Zo! Interview with Ixiti.com (Detroit)

Detroit Native Zo! Mixes Influences from Motown to Dilla

Author: Veronica Grandison
Source: Ixiti.com

Detroit-native Lorenzo “Zo!” Ferguson never stays away from the Motor City too long. In fact, the indie R&B/hip hop multi-instrumentalist/producer has two stops planned here within the next month.

First, Zo! plays a solo show April 13 at The Shelter. Then, in May, he’ll return as part of the collaboration The Foreign Exchange for a show at the Magic Stick. And, he was just here last year to promote his 13th LP, “Manmade.”

Grown in Detroit

As a multi-instrumentalist (he plays the keyboard/piano, bass guitar, drums, and guitar), Ferguson is a master at blending all types of sounds to find the right chemistry. His music crosses a multitude of genres from R&B to soul, funk, jazz and hip hop, all of which he was exposed to by his parents growing up on the Westside of Detroit.

“My mother gave me the R&B and Motown side, and my father gave me more of the funk, the jazz, the bluesy side, so I was able to hear a wide spectrum of music growing up,” says Ferguson from his home in Silver Springs, MD.
 “That’s how I developed my ear, and once I started listening to hip-hop, that became my muse, so taking all these genres of music and being able to fuse it into an influence.

“I don’t look at it as a genre, I look at it as me just making good music.”

Even though he took piano lessons as a kid, music was not something Ferguson was passionate about. Ferguson had intentions of becoming a pro-baseball player and even earned a full athletic scholarship to Western Kentucky University. When his baseball career didn’t pan out the way he wanted, Ferguson began transferring all of his time and energy into playing music, practicing the piano and keyboards every day.

He released his first LP “Zo! Presents…Ablyss” in 2001, and since then has released 13 solo projects.

READ FULL INTERVIEW HERE

Audio Interview with BlackIsOnline.com: “It’s The Jam: Episode 5″

I’m actually laughing while listening back to this interview as if I wasn’t a part of it. Shouts to mah man Merc80, Chris and Kim Lehman all of BlackIsOnline.com for allowing me to come into their house and clown out for a couple hours before my show in LA on March 2nd. What a fun time of COMPLETE “let-loosedness”…. Enjoy!!!

Click HERE to listen to the interview

Zo! Interviews with Insight News (Minneapolis)

Zo! of Foreign Exchange Music coming to Minneapolis March 12 at The Pourhouse

Author: Harry Colbert
Source: Insight News

From time to time, life will throw us a curveball or two.

Fans of soul, neosoul and organic hip-hop, are probably pretty thrilled that Zo! of Foreign Exchange Music wasn’t as good at hitting curveballs as he is at producing and creating timeless melodies and arrangements for the many artists who he’s featured on his three released projects. Now that’s not to say that Zo!, born Lorenzo Ferguson, was a slouch at hitting. The multi-talented producer was drafted out of high school in the 13th round of the MLB Amateur Draft to play center field for the Toronto Blue Jays. But Zo! passed on the offer, opting for college instead at Western Kentucky University, with dreams of securing a higher draft spot. While Zo!’s draft spot didn’t improve, his keyboard playing did.

“My first love was baseball,” said Zo!, who will be in the Twin Cities for a Wednesday, March 12 performance at The Pourhouse, 10 S. 5th St., downtown Minneapolis. “I’m a really passionate person and I was passionate about playing baseball. But I never let that get in the way of my music. I always kept playing music to keep my chops up.”

READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

Studio Campfire Stories: “A Choice Of Weapons” featuring Nicholas Ryan Gant & Carmen Rodgers

nicholas-ryan-gant-sunset

I specifically remember composing the foundation of this one on September 26, 2011… I don’t know WHY I remember that date (those who know me will tell you that I’m kind of a “rain man” when it comes to numbers and dates), but I do specifically remember there being a Redskins vs. Cowboys Monday Night Football game that was being tweeted about all night and I didn’t feel like watching it at the time, so I went into the studio clear of ideas… clean slate. Now, it may have been that DAY or within a week or so prior to that time that I saw Jody Watley on Twitter shouting Phonte and I for the song, “Greater Than The Sun” and to say that I was hyped up would be a bit of an understatement. I was a Shalamar fanatic growing up. Between Go For It, Big Fun, and more specifically Three For Love and Friends?! You couldn’t tell me much as a kid about Shalamar, Leon Sylvers III and that “SOLAR Sound” – I was HOOKED. So to have a former member of a group I grew up listening to publicly announce the fact that she’s riding around in her car with MY song playing was a bit inspirational. It was SO inspirational that I decided to use that energy in the studio this particular day by posing the question to myself, “If you were to compose a record for Jody Watley NOW…. What would it sound like?” Well, It would be uptempo and melodic…. But let me give it a change of pace by using some harder drums and I’ll play a hi-hat through the entire song live. Now let me explain something to y’all… The respect I have for drummers is through the roof. The ability to keep time while using your entire body is a TASK. I can’t remember the song’s tempo (BPM) off hand, but the original track for this joint was around 6 minutes long. I can vividly remember how tired my arms were after recording the hi-hat pattern for this… BUT as I prefer with all of my music, I love the “human” feel. This is what makes live music so appealing. If I’m able to capture a live, human elements in the song, I don’t hesitate to record a pass all the way through the entire duration of it.

Once the foundation of this song was recorded (drums, bass, synth pads and chord progression), it was kinda put to the side. I would ride around in the car with it during the creation of ManMade, which did nothing but help it because after months of listening to it, I would start to hear new parts… Suddenly I heard a Moog synth line (which was played over the hook and vamp), a year or so later I heard harmonizing guitar lines at the beginning of the song that when played together had an Earth, Wind & Fire feel to it. This is why making music is not a race, sometimes you have to sit with the stuff you create and allow it to grow. In the end, nobody gives a shit about how quickly you create music… They care about how the final result sounds and how it makes them feel. If you need to live with it while you create, make it happen. There’s nothing better that some slow-cooked, flavorful music anyway.

CR photo (2)

Fast forward to December 2012… We were starting to wrap up sessions for ManMade and Carmen Rodgers made the trip to Raleigh, NC to knock out the hook for “Show Me The Way”, The Foreign Exchange’s “If I Knew Then” for their Love In Flying Colors album…. and then she then also took care of the hook for this particular track, which at the time I had titled simply “Therapy”. Phonte who is the KAING of calling that good studio audible sent me the song along with a new title, “A Choice Of Weapons”. Interesting. At first, seeing the title damn near caused me to see red on some ole, “Choice of weapons?? WHO WE GOTTA GO TO WAR WITH??!?!?” But I managed to bring it down a few notches in order to take a listen to the song. I can remember hearing those hooks for the first time and thinking, “That sounds PERFECT… and DAMN Carmen sounds great on this!” Everything fit correctly…That crisp, rapid-fire cadence that came with that chord change had me open. Even the fact that it was 20 degrees outside matched the “wintry” feel of the record (pardon my synesthesia, but the colors I “saw” when hearing the music was always shades of blue and light orange). It was just RIGHT to me. But as right as it was, it just didn’t fit into the sequence of what was finished for the album up to that point so it remained on the back burner for a minute…. Then enter Nicholas Ryan Gant. After absolutely blacking out on our “Let It Go” cover for …just visiting three, Phonte reached back out to him to sing lead. And when we got that final vocal reference… Phonte just hit me with the simple, “GMAIL” text. When I get a text from Tay that simply says…. “GMAIL”?!? …That means something SERIOUS is in my inbox. I opened the attachment, hit “play” and proceeded to hear Nicholas Ryan Gant claim “A Choice Of Weapons” as his OWN. The way he came out of that second verse into the hook?!

“Sheeeeeeeeeeeeiiiiiiiiiiiit” © Clayton Bartholomew Davis…

But what I enjoyed most was… the MESSAGE. I love it when kats feel inspired to write positivity over music that I have done and Nicholas was touching on some of that real. Seems like over the last 15+ years or so R&B has become the breakup, drama, you ain’t shit, I’ma fuck ya friend genre of music all of a sudden. Who wants to hear that when you’re at your job struggling to get through the day BECAUSE of some bullshit. Grown folks need uplifting music, man… we get hit with enough throughout a typical week.

“…daylight’s just ahead of you / Hold on to the joy within… ’cause in the end you can WIN”

That line alone would help me while in the gym steadily thinking of an excuse to cut my time short on the elliptical ……while also critiquing the song, of course. Then to hear Nicholas and Phonte trade off adlibs toward the end during the vamp was DOPE to me. I brought the pre-hook handclaps back on that section for an extra bit of (in my Pootie Tang silent voice) “!!!!!!!!!” on it. The last small piece that was added was Phonte’s background vocals on the second verse, which really added some nice dynamics to it and made it move a little bit better. Once that was in place, we had a successful B-Side……. remember those? I LOVE non-album B-Sides. They’re like wild cards. Some of our favorite songs were B-Sides!!! Prince’s “Erotic City”?? Gang Starr’s “DWYCK”???? Going to the record store to grab a handful of singles or 45′s JUST to get the remix or a B-Side that wasn’t included on an album used to be a mission of mine at one time. Now the mission has become to release them so that you all can relive the same feeling that I used to get in those record stores… Listen and purchase below. Enjoy!

Visuals from Zo! featuring Carmen Rodgers in LA • Photos by Dominique Easton (03.02.14)

Visuals from…
Zo!
featuring Carmen Rodgers
AND Sy Smith
At The Virgil in Los Angeles, CA
March 2, 2014

Photos by Dominique Easton for KÏNGDØM Photography

Personnel:
Zo!
– Keys
Carmen Rodgers – Vocals
Sy Smith – Vocals
Tyler Croomes – Drums
Tarron Crayton – Bass

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Zo! “We Are On The Move (Black Coffee Remix)” b/w “A Choice Of Weapons”

WE ARE ON THE MOVE-final-hi-res

“We Are On The Move (Black Coffee Remix)” b/w “A Choice of Weapons” is the new single in promotion of Zo!’s ManMade album. The single bundle is available for purchase on iTunes now and includes the Black Coffee Remix of “We Are On The Move” feat. Eric Roberson & Phonte as well as non-album B-Side “A Choice of Weapons” feat. Nicholas Ryan Gant & Carmen Rodgers.

ManMade is available now on +FE Music.

01. We Are On The Move (Black Coffee Remix)
featuring Eric Roberson
Background Vocals by Gwen Bunn, Sy Smith & Phonte
Remix Produced by Black Coffee

02. A Choice Of Weapons
featuring Nicholas Ryan Gant & Carmen Rodgers
Produced by Zo! for Chapter 3hree, Verse 5ive Music (BMI) and Phonte for The Foreign Exchange Music, LLC
Written by Phonte Coleman for Daddy’s New Bowtie (ASCAP) and Nicholas Ryan Gant for Ghetto Falsetto (ASCAP)
Lead Vocals by Nicolas Ryan Gant
Background Vocals by Carmen Rodgers & Phonte
All Instruments by Zo!

Zo! ManMade Tour Returns Home to Detroit!! – April 13, 2014

zo_apr13_flyrFINAL

ManMade Tour Returns Home to Detroit!

Zo!
featuring Carmen Rodgers

+ SaxAppeal and Collective Peace

Sunday, April 13, 2014 – Detroit, MI
(ManMade Tour)

The Shelter
431 E. Congress St. Detroit, MI 48226 | (313) 961-8961
Doors: 7p | All Ages
BUY TICKETS

Solo ‘ManMade’ Tour Dates + ‘Love In Flying Colors’ Tour Dates with The Foreign Exchange

Tour dates ….SO FAR.
More are always being added.

Solo ManMade Tour Dates

ManMade

**More ManMade Tour Dates To Be Announced**

_____________________________________________________

With The Foreign Exchange
Love In Flying Colors Tour Dates

FE LIFC

Saturday, April 26, 2014 – Durham, NC
With The Foreign Exchange (Love In Flying Colors Tour)
The Art of Cool Festival
Hayti Heritage Center
804 Old Fayetteville St, Durham, NC 27701 | (919) 683-1709
BUY TICKETS

Thursday, May 1, 2014 – Richmond, VA
With The Foreign Exchange (Love In Flying Colors Tour)
The Canal Club
1545 E Cary St, Richmond VA 23219 | (804) 643-2582
Doors: 8p
BUY TICKETS

Friday, May 2, 2014 - Washington D.C.
With The Foreign Exchange (Love In Flying Colors Tour)
Howard Theatre
620 T St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001 | (202) 803-2899
Doors: 6p
BUY TICKETS

Sunday, May 4, 2014 – Philadelphia, PA
With The Foreign Exchange (Love In Flying Colors Tour)
World Cafe Live
3025 Walnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104 | (215) 222-1400
Doors: 7p
BUY TICKETS

Monday, May 5, 2014 – Brooklyn, NY
With The Foreign Exchange (Love In Flying Colors Tour)
Music Hall Of Williamsburg
66 N. 6th St., Brooklyn, NY 11211 | (718) 486-5400
Doors: 8p | 18+
BUY TICKETS

Tuesday, May 6, 2014 – Cambridge, MA
With The Foreign Exchange (Love In Flying Colors Tour)
The Middle East
472-480 Mass Ave, Cambridge MA 02139 | (617) 864-3278
Doors: 8p | 18+
BUY TICKETS

Thursday, May 8, 2014 – Cleveland, OH
With The Foreign Exchange (Love In Flying Colors Tour)
Beechland Ballroom
15711 Waterloo Rd, Cleveland OH 44110 | (216) 383-1124
Doors: 7:30p
BUY TICKETS

Friday, May 9, 2014 – Detroit, MI
With The Foreign Exchange (Love In Flying Colors Tour)
The Magic Stick
4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48201 | (313) 833-9700
Doors: 8p
BUY TICKETS

Saturday, May 10, 2014 – Chicago, IL
With The Foreign Exchange (Love In Flying Colors Tour)
Metro
3730 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60613 | (773) 549-4140
Doors: 9p | 18+
BUY TICKETS

Monday, May 12, 2014 – Columbus, OH
With The Foreign Exchange (Love In Flying Colors Tour)
Woodlands Tavern
1200 W 3rd Ave, Columbus OH 43212 | (614) 299-4987
Doors: 7p | 18+
BUY TICKETS

Friday, May 30, 2014 – Johannesburg, South Africa
With The Foreign Exchange (Love In Flying Colors Tour)
Bassline
10 Henry Nxumalo St, Johannesburg 2001 SA | +27 82 336 0880
Doors: 8p
BUY TICKETS

Thursday, June, 12, 2014 – Charlotte, NC
With The Foreign Exchange (Love In Flying Colors Tour)
The Chop Shop
399 East 35th Street Charlotte, NC 28205 | (704) 765-2467
Doors: 8p | 18+
BUY TICKETS

Friday, June 13, 2014 – Atlanta, GA
With The Foreign Exchange (Love In Flying Colors Tour)
Terminal West
887 West Marietta St NW, Studio C, Atlanta, GA 30318 | 404-876-5566
Doors 9p | 18+
BUY TICKETS

Saturday, June 14, 2014 – Birmingham, AL
With The Foreign Exchange (Love In Flying Colors Tour)
The Workplay Theatre
500 23rd St. South, Birmingham AL 35233 | (205) 380-4082
Doors: 7p | 18+
BUY TICKETS

Monday, June 16, 2014 – Nashville, TN
With The Foreign Exchange (Love In Flying Colors Tour)
12th & Porter
114 12th Ave N, Nashville TN 37203 | (615) 320-3754
Doors: 7p | 18+
BUY TICKETS

Tuesday, June 17, 2014 – Louisville, KY
With The Foreign Exchange (Love In Flying Colors Tour)
Zanzabar
2100 S Preston St, Louisville, KY 40217 | (502) 635-9227
Doors: 8p | 21+
BUY TICKETS

Wednesday, June 18, 2014 – Memphis, TN
With The Foreign Exchange (Love In Flying Colors Tour)
Hi-Tone
412-414 N Cleveland St., Memphis, TN 38104 | (901) 278-8663
Doors: 8p | 18+
BUY TICKETS

Friday, June 20, 2014 – St. Louis, MO
With The Foreign Exchange (Love In Flying Colors Tour)
Plush
3224 Locust St., St. Louis, MO 63103 | (314) 535-2686
Doors: 7p
BUY TICKETS

Saturday, June 21, 2014 – Kansas City, MO
With The Foreign Exchange (Love In Flying Colors Tour)
Riot Room
4048 Broadway St, Kansas City, MO 64111 | (816) 442-8179
Doors: 8p | 21+
BUY TICKETS

Monday, June 23, 2014 – Denver, CO
With The Foreign Exchange (Love In Flying Colors Tour)
Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom
2637 Walton St., Denver, CO 80205 | (303) 297-1772
Doors: 8p | 16+
BUY TICKETS

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 – Austin, TX
With The Foreign Exchange (Love In Flying Colors Tour)
The North Door (ND Venue – Main Stage)
502 Brushy St., Austin, TX 78702
Doors: 9p
BUY TICKETS

Thursday, June 26, 2014 – Dallas, TX
With The Foreign Exchange (Love In Flying Colors Tour)
The Prophet Bar
2513 Main St, Dallas, TX 75226 | (214) 742-3667
Doors: 8p | All Ages
BUY TICKETS

Friday, June 27, 2014 – Houston, TX
With The Foreign Exchange (Love In Flying Colors Tour)
Fitzgerald’s (Upstairs)
2706 White Oak Drive Houston, TX 77007-2792 | (713) 862-3838
Doors: 9p
BUY TICKETS

Sunday, June 29, 2014 – New Orleans, LA
With The Foreign Exchange (Love In Flying Colors Tour)
Tipitina’s (Uptown)
501 Napoleon Ave., New Orleans, LA 70115 | (504) 895-8477
Doors: 8p | 18+
BUY TICKETS

Friday, July 11, 2014 – Los Angeles, CA
With The Foreign Exchange (Love In Flying Colors Tour)
El Ray Theatre
5515 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90036 | (323) 936-6400
Doors: 8p
BUY TICKETS

Saturday, July 12, 2014 – Phoenix, AZ
With The Foreign Exchange (Love In Flying Colors Tour)
Monarch Theatre
122 E Washington St, Phoenix AZ 85004 | (602) 456-1991
Doors: 9p
BUY TICKETS

Tuesday, July 15, 2014 – Fresno, CA
With The Foreign Exchange (Love In Flying Colors Tour)
Fulton 55
875 Divisadero Street, Fresno CA 93721 | (559) 412-7400
Doors: 8p | 21+
BUY TICKETS

Thursday, July 17, 2014 – Sacramento, CA
With The Foreign Exchange (Love In Flying Colors Tour)
Assembly Music Hall
1000 K St, Sacramento CA 95814 | (916) 341-0176
Doors: 7p
BUY TICKETS

Friday, July 18, 2014 – San Francisco, CA
With The Foreign Exchange (Love In Flying Colors Tour)
The Great American Music Hall
859 O’Farrell St. San Francisco, CA 94109 | (415) 885-0750
Doors: 8p
BUY TICKETS

Saturday, July 19, 2014 – Oakland, CA
With The Foreign Exchange (Love In Flying Colors Tour)
The New Parish
579 18th St, Oakland, CA 94612 | (415) 371-1631
Doors: 8p
BUY TICKETS

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 – London, UK
With The Foreign Exchange (Love In Flying Colors Tour)
Jazz Cafe
5 Parkway, Camden Town, London NW1 7PG, United Kingdom | 0207 485 6834
Doors: 7p | 18+
BUY TICKETS

Thursday, September 25, 2014 – Birmingham, UK
With The Foreign Exchange (Love In Flying Colors Tour)
Hare and Hounds
106 High St, Birmingham, West Midlands B14 7JZ, United Kingdom | +44 121 444 2081
Doors: 7p | 18+
BUY TICKETS

Friday, September 26, 2014 – London, UK
With The Foreign Exchange (Love In Flying Colors Tour)
Jazz Cafe
5 Parkway, Camden Town, London NW1 7PG, United Kingdom | 0207 485 6834
Doors: 7p | 18+
BUY TICKETS

Past ManMade Tour Dates:
May 21, 2013 – Brooklyn, NY (Listening Event) • May 24, 2013 – Baltimore, MD (Listening Event) • May 29, 2013 – Washington D.C. • June 1, 2013 – Chicago, IL • June 7, 2013 – Richmond, VA (Listening Event) • June 8, 2013 – Philadelphia, PA • June 9, 2013 – New York City, NY • June 15, 2013 – Pittsburgh, PA • June 21, 2013 – Los Angeles, CA • June 22, 2013 – Tucson, AZ • June 29, 2013 – Detroit, MI • July 19, 2013 – Las Vegas, NV • July 21, 2013 – Seattle, WA • July 23, 2013 – Austin, TX (Listening Event) • July 25, 2013 – Durham, NC • August 3, 2013 – Richmond, VA • August 10, 2013 – Atlanta, GA • August 14, 2013 – Charlotte, NC • September 17, 2013 - San Diego , CA • September 27, 2013 – Houston, TX • September 28, 2013 – Dallas, TX • October 3, 2013 – St. Louis, MO • October 5, 2013 – Indianapolis, IN • November 2-10, 2013 – Capital Jazz Super Cruise • December 6, 2013 – Cleveland, OH • March 2, 2014 - Los Angeles, CA • March 12, 2014 - Minneapolis, MN • April 13, 2014 – Detroit, MI

The Foreign Exchange Past (Love In Flying Colors Tour) Dates:
October 24, 2013 – Raleigh, NC • October 25, 2013 – Columbia, SC • October 26, 2013 – Atlanta, GA • April 11, 2014 - Pittsburgh, PA