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  • ZAZA

NEXGEN Get To Know: JW Normal

ZA: Name and Nicknames?

JW Normal: "Normal, Al. Most people call me Al."

ZA: What do you do this (music) for? Every answer is valid. 

JW Normal: "I really do this for the enjoyment I get from it. To encourage people in Scotland to do something different because a lot of people here don’t think that’s a possibility coming from where we come from. You know, I was born and bred in a small city in Scotland, so coming over here and doing this sort of thing is difficult. But it’s whatever, I want to change the narrative."

ZA: What is your favourite song that you’ve ever made, and why is it your favourite? Released or unreleased. 

JW Normal: "My favourite song is currently unreleased...It’s coming out soon. It's called “Moonwalk” and it’s a catchy one! We just shot the video for it last night, we were up ‘til 5am. We got a lot of people involved. This was my first time having other folk in a video too. The song in general is vibey, it’ll get stuck in people’s heads."

ZA: When can we expect this song to come out? 

JW Normal: "Within the next three weeks."

ZA: Who and what are your influences in music? 

JW Normal: "Well, my influences in music- this is something I don’t really tell many people-"

ZA: But you’re telling ZAZA.

JW Normal: "Yeah, It’s Juice WRLD. That’s actually what the JW in JW Normal stands for. I have triple ‘9’ tatted on my back and shit. I’ve rated him for a long time. He’s a big inspiration in terms of melodic rap and speaking out about your feelings, also about being open as an artist. I think that’s really important– especially as a man, a lot of guys struggle to speak their minds and vocalise how they’re feeling. So for me personally when I’m writing music in the booth thinking about lyrics, it’s very much how I’m feeling in that particular moment. If I’m venting, I’m venting. If a song has a certain vibe, it’s because I was feeling like that. You know?"

ZA: With that, what’s your favourite album of all time?

JW Normal: "Ooh. Can I say two?"

ZA: Yes!

JW Normal: "Well, ‘Goodbye and Good Riddance’ by Juice WRLD. That’s like my favourite album ever. “All girls are the same'' was the first song I heard on that album. But also early Eminem. The ‘Slim Shady’ LP, his first album ever. I don’t mess with his other stuff as much but yeah. That album really got me into rap music."

ZA: Is there a certain demographic of people that you hope to reach with your music?

JW Normal: "Everyone, man. I just hope to change the narrative, as I said earlier. The demographic for my music is super inclusive. "

ZA: What would you say to yourself five years from now?

JW Normal: "Well, I hope I’ll have elevated from where I am now but it’s a learning process. J Cole took 13 years to blow up and now he’s considered one of the GOATs. I’m not one of those people that thinks I should get everything instantly. I understand that this is a journey, so in five years I’d probably tell myself; that I’m glad I had the patience, I’m glad I stuck at it and I’m glad I had the creative network of people who are open to helping out around me. I’ll always be thankful."

ZA: What is your biggest hurdle right now, and how do you plan on overcoming it?

JW Normal: "To be honest, how busy my life is (right now). I work a lot, I study. So finding the time to pursue my music, I only have so many hours in a day. But it’s all about staying diligent, knowing how to budget your time, and finances. It’s not easy, we have to pay a lot of money to different creatives for things like album covers, music videos, the whole lot. There’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes."

ZA: We think that’s so cool that your hobby gives you so much insight and helps you in other aspects of your life.

JW Normal: "Yeah, for sure."

ZA: Tell us about your creative process, how do you begin creating? 

JW Normal: "I’m a melodic rapper and there’s not many in Scotland, so I don’t know how other people go about it, (but) I’m very much self-taught. The way I do it though, I always have a feeling for a melody as soon as I hear a beat. The hook always comes to me first. I love writing hooks, I use them as inspiration for my verses. Sometimes it’s the other way round. So my creative process is: hear the beat, write the hook, and make the lyrics catchy. That’s the main thing for me because I want to make shit that sticks in people’s heads. But yeah, all of that. Get it mixed and mastered, slap some autotune in there."

ZA: Something light. What is your dream venue to play? 

JW Normal: "I don’t even know…some big places though, the O2 or something. I’ve got big aspirations, I want to be global. I want a lot of people to hear me. I understand that my music is more catered to an American audience because of the way I carry myself and my music but that doesn’t give me any boundaries or limitations."

ZA: How do you define success, and what has been your biggest achievement so far?

JW Normal: "Hmm. Define success…

In all honesty, money helps you invest in yourself and your craft. That’s me looking at success from a business perspective. But personally, it’s more about my music touching people. For example, one of my best mates came to me after I dropped my EP and told me my music opened his eyes, made him see things differently, that he had been feeling the same as me. That’s success to me. If my music touches the people close to me and makes them feel as if they can open up to me, if it inspires them to talk to each other and create a tighter community and environment, that’s really all I need."

ZA: What’s a message or feeling you want your listeners to take from your music?

JW: "Speak your truth and be yourself, don’t be afraid to do that. Especially in this country, this beautiful country, there’s so many great people here, but there’s so much work to do as a nation. We need to learn to accept each other for our differences and learn that being different is not a bad thing, it’s something to be embraced. Let’s look after each other."

photographs by Steez. @madebyandrrew