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GET TO KNOW: R Zak



After breaking through as a renowned classical viola player, only to find her using her instrument in everything from reggae collectives to hardcore punk bands, touring with indie band The Apple Miner Colony and opening for the likes of Buckethead and Beirut, emerging Portland-based singer and songwriter R Zak has now delivered her highly-anticipated new album 'Dialetics'.


With its rich and dynamic sound, 'Dialetics' makes for a wonderfully smooth yet diverse listen. Conjuring a broad array of instrumentation and atmospheric production alongside her beautifully ethereal voice, her newest work shows us a bold and captivating side to her work as a whole.


So with the new full-length available now, we sat down with her to find out more about her origins and what has been inspired by in recent years.


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What was the first instrument you learned to play?


Piano when I was 5 or 6. I switched to viola at 9. I've since added on a few or at least tried.


What was the first album you remember owning?


I had the B-52s "Cosmic Thing" on cassette tape. My first CD was either "Pieces of You" by Jewel or Blondie's Greatest Hits. I still love all those albums!


Did you ever form a band when you were younger and if so, what did they sound like?


In high school I had an experimental (I would call it artsy punk) duo with a girl named Nikki. She played a highly distorted keyboard and I played electric violin. It mainly sounded like amp feedback and fuzz.


What is a song you wish you had written yourself?


"Optimistic" by Radiohead. It really fits in my vocal range! To be honest, anything from "Kid A". That album has always stuck with me since I first heard it, especially the way the electronics are used with such emotional intelligence.


What has been the most thrilling moment about creating your own music?


When you first realise that a song is a keeper, that is satisfying. Getting into the zone when recording, and hearing everything after it's been mastered are also magical moments. After this pandemic I hope for some thrilling moments performing these songs live.


And what about the most frustrating part?


When you listen critically to your own music a lot your ears are no longer as fresh and you can start to overwork the songs. Then the best thing to do is start over.


Which artist would you most love to share a stage with?


Bjork. Pretty please! Her performances are always so beautiful, with so much attention to detail. Her style is always evolving. I love the performance she did of "In Our Hands" with a choir from Greenland.


Where do you see yourself in five years time?


Touring with a couple more albums under my belt. Relaxing, sipping coffee and playing guitar on the beach! Still learning and improving and discovering new amazing things about music and the world.


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R Zak's new album 'Dialetics' is available to stream now. Check it out below.