Updated: Oct 31
Zuby is an independent rapper who was born in England, raised in Saudi Arabia and graduated from Oxford University. His music combines elements of old school and modern-day rap to create a sound that he calls ‘commercial underground hip-hop’. Zuby's intelligent wordplay and inspirational lyrics have earned him a loyal following - with over 25,000 albums sold independently, 50,000 followers online and 1 million+ views on Youtube. He has received support from BBC Introducing, performed in 8 different countries and opened for well-known artists such as Tech N9ne, The Pharcyde, Akala and The Coup.
Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it.
I was travelling from London to Lagos, Nigeria and somehow got stuck in Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris for 24 hours. I was bored and alone, with just my mp3 paper, a notebook and some paper - so I started writing rhymes. Turned out I was good at it.
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
Getting mobbed by about 100 French kids in Oxford once was pretty funny and surreal! I think I was signing autographs and taking photos for about half an hour.
What has been the high point of your music path?
Opening for my favourite rapper, Tech N9ne, at his first headline show in London was an awesome experience. It was great to meet somebody who has really inspired me and the performance itself went down a treat.
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
I get the beat first and then listen to it continuously whilst freestyling and experimenting with different flows. Once I've got the flow and a general rhyming pattern together, I write the lyrics themselves.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be?
I think monetisation is the single biggest struggle. It's difficult for musicians to get paid fairly for their work. Streaming barely pays anything, most live gigs and festivals don't pay anything - it's tough. If people are not willing to buy the music itself then it becomes much harder and less clear how one can sustain their career financially. The music industry could certainly support artists better in this regard - especially at the early stages before packing out big venues is realistic.
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
Probably Eminem because he's one of the best rappers alive and also very elusive. It would be a rare honour to share a stage with him.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
Honestly they're very simple. I just listen to the music on my headphones or through speakers and rap along to re-embed the lyrics in my head. Occasionally, I'll do a full mock performance where I go through the entire setlist with transitions, as if I were performing for a crowd.
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
'This is My Life' was challenging, because I feel like I exposed myself and my innermost thoughts and feelings more than I usually do. I'm normally rather stoic.
What's coming up in the future?
My new album 'Perseverance - The Best of Zuby' is out this year. I started a podcast 'Real Talk with Zuby' which goes out biweekly and I'm planning another UK tour for Spring/Summer.
Tell us where fans can access your music?