CAKE KILLS is the ambitious offering of New York based music and visual artist Zaz Zielinski. Zielinski’s love affair with various genres of music and film began from an early age growing up in Montreal. His father Dutch Robinson, lead singer of the legendary group The Ohio Players, introduced him to R&B, Gospel and Funk. His Polish mother, Ida Zielinski, a writer and filmmaker who was on the path to becoming a concert pianist in her early years, brought everything from Classical, Electronica and Reggae to his ear. His own passion for music took over and he explored even further. From Disco and HipHop, to Heavy Metal and Pop, it is no surprise that Zaz’s connected genre-bending is as unapologetic as the themes within his own writing.
At age 18, the first song that he wrote and produced “Tonite”, for recording artist Addictiv quickly rose to CHR Top 15 in Canada and Top 50 on Canadian BILLBOARD Hot 100 Charts, and earned nominations for several Canadian music awards. His very first public performance – featuring on “Tonite” alongside artist Addictiv – brought him before 18,000 people at Z103‘s Summer Rush Festival in Toronto, where they were opening for acts such as Lady Gaga and Nelly. This was the catalyst that led him to move to New York and spend the next several years honing in on his very own special sound.
In early 2013, a chance meeting with established NYC Recording Engineer Kat Diehl, to discuss the potential for upcoming mixes, led to a turning point in the trajectory of Zaz’s career. With credits ranging from heavyweights such as Dead Prez, G Unit, Busta Rhymes, Alicia Keys and Bjork, her ability to navigate and establish longstanding connections would prove to be vital to Zaz’s career path. Also a singer/songwriter herself, their introduction would present opportunities for musical collaboration both outside and within Cake Kills. This would lead to an unconventional creative/business partnership that defies most title boundaries. She would also go on to become Zaz’s manager.
Later, Zaz would invite AL-P, of the world famous Electronic duo MSTRKRFT, to listen to his catalog and meet in his NY based studio. After hearing his work, AL-P signed on independently to serve as both mentor and collaborator. Though Zaz produces all of his work, for himself and others, in the summer of 2014 AL-P hosted Zaz in his Toronto based recording studio for a series of collaborative recording sessions with plans for a label-supported release in 2015. AL-P remains deeply involved with, and committed to, the Cake Kills project.
Rounding out the overall vision of Cake Kills is a visual sensibility that is as central to the project as the music. With a film school background and an innate ‘eye’, Zaz, as director, cinematographer, and editor, is central to the creation of compelling visual works to accompany the concepts he puts forward in his musical expression. Inspired by collaboration with other artists, Zaz invited renowned British Music/Fashion Photographer and artist Phil Knott to join forces on the production of Cake Kills’ latest video. Phil’s fashion sense and artistry were a powerful addition to the visual narrative Cake Kills was bringing forward and future collaborations are in the works.
Cake Kills/ A-Ok Concept
Cake in modern culture, and itself, can mean many things. It means money; it means civilization; it means the pleasure body; satisfaction and even a means to reward. It’s a symbol for something that’s purely for the purpose of enjoyment and the peak of consumption. Cake Kills plays on the notion that whatever cake represents to the individual, while it may be sweet, it is fundamentally useless and the pursuit of it can eventually kill you. As a project, it represents the duality of both the beautiful and the macabre through the lens of Zielinski’s inventive sound.
The song, “A-Ok”, which features Ian Young of M83, is a peak into the mind of an adult on the brink of losing it. There are many factors involved in adulthood that can lead to an internal battle where one questions their self-worth, their sanity and even how they are going to shield the world around them from the severity of this unspoken anxiety. As in most of Zaz’s work, it is left up to the listener to determine what the crux of the matter is or whether to even acknowledge it to begin with. Socially, this way of thinking is stigmatized and not meant to be talked about openly. “A-Ok” is the mask we all wear. It’s up to the listener to decide whether or not to take it off.
Playing on this theme, the video for A-Ok is an exploration of a time before all of those adult factors even enter ones’ mind; a time when your biggest concern was who was going to drive you around your small hometown and if you could get away with coming home after curfew. This innocence is something we never get back after we step into the real world and dreams or ideas become oppressed by harsh realities and practical matters. This video chronicles the wild and triumphant adventure of two late-teens running boldly through their town. It is their world and everyone else is just living in it. These partners-in-crime remind us of that feeling and what it was like when nothing else mattered but where you were, and who you were with, right then and there.