Very excited to have Air Zaire joining our guest mix this week. He’s cooked up a healthy serving of disco cuts, funk n soul with some laid back house vibes all rolled into one awesome mixtape. Frequently appearing with our friends at PARADISE ULTD., Air Zaire has started to make a name for himself since his move to LA last year. We look forward to hearing more releases from this talented producer in the coming year!
MR PUZL: Adam, thanks for joining us this week for our mix series! What have you served up for our listeners?
Air Zaire: Thank you! Very excited to share this new mix of mine. As you know, living in LA, we spend a lot of time in our cars, often in traffic. Whether it be podcasts or demos I’m working on, I tend to be critical about what I choose to listen to. But when it’s late at night and the traffic has subsided, driving around the city (especially along the coast) can feel cinematic. So with that in mind, I crated a lush blend of dreamy house and soulful disco selections to elevate those late night moments.
MP: The internet can really draw you in sometimes. I decided to look up Air Zaire and fell into a wikipedia page related to the airline. I was curious to know what, if any, personal meaning there is behind it?
AZ: Air Zaïre was the nickname given to pro basketball player, Dikembe Mutombo in the 80s. He was from Zaïre (now known as the Congo Republic) and well over 7 feet tall. And much like his beloved opponent, Air Jordan, he too was constantly dunking with little effort. I had never heard of Air Zaïre, but I loved Dikembe! I thought this was such a meaningful and cool sounding nickname for an athlete, I started to use it to title works in progress. Needless to say it has stuck!
MP: In your bio you stated that you had “various musical projects before embarking on a solo career”. What inspired you to focus on a solo career? Did you find yourself becoming more productive in writing music as a result of that or were there still some unforeseen hurdles you needed to overcome?
AZ: I played in bands throughout high school, college, and beyond. For me pursuing a solo career was an unforeseen progression. In the beginning I had no clue what I was doing. It took me a long time to learn the basics and work out the kinks. Hell, I’m still learning. Building a song from the ground up can feel both thrilling and insurmountable when guitar riffs were all you were ever responsible for. With that said, producing consumed me and somehow I pushed forward.
MP: Electronic music culture in Florida is not a mainstay and is found in small pockets and mainly focused around Miami. Were you exposed to a lot of electronic music when you were growing up in South Florida?
AZ: When I was younger I had zero interest in electronic music. In the early 90s Miami become a global nightlife destination so a lot of the radio stations would play dance music. But I could not care less. All my friends and I wanted to listen to was classic rock and grunge music (and later punk/emo). It wasn’t until after college where most of us started going out to nightclubs in Miami.
MP: How did you first get into producing the music we are hearing from you these days? Were there other styles and genres that preceded this transition?
AZ: When I first got my hands on a DAW I would write everything from hard electro (without any regard to BPMs) to melodic, layered piano arrangements. I explored all sorts of sounds and (world) instruments. I found myself incorporating a lot of mallet and percussive instruments into the tracks. I wrote melodies that were inspired by vacations around the Caribbean. I took rhythmic cues from Balearic music and smooth, jazzy disco. Eventually these collective influences culminated into the tropical disco sound you hear today.
MP: Moving to New York from Florida must have been a big transition. The same could probably be said regarding your move to LA. How did those decisions come about? What have you taken away from each move that has stuck with you throughout your career to this point?
AZ: Before New York, I had lived in Florida all my life. I felt like I reached a critical point where it was time to try something new. So I moved to NYC. The transition was like night and day. The adjustment was taxing. But I could not have been happier. And then life happened again. it was time to go west. I was never cut out for the winter months anyway. But I do miss New York, sometimes…
MP: What were some of your first impressions of the music scene in NY and LA respectively? How did you feelings towards them evolve over time?
AZ: When I first moved to NY I remember feeling so insignificant and unknown. You are literally a nobody. You rationalize your artistic pursuits and that’s hard to do sometimes. But you have to prove yourself. It’s taken years of energy and effort. New York was the kind of place that gave me a little but took a lot out of me and I mean that in the best way. LA feels familiar in that sense. But at the end of the day I could’t be happier to live in a city that thrives artistically. It has always pushed and inspired me.
MP: If another move was in the cards, where would your next destination be?
AZ: Southern California might be it for me, who knows?
MP: When producing your music, if you were to close your eyes you would picture yourself…
AZ: Nibblin’ on sponge cake, watchin’ the sun bake.
Rare Silk – Storm
Daniel T. feat. Eiko Hara: Windy Lady (Turbotito Remix)
Deadly Sins – I Can Feel It
Convertion Feat. Leroy Burgess – Let’s Do It (Louie Vega Boogie Mix)
Closed Paradise – Tchin Tchin
Soultronic – A Day At The Beach
Ari Bald – That Lonely Night
Misumami & First Touch – Prove your Love
Quando Quango – Love Tempo (Mark Kamins Mix)
Kornél Kovács – Pantalón
Azura – Paraíso ’89
Seb W & Phil B – Banana Jazz Boat
Peven Everett – Put Your Back Into It
Jump Source – All My Love Is Free
Harvey Sutherland and Bermuda – Clarity
Misiu – All A Dream