Zagata is the solo project of one Jesse Proteau. With Zagata, he is bringing together his unbridled love for new wave, synth wave and cinematography and hearkening back to a time where synthesizers and drum machines dominated the music scene. We recently caught up with this exciting new artist to chat about his inspirations, collaborations and future plans.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. What’s the story behind Jesse Proteau – the musician – and how would you describe your sound?
As a kid and teenager I grew up surrounded by Vinyls, Guitars, amps, Elvis’s posters that my dad (Lead guitar player) proudly showed up on our living room’s walls. He also made up this room called ‘’the museum’’ where of all his finest music collection. Items were preciously kept and where I would spend most of my days, listening to music and playing guitar. But I really started playing and singing around 13 years old when my mom bought me ‘’OK Computer” Radiohead’s cassette. Since then I’ve always kept on working hard to improve this form of communication. I’m a self-taught guy. Never been attracted by theory.
What motivates you to create music and inspires it, your aesthetic and vibe?
Music is a mix of communication, style and true emotions. I’m driven by instruments. When I bought my first analogue synth (Korg Polysix) the only thing I was focused on was creating cool tones and writing songs with them. But it needed to be deeper than that for me. So I would listen to a lot of movies and reading books, and imagine myself composing their soundtracks. I put myself in the main character’s shoes and try to express the message he couldn’t transmit during the movie. That inspires me a lot. I usually do that at night, a little wine and candles on. All of my idea are base-composed on guitar or synth. I’m also attracted by drum machines and special guitar tunings. That really inspires me quickly. Defining my voice tone is also a cool challenge. To do so, I keep on learning covers that I like and sing at least 1 or 2 hours every day. Funny fact, every time I learn a new cover, I usually write a song the very next day. It just stimulates me.
You’re a solo artist but collaborate with others in actualising your vision for Zagata – how does that process work?
It’s leading you on an unknown path. Opening your music mind gives you the opportunity to connect with synth tones, drums sounds or melodies that you would have never found by yourself. Surrounding yourself with specialized and passionate musicians is a crucial part in the process of creating a different sound and music identity. To live performance, I gathered these collaborators and made ZAGATA’s band.
Your music has influences from the 1980’s but isn’t overwhelmed by the sounds and motifs of that era – how do you find that balance?
Well, it’s all about recording technic, synths and drum tone selection. There’s a lot to do with the sampling, side-chain effect, parallel compression, tweaking and creating tones and lead hooks with vocals. I’m basically using a mix of vintage synthesizers and drum machines with brand new hardware, cool plug-ins and a modern approach on recording and mixing those elements.
Could you tell us about your most recent release, the EP Backseat?
So happy ‘bout it ! I spent 3 years making this. Created a musical identity that I’m very stoked about. It’s the beginning of a long and inspiring journey. This EP was kind of a tribute to my family who suffered much during the past 3 years with my father’s loss. He’s the reason why I’m passionate about music, vintage gear, vinyls,etc. Owe him a lot. Precious fact, Backseat is the very last song my dad heard before reaching heaven.
Finally, what does the future have in store for Jesse Proteau and Zagata – gigs, releases, new ventures?
I’m actually writing new stuff that I’d like to launch before summer of 2017. I’m touring in Montreal and Quebec City and constantly seeking for new opportunities. I’m also collaborating with EDM artist DOMENO on an upcoming single. I’m also writing songs for different artists. I’d love to go to perform in the UK by the way. :)