GZ Tian Talks To Us About Having No Limits, His Always Changing Surroundings & New EP
GZ Tian can do it all, produce, sing, rap and even play instruments - including the Erhu (a Chinese string instrument). Growing up between 3 cities, London, Manchester and Liverpool and always feeling somewhat like an outsider, allowed GZ to understand he does not have to limit himself, reflecting in the fact his music branches across an array of sounds, from jazz, hip hop and trippy world music.
He recently released his lead single 'Tokyo Girl' off his forthcoming EP with an animated visual. Ahead of his EP release, Another Artist, which is out on March 27th, we caught up with the musician to hear how his heritage plays a role in his artistry, whether he prefers London or Manchester and more.
Interviewer Fatima Sheekhuma
Photography Press Images
Did growing up in a musical home influence your decision on becoming an artist?
Not consciously. I think being raised around music raised my interest when I was young. My mum and Granddad also taught me to play Chinese instruments when I was a child, but that was more from the perspective of musicianship. I think the desire to create is something you are kind of born with and something that was nurtured by the music my Dad would play in the house. I was writing songs when I was 9-10, mostly in private, but it was only when my brother let me use his logic pro x that I started producing around 16 and then there was no way I couldn’t release some of the stuff I was making and things really went from there.
How much does the music you grew up around influence the sound of your own?
A lot. I think my main trait or musical characteristic is my diversity. I’ll drop a hip hop track and then a jazz track then a rock or indie track. Some kind of world music/hip hop fusion is however, what most people want to see in me and it’s something I explore in the album. At the moment, it is more about getting myself in the right environment to explore that sonic idea properly and in depth. With the people I have around me at the moment I am really enjoying the jazz and rock stuff and bringing some hip hop elements to them.
How much does heritage play a role in your artistry - from being Chinese, growing up in Manchester and now residing in London?
The actual area I grew up in was Stockport. The area is largely white and Asian, so most of my friends were Pakistani. Especially in high school, it felt at times as if it was all the minorities and then white people – there was no conscious thought about this at the time, it was just normal. But then of course I am half white, my dad was born and grew up in Stepney (East London) but his family are Irish. So I’ve always had this thing of not fitting in completely with anyone – my Chinese friends or family, other minorities or white people. So it was rarely the best of all worlds, but the worst of all. Growing up I’ve seen this change, I can enjoy the different parts of each culture a lot. But I think one thing from my upbringing which helped was the fact that I’ve always felt like an outsider, as if I can’t relate to people in the truest way.
Of course on the basic level though, of being taught how to play several Chinese instruments, you can hear this in my music.
Are the references to your Asian heritage something that comes naturally, or do you feel you consciously choose to include it in your work?
I always want it to feel natural. There was some pressure early on in making the album to make it purely some East meets West fusion. I have no doubt that when I commit to this idea I will make it interesting and do it in a way which no one else could – but emotionally, for whatever reason, I have been drawn to other forms of music. So, I will never add a random Chinese instrument if I do not feel it is natural. I’ve always felt that forcing cliche sonic concepts is a big shame in music.
" At the moment, it is more about getting myself in the right environment to explore that sonic idea properly and in depth."
Why did you decide on naming your EP ‘Another Artist’ was there something, in particular, you wanted to allude too?
I originally wanted to have it written up as ‘aNOTher artist’ but it didn’t stick. It is of course ironic, because every artist feels they are unique. Every artist feels they have their own special sound, but how many actually do? Not many. S