Greg Zaccagnino, the mastermind behind ZAXX, started making music during his early high school years and hasn’t looked back since. By his junior year, ZAXX had his first college tour under his belt. Since then, he’s collaborated with artists like KSHMR, released solo material on Tiesto’s imprint Musical Freedom, and accumulated millions of streams — over 20 million of which come from his remix of The Chainsmokers’ “Roses” alone.
The anticipated release of “Belong” enticed us to reach out and learn more about the young producer who has recently come back from hiatus. ZAXX expressed his new style of production and introduces his singing talents. While you wait for his track to drop on February 23rd, check out this exclusive ZAXX interview by Women of EDM’s Samantha Hogya.
SH: What kind of feedback did you expect to see when dropping this “Sick Boy”? Were you expecting it to blow up so quickly with over 100K views on YouTube within 24 hours?!
ZAXX: I was pretty shocked at first considering I haven’t put out music in about a year and the response to the remix was honestly so refreshing. It was a good feeling to see that people were really loving the new direction that I’m going for.
SH: What about the original Chainsmokers track inspired you to remix this?
ZAXX: The lyrics really resonated with me because I’m in the process of moving out to LA and also in the process of releasing a lot of new (personal) music that a lot of different people are going to hear and critique. I feel like the song really holds that message that being a musician or any kind of artist can sometimes be unnerving and that there’s always risks to take.
SH: The release of “Belong” is fastly approaching on February 23rd, what motivated you to incorporate your own vocals on this project?
ZAXX: My biggest motivation for singing on Belong was that it was written at a time of uncertainty. I felt like it would be best if I spread the message of the song with my own voice.
SH: Is integrating your own vocals something you would like to do again? Can you describe the process of adding this personal touch?
ZAXX: Yes 100%. I love singing on my records just because it adds a whole other layer of feeling I can put into it. My song writing process basically comes from me making a little beat or melody and then singing random words over it until something sticks – but I always try and have a message in each of my songs so I try and dig deep and find out what I really want to say.
SH: How do you develop a musical identity that sets you apart from other producers? How did you come to find your own personal sound?
ZAXX: I think the most important part about finding your own identity is to NOT put yourself in a box (which is easier said than done). You should listen to a lot of different music, become inspired by literally anything that interests you and remember to do things differently. The thing I like to do is if I like a song, and I really want to make a song just like it, I remind myself that the song already exists and I can be making something that doesn’t exist yet which can give somebody else that same sensation.
SH: You’ve expressed a new, experimental sound. What exactly does experimental mean and are you implying that about your writing, producing, or singing?
ZAXX: Experimental (for me) just means that it literally is an experiment. Like, there’s really no boundaries to what I can put out but the goal is to have a distinction between my music and other people’s music, all while putting out songs that aren’t necessarily in the same genre. I do plan to write and sing on a lot more of my songs but I think that will be a gradual thing and will have to be for the right songs that really mean a lot to me.
SH: What has your listener engagement been like? How have you stayed connected with your fan base?
ZAXX: I honestly have been so lucky with my fan base. After not releasing music for so long and to still have the support of these people means the world to me, and sometimes you become numb to it because of how understanding they can be. I don’t ever call the people who listen to my stuff my fans only because they’re more like friends to me, that just enjoy listening to my music or seeing me at a show and that’s really all I could ever want.
SH: You announced that you will be leaving New York soon. Where are your plans to go and how will this enhance your career?
ZAXX: Yes, I’m moving out to LA (which I know a lot of people do haha) but a change of scenery and to be surrounded by like-minded people also chasing their dreams seems like the best idea for me right now, considering the fact that it will boost my inspiration tenfold. After sitting in a little room for 5-6 years, making music all day alone, the location change is welcomed with open arms from me.
SH: Anything else you want to add about the evolution of your musical talents?
ZAXX: All I can really say is that there really is no box anymore as a musician. People create in the way they consume and honestly I just love making music for the purity of it, so I’m hoping everyone who listens sees that and enjoys it just as much as I enjoyed writing it.
SH: Lastly, what women of EDM would you like to recognize for their positive influences and why?
ZAXX: I’d have to say Rezz. It’s so amazing seeing her development over the past 2 years and it’s refreshing because she didn’t follow any trends and is just an all around really good person who cares about the people who listen to her music. That is the most important thing to me, as an artist.
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