As an R&B connoisseur, I'm always on the lookout for young artists who vocally and lyrically excite me like the 90s/2000s artists who are on repeat on my playlists. With social media being an easy way for musicians to get their music out to the public, I often come across a lot of new artists but not many make it far enough for me to listen more than the trendy 10-15 second TikTok trend.
But when I first heard Zae France's What It Do featuring Fridayy, I had to dive into who this young artist was and listen to more of his music.
Zae France is a singer/songwriter who was born in North Carolina but was raised in Connecticut. He's currently signed under Compound Entertainment, a subsidiary created by Ne-Yo under the Def Jam umbrella.
I listened to his first body of work, Rhythm N Backwoods, which he released in 2019 and really enjoyed the mood of the tracks. The vibe is soulful and his heartfelt lyrics take you on a journey involving love, sex and relationships.
On Thursday, August 24, France released his latest EP, Rhythm n Backwoods Szn II. His new music continues the journey of his emotions and thoughts but also shows how he has evolved as an artist.
Before the release his latest EP, I had the opportunity to learn more about what inspires Zae France, his thoughts on the current state of R&B and the best advice he received from Ne-Yo.
I read that You made a switch from football to music. what ignited that switch?
It wasn't by choice, honestly. I'd still be playing football if I did not move as much as I did growing up. They say that sometimes your purpose in life comes to you naturally, and that's how I feel about music.
Where do you pull creative inspiration from?
The music sets the vibe for sure. Once I lock into a beat, I'm able to lay the framework, conceptually, on where I wanna take the music. I also pull from experiences in general, whether the inspo comes from me, first-hand or not. Life is the blueprint, and we all, in some ways, go through the same things.
How has North Carolina inspired your music?
I'd say growing up in North Carolina is the inspiration. I sang in the church, so you can say that was my introduction to hearing music with soul and purpose. I don't make gospel music, but I def tap into the rhythm and soul of R&B.
What are your thoughts about the current state of R&B?
There's space to put the soul in R&B back because I feel like people are looking for more right now. All of us who are in R&B have our lane, so my focus is to build with my fans because that's what matters most of all. This vibe ain't for everybody [laughs].
Who musically inspires you and why?
Right now, I'm locking into my music. My EP just dropped, but I'm working on the album too. I'm getting the most inspiration from the folks I'm working with on this project. I know that's a cop-out answer, but that's where I'm at with it.
You have a great working relationship with Ne-Yo, what's the best advice he has given you?
He told me once that I deserve to be here, which stuck with me because when you're coming up as an artist, sometimes you get stuck in your head about where things are going.
What do you want people to feel after listening to your music?
It's a Zae France season, and I'm not letting up any time soon!
Listen to Rhythm n Backwoods Szn II below and make sure to follow Zae France on Instagram.
Photo Credit: Breyona Holt