In the Spotlight:
PHOTO CREDIT: Mr. Odin
In addition to other monthly features; I am keen to put an artist into the forefront – someone doing great work and making waves in the world of music. In the first edition, I focus on London-based singer-songwriter-photographer-spokesperson RKZ. A true Renaissance man and one of the most exciting talents around. With new work out and more in the pipeline: a perfect time to investigate the many sides of RKZ.
WHO IS HE?
RKZ (pronounced ‘Ricks’) is a singer, writer and visual creative from Luton – currently based in Shoreditch, London. He began dabbling in rap music in 2008 before pursuing the arts professionally the following year. Developing his craft, RKZ became known for his singing-led live performances and eventually transitioned into a singer-songwriter. A stubborn determination to further develop and fine-tune his brand, he learned the ropes of video, photography and design which culminated in RKZ creating his own visuals, plus music videos for artists from various industries.
WHY GET EXCITED?
RKZ is not a man who takes days off or limits himself to one discipline. Latest tracks Remix of the Mack and Bad (which unite) Handbook and Supreme Sol with RKZ – are gaining huge respect since their launch. The London-based multi-disciplinarian has also been photographing at London Fashion Week and recently spoke with Impakter – I got to speak with him about his work with CALM and how he wants to bring mental health into the precipices. The below is a sample of what you get with RKZ:
From the release of his first single in 2009 – whilst he studied Commercial Music at the University of Westminster, London – to date, RKZ has released fourteen records including five mixtapes and three EPs. No stranger to media, he has received radio play on BBC Radio 1/1Xtra, BBC 6 Music, BBC Radio 4, BBC Three Counties, BBC Asian Network and more. He has also performed at T In The Park, Reading + Leeds, BBC London and Manchester Mela as well as music events at The Water Rats, Ace Hotel, Boxpark and Cargo.
In August 2014, RKZ released the highly-anticipated mixtape Science X Soul with Still Oceans, Think of Me and CLASH-premiered record Favourite Song as the lead singles. Following this, he released various one-off singles through Soundcloud (predominantly produced by Handbook) before his acclaimed single with the York-based producer called Visionaries.
“Let me add that Nujabes and J Dilla are here. Somewhere in the afterbeat, looking over their legacy.”- Neonized, on Visionaries.
After shadowing visual creative S Sid Ahmed, RKZ began editing short films and vlogs with S Sid before venturing into music videos. The first was the remix of his single Gonna Be That. This opened the doors for music video productions for artists including GV, Little Simz, Cashtastic, Preeya Kalidas, Sophia Thakur, Roach Killa and more.
Through various video projects, RKZ built on his photography skills and has freelanced for various clients spanning fashion, music, retail and FMCG industries. He is currently part of BORN SOCIAL’s Creative Team.
Writing & Philanthropy
An early passion for journalism pulled RKZ into creative writing, initially through music and poetry. He expanded this, becoming a feature writer for hip-hop blog Sampleface before taking over as UK Editor.
In 2012, RKZ was announced as Ambassador for CALM. The charity aims to reduce the suicide rate with men in the UK, particularly London. Suicide catalysed by depression and stress is the single biggest killer of young men aged 20-45 in the UK. He contributes to CALM’s website and monthly CALMzine as a guest writer, focusing on depression, society and youth culture.
He has self-published an online series called Motivational Prose, which is dedicated to instilling a positive mentality and outlook for young people.
Interview snippet taken from http://impakter.com/interview-musicianmental-health-ambassador-rkz/:
RKZ: I got in touch with them not too long after they set up in London. Suffering from depression for a long while, CALM was the first movement I saw that actually spoke to young men properly—without feeling intimidating or scary. I got involved and wanted to utilize my status (as a creative and musician in the U.K.) to help raise awareness with the audience I had. I performed at CALM events, wrote for the CALMzine and the website and started giving talks to young people and local communities to raise awareness of depression in young men. I still do a lot of that whenever an opportunity arises.
“The Campaign Against Living Miserably is a charity working to prevent male suicide, currently the single biggest killer of men aged 20-45 in the UK. Nearly 8 out of every 10 suicides in the UK in 2013 were men. We campaign to break down the cultural barriers which prevent men from speaking out in times of crisis. We believe that if men felt able to ask for, and find, timely and appropriate help then hundreds of suicides could be prevented every year.
I joined CALM as an Ambassador in 2012, where I’ve extensively focused on promoting the cause through the mediums of music, writing and social media. I have contributed to the website and CALMzine as a writer covering the stigma of depression in youth culture and the Brit-Asian community. In 2015, we were proud to announce Professor Green as our new patron, as well as partnerships with Topman and Lynx“.
CALM host a free, confidential and anonymous helpline and webchat service for men, which provides support for those in need of help – open every day from 5pm – midnight; on 0800 58 58 58 (national), 0808 802 5858 (London). For further information, you can follow them on Twitter (@theCALMzone) as well as head over to their website: thecalmzone.net
In November 2015, CALM launched the #BiggerIssues campaign with Lynx. Through the power of Thunderclap, they created an initiative to park the small talk and discuss the bigger issues of mental health and men’s health overall. With an overwhelming amount of press coverage and online support, the campaign reached 23.4m+ people. Find out more about Bigger Issues: click here.
17.08.16 | Interview — RKZ talks Music, Social Media and Mental Health with Impakter
14.08.16 | Music — So Gone Challenge
30.07.16 | Photoset — #KPSheenaWedding
30.05.16 | Music — BAD Official Music Video
08.08.16 | Article — It’s Okay To Talk
03.04.16 | Article — A Passionate Discourse
02.04.16 | Photoset — Ísland
04.03.16 | Article — RKZ writes about London Fashion Week for CALM
03.03.16 | Music — RKZ releases the TRIAD EP with Handbook and Supreme Sol
01.03.16 | Feature — RKZ features in the March issue of CALMzine
22.02.16 | Editorial — London Fashion Week for The Rakish Gent
29.01.16 | Music — RKZ releases his cover of WORK by Rihanna
22.01.16 | Editorial — London Collections: Men for The Rakish Gent
18.01.16 | Article — RKZ writes about the State of Instagram for BORN SOCIAL
16.01.16 | Photoset — Sophia at London Collections: Men
09.01.16 | Feature — RKZ features in Mashable Fashion’s coverage of London Collections: Men
All biographical information taken from http://rkzuk.com/
“TRIAD is formed by York-based producer Handbook, St. Louis rapper Supreme Sol (part of thePragmatic Theory collective) and Luton singer RKZ. Handbook, a prolific representative of theROOTNOTE collective, was perhaps the catalyst for this collaboration as he has worked with the other two on previous tracks. His production for Sol dates back long time ago and have continued throughout the years with releases like “One More Time” and “Values”, while him and RKZ recently teamed up Chino XL for their collab “They Don’t Know Nothing“. It appears that it was only a matter of time till the universe brought them in the studio together”.
RKZ will continue to work on new music and help campaign for CALM. He is a man who wants to highlight the plight of those who suffer mental health – a sector who often go unnoticed and overlooked. Away from his charity endeavours make sure you keep your eyes open to his SoundCloud page – new songs will be dropping. He is one of those rare musicians that seems incapable of dropping a beat and creating anything less than astonishing, imaginative music. More photoshoots and vivid portfolios will arrive and the fashion icon-cum-musician-cum-photographer is a serious credit to the music industry. His various traits, talents and personalities mean he is sure to be a mainstream proposition in years to come and is just what the music industry needs.
PHOTO CREDIT: Alice Cooke