Born in Grimsby, north England to a Punjabi Mother and Afro-Asian Father, Zack Knight has become a very popular British singer, songwriter & producer. He first started out in music writing for household names. Zack Knight credits his father as his inspiration behind pursuing a career in music. Growing up, he was constantly surrounded by a multitude of different music. His sound is best described as “…R&B infused style with a crossover sound.” This crossover sound includes Bollywood and Arabian influences. Zack is one of the very few singer-songwriters who produces, composes and engineers their own music. He has written for Tinie Tempah, Ginuwine, IYAZ, Nick McDonald (X Factor,) Stylo G and supported Taio Cruz, Mario and Jessie J Live. Zack has also had the tremendous honor of writing 6 top 5 singles in the Asian Charts as well as 2 Top 10 UK singles in the mainstream charts. In addition, he has performed at Wembley & O2 Arena for hundreds of thousands of fans. Whilst he considers these memorable career highlights, Zack still aspires to write that elusive #1 Billboard single. It is no surprise his style, ability and sound are gaining international attention. With over 9 million views, his song Nakhre has become a staple on You Tube for that R&B infused desi sound.
2.) How did your interest in the music industry start?
My father always felt like he was never given the opportunity to pursue his dream of singing after committing himself to his studies. I feel as though he inspired me to find my passion by encouraging me to perform at any given moment like family parties and practically anywhere with a stage or a crowd. I didn’t really have any interest in the music industry apart from when I met award winning producer Mr Skillz who taught me basic songwriting and how to become an artist in my own right. He threw me in the deep end early on by making me write for lots of artists and I quickly learnt from then how to refine my craft.
3.) How/when did you get your first break/start?
I had small breaks early on when I was under a different name “Zee Kay”. I had released a bunch of songs, which were heavily supported by all the major Asian media and at the time I was tipped to be the next big thing. All the attention became a bit too much for me especially being so young and the “industry” itself became a lot less attractive with all the politics going on internally.
4.) What musical influences have impacted you as a performer and as a song writer?
Earlier on, the likes of Usher, Boy 2 men, Joe were hugely influential. But as a songwriter that’s constantly changing as music evolves, we almost learn from each other.
5.) When it comes to your song writing, what inspires you?
The payoff and the joy of listening back to a creative piece of work is the driving factor for me. Its hard to say what inspires me in general because music was always an escape for me. To get away from life’s problems and enter a world where you can take an idealistic approach to life.
6.) You’re one of the few artists who have created this space of fusion music where you’ve done desi songs/covers as well as English music. It can be very difficult for artists to have that crossover versatility. Why do you think it works for you and your fan following has been so diverse? Was it intentional on your part?
Not at all. I took whatever genre, whether its an original Punjabi, Rnb song or a Bollywood fusion record, and I take it back to the basics. If artists start their careers following a trend by creating fusion music because that’s what’s popular, that’s probably why it doesn’t work for everyone and I believe our audiences are becoming smarter and can sense this. As you mentioned, I started completely from English music, and having done that for so long I think that’s allowed me to refine my skills in the background before being discovered by the Asian world. That’s where my approach is totally different because I usually write or compose a song from a “mainstream” point of view rather than trying to please the South Asian ears. So one of the tricks is to write the song in English first and then find a way to sing the same melody in an Indian influenced style. I think that’s helped me dip in and out of languages so fluidly. Although admittedly my pronunciation isn’t the best but I’m constantly working towards improving it!
7.) As an artist, what do you still find most challenging being in this industry?
Trying to please everyone from the top down is fairly difficult but my main issue is keeping my music and visuals consistent enough. I started directing my own videos which became extremely exhausting so finding the right director who can visually illustrate my music has been the biggest challenge yet!
8.) What was it like collaborating with Raxstar for Queen? Both of you had great chemistry together and your sounds fused together well. Will we see more from the two of you together?
That was more an accident. Ive known Khalid, Raxstar’s manager for a while and he’s kept me in the loop on his projects. I first just sent over some beats to write to which turned into a studio session and I loved the Punjabi rap so much I had to put something down on the hook. I’m sure whenever there’s another opportunity and the right track calls for it I’d love to get Raxstar on another track.
9.) Who would you love to collaborate with (western or desi) in the future?
Being so encapsulated by the guys working behind the scenes like the songwriters and producers I’d love to work with Rick Ruben, Dr Luke, Benny Blanco and alike. These are the guys not everyone knows about but most of them are the ones behind all the top 10 billboard songs.
10.) Of the new crop of artists coming out (west and/or desi), who’s sound do you think has been noticeable for you as an artist or you have enjoyed? What appeals to you about other artists currently on the scene?
I love how Jason derulo and other latino stars like Shakira, Enrique incorporate ethnic music into their mainstream sound. That’s ultimately what I aspire to achieve- to fuse our roots and make it commercially viable. I also enjoy the Bollywood hits from the likes of Arijit Singh, Mika Singh, Ankit Tewari and Mohd Irfan. Within the urban fusion scene I liked what Mickey Singh did fusing dance and hip hop with Rnb and of course Raxstar.
11.) What are you working on next?
I have Arabian influenced tracks dropping back to back. I like trying something new and pushing the boundaries. I hate being put in a box and being predictable! I just had a collaboration release with Shide Boss as well so do check that out. Next will be my single Ya Baba featuring Rami Beatz. The video is coming any day now. The trailer has had a wonderful response.
In addition, I’ve got my clothing line coming out: www.knighthxxd.com I had some limited pieces release already in December with a signed CD for some lucky fans. Looking forward to seeing the fans wearing the line.
12.) Any message for your fans/supporters?
I’m blessed to have a relationship with my supporters over social media. It’s brought us closer together which has ultimately allowed me to succeed. So make sure you stay in touch and I’ll continue to make you proud by being one of the only artists to consistently release chart topping music independently!
Thank you to Zack Knight for his time. We really enjoyed hearing his story and sharing his creative journey. It is no surprise to us how much he has already accomplished in his professional career and it is a matter of time before we see his name shine bright on the Billboard #1 spot. Make sure to follow his social media for all the latest updates on whats next up for Zack! He might be performing in a city near you soon! Don’t forget to order his clothing line too when it officially launches soon.
Snap Chat: IAmZackKnight