What is it about the quiet achiever that makes them so intriguing? Perhaps it’s the calm in the way they approach their day to day, the faith they possess in their creativity, the humility they own in their achievements? Whatever it be, when it comes to Zig Parker, intrigue, curiosity and respect reign supreme.
A veteran in the hip hop game, this Houston Texas born, LA bred native has brought his vision and talent to the bustling metropolis of Sydney Australia and is set to make his mark in the forays of music production, songwriting and filmography. Parker’s creativity and knowledge of hip hop and its culture raises the bar in the hip hop his Green Room Project is currently developing, kicking the door open for a whole new legion of artists to create, manifest and inspire. Drawing on his years as a young hip hop artist himself with veteran Tommy Boy Records 90’s outfit The Wild Kingdom, Parker knows the highs and lows of life as a recording artist, what it takes to make it and what happens when you take the road less travelled and discover the life you were always meant to lead. That road led him to Australia, where he married the Queen of his heart and has toiled tirelessly to recreate a hip hop that defies boundaries.
Adding to his list of attributes and contributions to our Australian urban community as a whole, Parker is also a celebrated filmographer and can often be seen at hip hop concerts and events filming, capturing and documenting our history in the making. His passion for film making has spanned years and led to exciting ventures for his Inspire Agency, which he co-founded in 2008. The full service multimedia production agency specializes in audio and video production, advertising, music videos and short films and has won international awards at various film festivals and garnered awards in the world of advertising.
This interview is not to introduce Zig Parker to our community, for he needs no introduction. Those in the know, know of his creativity and achievements. For those that don’t, this interview serves as an acknowledgement on a quiet achiever in our industry, a man that creates with integrity and respect for hip hop and its ground roots. But don’t be fooled but his laid back demeanor for he may hustle in silence, but his success is making the right kind of noise!
Hey Zig, how are you? How did you ring in 2014?
Happy New Year Ms. Hennessey! My New Year was really quiet this year. I’ve started to really appreciate time with good friends and family.
You are a producer / filmographer / HipHop aficionado and all round life lover to those view your life from the outside – how would you best describe who the real Zig Parker is and what your mission is in this Hip Hop community?
Honestly I’m probably a lot like most artists in that I’m a creative person who’s always looking for new ways to express. The challenge is that it’s all been done before, which can cause your influence to be somewhat subliminal. At this point it becomes a balance of doing what’s been done and what we think hasn’t been done to create something different yet familiar. I’m may be confusing some of y’all right now, but it makes sense to me!
You hail from Houston, Texas and have lived all over the world – being so well travelled, what is it that has made you call Australia home?
H-Town, 3rd Ward, The H, that’s my city! That’s the placed that birthed me, although Los Angeles is where I became more refined. I developed some skills while I was there, technically, physically and emotionally, that could take me anywhere in the world and create a presence. As destiny would have it one of my many ventures led me to Sydney Australia in the late 90’s on tour. I was in a Hip Hop group called ‘The Wild Kingdom’, we’d had a deal situation with Coolio through his label with Tommy Boy. Y’all remember Tommy Boy right?
A promoter who had promoted us on a few shows in Hawaii approached us to come to Australia. Unfortunately, other members of the group had some unfortunate circumstances that wouldn’t allow them to get passports. Fortunately for myself I had a passport therefore I represented for the group on my dolo. From that experience I fell in love with Australia. Well let’s just say I fell in love with someone in Australia. I left that big island the first time and knew that someday, someway; I would end up living here. Seventeen years later, I’m a dual citizen. Go figure!
I relocated to Sydney from LA and co-founded The Inspire Agency in 2008, a full service multimedia production agency. Specializing in audio and video production, advertising, music videos and short films. We won some international awards at a few film festivals as well as a few awards in advertising. We did a lot of great projects over a four-year period. I appreciate the way of life. It’s a different mentality where I’m from. We live to work back home, out here people work to live. It’s a different concept.
What are your thoughts on the Australian Hip Hop community and your role as a music producer? Have we come a long way and do we have a ways to go still in our sound and promotion of urban music in this country?
My thoughts on Australian HipHop are pretty simple. It’s a developing scene. There’s crazy talent but much like Australian music in general they are struggling to find their identity. As a music producer, songwriter and basically someone who has worked in just about every aspect of the industry including sound engineer, video director and tour manager, I’m more interested in the development of artist.
Having worked in record labels, both major and independent in the U.S., there’s a certain standard that supersedes raw talent. This usually separates the mediocre artist from the superstars. Development, I believe is needed more now than ever. In this digital age, things like media training, understanding publishing and even simple music theory can get taken for granted or most times just overlooked.
In an era of the right here and now where new artists are a dime a dozen, can blow in and out like the wind, it’s vital to a place like Australia where there is a very new yet growing industry, and to have players that can already be a step ahead in a country where most outsiders would consider a little behind and having artists who are able to compete on a higher level and on a world stage. Then and only then, can we start to see a thriving industry in this country.
Until then it will remain a place where the rest of the world plucks away at the talent and develops them on their own in which they become no longer considered Australian talent. What we like to call urban music in this country I believe is what’s going to eventually define Australian music as a whole. This usually comes from the heart and soul of a people and with Australia becoming so culturally diverse, good music seems to derive from the presence of culture.
Australian music industry folks like to practice the phrase, “this is a rock oriented country!” I beg to differ! Although EDM is probably the largest selling, Urban or Pop music, which is really just popular music should be a close second. In a country of 22 million people and the largest populations residing in the major cities, urban music definitely has its place. Although with the absence of street teams, which were a vital part of labels success in the US, this would make it all more difficult to get this music to the people that would buy it.
What is your musical background Zig? Why production for you?
Only son of a black activist and a musician. My grandmother taught music for the Houston Independent School District for 30 years and my mother is a Rock and Roll artist still to this day traveling the world, she is called EMYNA. She continues to be my inspiration. As an artist myself, production was a natural progression for me. I began my career as a sound engineer educated in an analog era working in major studios in Los Angeles, both live and studio sessions.
I have always been a producer in the real since of the term, creating compositions, bringing in musicians to help create the compositions in my head. Although in LA I was always surrounded by award winning producers so my focus became more on song writing, writing for groups like 3LW and young artists who had development deals with a few major labels. After my transition to Australia and the absence of these great friends and mentors who were at the top of their game in production. I began producing with a focus on vocal production. Vocal production is an intricate part of the role of producer, which in this day an age literally separates the producers from the beat makers. It has always been my mission to create my own sound.
Tell us what Green Room studios are bringing to the plate in 2014?
Green Room is a brand. We can look forward to a few releases in 2014 from the Green Room. One project is O.P.C. (Original Product Collective), which is a group of 4 solo MC’s brought together from various regions of the US but now residing in Australia. The collective consist of Nate Wade, Bam-B-No, Gotty and yours truly. Were also excited about the MIRRAH Project releasing at the end of 2014.
As well as the Green Room Project which is a compilation of artist that have blessed the Green Room Studios over the past years. This project is a bit more personal to me because I solely produced this album as well as being featured on a few records. This project was created to set moods and vibe.
If you could take 5 albums with you into the afterlife, what would they be and why?
- Nas – Illmattic for its lyricism and illustration of life on streets of New York.
- Tribe Called Quest- Low end Theory for its blend of Jazz and Boom Bap. Introduced another side of HipHop. The Daisy Age,
- Michael Jackson- Off the wall for its total production musically and vocally
- Portishead- Dummy for its abstract grooves and breaking rules of contemporary sound.
- Maze feat. Frankie Beverly- Greatest Hits, feel good music, instrumentation, content, classic material.
What or who was responsible for getting you involved in Hip Hop and how do you feel Hip Hop has helped shape your life and the man you have become?
My simple presence as a young kid in the early late 70’s early 80’s at the conception of a culture was my influence. Being a part of the start of a culture gives you a certain ownership in its existence. A B-Boy for life! This culture has helped build confidence and even keep me alive as a teenager when many of my friends were headed for a life of crime. It has allowed me to travel the world and cross cultural barriers in foreign countries where the only thing that you have in common is Hip Hop.
It’s a music form that was thought to only last a few years and fad away. Now it remains one of the only genres of music with a sub culture that has collaborated with every other from of music, art and even university curriculum. It’s an art form created by African American youth possibly out of lack of knowledge of our own culture. Being brought to America from Africa, endured 400 plus years of oppression and slavery and a vicious civil rights movement.
With the drum being its core instrument, storytelling, warrior like delivery, elaborate display of jewels its all indirectly reflects our tribal spirits and regal ancestry of our origins. These are innate concepts that have lived within us since before we were enslaved. Hip Hop even managed to transcend racism!
What would you say is your greatest motivations in life and why?
My greatest motivations in life are our youth. Without being too cliché, they are our future. In this information age where there is an overabundance of non-essential information to sift through, I believe it is important to pass down knowledge that can keep then proud of who they are and where they come from no matter their background. I also allow myself to learn from them, as you never too old to learn.
The greatest advice you have been given and what advice do you wish to impart on those wanting to become a part of the music industry?
Some of the greatest advice ever given to me was not only just the significance of what was said, but just as important, the time in my life in which it was given. As an adolescent around 12 or 13 years of age, my parents told me to find something in life you love to do and figure out a way to get paid for it”. Well it probably went more like, “go to school, get an education so you can create your own job!” I took it upon myself to be educated in all the things I loved to do in order to never really work a day in my life. Now this, as I got older has become more like, “live the life you love and love the life you live!”
As for those who aspire to be in the music industry, there is an exercise that I like to do with the youth in my workshops. I usually enter a classroom of young kids who all want to be a rappers or singers and make lots of money and have all the glory. Unfortunately for most of them there is a lack of natural talent but it’s the only way they know to have this life. I start by writing the word, “artist” in the middle of a whiteboard. I then began asking these kids to name other occupations in the music industry. With a bit of help, they start shouting out occupations such as manager, producer, publicist, make up, hair, A&R, video director, musician, etc. I usually have 30 to 40 names surrounding this artist and I began to draw a line from each of these names, towards the center.
Then I began to explain how each of these occupations helps to create this artist success. You suddenly began to see a huge weight lift from most of their shoulders. There is no longer the pressure of trying to become an artist with most of them. They soon began to chat amongst themselves or towards the potential artist, saying things like I could manage you or I could be your stylist etc. This soon opens up dialogue and sparks interest in these other areas and occupations.
This usually narrows down the ones that wish to be artist to only a few and now the workshops can really begin. I guess what I’m trying to say is find your passion, learn everything you can about it as well as what the others should be doing around you.
For more information contact Zig Parker on: firstname.lastname@example.org
Always Hip Hop,