Lay Zhang talks about going behind the boards for PRODUCER, mentoring
Perfectionist that he is, To set down Zhang is not one to settle for anything less than excellence when it comes to making music.
Take his latest album PRODUCER for example. Although it is a compilation of songs that the Chinese rapper and singer-songwriter composed and performed during his stint in the Chinese reality singing contest 我是唱作人2 (CZR Ⅱ) last year, the project’s nine tracks are much more than just studio re-recordings.
PRODUCERthe consistently high production values of – from the fan-favorite opening number ‘JOKER’ to the contagious rap song ‘湘江水 (Xiangjiang River)’which concludes the album in style – testify to Lay’s meticulousness and unparalleled dedication to his craft.
In addition to showcasing his talents as a producer, the album also celebrates the EXO the member’s heritage and roots, particularly in the ‘湘江水 (Xiangjiang River)’who constantly refers to the hometown of Changsha, 29.
In an interview with moving trainLay talked about going behind the boards for his new album, PRODUCERreflecting on his growth as an artist and his new role running his own entertainment agency, Chromosomal entertainment group.
How did you work on PRODUCER?
While filming CZR II, I knew I wanted to release all of these songs for my fans to listen to. [to]. I just wanted to make sure it was high quality when I released it since people had heard the songs before. I spent time making sure it was properly mixed and mastered. I had to go through a lot of versions to make sure it was correct.
What was it like working on the music for CZR II and create studio versions of songs?
It was hard. There was a lot of pressure to create good songs. I was competing against some really talented people. In the end, I’m happy to have had the opportunity to learn from such talented artists in China.
What were the creative challenges you faced while working on PRODUCER?
The challenge was to figure out how to improve the songs. Everybody’s heard it live CZR II. So I had to think of ways to make songs a new experience so people could feel something new.
In what ways have you seen yourself growing as an artist with your new solo material?
I was more in touch with my culture. I want the world to know my people. I want them to feel and hear our stories and our sounds. There are so many things in Chinese culture that have not yet been shared. I hope to promote Chinese culture to the world.
How do you differentiate between the different roles you have – as performer, creator, as leader of Chromosome Entertainment Group?
I feel so lucky that we got to start Chromosome Entertainment Group. It’s a dream come true. It is difficult to balance all these roles. As a leader, I have to make tough decisions and decide what’s best for the company. As a performer, I have to spend time in the studio practicing and rehearsing, and the older I get, the harder the practice becomes. As a creator, I’m constantly looking for new inspiration and trying to find the sound I want to share with the world. I am grateful to have the opportunity to do all of this.
What are your plans for the rest of 2021?
2021 has a lot going on between my interns and myself. We have a few projects in the works. I experiment with different sounds and ideas. I’m excited to share with everyone what we have going on this year.
Listen to the PRODUCER here: