Zain Lodhia is a South Asian singer and song writer based in Chicago. New on the indie/pop rock scene, his musical journey started as a hobby in college which then became a serious passion.
Zain Lodhia has a diverse range of influences and released the Memories EP in June 2011. He has recently released his latest album, The Leap, and I catch up with the singer for a QnA.
Tell us a bit about yourself Zain?
I get random bursts of energy and I love food. Those might be the most important things. Other than that, I love spending time with family and friends, watching movies and sports, and doing all the other cool stuff people in their 20s do. I really want to get into hiking/outdoor sports too, it looks super cool.
You began writing music during college as a hobby, but it wasn't until later that you turned your hobby into a serious passion?
What led to your interest in music from being a pastime to something you wanted to pursue?
The first time I ever dabbled into any type of songwriting was during my sophomore year of college. One of my best friends, Rishi Gupta, got his hands on some production software and started making beats. We were both really into hip hop and he invited me to work on music with him. Since I'd listened to so much rap in my life at that point, I figured I'd be able to write something. So we wrote and released a couple of songs, which clearly showed me that I wasn't cut out to be a rapper!
Fast forward to my junior and senior years when my roommates and I invested in the game Rockband. I drew the short straw and had to be the singer even though I really wanted to play drums! From there I was exposed to all different genres of rock and pop music which I started to like, and shortly after that I picked up guitar.
It wasn't until after college that I started to take songwriting more seriously. I enjoyed the creative outlet and learning all aspects of recording and production really lit a fire under me. I realized that it was something I could spend hours doing without even noticing the time pass. I decided to approach music from a professional stand point, with the goal of hopefully making a career doing what I loved.
What inspires your writing? Do you feel there has been a steady evolution from when you started writing as a pastime to where you are now at this stage as a musician?
There has definitely been a progression since I first started writing. Even though I had basic music theory knowledge growing up, I learned most of it as I began writing so there were many elements that went into the overall learning process for me. Sometimes (or most of the time) I look back at music I wrote when I first started out and just cringe! It’s definitely humbling, but also encouraging to see yourself make progress forward.
As for inspiration, it comes from all different places. I tend to write about very subjective experiences, whether through my eyes or the eyes of someone else. My goal in having such a personal lens when it comes to song writing is to make it easy for others to connect to – intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.
What is about each discipline, your song writing and music production that you enjoy?
Song writing for me started out as just an outlet, a way for me to get thoughts out of my head in an organized and creative manner. Over time its developed into something much more fun. I enjoy being able to get into different mind-sets, creating moods and stirring emotions simply by using words and sound. My favorite quote about song writing is by Leopold Stokowski, “A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence.”
Music production is a whole other animal. I actually started doing that before delving into song writing. Back then I would record my cousin’s or a friend’s band and sit for hours messing around with the different sounds. That was the first time I realized I had “near unlimited” patience for something and I figured I had to explore it more. Thankfully, learning new instruments and investing in all different kinds of software has helped me develop it over the last couple of years.
Who are your influences in the music industry?
At the current moment I’m really into a band called Twenty One Pilots. They have fantastic music, put on amazing live shows, and have an overall positive message that brings light to some very deep and dark issues in our society today.
Overall though, Ryan Tedder and his band OneRepublic have probably been one of the primary influences. I find myself gravitating towards bands or artists that can draw real emotion out of their music.
You visited Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong for a vacation. Through a friend with connections there, you ended up performing.
How did that all come about from a vacation to a mini tour?
Well I had a friend who had moved out to Malaysia last year and was heavily involved in the arts scene out there. He was the first and only person I knew in Malaysia so I told him that I wanted to come visit since I’d heard so many great things about the country. As soon as we started mapping out possible dates, he mentioned that there might be possible events I could perform at during my visit so I should just bring my guitar in case. From there, thankfully everything fell into place and I’m now able to say that I’ve played some international shows!
How did it feel performing in front of the crowds there?
The crowds there were great. Thanks to the Internet, people there are very in tune with the music scene in the U.S., including many indie bands and artists. For the most part, everyone speaks English too so at least they understood what I was singing about!
To use a ‘terrible term’ did you find yourself during your vacation there?
Ha! I think finding yourself is a life long journey, but I did learn a lot about myself traveling alone overseas. It was something I was nervous about in the beginning, but visiting all different places and exploring new things by yourself gives you confidence like nothing else. I highly recommend that people try to do it at least once in their lives.
You’re a self confessed health nut right? What advice would you give to those looking for a health diet?
I started the Paleo diet (also known as the caveman diet) earlier this year and its been pretty good. I cheat quite a bit, but it’s more of a lifestyle that stresses eating raw or less processed foods. It’s too much to get into now but for anyone looking for ways to eat healthier I would definitely suggest it!
Overall though, people have just become very disconnected with their own selves. We put all kinds of things into or on our bodies without even thinking about how they affect us – mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. My goal with being more health conscious isn’t to count calories or restrict myself from everything, but just to be aware of what I’m putting into my body and what kind of impact it may have on me.
With a steady stream of emerging South Asian talent from Chicago, from yourself to rappers, and bhangra musicians, do you see more South Asian musicians coming through in the next few years?
I definitely think more South Asian artists will start to emerge. You already see it in bands like Young the Giant or solo artists trying to get their careers started. I think as a community we really need to give them a push and show our support because our culture unfortunately doesn't place as high a value on it as compared to technical or professional careers. The thing is we now have some second, third, and even fourth generation American born kids who are still trying to fuse the two cultures they belong to. Art has always been crucial to helping define culture and I think that's especially true today. I'm excited to see what the next couple of years will bring!
Who would you like to work with?
Ryan Tedder would have to be at the top of the list. He is such a prolific songwriter and producer in today’s music scene that if I ever do get to work with him (God willing!), I’ll know I’ve made something of myself.
Tell us about AfterSound. With AfterSound, will this be different in terms of sound and lyrics to your solo work?
AfterSound is a new synth pop project I’m starting up with multi-instrumentalist Jay Bulaclac. We will be drawing on some of my solo work as we start out, but the goal is to write some new material very soon. AfterSound feels like a natural step in the evolution of my career as a musician, and while some elements of it will feel very familiar to my solo work, the approach will be different as it will be a much more collaborative process now in terms of song writing, music production, and most importantly live performances.
The way the name came about is the simple fact that music – lyrics, melodies, etc – is just sound. What do people do with it or what does it do for them? How can it help them in whatever they are going through? Basically, what happens after sound? For us, it’s a constant reminder that for everything we do in and out of music, we want to make sure there is a purpose and significance behind it.
Tell us about your album, ‘The Leap.’
The Leap is my first full length release which came out in May of this year. It took about a year and a half to write and record but the experience was a lot of fun and I learned so much. I’m grateful to all the people who were involved and who showed support throughout the whole process.
Many of the songs on the album were ones that I had been working on for quite awhile. I remember writing “Lifetime”, the lead single, over two years ago while messing around with some chords in my basement. It’s humbling to hear the final product and see how far it has come since the release.
The title track, “The Leap”, probably sums it up the best. The song captured my mentality throughout the creation of the album as I prepared myself to take music on full-time. It’s short for the leap of faith, which is exactly what I felt like I was doing considering where I was in my life. We all have dreams and goals of things we want to accomplish in our time here on earth, and ultimately our own fear is the only thing that stands in our way. We have to take control of that and give ourselves a chance. Everyone always talks about “finding” happiness when the truth is that happiness isn’t a place or thing, it’s the journey. Life is short – do what you love and you’ll love what you do. Simple as that.
Thank you for your time Zain.
The single 'Lifetime' from Zain Lodhia's album 'The Leap.'
Visit Zain's website from more information by clicking here.
Follow Zain Lodhia on Twitter, like his fan page on Facebook and visit his YouTube channel.
Check out my previous QnA with South Asian rapper Shake, by clicking here.
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