Topaz • Faux Linear
It’s the premiere of Topaz’ debut album and he’s already focused on what’s next. The release of Faux Linear is upon us, and the project has been complete for quite some time now, single releases picking up traction along the way. The album is a blend of Topaz’ signature mix of tangy guitar and choppy vocals. Many songs sound similar to his prior releases, but in the form of an album you can hear Topaz’ niche for linearity without compromise. It’s a smooth flow of unique sounds that transgress the bounds of formulas and repetition. Faux Linear is a treat for long-standing Topaz fans, and something new and refreshing for first-timers.
Since finishing up his debut album, Topaz has remained extremely busy. He’s already created a catalogue of songs that he is working back and forth on, with the hopes of releasing another project or two next year. The release of Faux Linear exposes listeners to the sounds of Topaz, but it’s the music that he’s currently working on that excites him the most. He’s been pushing himself to create music differently from before, and the release of this first album marks his transition from small time artist to long term success.
For those who don't know, who is Topaz?
24 years old, my name is Zack Johnson, I graduated from Columbia College last year. I’m just a man basically. A solo guy making music.
How would you describe your music?
People would describe my older music as chillwave, but I’m trying to forge a sound that can’t really be described in one genre and I feel like some of the stuff I’ve been making recently sounds very far from the typical sounds of chillwave. I like to let people decide how to describe my music themselves.
Talk to me about your vocals. Where do you draw inspiration for them?
In the past I’ve used a lot of processing and auto tune but with the stuff I’ve been working on lately I’ve tried to avoid that as much as possible. I feel like I used to use it as a crutch, and now I’ve grown to the point where I don’t really need it.
As for inspiration, I love guys like James Blake - especially his first album with the pitched up and down vocals. Love Morrissey and Scott Walker too.
What’s your creative process like for vocals?
I used to have tons of instrumentals with no idea of what I would do for it lyrically or vocally so I’d set up my mic and start improvising. I’d find some loop that works well and begin producing with it. Now I’m trying to write songs that could stand alone better acoustically, but it’s not like I’m completely changing my sound or anything. I think that any of my fans listening to my new music will always be able to recognize my style of lyrics and vocals.
What inspired the title for the project?
In the past some comments have stuck with me about the linearity of my music. I took that and thought of it in the sense that I have never been a huge fan of the whole idea of a formulaic verse-chorus-bridge-chorus type song. The idea of a Faux Linear project is to not box myself in by any formulas. Just like a movie doesn’t typically go back and repeat any scenes, I didn’t want to find myself repeating that many parts of my own work. I wanted to embrace my own style of writing.
How does your approach with this Debut Album compare to your previous releases?
I’ve been done with this album and preparing the release for quite some time. I would say that my approach has changed most significantly with the new stuff I’ve been recording recently. I think more so than anything my older work was created in the same way. Now I’m trying to use a lot more instrumentation and go outside of the box of what I’m used to. From recording guitar differently to using as much external hardware as possible.
What do you have planned for the rest of the year and 2018?
I’m currently saving up some money to move out to California and do some shows out there. I’m focused on getting my live setup together because I hate the idea of going on stage and performing over a bunch of loops and recordings. I’d much rather be able to do some real live performances. Overall I’m focused on making music right now. I’m feeling better about my new work than anything I’ve ever done in the past. Right now I’ve already got a ton of songs that I’m working back and forth on. Ideally that’ll formulate into another album and EP sometime next year.