Meet Swedish singer-songwriter Isabelle Zikai Gbotto Carlsson, better known as Zikai. Zikai has a beautiful voice and uses it a soulful way single after single. After working for years as a songwriter for other artists, she is recording her own music. Check out our interview below.
BTS: Can you describe your sound for someone who’s never heard your music before?
Zikai: I grew up with a dad from West Africa, a mother from Sweden and two older siblings who were RnB nerds. So afro/soul, pop and RnB vibes play a big role in my music today. I write all of my songs myself and the topics always depend on how I’m feeling at the moment. So if someone who listens to my music for the first time assumes I’ve got a mood swing problem then I won’t argue with them haha.
BTS: When did you start making music?
I’ve always been singing but I truly started creating and writing when I was like 13/14.
BTS: What was it like making the transition from songwriter for others to solo artist?
Zikai: It was a bit scary at first to be honest. I had never been in the spotlight myself, I’d always been in the background. So taking that step was huge but also very important and necessary for me and for my self esteem as the artist and songwriter that I am today.
BTS: What’s your songwriting process like?
Zikai: My process doesn’t always look the same but my fave way to do it is by starting out by improvising a melody to some nice jazzy guitar chords. Usually when I improvise melodies some words accidently come through. I like to think that the words that come out of my mouth are something from my subconstains rather than just random words. When I’m done with that I just keep building on it and keep doing what feels good.
BTS: What/who are your biggest inspirations?
Zikai: My mother for sure. She’s a single mother who studied when I was young and is a senior manager of a big swedish company today. When she’s not working she’s keeping up with her other passions like writing, dancing and traveling. I could go on forever about her, she’s so cool. She’s the best. My lil mama.
BTS: If you could choose any artist to collaborate with, who would you choose?
Zikai: Octobers very own, Drizzy, Drake.
BTS: You have a new single “Twenty Something”, can you talk a little bit about what it sounds like and the inspiration?
Zikai: A couple months of partying too hard and being 21 and stupid was the inspiration for twenty somehting. I felt lost and confused in many aspects of life so I just knew I had to write a song about it to feel better. I had been listening a bit to Nelly Furtado and other cool artists from the early 2000s – I guess you may hear that in the drums we used. Other than that me and Anton Hård af segerstad just had a good time creating it without thinking too much.
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