Wolverhampton born and bred, Zeo Zeonardo is a young man grafting hard on the grime scene. Equally as gifted a producer as he is a lyricist, Zeo’s tracks combine fast-paced, banging beats with fresh, unique lyrics, all tied together by his quirky flow. Renowned for getting crowds pumped, his up-tempo, aggressive nature results in an always-hype experience for the listener. As far as we can see, it’s not a matter of if he blows up, but more a matter of when.
In this interview, we speak exclusively to Zeo about growing up in Wolverhampton, collaborations, new tracks and everything in between.
Why don’t you start by telling us a bit about yourself and your background?
Hi my name is Zeo. I’m from Wolverhampton, currently living in Stoke and work in Derby (travel a lot). Currently I am a music tutor at a Hip Hop school, where I mentor and teach young people how to write lyrics and produce beats etc.
Zeo Zeonardo is a pretty unique name. Is there a story behind it?
My first nickname came about in my final year of school. I used to sing on tracks and my friends would rap so I complete made up the nickname Dizzo, which throughout the years of me progressing through music changed into D.Z.O – Z.O and finally Zeo (there is a story for each of these names changes I promise lol). The Zeonardo part started out as a joke when me and my friend Moky was saying we are artists. He called himself Mokzart and me Zeonardo. Now I use a combination of them both sometimes.
You’re a Wolverhampton-native. Did the area you grew up in play a big part in your journey into music?
Yes, Wolverhampton had a big part in how I improved in music. Nearly everyday there was a youth club on where we would go and practice our lyrics, and without this I would be nowhere near as good as I am today. There are also a lot more things that happened in Wolverhampton that helped build my character but I’ll save that for another day.
Was there a defining moment when you realised that music was the career for you?
When I released my first solo mixtape Solitary Confinement in 2006 it was supported by 1xtra and BBC Asian network. I believe this is when I believed I could make something/money from music and I have been on and off ever since.
How long did it take you to really make a name for yourself?/When was your first big break in the industry?
I believe around 2008 was when I first started to notice that I was known in a lot of cities up north. This year I was getting bookings nearly every weekend performing bassline songs and even had two songs feature on a ministry of sound compilation entitled “Hey that’s my sound” & “Bad Boy Tunes”.
You worked with one of the biggest names in the grime business when you hooked up with JME on Teef. How did that collab come about?
My friend introduce me to JME and I just took a chance and showed him some of the stuff I was working on. He really liked Teef and it all took off from there. This was a major achievement for me.
Are there any artists on the grime scene today that you’re particularly impressed with?
Trim, I think Trim is really pushing the boundaries and is making music right now that is far from the norm. Big up Trim.
Here In Ireland, grime wouldn’t have as big a following as it does in England. If you were speaking to someone who had never heard a grime track before, how would you sell it to them? What sets the genre apart?
I would say its similar to Hip Hop but has a faster more hype feel and is usually more aggressive. However, I am not the best person for describing such things lol.
Describe your music in three words.
Quirky, Ninja & Sick.
On your website it says ‘Be a ninja’. Are ninjas the name you have given to your fans?
Yeaahhhh! Shout out to all my Ninja movement right now! I love you all!
Tell us about your new song ‘My Face‘. What’s the inspiration behind the track?
I wanted to write about a scenario that happened where I was informed of somebody saying something about me behind my back. It really annoyed me because I’m quite open and will usually say something to somebody as I think it, so I can’t stand people who do it (talk behind other’s backs). When making the beat it also felt quite aggressive and I couldn’t help but spit some fiery fire flame heat burn.
You produced ‘My Face’ yourself. How does it feel when you hear the finished article of something that is completely your own creation? It must be a pretty rewarding experience.
Seriously nothing is better. When I have put lyrics on somebody elses beat yes it still feels good, but when it’s all your own and people are really feeling the track it means so much more.
What are your goals for the short-term and long-term?
My short term goals are to get a few collaborations done with people I actually rate and respect. My medium – long term plans are to build up as much of a fan base as possible and possibly complete an EP.
On behalf of GoodMoMusic we want to wish you all the best with your future plans Zeo. If ‘My Face’ is anything to go by, we can’t wait to see what you’ve got in store for us next.
Thank you for your time and thank you for having me, I really appreciate it