Interview With Songwriter & Producer ZIV

Ziv is a multi-talented singer-songwriter, producer and engineer. After getting a degree in Music Theory and Composition from the University of California at Berkeley, Ziv hit the ground running leading his original band (ZIV) to play over 500 national tour dates and sell over 15,000 records. He is a dedicated artist who understands every aspect of the business; from leading a band, to self-producing and releasing albums, to booking tours and working in the studio. His accomplishments include multiple placements for Film & TV. Now living full-time in Nashville, Ziv is an artist in-demand, and we were happy to catch up with him for this interview. He’s also been getting some sensational reviews here on AirGigs, and you can find his services at the link below:

Tell us a bit about your early development as a songwriter and musician i.e. key influences, experiences, dreams & aspirations, etc
When I was a little boy I used to walk home from school and sing melodies while kicking those throw away newspapers to the beat…those newspapers were my first instrument. At age nine, after much begging, my mom rented a cheap piano and that’s when the real love affair with music began. I still have not gotten up from the piano, it was love at first sight and sound. After a few weeks I was writing pop, classical, and anything that I could copy. My first influences were Phil Collins, Seal, Peter Gabriel, U2, Bach, and Beethoven. My dream was to be a rock star playing stadiums without the fame part. Luckily I never got either, I have been able to tour the country for years and make a nice living and truly enjoying every minute of it. The real dream now is just to keep doing it every day. And I’m happy to say, that’s my life right now.

Aside from piano, voice and guitar do you play any other instruments?
As you mentioned my main instruments are voice, piano and guitar. However, I play bass and drums as well. I do also play trombone and trumpet, but don’t currently have them in my studio.

Did singing always come completely naturally to you, or did you have to work to develop your voice?
Singing has never been easy for me. Which is funny because one of the things my fans always told me was that they could hear my passion and intensity. Some of that was certainly my deep emotional connection to music coming through, but some of it was the extreme effort it took to sing certain parts of my songs. I love singing, and I’m so happy my voice is appealing to others. However; I have had to work very very hard to maintain it.

In what ways did your degree in Music Theory and Composition from UC Berkeley shape you as a musician?
I think it allowed me to put names and labels on all the sounds that I had been creating from age nine. And, of course it expanded my chord vocabulary and opened my mind to new forms of composition.

Take us through the evolution of your band ZIV; from it’s beginnings to playing 500 plus national tour dates?
Much like artists like John Mayer, Sting, and Seal, I have always been a solo act that toured with a backing band. I built my company from the ground up. I learned to do booking, tour management, and all other aspects of the music business out of necessity. I had a few record deals fall through at the last minute and I just lost the desire to keep fighting to complete a contract with one of the majors. So I built my own label, my own management company, my own booking arm, and cruised on for 12 years. It was the best decision I ever made.

My start came playing the streets of Los Angeles with a boombox. I soon started selling records and graduated to a full blown P.A. and 6 hours a night singing at the Santa Monica Promenade, Universal Studios, or Hollywood and Highland. These outdoor venues allowed me to make a lot of fans and make a nice living selling my own music on my own terms. In 2008 I started touring nationally and have been doing so since.

Did you self produce all your original albums?
All my albums are self produced mostly out of necessity. The caliber of producers that I wanted to work with were just too much for me to afford. And since I was funding everything myself, I decided to use the studio that I had built to do all my records.

What got you into music production?
Music production was a natural extension of my love of arrangement. Classical music is where I got my start, especially with Bach and Beethoven. If you can hear all four voices in a Bach fugue than you can do any kind of production. I think those early days of listening and trying to mimic the masters of yesteryear gave me ears to hear the space in recording. And production to me is about filling the space with color, rhythm and feeling. Pushing and pulling the listener and evoking a feeling.

Tell us a bit about your approach to mixing?
Mixing to me is about making music cohesive and energetic. I love the energy of drums and bass, I tend to mix those heavier than most mixers. Mixing is bringing all the ideas, motives, moods, and energy into focus. This is my usual progression in a mix…

1. Drums tight and balanced
2. Bass
3. Vocals
4. Guitars and keys
5. Ambient instruments and effects
6. Bussing treatment and parallel compression
7. Stereo buss treatment

Of course it depends on the song, but this is my default.

How do you approach your gigs as a session vocalist?
The most important part for me is listening. Listening to what the client wants. My first pass is always mine, meaning, that I just go for what I hear in my head. I communicate with the client so that they can pick and choose what they like. Then, we come to a collaboration point where the best of me and the best of their original vision comes through. This has worked really well on airgigs especially.

You’ve had a lot of great feedback from customers here on AirGigs, why do you think people respond so favorably to your work?
I don’t settle. I don’t put a maximum on tracks, on revisions, etc…So far, no one on Airgigs has been unreasonable. We all need money to eat and to live, however, I love music so much that it really doesn’t feel like work. I think that my energy, passion, and fun comes through in my work and in my personal dealings with my clients, friends, etc… Plus, the platform that Airgigs has created fosters a great environment for positive interactions.

What keeps Ziv busy these days…i.e. take us through an average work week?
I usually have about 3-4 music projects going per week. This keeps me very fresh and on my toes. Besides that I record my music for T.V., Film, and for my own records. I do writing, mixing, arranging, production, and anything else that can be done to make idea into music. I do occasionally take a day off here an there to work on my house, and I am currently building a 1200 square foot dream studio! Oh, and my wife and cat keep me pretty busy too.

What’s next for you personally and / or in your music career?
I should be having kids sometime in the next couple years which I am very excited about. A new record should be coming out in the next several months, and more touring for sure. Honestly, these last few years have been very good to me, I’m writing, recording, and producing music for a living, which was always my dream. So, now I’m here in the middle of the dream just having fun and feeling very fortunate and grateful for my life.

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