47 Eyez on me, a music collective created by North Carolina state students to promote individuality and unfiltered creative expression, aims to change the way emerging artists view collaboration.
Jonny Zemola, a third year studying marketing, Alex Tung, a third year studying environmental sciences and Omid Ordoubadi, a third year studying social work, started the group alongside two cousins. Of Zemola as a platform allowing artists to collaborate freely financial restrictions of industrial labels. The three are known through their music as Joey zen, Saturnalia and O, respectively.
“We’re definitely getting together and trying to make music a separate activity from other aspects of life,” Tung said. “Especially anything related to financial incentives. “
The name of the collective, according to Zemola, comes from the combination of the heart (fourth) and head (seventh) chakras. The name sums up the collective’s primary goal of encouraging individual growth.
“47 Eyez On Me collectively means spreading love, knowing that you can do whatever you want, having the vision to do it and doing it your way,” Zemola said. “As soon as these four things are done, then it is a collective thing and it is a unison goal that is accomplished.”
By bringing together various artists and instrumentalists, 47 Eyez On Me strives to highlight the role of the individual in collaborative creativity. They particularly focus on the creative process and the connection it requires.
“Finding people to connect with is much more important than finding the best player,” Ordoubadi said. “It’s something that I feel like it’s really good for any creative person to realize that there will always be someone who is more technically proficient in something, but it’s about tap into you and bring it out in the most effective and creative way. That’s what we’re trying to create the platform for. It’s individuality as part of the collective.
Their main goal, according to Ordoubadi, is to encourage people to explore their highest potential.
“One of our big goals is to bring out the best in everyone,” Ordoubadi said. “Letting everyone be as creatively independent as possible is the key. “
Despite their common vision, the three members of 47 Eyez On Me have different musical backgrounds. Zemola, who is above all a rapper, is inspired for his lyrics by conversations with those around him. He seeks to relay these conversations through his music.
“I do a lot of research through people’s perspectives,” Zemola said. “When I have conversations with people, I want to know how they view something that we are talking about. If we have a discussion about a certain topic, I look for what makes them think the way they do and integrate that into my music in a way. I’m talking about having discussions through music that will inspire someone to do better in something other than music.
Tung, who plays a variety of instruments including guitar, bass, drums and piano, draws inspiration from a wide variety of genres and artists. His music incorporates, among other things, experimental and shoegaze genres.
“I’m a bit of an audiophile,” Tung said. “I’m really interested in what sounds really good. Like hearing aesthetics. I like a very experimental approach. I’m really inspired by putting things together and seeing what works and what doesn’t.
Ordoubadi, who was in the orchestra throughout middle and high school, now plays bass in several groups in addition to his work with 47 Eyez On Me.
“I take a lot of inspiration from the people around me,” Ordoubadi said. “I try to be surrounded by a very diverse number of people both culturally and musically, people who listen to all types of music and come from different backgrounds.”
The diverse musical tastes and backgrounds of the three, along with the focus on the individual, allow them to create unique music that defies classification by a single genre.
“As we continue to grow people will really struggle to rank us,” Ordoubadi said. “They’ll try because it’s easier to get carried away, but we’ll keep breaking it all because when you have people who have an experimental background mixing with someone who is really good at making afro beats and then also a jazz trumpeter, that makes some really unique music.We are only 47 years old.
As it grows, the collective is constantly looking for more artists as well as instrumentalists from the community to attract and expand its network.
“Unfortunately, especially in this region where we live, you really have to make your way in terms of artistic creation,” Tung said. “There aren’t a lot of institutions that actually support art locally or help you expand, so you really have to build it from scratch. We are doing it.
In the meantime, there is a lot of new music on the horizon. At the beginning of October, Tung will release his first album. Towards the end of October, the band will have their first release named under 47 Eyez On Me: a two song EP titled “Pieces”.
They also plan to participate in several artist showcases throughout the school year.
We’re going to let people have spaces in the music to really shine, ”Ordoubodi said. “It’s not for a person, it’s for art.”
Updates and news from 47 Eyez On Me are available at joeyzen.com.