Zeale Sessions

Go inside the making of hip-hop artist Zeale's "Iconical" mix tape for Colorado snow/art collective So-Gnar

Zeale is a 5'10" snapback-wearing, chocolate-chip-cookie-dough-eating, emerging hip-hop/indie artist born and raised in South Austin, Texas. He has been on the grind for a decade now, often playing the role of chemist with the genres of hip-hop, indie rock and EDM. Zeale seeks to hybridize music with depth -- "music that reaches into people [and] pulls something out," he shares. "Whether it's thoughts, whether it's memories, whether it's inspiration -- just something to move people, whether it's on a physical plane or a mental plane."

Zeale's performance with So-Gnar at the X Games Los Angeles Ford Fiesta Park back in August made a tremendous impression on the Colorado-based snow/skate/art collective, who invited him to produce one of their monthly mix tapes. Zeale's approach was a refreshing exercise in diversifying the series and resulted in "Iconical," which was released in September and can be streamed on Soundcloud or downloaded for free at so-gnar.com. (Check the video above for a behind-the-scenes look at the mix tape's production.)

"We wanted to offer Z a blank canvas," says So-Gnar founder Pat Milbery of the partnership. "He has an incredible imagination and we figured offering him this opportunity to create at free will and to experiment on this release without any limitations would be a fun project to team up on and help him grow his fan base in the action-sports community."

Recording for "Iconical" was split between Zeale's home state of Texas and So-Gnar's Colorado headquarters. The album, which contains bonus tracks brainstormed by Zeale and So-Gnar sound engineer Alex Anderson, is anticipated to have music videos for several of its songs. The finished piece is an alignment of the co-collaborators' desire to bring good people, good experiences and good times together in life and to find inspiration through them.

So-Gnar's "Create or Die" slogan really resonates with Zeale's method of creating "because it's my ethos," he says. "I feel that if I'm not radiating energy into the world, then I'm consuming it." And the last few months have seen him burning hot, getting a taste of tour life with X Games Los Angeles headliners AWOLNATION and Imagine Dragons, then investing his time back in the studio, recording a new EP that's slated to drop in the coming months. If the other artists on the bill of his most recent show, in Brooklyn, NY -- Questlove and Santigold, anyone? -- are any indication, Zeale's mix tape title may soon change from aspirational to eponymous.

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