Interview by Tracey Moyle – The Music Maven
The PurpleZain Group are the electronic inspiration of Gold Coast musician, songwriter, producer and entertainer PurpleZain.
Zain himself is a multi talented musician who has created unique and infectiously addictive Electronic Music capturing the attention of musicians across all genres and all over the country. With collaborations alongside some of our most loved local rock acts, The PurpleZain Group has captured an audience wider than any other EDM artist with his merger of his passion for punk, rock K-pop, T-pop and pure entertainment. With new track Monster feat The Silencio dropping tomorrow, this rising artist is bringing a whole stash of incorporated creativity to a very genre driven industry.
Talking with The PurpleZain Group‘s lead woman, Jodie Maloney (Nowhere Else) our very own MUSIC MAVEN Tracey Moyle dug deep to decipher the inspiration behind such an alluring blend of modern music genres.
What have The PurpleZain Group been up to over the last few months of 2020 isolation? Have you done anything via the ever growing social media live circuit?
“We did a live stream when Covid first struck, they organised a Gold Coast stream with 20 odd bands. It was an all day Instagram festival and it was the first time I’d done anything like that. It was really weird. It was really cool to do it and we only did it as a two-piece because of the restrictions and most people did that. But it was weird because we did it in the jam room at my place and we did it up, set it up and you’re prepping it and the you do it and then you just walk upstairs and go to the fridge, and you’re like ‘oh your done now’ (laughs) So you watch the other acts and it finished at 10pm or something and it was like ‘Ok, see ya’. (laughs). It was weird, because you’re use to going to the next pub and seeing what everyone else is doing, see who’s still playing, It’s just all really weird.”
This time is definitely a strange one, adapting is a little weird. Can you give us a quick insight into The PurpleZain Group for people who are not familiar with PurpleZain?
“PurpleZain is entirely Zain’s brainchild. It’s kind of a weird way that I ended up a part of PurpleZain. He has been writing and performing in a million different acts for as long as I’ve known him, which has got to be 15, 20 years now. He sort of changes his genre a lot. He started out in punk bands and then he wrote a rock opera, he’s done all these very different things.
Then he started working on the electronic side of things. At the time he started doing that, he was actually the original bass player in my other project Nowhere Else. He wrote the first ‘Supervision’ album for PurpleZain and that was a concept album about the future of psycho therapy and very out there – forward. I think the year was 2036 or something and where we were going to head with that sort of thing and the consultant going in to someone’s mind. Very, very out there but he asked me to do some backing vocals for it so it was literally go record your parts and not even knowing the song. Then he decided he wanted to perform it live, so then I had to learn the songs and then perform the songs and the instruments. So it was the most reverse way of joining a band I think I’ve ever done.
But now that has morphed over five years into now I’m a part of the act and we work collaboratively and so forth. That was the original ‘Supervision’ album and then released the first T-Pop EP, which is the whole Tweed Pop take on K-pop. And then we did another full length concept album which was the sequel to ‘Supervision’ (‘Supervision II: The Psychopathology of Angelica Deathray’) and now we’re working on another T-pop EP. A weird way to join the band, but definitely a part of the band now and when we perform it it’s Zain and I playing but we’ve got dancers, (Schasha, Lauren Neale) because Zain’s really into that whole K-pop scene. The dancers are genuinely part of the group, so that’s why it’s The PurpleZain Group rather than band. So when we do the stream this weekend, (via L.E.M.O.M on YouTube HERE) now that we’re allowed more people in the room, the dancers will be there with us as well.”
It’s so unique. His creativity is so different to anything I’ve ever seen or heard.
“It’s quite bizarre, when I first started doing it, I grew up doing performing arts, so I did dance but that was a long time ago, and then when I started doing this I was like ‘Oh my god, I haven’t done this in a while.’ But its genuinely so much fun. Nowhere Else is quite dark and heavy and I’m really passionate about Nowhere Else, it’s my outlet. It’s quite funny, I enjoy playing but when you listen to it lyrically it’s really dark, but when we do the T-pop stuff with Zain it’s just so much fun. When we played Wallapalooza Festival last year, you look out and all the metal heads and all the punks, they’re all dancing like crazy to this pop music and it’s just the best feeling. Something very different but it seems to work.”
You’ve said Zain is influenced by the K-pop scene but he does attract rock artists. I see he’s collaborated with local rock bands, Smoking Martha and The Wrath just to name a few.
“When we first started we did play a lot of festivals and things that weren’t necessarily in the electro scene. Because (Zain’s) come from a punk background and then into a rock scene, he likes to think that he’s still got that punk rock way about the act even though it’s got the electro feel to it. So we do still get on a lot of lineups that aren’t strictly electro. He’s very into collaborating, so if you go back to previous works, even before this current group, he’s collaborated with everyone. He’s actually just put a YouTube playlist up, which is Smoking Martha, The Wrath, Darkcell, all the various artists he’s worked with over the years, it’s quite cool once you look at it and see how many are in there.”
Can you tell us any of Zain’s influences at all?
“You’d have him for an hour if you asked him that. (laughs) The new single is probably the one to talk about. What he does is, he takes really huge mega hits in the K-pop scene by really huge artists – these are massive global artists. There’re all these international song-writers that write hits for the big American artists that also write for the K-pop scene, so they know how to write hook. Within minutes of the songs being released they’ve got millions of streams. So the latest one is by a group called Exo. He takes that huge hit and he entirely reworks it. Does it all entirely himself. It’s all worked through on the computer, all the instruments together. Then we go and record all the vocal parts, which is really hard sometimes because he’ll get me to do vocal lines for some girl group that’s got 12 people in the act or even the guy groups that have got that many people in the act so you’re recording 20 vocal lines for one part of the song, it’s insane. It takes a long time to get through it and a lot of work goes into it. Then it’s the unique take on that song. The current one is Monster by Exo. There’s another one he uses a lot called BTS, and one of his favourites called The Wonder Girls. He could tell you the entire history of everyone of those bands.”
My nephews’ girlfriend is a huge K-pop fan and she’s knows all the words and I have no idea what she is singing.
(laughs) “That is one thing I failed to mention, when we are doing those thousand vocal lines, it is actually reworked lyrics. While we generally follow the melody and the basis of the original track, we entirely rework the lyrics so that they tell a story. Monster is a little bit deeper.”
Do you find you need to adopt a different persona when you are performing with The PurpleZain Group than you would with Nowhere Else?
“Totally, it’s a totally different thing. At last Wallapolooza, both bands actually played. I did an earlier set with Nowhere Else and I actually ran home and dyed my hair. When we do Purple Zain, we co-ordinate our outfits. So that time it was pink and white theme. So I raced home put a rinse through my hair got changed raced back to the Wallaby (Hotel) and when I walked back in, no one knew who I was. It was really weird. I even walked into the back room and Jimmy (Glinster) our guitarist (Nowhere Else) was there and I went over to him and he sort of gave me this blank look. It took him a second to click what was going on. (laughs) It was really funny, and kinda weird. It took a minute for everyone to realise what had happened.
I definitely put on a different act, there is a lot of similarities because we still have that same rock attitude I guess, and we still run around like crazy people and jump on things and try and rally the crowd up. But we’re doing choreographed dance routines so it’s a little bit different to Nowhere Else.”
That does sound very different. I wonder would it pose a problem how big the stage is with choreographed dance routines?
“Oh yeah, we had some interesting ones. And because Zain wants the dancers to be a focus of the band it means at times, because I play as well, so often Zain and I and our equipment has to get banished to the floor. So we’re playing on the floor so the dancers have got the stage. We’ve had to squeeze into some tight spaces but you make it work. We played at Eddie’s (Grubhouse) birthday in January, before Covid. It was their 4th Birthday Bash. And that was a tight one because that’s a small venue as well, with such a small stage, but it’s always such a good time there. So we had our gear set up on the floor so that the dancing would happen up on the stage. You’ve got to make do where you are.”
I reckon the crowd would have loved that. It’s good to see something different.
“It always goes over well. It always surprises me. I’ve been at hard-core shows and punk shows and I’ve had people say to me, ‘hey are you from PurpleZain”. It’s so bizarre. No one ever says hey are you from Nowhere Else. (laughs) I was at a show in Brisbane somewhere and I was in the pit, it was really heavy and someone’s like ‘Are you from PurpleZain?’”
It’s bizarre. I guess the music is so different that it would be something that sticks in someone’s mind, and not saying Nowhere Else aren’t awesome (laughs).
“It’s just so unique and so different and the fact that someone’s dancing it does stand out.”
I saw Regurgitator last year and they had dancers on stage I think, it was like a big party.
“They sort of pioneered that whole, bringing electronic into that scene. They started it all. Actually PurpleZain a few years back when we did the T-Pop tour we took it to Asia and we played with a couple of bands there, we’re used to being one of the bands that are a bit different, but in Malaysia we were not. We were not the craziest there. The first night we played, there was another band that were actually a lot heavier than us, and they had a guy dancing in a dress, no shirt and a horses head. And he was just on this podium the whole time they played dancing with this giant horses head. And the next night we played at this little art house collective type place and it was an electronic duo we played with and one guy was just dancing and the singer, they were dressed in all white. They were painted white, faces were white, dresses, and they were just dancing and at one point one of them dropped himself to the floor, wrapped himself up in a rug and they rolled him back out again. It was so weird.”
Do you find with lockdown and isolation that it’s been a creative time for PurpleZain? because you have more time to think and create?
“Yeah, I think so. Zain’s always been good with it anyway. I’ve got to give him credit, he puts a lot of work into what he does and all the stuff he does in building and aligning everything that I don’t understand. I guess there’s a kind of a misconception when you see a show like this, probably for me before I started playing it too, that you think it’s like karaoke and you hit a button and off it goes. All of that music has been built by him himself and it’s all been put together and it’s a lot of work that goes into actually getting it like that. And then we do genuinely play live as well. So while there’s a lot going on, on the laptop, we are actually playing too. So there’s heaps of work in it. While we’ve been in lockdown we’ve actually done a bit more recording as well, and he’s been doing a lot of mixing as well so there will be a new T-pop EP coming soon. We’ve already recorded Monster that’s got The Silencio on it. We’ve recorded another track that JJ Speedball is going to be on which is a super different one for him. I can’t wait for people to hear that one. And we’ve got three more in the works that will be coming on that EP as well. We also do on the side an electronic covers duo called New Wave Order and for that we’ve just recorded three more cover tracks for that and we’ve got Jed (Walters) from Tesla Coils to mix Lets Go To Bed by The Cure for us so we’ll probably put that up pretty soon too and we recorded a very, very different version of Tainted Love by Soft Cell just a few weeks ago. It’s strictly 80’s. We do three sets of 80’s music, which is a real stretch for me 80’s wasn’t my scene and a lot of the songs I didn’t even know and I had to learn them.”
Is there anything coming up that fan’s of The PurpleZain Group can put in their calendars?
“PurpleZain is an honorary Queensland member of the Live Electronic Musicians of Melbourne – L.E.M.O.M. We play in Melbourne quite a lot and we were meant to actually play over Easter, which of course got cancelled. On Sunday afternoon we are going to do a live stream for them. They are doing a series each Sunday. We’ll be doing four tracks on Sunday including the new single Monster. They are good guys. Simon (Quinn) from The Safety Word is one of the main contributors to that and he’s actually come up here and played with PurpleZain before and we’ve played with them a couple of times in Melbourne. We will have the dancers as well. We are off to do a rehearsal for that this afternoon.”
You can watch The PurpleZain Group on perform Live for L.E.M.O.M this Sunday on their YouTube channel HERE .
Stay tuned to Good Call Live and PurpleZain’s socials for the PREMIERE of Monster tomorrow!