New Audio: Introducing the Shimmering Synth Funk of L.A.’s Zhao

Raised in the Atlanta suburbs by Chinese immigrants, the Los Angeles-based electro pop producer, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Kenny Zhao studied classical piano and composition before he relocated to Southern California. Largely inspired by M83, Charlift, RHYE, Miguel, Washed Out, and Gorillaz, Zhao through his solo recording project, the aptly named Zhao had a breakthrough year last year, with tracks landing on Spotify‘s “Fresh Finds” and “Summer Heat” playlists, eventually reaching #9 on the Hype Machine charts. Adding to a growing profile, Zhao has contributed vocals on tracks by Eric Sharp, Armand Van Helden and Black Coffee — and he’s played at a number of venues across the Los Angeles area, including The Moroccan Lounge, The Satellite and at LA Chinatown’s Lunar New Year Festival.  And while his sound is evolving, he has generally taken a dance floor friendly path.

Building upon a growing profile, Zhao’s latest single is the summery “Feeling Today” will further cement his developing reputation for crafting breezy and funky synth pop, as the track is centered around a sinuous bass line, twinkling keys, shimmering and arpeggiated synths and Zhao’s sultry and soulful vocals. Sonically, the song is a slick amalgamation of 90s neo soul and 80s synth funk that manages to nod at some of Zhao’s influences; but thematically, the song touches upon treating every situation in life as valuable and necessary and putting aside fears of being taken advantage of and processing the idea that all people deserve love. That’s the message – that kindness will set you free. That resentment and fear put you in a cage, and the solution is to forgive yourself, forgive others and move on. There’s also an element of reassuring myself that whatever happens, the best thing I can do is operate within what I can control – honing my craft, and checking in with people I care about”, explains the Zhao.  “I’ve always viewed my songwriting process like a form of self-psychoanalysis…like finding out what I’ve really been thinking about.”

 

 

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