KARL ZINE has just released his new single Clean Water in collaboration with Norwegian artist Iselin. Zine has been writing, producing and performing pop music since leaving the Royal Academy. He is an accomplished jazz drummer and multi-instrumentalist working from his studio in Victoria, London. Alongside being one-half of the pop duo RINNGS, Karl has been writing and producing for various artists, whilst also composing commissioned soundtrack work.
AC: In the studio, do you have a fear you’d like to conquer?
KARL ZINE: Dust, and singing loudly in front of strangers.
What about outside of the studio?
The phrase ‘If only I….”
Let’s talk about your new single Clear Water. What does the song mean to you?
The song is my first release under my own name, so it means a lot to me and it’s been especially cool to be able to collaborate on it with an artist like Iselin whose work I love.
What was it like working with Iselin on the track?
It was great, we had two days together and I enjoyed every minute. I think we brought out the best in each other. As a songwriter and artist, that’s kind of the dream!
What do you look for in a collaborator?
In a collaborator, I look for someone who brings ideas and skills that I don’t have so that we complement each other and make something that neither of us could have made alone. I think that’s the aim of every collaboration, to push you both as artists and to inspire new ideas.
Alongside your work in RINNGS, why did now feel like the right time to also pursue a solo career?
I’ve been building up a catalogue of songs and collaborations and I want people to hear them cause I’m really proud of them. It’s really about wanting to find out what other people think of them so I can stop guessing.
Can you tell us about your upcoming projects?
I’m working on two releases with RINNGS in the new year along with a series of releases under my own name next year, I’m also busy writing and producing songs with a few other artists like Minus Manus, Hanne Mjøen, Lucy Whittaker, Hedara, Elle Charms, Bad Honey, Tommy Ashby, Cara Hammond and a bunch more I can’t talk about yet…
How did your childhood inform your musical influences?
Age 7, I cut my brother’s bow and arrow in half to make a pair of drumsticks so I could play along with the songs on the Now That’s What I Call Music tape I got for Christmas. I always loved great songs and that feeling hasn’t faded a bit.
Where does the creation of a song begin for you?
It’s different every time, but it always starts with a feeling of possibility and the search for something new so it’s always pretty exciting.
Who do you feel inspired by in the music industry?
If you mean artists then I’d name a few this year – Bon Iver, Emilie Nicolas, Frank Ocean, James Blake, Billie Eilish, Benny Blanco, FKA Twigs, Tyler the Creator, Thom Yorke. People who push themselves creatively on every new record and approach writing music with a kind of determined fearlessness. Oh, and anyone behind the scenes who manages to put up with the artists they work with.
As a music artist, what are you still trying to learn?
How to make decent music.
Everyone seems to have an app idea at the moment, what’s yours?
An app that tells you what you could have done with all the time you’ve spent looking at your shitty apps.
How important is social media to you right now?
Not as important as it should be
Ahead of a gig, do you have any pre-show rituals?
Be nice to the sound-person.
What do you want the world to look like in 10 years?
If you had the chance to put something on billboards worldwide next week, what would it be? Or what would it say?
Have you been thinking about a New Year’s resolution for 2020?
No, I prefer to make resolutions when I’m not drunk.
INTERVIEW: ADAM CROOKES