The Courier Music and Newcastle Student Radio's Sounds of 2018 was announced this week. One artist who features is ZAND and they spoke to The Courier Music about what 2018 has in store for them.
"Thank you so much for including me! I've never been in a Top 10 anything before, so this is an honour.
"It's looking like it's gonna be a good one, I'm usually pretty pessimistic but for once I'm really excited and confident in what the year will hold in terms of music, ‘cause I'm gonna be putting out a LOT of it."
Its vibrating electricity, moody vocal runs and menacing tickings are pressing all the right buttons in an ever-changing pop industry
Above all, ZAND is keeping their feet firmly on the ground but there can be no denying the artist's potential. It's been exactly a year since the release of single 'Fiends' from ZAND's standout EP, Xeraclius. Its vibrating electricity, moody vocal runs and menacing tickings are pressing all the right buttons in an ever-changing pop industry that looks to be aligning with this type of new, electronically-tinged sound.
ZAND makes a comment on their "baby influences" such as Imogen Heap, Johnny Cash and Gorillaz but goes on to note:
"It's like everything you listen to is constantly a positive influence on what you're writing. Big ones for me currently are Tommy Cash, Charli XCX and Die Antwoord. I love the whole hectic pop vibe."
In particular, the influence of Tommy Cash, who ZAND tip as one of their Sounds of 2018, and Charli XCX is notable. Both part of the incredibly exciting and boundary-pushing PC Music, it's not just these artist's new take on pop but their refreshing attitude, which has led to groundbreaking projects such as Pop 2, that ZAND shares. We asked them what advice they'd give to any students wanting a breakthrough:
"The most important thing is to be authentic and make art that means something to YOU. Make music YOU like. Fuck everyone else.
"I can't give advice on breaking through ‘cause I don't even know how to do that; the industry is constantly changing but the most important thing is that you love what you're doing and you're real with it. Don't make music for other people or to be popular or any of that shit ‘cause that's where you'll burn out. Just do you, perfect your craft, work hard, network like fuck and the rest will come."
Those ideas are plain to see throughout the Xeraclius EP. "No, I'm not about to apologise" they croon in the soft 'You'll Be Sorry', sounding somewhere between CHVRCHES and HAIM, whilst the searing 'Chess' has racked up over 1,000 streams on SoundCloud alone.
Now ZAND, the artist previously went by Seafoal before the name change to parallel their first name, Zander.
"Honestly, I had an epiphany one night and decided I was going to announce the changeover the next week. It's the best thing I could have done: it feels like a weight has been lifted and Seafoal is dead.
"At first, I was kinda like, "Oh god, what about all my Spotify streams?" That was the most worrying thing but once I learned that stuff is transferable I was like, sick, I'm ready."
This change is the latest in a fascinating evolution that the artist has undertaken. It was shortly before the release of 'Van Gough' in 2016 that Zander came out as non-binary and they have spoken about how "uneasy" they were before this point. Xeraclius EP came next under Seafoal and that new ease as an artist is evident in the strides forward in sound. Now ZAND, 2018 looks to be another year of progress and we asked them if we can expect another change in style:
"Aesthetically, my style has been what it is for a while so that will probably just come through even more in new music videos and the sound of my songs. So nah, I guess not!
"If anyone's gonna purposely stop listening to my music just because of something as trivial as a name change then I don't want them listening to me anyway. Thankfully, everyone has been super supportive about it and I'm really happy with the outcome."
Zander's outspoken nature towards breaking binary genders has seen them become a figurehead for many fans and is keen to encourage all listeners to be themselves:
"Honesty, authenticity and being yourself are the most important things in all walks of life. I'd rather be myself, bald and fucking around with the gender binary than living a lie calling myself a cis-woman when I'm not that, and I never was that, ya know?
"I just explain to people that myself being non-binary means I don't identify as either a man or a woman, in the simplest of terms. Everyone experiences their gender in different ways but that's the easiest method I use to describe it to anyone who may not be so educated. Trans identities obviously go a whole lot deeper than that and I could write a book here, but thankfully the Internet is full of informative resources for everyone to learn from."
ZAND is part of our Sounds of 2018 and we, here at The Courier, tip them off as ones to watch for the year ahead!