Filipino independent recording artist based in Kuala Lumpur – zeauk dropped his comeback single “Falling” this week!
zeauk, also known as Zeus Rectra, established his name and built an online following through visual arts and creative direction since 2016, before venturing into the music scene in 2018. Through his songwriting and consistent song release, he gained notoriety in Southeast Asia’s music and creative space after having the opportunity to be featured on Discover Weekly and most of Spotify’s New Music Friday playlists across the said region; sparking further pursuance to release more songs and collaborate with different creative artists independently. Eventually, building his presence in Kuala Lumpur with continuous radio features and interviews. zeauk currently seeks to shift his musical concept more towards the roots on which he grew up. Drawing inspiration from some of his favorite artists and producers such as – Bryson Tiller, Jason Dhakal, GIRIBOY, and Crush – to name a few.
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Learn more about zeauk and his brand new single “Falling” in our latest edition of featured article below!
1. How did you settle here in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia?
I was brought up here in Malaysia from 2009. My family and I migrated here because my parents had to work here. Even though I’m Filipino, by nationality, I would say I am more Malaysian at heart because I spent more than half of my life being here in Malaysia. Eventually, I also picked up the Malay language.
2. Then, how did venture into the music scene in 2018?
It was totally unexpected. I was exploring photography and videography as my hobbies as a teenager. Then I was discovered by some brands and that’s how I transitioned becoming a content creator.
It started with this one random night back in 2018 with a sleepover. We got bored and my friends and I decided to make a song for fun. After we made the song, I said, “what if we release it on Spotify for fun [with no expectations]?” My friends were hesitant about it because we only recorded the song using an iPhone and mixed it with a free online master website.
After one or two weeks, the song garnered a few thousands of streams on Spotify. So, that was the point of our time when we decided to take this music journey more seriously. Over the years, I’ve been consistently releasing songs.
Even though R&B is my main inspiration for my music, I actually listened to a lot of genres like pop, hip hop, Korean R&B, indie, alternative, bands like Bring Me the Horizon and Paramore. I constantly try to get inspiration from different genres because…
“I believe that in order for you to find your own identity as a musician, you need to explore different music and consistently step out of your comfort zone.”
Back in 2018, I’ve released mostly R&B music, then more pop R&B in 2019 and 2020. But since last year, I’ve been trying to step out of my own comfort zone. I released a ballad song, a pop song. And then, now a dance pop with “Falling”. I was surprised to learn that I actually can do more than just one genre.
3. You’re studying corporate communication right now. What’s the plan after you graduate at the end of this year?
As much as I want to pursue music as my full time career, I need to be realistic. Being an independent artist, or an independent creative in general, it’s pretty hard. You must finance everything you do on your own. So, I’ll probably be working in a corporate job to finance my passion in music.
I guess one of the pros of being independent is you have your freedom. You can do things at your own pace because if you’re under a label, basically, it’s contractual. For instance, you have to release songs based on how many they would require you to release.
Even though I’m independent, I’m actually happy because you feel fulfilled after all the hard work that you’ve put into your own project. Then, you see people enjoying them. That’s what keeps me going, creating more music content.
4. What does your creative process look like then?
After COVID-19, I noticed that many artists started collaborating with each other. That really inspired my friends and I to work on songs together. It’s a win-win situation that our listeners get to discover one another. I’ve been writing songs by myself initially, but lately, I’ve been collaborating with other people to write songs together. I normally would get inspiration from my current or past life experiences but I always try to write it from a third person’s point of view so it’s not just one sided.
5. Tell us how your new single “Falling” came about!
I became friends with a lot of artists last year through Clubhouse. I was bored during the quarantine, so I created a room and named it “Come teman me to write a song because I’m bored”. A lot of people joined and I told them I want to work the song to have a dancey vibe. People started to recommend different genres like house, club, Afrobeat. So, I tried to merge them altogether. Now I have this song that kind of sounds like Afrobeat, but not really. It has the house and dance element into it as well.
I made a demo then I played it to everyone at Clubhouse. My friend, Cuurley, who is one of the prominent producers in Malaysia, hopped in the room then he said, “yo dude, this is actually, this is actually good, like, send it to me and I’ll try to spice it up.” I sent him the track. After 20 minutes, he sent back to me with the new elements. As soon as I listened to it, that became the final product that we all are listening to right now.
For the songwriting, I collaborated with Brandon Tan. He’s very good at writing catchy melodies. So he wrote the melody for the song. Within one night after he sent the melody to me, I finished writing everything. We tried recording it last year but due to some circumstances, we didn’t manage to finalize the whole song. So, I tried again this year.
The song is inspired by the time when I felt the euphoria, the bliss, the feeling of being happy when I was falling in love again. It inspired the lyrics and the sounds. I wanted it to be sexy, but at the same time, I’d like people to dance and vibe to it.
6. How do you feel your constant listener will react to this new sound of yours?
I feel like no one will see this coming because I feel they will just assume it’s another R&B or pop. I think they will be really surprised. I sent it to my distributors, they liked it and were excited to release it. When I sent it to the radio stations, they gave me the same reaction too. I am super grateful for their honest feedback.
I actually also sent it to my friends to get their honest feedback, because I was super insecure. You know, that feeling when you try something new, you’re super anxious, but excited at the same time? Yeah, that’s how I felt. My friends gave me the same reaction. So far all the comments I’ve received are positive. I’m feeling hopeful and positive about the release.
7. Why do you think it’s important to try something new with the risk that people might dislike it?
It’s good to be consistent but I believe that you need to change for good sometimes. If you look at some rock bands like, Bring Me the Horizon. They were doing alternative metal stuff back in the days. And now they’re doing pop songs. I feel like everything eventually falls into the pop category.
Even though “Falling” is a dance pop, I always try to look back where I came from. That’s why there’s a little bit of R&B element to it. Some of the melodies are actually meant for R&B but Brandon and I thought it fits so well. I always get anxious and scared because it’s totally new.
But at the end of the day, I feel like, as long as you enjoy the process of making it, that’s what all matters. The work is made by you, and you’re doing it for you to showcase yourself and for other people to get inspired by your work. I always feel anxious with my upcoming releases but I always try to be positive about it.
8. You’re a visual artist as well, do you do your own visuals?
When it comes to music videos, I would give my vision to my collaborators, then they would add their ideas to it. In the end it becomes something uniquely different. For teasers and all of my artwork, I did them all by myself.
For the music video of “Falling”, it was a collaboration as well. Same thing, I gave my vision to my friend Ivan, who’s the director. Then, he added his input. The music video turned out to be mysterious even though the song is romantic.
9. What’s next for you? Can we expect an EP or an album anytime soon?
After many collaboration releases, I really wanted to release something as a soloist again because it’s been a while. “Falling” is a comeback for me as a solo since my last solo release in 2020. I’m actually eager to release more solo releases this year. My next release would probably be around mid-2022.
I took a break in 2019 to 2020 and it had a good effect on me personally because I could finally take a breather from music. On the flip side, I lost listeners in that period. That was the reason why I’m now releasing singles consistently. I’ve always had the thought of working on an EP, so I’m planning to release an EP one day but I’m not sure when, probably next year. “Falling” probably is a good hint for what’s coming up next from me.