THE 20 TRACKS THAT MADE ZAK ABEL

Posted by Sara Cerutti | March 27, 2018 | MUSIC


In a story that’ll be familiar to most of us, Zak Abel realised music was his true passion during his teens. But unlike most of us, he started writing songs at the age of 14, while his mum blasted out Michael Jackson on the way to school,  finding the whole process very cathartic.

Such good schooling is clear in the influence of soul and 70s funk that runs through a Zak Abel track. We sat down with the Deezer NEXT pick for 2018 to talk through 20 tracks that inspire him:

Michael Jackson – “The Way You Make Me Feel”
“I was seven years old; it was the first MJ song I heard. It was part of a compilation cassette tape that I only played to hear this song over and over again.”

Bill Withers – “Ain’t No Sunshine”
“I used to play a song or two in a wine bar every so often, and I’d always play this song as it was so soulful and easy to play on guitar.”

Paolo Nutini – “Last Request”
“I love the rasp in his voice when he sings ‘all about your lies’.”

Tim Maia – “O Caminho Do Bem”
“I heard this song on the Brazilian movie City Of God and have been hooked on Tim Maia ever since.”

Boney M – “Sunny”
“This track just makes me see sunshine, and smile.”

Joni Mitchell – “Blue”
“This is an absolute masterpiece of a song. The chords, the melody, the lyrics. Everything is iconic.”

Justin Timberlake – “Midnight Summer Jam”
“This track makes my neck hurt from bopping.”

Kendrick Lamar – “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe”
“The lyrics in this song are so relatable for me. It’s incredible to hear live too.”

Moses Sumney – “Lonely World”
“One of the most atmospheric songs I’ve heard in a long long time.”

N.E.R.D – “Deep Down Body Thirst”
“This track makes me want to jump around on top of a car and throw paint everywhere.”

James Brown – “The Boss”
“I play this track when I’m feeling like … well, a boss.”

Michael Jackson – “The Lady In My Life”
“The chords and melody of this song are simply the best.”

Tina Turner – “The Best”
“I live for this sax solo.”

Bon Iver – “Holocene”
“I listened to this song every day on the way to school. It started my curiosity with more complex chords.”

Jeff Buckley – “Calling You”
“My mum used to sing this to me as a kid, and when I hear Jeff Buckley sing it, it makes me feel super nostalgic.”

Bonobo – “El Toro”
“This is one of my favourites off the “Black Sands” album. The percussion in this song has been extremely influential in the creation of my debut album.”

Zeca Veloso – “Todo Homem”
“This song makes me cry. I have no idea what he’s even singing about but that doesn’t matter.”

The Weeknd (feat. Kendrick Lamar) – “Pray For Me”
“It’s the perfect collaboration between the two. When the ‘liliilililililili’ bit comes in I tend to get quite emotional for some reason too!”

FKJ – “Unchained”
“I love the feel of this song. It’s so soulful and sad but also hopeful and liberating.”

Chilly Gonzales – “Overnight”
“Chilly Gonzales is a self-proclaimed musical genius, and rightly so, even just for making this track. He’s been super influential in the way I play piano.”

Zak Abel is part of 2018’s DEEZER NEXT – our annual shortlist of the hottest emerging talent on the planet. Find out more.

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