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Fashion Week: A Visual Album

Originally posted Feb. 11, 2016.

They’re a family, not a company. Maek Records is an independent electronic music label launched in 2013 dedicated to providing free music, and approaching music differently. Oct. 6, 2014, Jason Maek and Zaena released “Pandamonium” the first electronic visual album, and the first independent visual album. A visual album is an album with a music video for every song. On Feb. 18, Jason and Zaena are releasing their second visual album “Fashion Week.” We had the opportunity to interview Jason and Zaena about the upcoming album.

How did your relationship with music begin?

Zaena (Z): I've always wanted to be a singer, since I can remember. I was in third grade, when I joined chorus for the first time. We were planning a winter assembly. We were practicing in chorus every week, and there was some big production we were doing and they were teaching students to do solos. I ended up getting 90% of the solo parts I heard myself back for the first time and there was a standing O and everyone told me I sounded so great... It felt really good.

Jason (J): I got into music because I like to write. I remember when I was a kid, the first song I fell in love with…when I first started listening to music I was really into rock. I heard *Prince? for the first time and thought it was poetry

Why Electronic music?

Z: For me, I think electronic music is a very positive genre. I started with writing very mainstream pop, then alternative rock, then ghostwriting rock, and R&B. Electronic is a very positive genre, nobody is really sad at an electronic music concert. It's very upbeat and positive music. I try to make some sort of positive music. It makes you think and create some sort of positive outcome at the end of hearing a song. It effects so many people at a huge scale and it seems like a really great fit.

J: I fell in love with electronic music when I decided that I wanted to be an upbeat and positive person. The genre is all about peace and sharing and love and just being happy. The fans are accepting, and more than that they're inviting and welcoming. It's the only genre that was built on happy. It's the only genre that the fans represent this melting pot of different genders and races and socioeconomics. When you go to a festival or concert you see the richest kid next to the poorest kid and people of different orientations enjoying it. Its something that people can strive to make better everyday. And I'm happy to work with Zaena to move the genre forward a step.

What was behind the decision to make another visual album?

J: It was time. We take an interesting approach. We don't ever feel a pressure to release a bunch of music. We had an idea for a project, it started last year around February or March and we had time and wanted to take the time to flesh out the idea. We wanted to release a really comprehensive piece of art. We wanted to put forth something that not only the music community but the art community can appreciate. I think that “Fashion Week” is much better than “Pandamonium.”

What goes into a visual album?

J: We start to think about different projects and what we're into, Zaena has a huge passion for fashion. So we started looking at fashion as a concept. We talked to historians and designers. We learned about the narratives of fashion throughout the years, and how fashion has changed with them, and how fashion has represented the times; we were fascinated. We wanted to approach this project as designers rather than musicians.

Z: We created a mood board and a lot of visual brainstorming. Posting pictures and putting together visual collages as a designer and coming together.

J: We went through around 30 songs and we wrote and recorded and edited 30 songs and then you see that 10 were horrible and 5 were okay and then you have to pick "these" songs. We narrowed it down to 10 songs, then you have to get with your film crew. For weeks we had to just write the project. Then you have to go find what you need. We have some really great partners and we had to leverage them to work with a micro project. Then you have to shoot it and we shot 17 videos in 5 days. Then you have to get your editors.  Then you have to come up with a vision and editors, and now we have a lot of great shoots with brands and we have to work with trailers and press photos.

In your Livestream for the release of “Pandamonium,” you had mentioned that to record that album you converted Jason’s apartment into a recording studio. Did the same thing happen for Fashion Week?

Z: No not for this one, we used a lot of different locations for it. The locations that we did use, we created multiple sets for each location. One place was a coffee shop, a club, a sex dungeon *laughs* There's a lot of stuff. We turned each set into so many.

What’s your favorite song on Fashion Week?

J: It’s like your asking me to choose who my favorite child is! It depends what I'm doing. If I’m in a going out mood, it’s “Go Out” and “Text Me” but if I'm chilling in the car, I love “Birthday.”

Z: If I’m in the zone or mellow I like “Rain on Me,” but definitely “Text You” and “Birthday.” It is my project, so yeah, I enjoy all of it.

What are your dreams for fashion week? What do you want to accomplish?

J: Aside from it being the best album of the year and winning Grammys and stuff? I just want to create a moment for people in their lives. I hope there are songs there that will remind you or create an experience for you. I hope these songs will attach for people and their memories.

Z: Every artists wants someone to appreciate their art and to somewhat get it -- and because we're coming at this different (as designers coming at a collection) I hope that more people from different media will appreciate it. I hope fashion people and filmmakers can appreciate it as well. For this project -- I’m hoping that lovers of all these types of art can appreciate it.

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