Western Sydney rapper and producer Zion Garcia has just released his new single, overthinking, and it's a track that'll resonate with those who get stuck in their own heads. It's his first release of 2022, and if you've ever felt like you second guess your every move, then you'll relate to bars like "when in that convo I just replied/with some stupid shit really/just missed the mark, messed up the synergy". Zion produced, wrote and mixed overthinking, and it's a truly world-class release. If you're a fan of artists like Earl Sweatshirt, A Tribe Called Quest and/or Kendrick Lamar, then you'll dig overthinking.
overthinking follows Zion's pair of singles in 2021; the laidback and groovy We Need Love (which would come in at #1 during WAEVZ AU's Top 50 countdown), and the captivating DOSH, which features small details like Zion flexing his fully charged phone. He's able to combine big picture ideas with lyrics that bring his thoughts into sharp focus, which is demonstrated throughout overthinking. It's a song that is globally applicable, but references to the T1 train line and Parramatta remind fans that Zion calls Western Sydney home.
We caught up with Zion to chat about his new single, overthinking, community, heritage and much, much more. His answers display the thoughtfulness that drives his artistic decisions, and he's become a favourite amongst hip-hop lovers in Australia. Check out overthinking below, and read on to learn more about Zion Garcia!
Cool Accidents: Firstly, congratulations on the release of overthinking! It’s a very honest and thoughtful track, and it’s not every day you hear artists be so introspective on a track – I think that’s what strikes me most when listening to your music. I’d love to learn more about the making of overthinking – do you feel like the process of making the track has helped you stop overthinking things, or is that still a work in process?
Zion Garcia: Thank you so much for that! It means a lot. Being called honest is a top tier compliment to me. Shot my g. I've always been perceived as a bit of a thinker, and it's been a bit of a crutch in my life thus far, but it's nice to hear that quality of mine is something that you find striking. Making the track unfortunately hasn't stopped me much from overthinking, BUT it has however helped me put a tangible feeling and colour to the act.
I made the track back in May 2021, did the beat in like 15 minutes and tracked the hook, then properly wrote/recorded everything the next night in about 3 hours. I'll admit I've grown a bit mentally since I wrote it, and I can look back on it with a sense of gratitude that I'm not currently spiralling as hard as I was a year back. But I'm definitely still learning how to not overthink literally everything.
I think the inner dialogue for me is starting to shift from a sense of just doing, and to start actually asking myself questions. Why am I placing so much importance on this friend's perception of me? Why am I so worried about coming across wrong to someone who doesn't actually align with any of my life goals and ambitions? Why am I giving attention to talking bad in this social setting, instead of checking out knowing I'll stress later over people misjudging my character for saying something that I feel is slightly out of pocket to how I "actually am"? It's a lot of random shit. But, I'm blessed to be feeling and going through these things now I guess. Better now than when I'm 40 or something. But music is always something that helps me calm down, regardless of the topic. The track hasn't necessarily stopped me from overthinking, as much as It has just realigned and helped me understand what I'm actually overthinking about. Good growth, I think.
Let’s take things right back to the start. I’d love to learn more about your connection to music growing up, so who were some of the artists that were playing in your house when you were younger?
Ah man, music has always meant EVERYTHING to me. Growing up, if it wasn't my parents' favourite mixes on bootleg CDs I was hearing, it was probably Justin Timberlake or Sneaky Sound System whilst going down the M4. In my house, though, it was a pretty heavy rotation of Michael Jackson, Timbaland, Black Eyed Peas, random Guitar Hero/Tony Hawk video game tracks, Scribe, Gorillaz, Fat Freddy's Drop, Katchafire, Chris Brown, or my mum's favourite 80's jams. Nothing was off the table.
I think I was pretty well fed musically as a kid. Dad loved anything from Alice in Chains to Public Enemy, and Mum loved everything from The Chemical Brothers to Cyndi Lauper, so I'd definitely attribute my love for music to them. Music was for every memory, every lesson, and every gathering. Name me a year and I can tell you the exact soundtrack to each of those years for me. A bit over-sentimental I guess haha, but my connection to music is so strong. I'd rather be blind than deaf.
You mention family on overthinking, including the support of your dad. I’d love to know about the moment you first showed your family that you were making music. How did they react, and have they heard overthinking?
Back when I was around 8-9, I started my music journey by making whole ass albums out of shitty loops off this DAW called Mixcraft. It's somewhere still out there if you dig hard enough haha. I distinctly remember showing them and although it was obviously nothing at the time, I know my dad was kinda getting a sense that something was there in my heart.
I made my first proper beat tape when I was around 13-14, and although my parents were super supportive, it wasn't till around 2016-2017 when I started laying vocals down on my beats that my family really loved what I was doing. They're my biggest supporters, my sister Chante, dad Jose, and mum Lisa. They push me to do better and I'm so blessed to be surrounded by people who see something in me, especially when I don't see anything in myself. ALSO, they love overthinking. I think my sister likes it the most.
My parents are a bit too involved with my stuff so they have their favourites that they're waiting for me to drop (IDK how to break it to them yet that most of it isn't gonna ever see the light of day, but we'll just leave it at that haha). I'd be nothing without them. I love my family.
I also wanted to touch on heritage. As a Tongan/Spanish artist from Western Sydney, I’d love to know more about how you feel your heritage feeds into your music – do you feel like there are echoes of the past in the songs you create?
My heritage is an interesting topic that I don't think I know how to fully touch on. I especially want to learn more about my Pasifika roots, but it's sometimes daunting to know where to start. Growing up, I didn't always feel in touch with my heritage, and would often be called "not Tongan enough" or some dumb shit like that. It's something that ends up in my music without me trying. I try not to hold it as a negative though. At the end of the day, I'm just trying to help add to the rise of incredible Polynesian representation that's slowly taking over here, and I'm just trying to make both my family, and myself, proud.
In my art I just try to carry myself with the notion that I don't need to try and prove how "Tongan" or "Spanish" I am. I don't wake up and try to be anything. I just carry myself with respect and stand proudly for what I represent. I love my city. I love my family. I love my Tokos killing it in the film scene. My heritage grounds me, and keeps me looking forward. I don't wanna stop until the Tongan flag is as well known as the Maccas symbol. A guy at my uni thought the Tongan flag was the flag for Switzerland, so I try to use that as the reference point whenever I'm feeling down about my goals lol.
As for my Spanish side, I visited for the first time in 2017 to meet that side of my family. I fell in love with the culture. The food, the music, the fashion. I never wanted to leave. That one trip is a constant source of inspiration for me. I feel like I reach for Spain when I'm thinking visually. My Tongan side is for the sonics of it all. But my heritage as a whole is definitely something that feeds life into my music. It wouldn't be the same without it.
Building on that, Western Sydney has become an oft-celebrated musical hub in recent years, but for those that might not be from Sydney (or who aren’t always tapped in), it can be hard to keep up with the countless talented artists coming out of the area! Who are some Western Sydney artists you think people should have on their radar and why?
Oh man, just to name a few... Dylan Atlantis, SOLLYY, FRIDAY, Breakfast Road, Saurah & Sach47, Ashli, INQ, Becca Hatch, Yawdoesitall, Jaecy, Hamza, grentperez, man, WAY TOO MANY. I could name 100 more. It's wild. These guys do it on their own terms and compromise nothing. It's some of the most refreshing music in the world. I can't believe most of these guys are like family to me. Endless blessings.
I wanted to ask about Full Circle, the tight-knit musical community you’re part of. From an outsider’s perspective, it’s inspiring seeing artists come together like this, and speaking to Sydney creatives, this sense of community is something that the city’s needed for a while now. I’d love to know more about how your artistry benefits from being part of a community, as well as your thoughts on how artists can build communities for themselves if that’s something they’re seeking?
Shot for the lookin' out g, fr. Full Circle man, that's family. Since I was young, the best part about music was its communal aspect. It's just another language. Bouncing energy off people musically is one of the most cathartic things I can do, so it's funny that my actual music-making process is so solitary. Being part of a community is vital to me. Even when we (FC) aren't making/listening to music, we're probably either planning shows, or just talking for hours about rollout plans.
To be honest, though, it's everything outside the music that actually makes the biggest difference. I look to these guys for inspiration on how to live in my darkest times, for an outlook on how I could best carry myself as a person, better ways to manoeuvre through this industry, even just to share a meal... IDK, I feel like you gotta actually live in order to make the best shit. You gotta constantly wanna learn and live and laugh and fuck up, and being part of a community is the best way to journey with your art through that. I have no idea how to even build a community, but all artists should be seeking to find at least a small handful of people who are truly your best second pair of ears & eyes.
It's vital to have people you love to be real with you and be straight up if an idea you have kinda sucks. I don't know if you should actively seek a community out either. I feel like it's best to just keep pushing your brand as an artist, find your sound, keep helping others with no other motives in mind other than to see prosperity in people you support, be a genuine lover and champion of the art, just wear your heart on your sleeve and be you in every circle you come by. You'll slowly be part of something, just watch.
You’ve been making music since 2018, releasing the Plastic Woman project in 2018, before releasing singles in 2020 and 2021. overthinking is your first release of 2022, and I’d love to know whether the pandemic shifted the way you view music, or whether it simply gave you the time to refine the music you were creating?
Yooo you know Plastic Woman? Fuck that's hectic. Man, COVID was so strange... If anything, the only thing it actually affected was the trajectory of where I thought my music could go. I didn't stop making music, nor did it slow down my process. It did, however, make me redo my track DETOX like eight different times (the first time I ever went through something like that).
If anything, the pandemic just helped to add another layer to how much I actually cared about music. People stopped listening because they stopped commuting. I ended up listening more than ever before, though. I almost got through a whole list of albums I've always wanted to check out. Don't get me wrong, fuck COVID, we would've all been better off without it. BUT, like most of us, I think we just try to make the most of what we've got. The pandemic destroyed us all, but it was still something to channel into the music. I hope that answers the question.
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Finally, what are you hoping to get out of the rest of 2022, both personally and music-wise?
I think I'm in a weird learning phase right now. Love, trust, responsibility, and fear are four things I've been really forced to face head-on in a way I never have before, so I just have to stay on this train for a bit longer. Simultaneously nothing, yet everything is happening for me with music. It's all in the air. A lot of interviews, meetings, discussions, what if and ambitions. I feel like people are starting to have their eyes on whatever I'm doing, which is a massive trip for me.
For the rest of this year, I'm looking to just stay consistent with the shows and to hopefully drop at least one more track. I've got my two next "eras" planned if that's what you even wanna call it. I'm just trying to put whatever energy I have into my work. I have so much I want to say, I'm just trying to strip away all the fat and leave behind something that younger me would've really needed. The support I've been feeling has been so overwhelming. I can't believe this is life at the moment. I'm blessed to even be doing this interview right now. I can't wait to just keep working hard, and hopefully do my city proud. In due time, it'll all fall into place. Just gotta let it take over me, then it's on.