I recently had the pleasure to meet up with Isaäc Vassallo, aka Zac. A true testament to the underground talent that’s bubbling under the surface of this small rock, Zac lives and breathes music. His passion is pure and his music is sick – what more could you want? A dope new track maybe? He’s got that too. What about an album? Keep reading, you’re in for a treat.
Introducing Zac, Malta’s Next Biggest Hip Hop Artist
How was your summer?
Summer was good. Basically, I was either at work or going home to write more material. Or I was at the studio working on different beats in either Depth’s studio or Fabricka’s studio. The last track that I put out was made by these two amazing producers put together. So, I was pretty much doing that.
Your new track, you just dropped it a couple weeks back, right? Can you tell me a bit about it?
Around this time last year, I was dealing with a situation that really hit me hard at the time. So, I did what I would normally do every time that I’ve got something on my chest – I grabbed a pen and paper, zoned out at home and just thought about everything that was going through my mind. It was therapy for me at the time. In the meantime, I got a new job and got to know Michel L J Galea (Mixu) through that. I showed him a preview of my music and we kept in touch. At the time I didn’t know Depth or Fabricka, so I was making music and keeping it personal up until Mixu introduced me to Depth.
One time, Depth asked if I wanted to drop by his studio and so I did and that was when I met Fabricka for the first time. They were working on this instrumental piece and asked if I had any material to record there and then just to get an idea of how lyrics would sound synced over it. The tempo was paring with the lyrics I was working on at the time – The flow fit right in. So at that moment, it hit the three of us and we just came to an agreement that this track is gonna be finished. The track took over six months overall until we were all satisfied. I guess I can say that I was the most impatient, knowing that it was more than a track to me, you know? It defined everything that I was going through back then. But Depth and Fabricka kept insisting that it needed more time. Looking at how the track has turned out to be, I can honestly say that it was worth the wait.
How do you feel it’s been received so far?
People have been showing support – sharing, messaging, downloading the track – so I’m honestly thankful to have a small fan base that gives so much support. That’s one of the things why I love music – connecting people and bringing them together. Every time I open up to certain people about problems, everybody says the same thing like it’s on a loop – ‘’life goes on’’. But nobody says that it’s fine to feel sad or it’s fine to go through these things. So as soon as I have a different approach using music, people tune in and actually start to relate like “I know what you’re going through”. Knowing that there are people who understand and relate to what you go through is really something. So yeah, it’s been great, and I really do appreciate everyone’s support.
And this is the second solo track that you’ve dropped isn’t it? Did you feel the same after the first one?
Yeah, Keep Moving took less time to write, record and master than All These Things. The support on that was great too. I write about stuff I go through or just the way I see life so every track I release is 100% genuine and written by me.
So, would you say that’s the main influence that inspires your music?
I would say so, yeah. I believe that everything happens for a reason. So, if I didn’t go through ups and downs, I would have never have done such a powerful tune. I would never have got into the job and met Mixu that led me to meet up with Depth and Fabricka and be able to record those tracks. So again, everything happens for a reason. I guess my inspiration is literally every step I take in life.
How long have you been rapping for?
I’ve been doing music, singing and songwriting since 2005. It all started with a good friend of mine, Ben. We’ve been doing music together and individually ever since. I always had big dreams no matter how many times people laughed, made fun or doubted me. At the same time, I was at school then jobs and always having those dreams in mind. There hasn’t been a day where music wasn’t a part of my life. So, for the last twelve to thirteen years I’ve been constantly studying music personally, building my craft and most importantly believing in myself. So, it’s kind of like, now after all that time, I’m ready to apply everything I’ve learned in that time to create my own music.
Throughout this time, was there a point where you realised that music was something that you could do on a professional level?
I’ve always felt that I have something different to offer in the music industry. Throughout the years, I’ve always been looking up to artists who inspire me. I started to learn more about the rap culture which then gave me the ability to apply everything I learnt to my own music and have my own style. So, I eventually realised that it was something I could do. It’s just one of those things where it has to be in you. Nothing happens overnight. I’ve always known that. So matter what, it’s always gonna be music to me
So, you mentioned that you get a lot of inspiration from different artists. Who has inspired you the most?
I’ve always done music in a certain way where it’s labelled as underground hip-hop. Plus, I never focused on hooks or bridges. I’ve always focused on underground beats and just writing short verses and that was it. As I grew older, I started listening to artists like Russ who changed the way I see music. Then of course there’s Hopsin, Joyner Lucas, Logic, Eminem, 50Cent, the list goes on. All these different artists with different vibes have given me the inspiration to create my own sound.
Have you played much around Malta?
The first gig I had was on the Hip-Hop Loft. At the time, I only had one track out which was done with Ben. We used to call ourselves Ink 2 Sound – representing the ink from the pen we write lyrics with to the sound from a recording. I had another gig at Mute. I also had the opportunity to perform at the Farson’s Beer Festival. Depth was there, so he took care of my set. It’s been really good so far and I haven’t even started yet. Being on stage surrounded by a crowd that is there to support and respect your music has always been a dream for me.
What’s your opinion on the hip-hop scene in Malta?
I see a lot of people that are pushing the scene nowadays, there’s a lot of different creative mindsets around. Hip-hop in the local language isn’t my favourite, to be honest, but I do respect it and anyone who’s into it. We do need more places that play hip-hop because it’s nice to be around the scene where it’s appreciated and anyone who takes hip-hop seriously understands that.
What’s in the pipeline for the rest of the year?
Right now, I’m focusing on finishing my very first album. I’m working on getting good exposure and building a fan base at the same time. Once I’ve got everything I need, I’m planning to move out. Possibly to Canada. So yeah, that’s the plan really – I want to turn dreams to reality and become a full-time music artist.
And your album. When do you plan on dropping it?
There’s no date set yet. I don’t rush when it comes to music. I’m keen on perfection. So yeah, step by step.
Zac is 100% focused on his music – and it shows. This guy has some serious talent. His lyrics are so raw and genuine and, honestly, that authenticity is what music should be all about. Zac is going places, for sure. Check him out:
If you want to see Zac performing live for yourself, well, you’re in luck. On the 3rd of November, the apocalypse is coming (no, not literally – chill out).
A hoard of zombies will descend upon Rockey Valley Garden and Zac, along with many other seriously talented artists will be there to get the army of undead moving. If you’re looking for tickets, you can get them at ShowsHappening. Also, join in on the pub crawl too, if you think you can handle the gore.
Words by: Shane McLáimh
Photos courtesy of: Isaäc Vassallo