Experimental R&B Sensation Ziyaad Luceō Speaks on ‘Broken Skies’ (Dissection Interview Series)

Experimental r&b artist Ziyaad Luceō has gained quite a bit of notoriety in his relatively short music career. The Toronto native’s first record on SoundCloud, For You (Patience), was a hit and has been streamed over 26K times in just 8 months. Not bad for a rookie. In just under a year he’s built a strong fanbase, (over 1K followers) with comments that crowd every song on SoundCloud.

While every track is great, it is Broken Skies that stood out to me the most. The song contains a warped beat, sultry vocals, and very serious subject matter. Learn more about the origins of the subject matter, working with producer Raava, and how everything came together, with our newest edition of our Dissection Series.

You recently submitted a song called Broken Skies that really hit home for me. First off – tell us why you gave it that title.

When people reach a point of bliss and content it is almost like they could fly without wings, their happiness sores. But since my character is suffering with depression and using drugs as a form of artificial happiness, the skies are broken.

The song has a very strong message. What story are you telling? Why is it important for you to tell it?

“Broken Skies” was created for a friend of mine who is battling with drug addiction. I won’t give too much detail so she can maintain her privacy, but she’s going through a lot of difficult issues currently and it’s hard to see her like this. Even though our friendship has become strained and distant, I still wanted to convey my support and love in the best way I knew how. I always like to create from real stories that I go through personally or connect with. It’s so rewarding and fulfilling to see people resonant with my stories through my music.

Raava produced this track. How do you know him?

I don’t know Raava personally, but I’ve admired his work for many years. This instrumental in particular was sent to me. My friend sent me this beat a long time ago and I really enjoyed but I couldn’t figure out a subject matter to fit it. It stayed in my “beat vault” for a even longer time until my shuffle button was accidentally on and it randomly started playing. From then, I just started creating.

What came first, the lyrics or the beat?

The instrumental came first actually, but originally the theme was going to be completely different. I was going to talk about something little more positive. Yet my writing process took me in a different direction. The lyrics were drawn from a storyline in my life that had me in a state of nostalgia.

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You actually mixed and mastered Broken Skies. How did you develop this skill?

I’ve been mixing and mastering songs for years, not only for myself but for other artists around my hometown. Back when I was in the 12th grade my close friend showed me the essentials and from there I just started to grow and expand on that knowledge. I really like engineering, it allows me to follow my creative process to the very end. I get to create a song from start to finish.

Tell us about the artwork. It’s definitely mysterious. How did it all come together? 

The cover art was taken randomly but after I created the song I knew it would fit perfectly. The girl in the picture is my girlfriend and the shot was taken while we were at the Scarborough Bluffs. Originally, I thought I ruined the picture because the stutter speed wasn’t set but it came out better than I thought. I loved the mysterious factor that the picture displayed.  The photo really represents the song perfectly by previewing the ultimate theme; a mysterious girl who is lost in the clouds.

How do you record the vocals? There is a lot of layering and some distortion.

I just went through my traditional recording process where I hit the studio and start creating based on the mood I’m in. When engineering, I felt that an atmospheric approach would fit the topic, emotion and instrumental perfectly.

The song has done really well on SoundCloud. Were you expecting that?

To be honest, it’s hard to expect certain results while in the underground. I’m really appreciative of everyone that is resonating my sound. It’s crazy to me. I remember when I was struggling to get 50 plays. It’s surreal.

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Included in the email was a bio about you. You said you have been experimenting with music for about 4 years. What was that process like? 

In the beginning, I started making neo-soul songs. I was really inspired and involved in the jazz genre. To the point where I created a neo soul/jazz mixtape called “The Tranquility EP-ish” (found on Datpiff). As an artist, I always want my music to be progressive and showcase improvement and different techniques with each release. So this transition has lead me into the contemporary R&B world where I feel like I’m hitting my groove.

Tell us about the indie label you are signed to. 

Outlier Entertainment isn’t really a label but more of a brand to market myself. Outlier is a theme, symbol and identity that people will associate with my vision, movement and music.

What’s coming next for Ziyaad?

More and more music. I’m definitely working on improving my sound and expanding my reach. I’m not scared to make risks with my craft so I’m trying to make more abstract artistry. My love and passion for music motivates me to be the best artist I can be day in and day out. I’m striving to be the best!

Any last thoughts?

I Hope You Love the Mystery. And thank you for giving me the space to share my thoughts and ideas. I really appreciate what you are doing for underground artists. Blogs like yours are essential to the development of artists like myself. You are the future!