In striving for technical perfection, production wiz ZHAO delivers an EP of cinematic quality – an impressive fusion of electronic pop and R&B that showcases a talent worthy of attention.
“I guess in the most succinct terms its 80s-inspired synth pop, with a strong emphasis on lyrics” says ZHAO. “My personal journey with music is defined by removing limitations – teaching myself different instruments, different styles, and how to configure them on a stage. I enjoy all music, so naturally, all music makes its way into my sound.”
Kicking off with the synth driven ‘Fighter,’ the 4-track EP goes from strength to strength. A blissful collection of upbeat love songs tinged with regret and doubt, the bluesy choruses tell tales of existential dread, whilst ZHAO questions the mystery and misdirection of the dance floor – long after you’re lost in one of his late night jams. ZHAO’s early training in classical piano forms the backbone of his sound, and despite the pop-leaning production, the impact of his training can be traced through every song.
Born to Chinese immigrants in Tennessee, ZHAO grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta before moving to Los Angeles, where he is now based. In the years following his initial classical training ZHAO taught himself numerous instruments, learned production, and became a student of sound design and pop music theory. Though inspired by the likes of Outkast, Gorillaz, Beck, and Tame Impala, it’s ultimately ZHAO’s keen ear for Chopin and Beethoven that informs his strong phrasing, songwriting, and harmonic elements – all qualities still grounded in his early love for those Romantic-era composers.
ZHAO independently wrote, produced, and released his debut EP ‘Faker’ back in 2015. In addition to his own music ZHAOhas also lent his trained ear and voice to others, including Armand Van Helden and Eric Sharp, with his collaboration with Sharp on the track ‘The Thirst’ released on Liftoff Recordings in late 2016.
ZHAO’s new single ‘Lifetime’ is out 22nd September.
The EP ‘Ride’ is out 27th October.