After dropping some stunning new singles and completing the Backline program recently, we caught up with ZED KENZO to learn more about how this Milwaukee rapper, singer and producer came up and where she’s headed next.
People might not know you produce a lot of your tracks. Do you produce all of them?
I do produce all of them, but I do have a couple of songs on the EP and possibly one or two singles I didn’t produce. But for sure the EP is going to have some other production as well as mine. When I produce, no one can tell me what to do, I get all my money from it. It’s nice to have control, as a girl especially. I like to have as much control as I can.
How did you get started producing beats?
It started with writing songs. I took myself seriously writing in middle school because I was classically trained in piano, composing songs at that time on the piano. That turned into writing songs with lyrics and pairing with the piano.
Then I thought, “How do I make this easier and get this recorded instantly?” Then, the MacBook came out with GarageBand. Pretty much every producer [today] got started on GarageBand at some point in their youth. I was making a lot of beats on GarageBand in college. Then, I moved to Ableton when my ex-boyfriend pushed me to take my music more seriously.
He said, “You’re really good. You should learn how to make beats on Ableton.” So, we sat down and did a little tutorial together. I’d say one of my first actually well-produced songs was “Linda Blair” back in 2015. I’d say that’s when I started actually learning how to make beats and get good at doing it.
What was the Backline experience like?
I had an amazing experience. I still don’t consider it to be over in my mind. Everyone involved in the program made it very clear to all of us they were going to be there for us if we needed them. They’ve made themselves constant resources. I’m sure the next people that win, they’ll tell them the same thing: “Hey, once the program is over, don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions. We’re here to help.” It’s nice, I can go to them.
I personally want to stay involved. I don’t want to overstep, but if it’s younger people I really want to step in. If it’s people who are my age, or people I’ve already known doing the hustle with me, they can do their own thing. But I still want to be supportive and go to their shows and events.
This story is from our partner 88Nine Radio Milwaukee.