing process. He just sits down and does it. He just has so much fun. We were at his house and I did the hook, and we hopped on it. It was such a contrast to Summer in Slow Motion. I don’t want to be put in a box.

You have a powerful voice, who inspires your sound?

It’s always changing. As far as the process, it’s my experience working with all of these rappers. Specific people I listen to, it’s a lot of obscure stuff. I was obsessed with Jai Paul. He makes 80s pop music that is so different. From him, to Frank Ocean, Steve Lacy, and above all, Radiohead. I listen to a lot of older music too like like Fleetwood Mac.

What are some dream collaborations? Who could you lock in with the studio and make a ton of songs for hours with?

Thom Yorke. Bobby Caldwell. Frank Ocean for sure. Current people, I could make some cool stuff with Joji. Tyler, The Creator.

What hobbies do you have outside of music?

I really like fishing. It’s a perfect hobby for me. It’s such a contrast. I’m used to being in the studio listening to loud music and looking at screens. It’s the complete opposite where I’m sitting on a lake, in nature, no screens, and it’s quiet.

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