Words by Nathan Jones
Upcoming group Zebra have released their first song of 2020, ‘Sticky Fingers’ on August 31st. Along with the release of their first music video for ‘Don’t You Know’.
Coming from largely different backgrounds the duo met in 2013 in Brisbane, created Zebra Entertainment and have been working on their music ever since..
When Michael ‘sizemick' Barwick met Baset Sadiqi, Baset could barely speak a word of english as his family were refugees of the war in Afghanistan.
We caught up with the boys from Zebra to chat all things music, inspiration and more:
We are based in Brisbane, Australia.
How long have each of you been playing music?
I first started making music in 2009. I was still in school at that point and was just trying to build my skills in music production and song writing. I didn't start taking it seriously until 2012 when my parents gifted me some studio time for finishing grade 12. After getting a proper taste of how music production works, I fell in love with the process. In 2013 I met Baset and Zebra Entertainment was born.
I started making music in 2012 but the thing was I couldn’t speak English. But I knew how to write. When I look back at my lyrics from 2012, theres a lot of technical side missing but the flow and rhymes are there. I just physically couldn’t spit it out yet. Which is why I started producing. If I couldn’t express myself verbally, I made sure I did it through the music.
How do you feel your different backgrounds reflect into your music?
I come from a very different background to Michael. I grew up listing to afghan and Bollywood songs. They are COMPLETELY different to western music. They are a lot more upbeat, romantic and at times even funny. The melodies and strong structures are different too. It has given me a whole different perspective regarding writing. Mix that with the western type of music and you get something completely different and new.
I feel like we had very different walks of life, but they have led us to the same point. When I first started making music, I never would've thought that I would link up with a guy from Afghanistan and we would have enough in common to build a friendship and create good music. We have a lot of differences, but we respect each other enough to find the balance. Our music reflects our journey as individuals and as a team. We celebrate our diversity.
What do you feel is your most standout quality as artists?
It’s the ability for us to be ourselves. Our work individually is completely opposite of each other. But when we come together, it’s like magic. We pride ourselves on being different and unique. NO ONE in Australia has the same sound as us. Even our lyrics and beats are different. We don’t try for it to be, we just make music we would listen to. Plus, we have a massive range. We have songs that will make you want to dance; others make you want to cry. We're both skilled story tellers and have the ability to illustrate the narrative. So, when a fan listens to us, we give them a song for every occasion. We want to express our truth, and the truth is, everyone feels many different emotions in a period of an hour, and everyone has different sides. Which is why each song is different from the last.
Would you say you have a particular style or genre of music that defines you?
We never want to be pigeonholed to one style. We absolutely love Hip Hop so naturally our style will sway that way however that doesn't mean that other styles or genres are out of the picture.
Baset learned how to speak English by listening to Hip Hop and Rap.
Who are your biggest musical influences?
I have a tone! I grew up listening to Bob Dylan, ELO, The Traveling Wilburys and gospel music. When I was in my teens, I was introduced to Kid Cudi, Kanye, Jay-Z, Kendrick, Wayne, J. Cole, Eminem, Hilltop Hoods, Bliss n Eso. I honestly can list so many more.
There are so many! But here are a few, Anything Bollywood, Dr Dre, Eminem, 50 Cent, G-Eazy, Kendrick, The Weeknd, Lana Del Rey, Yellow Claw, Jay Z, Biggie, there are many more but these are the main ones in no particular order.
Do you have any big plans moving forward?
We want Zebra Entertainment to be top 10 in the world, to be listed amongst the greats and to be a household name. Once we have a large family of fans we want to branch out into film and fashion. We will be everywhere.
Anything else you want to add?
We have massive events coming up very soon. We are in the process of making 4 more music videos, making one-minute music videos on TikTok, releasing a song the last day of every month and once the restrictions ease up, we will start touring and performing on stages again. Nothing feels as good as watching a crowd people go crazy for your songs.