- 25 Jan 22
Max Zaska is back with 'The Basics', the first single from his forthcoming sophomore album, 'A Better Way'.
Known for his collaborations with vocalists like Hozier and Tolü Makay, Max Zaska has stepped up to the mic on 'The Basics' to perform lead vocals alone for the first time.
A busy 20 months for the funk/neo-soul artist saw him take on the role of musical director for Denise Chaila and Tolü Makay; crowdfunding, writing and producing his second album; producing two albums and live shows for a new contemporary jazz project and and having his third baby - Zaska is thrilled to be putting out solo music once more.
Zaska's debut album, It Takes A Village, was released to critical acclaim in 2019. Back in May 2020, he shared 'My Whole Heart', featuring Tolü Makay, God Knows and a star-studded "Isolation Choir". He also made an appearance on the Hot Press Lockdown Series in November 2020, blowing the virtual crowd away.
Like many people in Ireland, the high costs of basic necessities forced Max and his family out of the city. His disappointment and frustration in a political system that cares more about developing high-revenue projects like hotels, than building long-term sustainable communities is the fuel for 'The Basics'.
Despite its serious subject matter, 'The Basics' has an infectiously uptempo energy. Featuring a bass-heavy, danceable groove that draws on a UK garage sound, it marks the first single to be shared from Zaska's forthcoming sophomore album, A Better Way.
“I’m kind of bricking it to be honest," Zaska says of tackling lead vocals. "Having worked with so many incredible singers over the last 10 years, I had the terrible habit of comparing myself to them and being self-critical. But when the music for 'The Basics' was recorded, rather than giving it to someone else to sing, I decided to do it myself and I’m really proud of how the track turned out.”
The visuals infuse the theme of gentrification throughout, with Max dressing up as a charismatic bellboy outside Dublin City Council HQ for some scenes. It's a video that simultaneously showcases Zaska's love for the capital and his frustration at having to move his family out of the city.
“I wanted to convey what’s going on in Dublin at the moment. It’s turned into a building site. The people who are building are generally foreign investors or vulture funds - it's forcing the cost of living and the basics up beyond affordable. Me and my family were forced out of Dublin about five years ago due to the huge costs. I wanted to go to a few sites and show the gentrification that’s happening to people in the city.”
The track sees long-time Zaska contributors Dylan Lynch (Soda Blonde) on drums, Neil Dorrington (Tolü Makay) on bass, and James Smith (J Smith) on keys and production, along with a string quartet to flesh out the sound.
The music video was produced by James Smith and shot in part at Dublin City Council, whose An Bord Pleanála is responsible for approving building applications. Zaska urges people to get involved with local groups fighting for community cultural and housing interests, including Dublin Is Dying or Community Action Tenants Union (CATU Ireland).
A Better Way is themed around sustainability and will be out later this year. The roster of vocalists on the project sees Tolü Makay, Faye O’Rourke of Soda Blonde, Melina Malone, J Smith, Jess Kav, Carly Coonagh, and Precious Okpaje (Super Silly) take the mic.
Make sure to catch Zaska perform live this Friday at The Sugar Club. The instrumental set will involve Max performing 'The Basics' for the first time, with MåsExödus playing contemporary jazz with hip hop elements.
'The Basics' will arrive on January 26 and can be pre-saved here.
Check out the brand new video for 'The Basics' below:
- Live Review
- 02 Jul 22