Interview: ToddZero (Plus Free Song Download)

Jun 11 2013

ToddZero, formerly known as ToddO, has just released his first full-length album, 'Kid Heart', following his hugely popular debut release '1234567 EP'. Blending indie rock and electronica with hints of Gospel to produce a unique sound and style, ToddZero is part of a new breed of exciting artists well worth checking out.

Tell us a little bit about your new album 'Kid Heart' and what the inspiration behind it was?

Thematically, the concept behind 'Kid Heart' is basically a calling back to innocence. I feel that as an adult I've lost a certain part of myself. I used to be more fun than this. I used to be more at ease. Stress, worries, mortgages - all those things the Bible calls 'the world' - they take their toll. So the first half of the album is about my collective feelings surrounding themes like lost youth, divorced parents, God’s grace, growing up, etc. The entire second half is basically a concept album with songs that follow the narrative of the final week of Christ's life from the triumphal entry all the way to the resurrection. Somehow for me it all works as a whole. Hopefully your readers agree and download it at toddzero.com.

Free Song Download

Song download courtesy of toddzero.com.
Used with permission.
Musically, I’m inspired by songs with good hooks coupled with unique sonic textures. I’ve tried to push my own envelope as far as instrumentation. So the end result sounds nothing like anything I’ve done before. I don’t repeat myself as a rule and I hopefully continue growing as an artist. There is almost nothing I’d like less than to have the same guitar sounds for each song, the same drums sounds for each song, and so on. That would be, quite honestly, soul-crushingly boring. I’d much prefer to risk sounding 'weird' than predictable.

Which is your favorite track on the album and why?

My favorite song is 'Make it Home Tonight' because it says everything that I want to say lyrically at this stage of my life plus it’s my favorite melody that I’ve written. When I sing it live with the gospel choir it gives me chills to the point where it’s hard to concentrate on the song because I just want to listen to them!

Many of these songs are deeply personal to you as a songwriter, is it hard sharing these private thoughts with the wider public?

No. I feel that if I’m not pushing myself lyrically and actually risking something - like risking exposing too much or risking sounding stupid or risking not being cool (whatever) - then it’s kinda boring. Nobody needs yet another song that is watered down or insincere or fake. So my job is to be 'me' as much as possible.

With your previous EP, '1234567', you played most of the instruments and did a lot of the studio work yourself, have you done that again with this album?

No. This time around I added lots of variety in the musicians who I played with. Lots of different drummers, guitarists and keyboardists all lent their skills. Even when I easily could have played the parts, I chose instead to have other people play them so the overall end product is something even more unique and dynamic. The biggest addition on 'Kid Heart' over the EP is that I worked with a gospel choir on nearly every song. There is absolutely nothing on this planet that sounds as deeply spiritual and human than a real, live gospel choir. Hopefully, I’ve been able to do their artistry justice on my songs.

Kid HeartYou're currently giving this new album away as a free download, what's the thinking behind that?

Yes, once again I’m offering my music for free in exchange for an email. The thought process is that I’m much more interested in getting my music into people’s hands than have a few bucks in sales. For emerging artists - with or without label backing - I think the free model is a good way to develop a following. I’m taking advantage of services like NoiseTrade, as well, to facilitate everything and one cool perk is that they have a built-in community that you can connect with from the start.

How would you define success in your career as a singer?

If one of my songs creates a connection between a fan - or lots of fans - and me, then that is pretty cool. However, what’s cooler is if one of my songs creates a connection between a fan and God - then that is the ultimate measure of success.

In your opinion, what makes the perfect song?

If it were to exist, the perfect song would sound timeless and take your somewhere visually new each time you listened to it. Since that doesn’t really happen, I’ll settle for a good hook, a profound lyric or even a killer guitar riff.

What advice would you give to any aspiring singers or songwriters out there?

I’m the last person any aspiring singer/songwriters should be taking advice from. But since you asked - what works for me is to study songs that I like, pull them apart and learn why a song speaks to you. Then go write lots of songs. My goal is to write three songs each sitting. Not whole, complete songs. Just verse and choruses. I think you have to collect lots of ideas for songs in order to find those nuggets.

What's on your iPod at the moment?

It’s 2013 and I still don’t have an iPod, if you can believe that. But recently I’ve purchased CDs from Imagine Dragons, The Neighbourhood, Alabama Shakes, Japandroids, AWOLNATION.

What does the next year hold for ToddZero?

Playing live a lot. See my website for tour dates. Also, lots of writing in anticipation of a follow-up album. Not necessarily, 'Kid Heart Part 2' but something is brewing on the horizon that I’m pretty excited about already!

Find out more at ToddZero.com

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