ZØLTAN is an Art Pop project with poetic lyrics. It incorporates the sounds of contemporary urban culture, such as the ‘sounds of heritage’: pop/electropop elements and symphonic orchestral arrangements.
Hello! First things off, could you introduce us to how you first started this project?
ZØLTAN, my latest project that bears my first name, started in 2017. That was the year when I took the decision to move from metal to pop and to try my wings against a brand new sky. In the same year, I recorded and produced the first two songs, both with Romanian lyrics: “Dacă dragostea e oarbă” (If Love Is Blind) and “Sunt aici” (Here I Am). With the first one I participated in the Romanian national selection for the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest – made it into the semi-finals – and the second one got released in October 2018. “Sunt aici” (Here I Am) came as a declaration of intention.
ZØLTAN is my second project and it comes after YesWeDo which has an album, “The Missed Sanctification”, released in 2015 by Hunnia Records (HU). It’s an alternative metal album with a deeply personal narrative, with lyrics that permeate the most intimate areas of the self: struggles of faith & sin, the loss of a loved one, nonconformism as a statement, love and other emotional adversities. Music-wise it is a diverse material: from heavy riffs and progressive elements to alternative rock textures, even piano-based ballads.
Growing up, was music always a big part of your life? Can you recall your first ever musical experience?
Yes, always. Music kindergarten, seven years of violin classes, 3 years of music high school (singing), 4 years of music academy (music pedagogy), 7 years of choir membership in a professional ensemble, musical composition and many years of bass playing in various bands and projects.
Do you find it easier to write the music or the lyrics? What comes first?
There’s always a story I’d like to tell, so lyrics come first. The process might start with a line for a chorus, with a verse… but usually there’s a complete lyric material to work with. Lyrics have their own musicality and, depending on their message, they outline a certain atmosphere and stylistic direction, so I only have to identify them.
What was the inspiration for your newest single called “Hey World”? How different or similar is it to anything else you have released in the past?
There might be conceptual similarities from a professional angle, but the ZØLTAN songs are quite different from one another. “Hey World” started with the chorus, with that pretty self-ironic line. The main character expects the worst, but he gets a smile from the world, as if from a by-passing stranger, and he’d like to keep close that experience. The introductory bass line is also one of the first elements – actually, the song is built on it.
How creatively involved were you with the making of the music video for “Hey World”? Did anything surprise you about the making of a video?
“Hey World” was born in 2019 (and finished in January 2020), but the Covid-19 pandemic gave it a special meaning. It became obvious that the video would have to expand its initial message. I came with the script and Vlad Catana had the artistry to turn it into a visual narrative. After “Black Christmas”, this is our second work together – Vlad has a special talent in understanding and interpreting my intentions through the camera lens. The only (expected) surprise was how smooth everything went.
We are currently living through a very trying and charged time right now so I am curious to know how your own music is reflecting this time period? Would you say that other musicians are making music that has been influenced by this climate?
The “Hey World” video is a statement, my response to these challenging times. I won’t tell here what it is about – those who’ll view it will understand.
On a larger scale, up to this point, I haven’t noticed a direct influence. There’s a heavy atmosphere, but there’s also a sort of artistic consciousness that leads the creator souls towards light. We all need hope and art can have a major role in this. As I see it, these days most musicians pay a special attention to the community, to all the vulnerable categories and I’m confident that future art will be permeated by authentic compassion and care.
Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? Who would you absolutely still love to work with in the future?
My all-time favorite artist is Leonard Cohen, the Godfather of poetry on music. His spirituality speaks volumes about the deepest understanding of how life deserves to be treated and which questions are worth asking. Cohen’s pure authority.
There’s also a larger scale: from Helloween (German power metal) to Hector Berlioz (a French Romantic composer), from Marcus Miller (jazz composer & bass player) to Cattle Decapitation (deathgrind), from Pink Floyd (progressive rock) to Dua Lipa (pop), from Johnny Cash (American folk) to Woodkid (art pop), from Sepultura (metal) to Andrew Lloyd Webber (contemporary composer) and so on. They all have two elements in common that inspire me: authenticity and depth.
There are many artists I’d love to work with, but at this point I wouldn’t dare to come up with names. The list of those I deeply admire and respect is long.
If your music was going to be featured on any TV show that is currently on right now, which would you love it to be on? Or if you prefer, what is a movie that you love that you wish your music was featured in?
It would be great if any of my songs were needed in a future TV production. If it comes to movies, I’d love it if “Black Christmas” were used in a film which tries to raise public awareness of depression during Christmas time. It would be an honour.
Do you have any upcoming projects to share with us?
Yes. There will be more music & more videos.
Cover photo: (c) Vlad Braga aka Bragovski