Visuals from Zo! featuring Carmen Rodgers in Detroit • Photos by Abby O. Photography (04.13.14)

Visuals from…

Zo!
featuring Carmen Rodgers
+ SaxAppeal & Collective Peace
+ B. Williams
at The Shelter in Detroit, MI
April 13, 2014

Photos by Abby O. Photography

Personnel:
Zo! – Keys & “That Boy Good” shirt
Carmen Rodgers – Saingin’
SaxAppeal – Saxophone, of course
Kamau Inaede – Bass/Keybass
Marcus Douglas – Drums
Brandon Williams – Guitar
D-Love – Percussion
Kristopher Jahi Crosby – Keys

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

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

Photos from the Detroit ‘ManMade’ Album Release Concert…

Check out some of the visuals from that epic night in Detroit… Saturday June 29, 2013.

Photos by
Tefari K. Stevenson-Howard
http://www.flickr.com/photos/bygbaby/sets/72157634413800702

Zo! Interview on SoulTrain.com

Source: SoulTrain.com
Author: Chuck Nunley

Q&A: Zo!- Keys Open Doors

Ever since Henry Ford opened up shop in 1903, Detroit, Michigan has been associated with the motto, “Building from the ground up.” This means perfecting your craft as a “labor of love” at a perfectionist level, then taking your work to the people one by one to create loyal supporters. As a native of The D, Lorenzo Ferguson, better known as Zo!, embodies this motto. As a member of The Foreign Exchange Music family, a collective who represents “from the ground up” to the core, Zo!’s musicianship as been a vital piece of the +FE Music sound on record as well as on stage, while serving as the band’s musical director on tour. Now with the release of his sophomore album, appropriately titled ManMade, Zo! sat down with SoulTrain.com during a tour stop in Los Angeles to discuss bringing his latest labor of love to the people.

SouTrain.com: In your bio, it said as a kid, you aspired to be a Major League Baseball player and despised taking piano lessons. What was the moment that changed that and music became your passion?

Zo!:  I think it changed almost overnight when I learned how to play by ear. Once I learned how to play by ear, then I was able to learn songs I wanted to learn rather than only classical pieces. I could turn on the radio, pick out songs and play them for other people. When you’re a kid, it’s important to you to be able to kind of show off and get your little praise. Once I was able to do that I thought, “Oh this could be something.” But at that point in my life, it had yet to trump baseball yet.  It was there, but I never knew I would be making a living off it.

SoulTrain.com: For a number of years, while progressing in your career, you were a music teacher. Talk about the importance of music and other arts programs in schools, and how your experience as a teacher shaped you as a musician.

Zo!: . It helps you tremendously as a musician because you’re practicing all the time to teach your students. I think when you teach, you have to be on top of your game. This was especially [true] with the environment I was working in, which was kids with special needs that were also in and out of jail. They’ll come to my class, look at me like and go, “What do you know? What can you teach me?” And If I play on the piano and suck, then they’re really looking at me like, “Aw you’re garbage, now I don’t have to listen to you on any level, period.” So when you are on top of your game and answering all of their questions the way they need to be answered, then they are looking at you like, “he cares enough to answer these questions and is looking out for us.” The same applies with music education as a whole. If you are able to, for example, decipher different notes and signs while reading music, you’re able to unlock other types of reasoning that applies to other subjects and basic problem solving. Music and arts can be applied to math, English and science.   When states get to cutting budgets, they look at arts as a hobby. I see it as a life changer; I’ve seen it save lives first hand.

READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

Zo! In The Michigan Citizen (06.20.13)

Source: The Michigan Citizen
Author: Steve Furay

Detroit’s Zo! Releases New R&B Album and Prepares For Homecoming Show

DETROIT — Detroit’s own Zo!, a soulful R&B music composer and master hip hop producer, has released a new album and is getting ready for a triumphant return to his hometown with a live performance June 29 at 8 p.m.

Critics and fans are celebrating his newest release, making this show a highly anticipated summer performance.

The show will be at the Elizabeth Theater at The Park Bar, located at 2040 Park Ave. in downtown Detroit.

“ManMade” is Zo!’s latest full-length album, released May 21, following his 2010 release “SunStorm.”

He shot a video for the song “Count to Five” featuring guests Gwen Bunn and Phonte, and the exposure has helped the album reach the Billboard New Artist and R&B sales charts for three weeks, marking the first time he’s been on the charts.

“The response has been great. I’m really, really happy with how things are starting to shape up,” says Zo! “I guess my thing now is I’m curious where the album and where the music is going to take me to. It’s going to be fun.”

“ManMade” is filled with the lush, soulful sounds that are a signature of the Motown experience. Tight bass and drum rhythms create a strong foundation for the keys and vocal melodies, a classic funk sound from an authentic Detroit musician, who now resides in Maryland.

READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

“Blue Collar Hustle” Zo! Interviews with Wax Poetics

Source: Wax Poetics
Author: Erin Ashley

Blue Collar Hustle
Detroit triple-threat Zo! prepares for ManMade

Detroit, Michigan, is a region defined by soul, passion and music. It was the launching pad for Motown and its subsidiary labels, has helped introduce music listeners to artists like Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, Mary Wells, the Four Tops and more. Today, Detroit is known for more than just Motown, the region also has a foot in the evolution of hip-hop music today with artists like the late and great J.Dilla, Elzhi, Guilty Simpson, and more calling the region home.

One consistent theme shown through the music of Detroit is a passion that comes across with the sound, which can be heard in the music of Detroit-bred producer, Lorenzo Ferguson, simply known by music heads as Zo!

“I’m a very passionate musician, so anything that I’m feeling is going to come out through music and I think that’s very important when you create,” says Zo!

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE

Zo! Speaks with LifeandTimes.com About ‘ManMade’ and Working With The Foreign Exchange

Source: LifeAndTimes.com
Author: Quinn Peterson

Multi-instrumentalist Zo! is best known for his work with Phonte and Nicolay of the Foreign Exchange collective. Even when he’s not working in the background, however, he’s still capable of crafting the same kinds of mature, soulful grooves FE is known for, which is what he does on his latest project, ManMade. While he doesn’t contribute any vocals, he supplies all of the instrumentation. Life+Times caught up with the Detroit native to discuss ManMade, his creative process, working with the Foreign Exchange and more.

Life+Times: Tell me about your upcoming sophomore album, ManMade. How is it different from your first album and what can people expect to hear?
Zo!: 
It’s my sophomore full-length album with The Foreign Exchange Music imprint, a follow up to SunStorm, which was released in 2010. With this one, you probably hear a lot more musical growth as far as risk-taking, kind of being able to step out of the box a little bit. On the first single, “The Train“, it doesn’t really sound like anything I’ve ever done. A lot more uptempo, more of a dance-oriented feel. More growth, more maturity; I’m also a full-time musician now, so hopefully you’ll be able to feel that in it as well. I think it really came together and I’m definitely proud of the final product.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE

‘ManMade’ Album Release Concert in Detroit – June 29, 2013

photo-1

I’m taking ManMade home!!!
AND
I’ll be presenting the album with…
Choklate

ManMade Album Release Concert in DETROIT

with Detroit’s own Collective Peace
and Gwenation

Saturday, June 29, 2013
The Elizabeth Theater at the Park Bar
2040 Park Ave. | Detroit, MI 48226 | (313) 454-1286
8p | 21+
BUY TICKETS

Studio Campfire Stories: ‘ManMade’ Edition – “The Train” (feat. Sy Smith)

Me and Sy just before hitting the stage for the first show at Blues Alley in DC. (June 2012)

Me and Sy just before hitting the stage for the first show at Blues Alley in DC. (June 2012)

I’ll just say this, first and foremost so that I can go ahead and make it very clear… Sy Smith is one of my favorite people to work with. PERIOD. And I don’t have to run down her mile-long resumé for you to understand why she is head and shoulders above everyone else. Beyond sitting kats down with her vocal ability, the woman is about her business. Both of us are very experimental and free when it comes to recording material as well as the live presentation of it. I think it’s just a matter of not wanting to miss out on coming up with dope musical arrangements by becoming too “scripted” because that’s not what great artists allow themselves to do. And she is just that… A great artist and an even greater person for those who know her up close.

Anyway, let me wrap that on up before y’all start droppin’ streams of thug tears and shit…

Instead, allow me to drop this fun fact of the day… Take a guess at who completed the very first song for each of these four releases: …just visiting too, SunStorm, …just visiting three, and NOW ManMade. If you guessed “Sy Smith”, you sir or ma’am are smarter than the average person who posts and misspells shit regularly via Twitter! (Weeell, technically she AND Phonte were on the first joint completed for JV3 (“Black Cow”), but it still counts).

I can remember very clearly how I came up with the music for this one. I was messing around with different drum sets or “patches” and came up on a set that reminded me of some Ghettotech or Electronic sounding music from back home. Being as though I had never really gone that route musically before, it then became a “self-dare” to create a Ghettotech/Electronic-inspired drum pattern JUST to see if I could come up with anything that would make it work. So instead of using thick, gritty basslines to define the song’s concept, I decided to dress it up with a piano line, a pad that continues throughout the piece and a sparse, yet kinetic bassline that moves in and out of the drum pattern itself – Pretty electronic music. Once I finished, I sent it to Phonte and when the “Who’s gonna be on this one” conversation took place, we said almost simultaneously, “Sy…” It was very much a no-brainer. The bright and quirky feel of the song fit her perfectly.

I’m sure I have said this before, but Sy is one of those artists who I can send some music to with NO instructions outside of, “check it out” and she’ll send something back to me laced fully… The same thing happened to set the tone for SunStorm when she sent me back “Greatest Weapon Of All Time.” I get Sy the music and keep it moving onto something else without any worries whatsoever. At the end of May 2012, I remember getting a text from Sy saying that she had sent the new joint through – Checked my email and sure enough, there was a new one from her engineer Grant Nichols and the typed out lyrics from her… DOPE. The subject heading of Grant’s email read, “Hashtags & Do-Rags.” At first glance, I was like, “The hell does that mean?”… After realizing that was part of the hook for the sont, I kinda shook my head laughing while thinking, “Man, that line is Sy as hell.” Even with a short wait, the anticipation was killing me while the attachment downloaded and iTunes opened up and run it. She had already told me how much she loved the music, but I was completely on the edge of my seat to see what she ended up creating with it. So finally, the song started…. Immediately Sy opened up with a bit of vocal gymnastics, almost a quick ‘warm up’ to tease the listener before the music kicks in fully. They way she phrased and enunciated words like,

“DIZ-zy,”

“desti-NA-tion,”

and “in-spi-RA-tion,”

I heard her personality come to life in that first verse and prehook. As a producer, that is priceless recording in my book because now listening to this song you know off the break that it’s nobody but Sy and it was your music that brought it out. But once that hook came in… the only thing I could think was, “Oh…. She done made this a jam.” I placed a synth line in the hook that she followed perfectly:

“Let’s….take….this….train…as far as it will go”

Joint was just…. catchy and exactly what this fun ass song needed…. a FUN ass chorus. Of course, later in the song she manages to jump through more vocal hoops and harmonies that usually welcomes a small bit of jealously into the hearts of the singing-challenged *clears throat* …such as myself. I ended up calling her after a few listens and the the thing that got me was, she was just as hyped up about the new joint as I was! The first thing I told her was… “Hashtags & Do-Rags?! That’s so damn YOU!” I remember her telling me, “I knew I couldn’t write anything ‘regular’ over that music, kinda like when I heard “Aquarius Rising” The randomness of “Hashtags…” was semi-inspired by the way that Sheila E. used to give her songs these titles that when you would check out the back of the album, you were kinda just left scratching your head with sheer confusion – “The Belle Of St. Mark” and “Merci For the Speed Of A Mad Clown In Summer,” are pretty solid examples. We later shortened the title to a more simple, “The Train”. …I mean, it’s not like it’s gonna stop people from calling the song “Hashtags and Do-Rags” ANYWAY. If I know my people the way that I know my people… I am fully aware that we could give not a damn about a song or a movie title. For example, can you please tell me the last time you heard someone refer to the Tina Turner biopic as What’s Love Got To Do With It and NOT “The Ike and Tina Movie”…….. I’ll wait.

*crickets*

…………I rest my case.

Seriously though, when I really think about it this song kind of embodies our “Sy Smith + Zo!” live performances. The joint is upbeat, fun, and randomness always equates to good music being made. Being as though we were making appearances in different cities cuttin’ up on stage throughout the majority of 2012, this was the perfect joint to set off ManMade with. Sy has now hit lead-off for my FOURTH consecutive album… Talk about consistency!!

Purchase ManMade HERE • Or on iTunes