An artist who quickly made waves upon entering the music scene in early 2017 with the release of his EP Collapse, Toronto vocalist/producer, Tom Probizanski weaves electronically laced R&B with the sounds of infectious guitar and striking falsettos as Zanski.
Writing songs about his philosophical thoughts pertaining to the world around him, Zanski combines his lyrics with production to build a transcendental, pseudo-psychedelic experience.
As the ‘Fool’ artist puts it, his new music aims to feel like a “waking dream” or a “feeling of being transported”.
A complete DIY artist, Zanski indulges in the entire creative process from creating his own artwork to mixing, mastering, producing and writing the entirety of his music.
We were lucky enough to chat to Zanski as part of our Get To Know series.
How did your artist name come about?
It’s the last half of my last name. I honestly don’t remember why exactly I picked it, but it was probably after some residual frustration due to not being able to come up with an alternative.
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How would you describe your music to your grandma?
I don’t have to, she’s an avid listener already!
Tell us about a few of your tracks; their titles and what they’re about?
Sure! I’ll give you some highlights on a couple of unreleased LP tracks.
The album starts off with ‘Strange Fiction’, which sets the tone of the whole album. The core lyric that I repeat is ‘What does this mean? I live in my sleep and die in my sleep’, which is meant as a sort of existential reaction to the increasingly apathetic and empty way that we live.
I take a lot of influence from texts and pieces that relate this sort of cultural apathy with the absolute commodification of waking life, and I found it only fitting to start this album with such a loud alarm; we live so devoid of authenticity that the entire world feels like a waking nightmare, for you to float through and buy useless shit until you die.
Jumping forward, we’ve got ‘Found Myself In Sequences’, which deals with the consequence of living so apathetically that it manifests as the physical.
I feel so stripped of my agency sometimes that I find myself yelling increasingly at the void, which manifests directly in this song, with such lines as ‘I’ve been living like hell for a minute now, like an abstract trip, I’m just shutting down.’
Ahead further we’ve got the final track ‘The Absurdity’. I wanted to just have something that felt completely transparent, like a window into me as an artist.
The whole thing wasn’t even really written down before recording, it was just a spur of the moment piece. It’s fuzzy, noisy, and it’s my favourite track on the album. ‘Am I condemned to be me? Oh I’ll take it all for granted, and let it be. I wanna plant my roots next to my favourite tree, so it can’t bother me, the absurdity.’
What do you love about your hometown?
My family and friends are there, and the weather is cool in summer. There are some people who run the music scene at a level you would expect from a much bigger town, which I respect immensely.
Career highlight so far?
I can’t think of something specific, it all blurs together into this sort of uphill climb towards something. I really enjoy just having music as a ‘career’ as a highlight. I dreamt of this as a kid, making fake album covers and writing lyrics for songs I’d never make, so it feels good to be able to say I’m an artist.
Fave non-music hobby?
I’ve got a few. I love to cook, first and foremost. Like my music my cooking is messy, unconcerned with things like ‘measuring’. Still turns out pretty good.
I’m also getting into writing more long form material. The interesting thing about writing music is that music is a language on it’s own, with lyricism being sort of subsumed into a greater structure, whereas when I write long-form pieces (fiction mostly), I have to lay the foundation with only the words and how they flow.
What’s on your dream rider?
Expenses paid for my friends to come along. And coffee probably.
Dream music collaboration?
Bon Iver, Dijon, James Blake, UMO, there’s so many.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Hard to predict honestly. I want to have finished like 6 more albums, and also a couple books. We’ll see if that’s in the cards. I’d like to start a cooperative music label maybe? Or a design firm. I’m big into filmography right now so maybe a Lynchian nightmare-esque movie.
What’s your go-to karaoke song?
RATM’s Killing In The Name. I know, very different from my music, but I’m a punk guy. In another life you would probably be taking to Zanski the metal vocalist instead of the R&B one right now.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
I don’t remember the exact words at all, but in I think 2018 or 2019 someone I respect immensely told me in conversation to make my music weirder. The way that we chatted about it really changed how I looked at my own output.
I’m a weird person, why was I not letting that come through?
What’s one obsession you have that no one would guess after listening to your music?
Clothing textures. I will recoil in shock if something feels off to me. My closet is extremely specific in that regard.