Although Danny Zee is from Pakistan, he's just as in tune with western R&B and hip-hop. From writing, composing, to producing, this rising songwriter crafted his debut album, Blue Butterfly, over the course of six months in complete isolation. Serving as documentation of his long journey to artistic freedom, Blue Butterfly explores Zee's most vulnerable moments, from past heartbreak to abandonment.
Whether it is the hypnotism we encounter in "Blue Butterfly" or the Eastern Qawwali we are intrigued by in "So Long, Goodbye," something about Zee's artistic approach is so compelling and inimitable. As we dive deeper into the eclectic record, Zee leaves us absolutely stunned with calming lo-fi beats in "It's 6 AM" and delicate vocals in "Your Love is an Addiction." Blue Butterfly ends with the touching "Angels," which easily reveals the rawest side to Zee we have seen yet.
Ones To Watch has your first listen of Blue Butterfly below, as well as an exclusive interview with Zee himself:
OTW: How did you first get into music? Who were your favorite artists growing up?
Danny Zee: I remember it was when my brother bought me my first guitar and I was just messing around on it, and he taught me my first few chords. In just a day, I was able to play “Knockin' on Heaven’s Door.” That's when I knew I had it in me to get into music. I remember always listening to Pink Floyd, Jeff Buckley, and Nirvana growing up. There was a time when I had The Dark Side of the Moon on repeat.
How has your Pakistani background shaped your music?
I don't think I would've been the artist I am today if it wasn't for Pakistan. I mean, for starters my brother had made it out here, so of course that was a factor. But being exposed to Pakistani music or the South Asian sound in general throughout my life really helped me find a middle ground, you know, where I could infuse the West and East together. I grew up listening to western music, but this innate ability to get into rhythm or even composing melodies that I do, a lot of it has to do with my roots. For instance, the verse melody for "Blue Butterfly" is heavily influenced by my Pakistani background and roots.
Your musical sound definitely doesn't fit neatly into one category. How would you describe your music in five words?
Nocturnal, chill, deep, experience-based, and soothing.
Can you describe the creative process behind Blue Butterfly?
Honestly, the creation part of it was just me pouring my heart out and doing what sounded nice to me. I had no specifics of how I wanted the entire album to sound like. Like, for me, the sound part didn't hold that sense of uniformity as much as the emotional part did. I knew what I was feeling emotionally and I knew that the "feelings" of all my tracks need to be cohesive. They need to convey one or two main emotions. The reason why some tracks are really different from others is that when I'd make one track and express myself through it, I was done with that form of expression, I wanted to move on and find a new form of expression that would help me express my pain further.
Do you have a favorite track off the new album?
It's a tie between “Rumble Tumble” and “Angels.” The former because I really enjoyed producing it, discovering the rhythm, the sounds to go for, etc. We were having a lot of fun. The latter because it shows me at my most vulnerable and raw self.
What overall message would you like listeners to take away from Blue Butterfly?
I just want them to be able to express their pain and sorrow of losing someone (not that I would ever wish upon anyone, but if they have gone through it). It's like a grieving catharsis.
If you could sell out a headline show anywhere in the world, where would you pick?
The Forum in LA! Because it's the first place I saw David Gilmour and John Mayer live in concert!
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