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Local artist Stan Z defies music barriers

Adrian Broaddus
Stan Z will be having his album release party March 4 at the Lowbrow Palace.

At just 20-years-old, Stan Zubia, or better known by his stage name, Stan Z, has made waves throughout El Paso’s local music scene with his genre-defying music and his impeccable stage swagger. He’s most comfortable when stepping in front of the crowd with his classic Epiphone Casino guitar in his hand and his band backing him up.

One genre can not define the young artist. Stan Z ventures into all types of music. His sound ranges from hip-hop influences, to psychedelic rock and even combines electronic production to enhance the sound quality.

His influences stem from the freedom and lyricism that rappers like Kendrick Lamar and Isaiah Rashad preach, to the classic rock and roll vibe that developed bands like Led Zeppelin, The Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Beatles, while also using unique production inspirations from DJs like Flume.

“That’s what I want: this entity of just jamming,” said Zubia.  “I just want to jam. When I started getting into music, my dad showed me bands like The Police and The Beatles, and then some of my friends and my brother got me into hip-hop. I started getting into dubstep and house too. It’s hard to put it (his music) into one genre, but I do like to flow on everything. It does come back to hip-hop influence, but it has a bit of everything: jazz, rock, and weird noises. I just want to go hard and have everyone vibing.”

His artistry started at the age of nine when he learned how to play the guitar and drums. During his freshman year at El Paso High School, Zubia ventured through beat making and electronic production. As a senior in high school, he debuted his mixtape, “Ego Loss,” in February of 2015.

“During high school when I was a senior I really felt I was ready to drop something,” he said. “I remember sitting in class and hearing it on everyone’s phone. It really hit me like ‘whoa, hype is real and this energy exists.’”

It was the same energy that prompted the young artist to perform locally, alongside his fellow stage hype rapper, Idea, and a DJ. During the first year of “Ego Loss,” Stan Z performed over 50 shows in the local region and started gaining a following. Spurred from the hype and recognition, Stan Z was signed by Electric Social Records, a local record label that helped project the artist into the El Paso spotlight.

What he had not anticipated was the direction his three-member posse would develop into.

“Kilo (Daniel Rivera of Kilo and the Dew) asked if we’ve ever performed with a live band before, and he said that we should play with a live band for their singing party,” Zubia said. “We tried it out and it was dope. I had been in bands with these guys and it was just dope.”

The addition of a drummer, a guitarist, a keyboard player and a bassist led to new possibilities for Stan Z’s presence. It encouraged more concerts and even spawned a mini-tour to the likes of Austin and San Antonio.

“It’s been interesting because I think we were coming up, just as a duo act, but when we had the band, that’s when people really started fucking with us,” Zubia said. “We were getting loud and after that it was shows, shows, shows. After that we decided to go on a little mini tour to San Antonio and Austin, and people were vibing. On tours it’s hard to get people to come out. People that came out would come up to us and say, ‘you guys are really talented’ and that felt good.”

Now, in less than a week, Stan Z will release his second project, titled “The Z.” The 11-track record was entirely written and produced by Zubia and it will debut at his album release party on Saturday, March 4, at the Lowbrow Palace.

“On the last tape there wasn’t any live shit. On this one, there will be our live instruments mixed with the production,” Zubia said. “I want to bring another element. I want to bring people together by me bringing good vibes. I just want people to hear it and fuck with it. I want to do shows and go hard.”

Going through self-revelations and true spiritual findings, the album’s theme carries a deeper meaning behind it. Even the album artwork, which was created by Victor “Versus” Soto of Los Visionaries art group, has a deep connotation.

“The ‘Z’ is supposed to be a symbol of the zenith—the highest point as a person, truly finding yourself, being productive and finding that balance,” Zubia said. “The zenith is the point everyone is trying to reach for. The way it works with the album is it’s like a tunnel—I’m going down this tunnel that I’ve never been down before and wondering what’s in there, taking a chance, and that symbolizes me diving into music. There’s space and celestial images that represents the beyond, not even earthly comprehension.”

He sums up the incomprehensible meaning into him simply finding himself and finding his vibe.

Even the production has a new feel for this album, according to Zubia. On “Ego Loss,” he used different software like FL Studio and Reason to produce his work. On “The Z,” Zubia used Ableton, which was a new, redefying software that he believes enhanced the quality of sound. He came across the software while interning at Star City Studios, which he also supposes  brought up his style to a new level.

“Abelton is usually for an electronic vibe, which is why I can get the crazy wobble side changes,” Zubia said. “I’ve been grinding for this; studio sessions and late nights. It’s going to be dope.”

It was his new software that put the icing on the cake for his single preluding the album, “Shine.” At first listen, the new track is unlike any Stan Z song before; in fact, it sounds mature and more constructed as a whole.

“That initial riff came to me and after that I put it on Ableton,” he said. “The way I work is I construct a beat and that’s the way I write, based off the beat. It’s different than other songwriters, like rappers come to a beat and they’re ready to spit because they hear the beat and go based off it.”

The songs’ hook features Elia Esparza, a former contestant on The Voice, which adds character to the song.

“I had the idea for the melody of the hook, but I couldn’t sing it well, so I thought, ‘why don’t I get Ellia Esparza to do it?’” Zubia said. “She’s cool and she’s great.”

The album’s release party will kick off at 9 p.m. at the Lowbrow with special guests including Frythm, Rose. Golden, Boomkat and Elia Esparza.

“I have stuff on this album since I was a senior. I made a beat on there and I just wanted to release it at the right time,” Zubia said. “It’s (the album) me not trying to pretend I’m something I’m not. I just want to jam. I’m here to take music in and let it influence me. I feel I’m just this filter, like all these influences. This is me taking in everything and making it something of my own.

It was also annouced Tuesday that Stan Z will perform at Neon Desert this year for the second year in a row.

Follow Adrian Broaddus on Twitter @adrian_broaddus

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About the Contributor
Adrian Broaddus, Sports Editor
Adrian Broaddus is the sports editor for The Prospector. He is a junior multimedia journalism major with a minor in political science.   Adrian was born and raised in El Paso, TX, and is a graduate of Franklin high school. He entered college in the fall of 2015 in hopes to better his career in journalism.   Along with sports, Adrian enjoys writing music reviews, perspective columns and news stories on politics.   Although he is pursuing his degree in journalism, Adrian would like to go to law school and be an attorney while doing part-time work in journalism.  
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Local artist Stan Z defies music barriers