Joe Zangie 2008 Interview

So, Joe, How have you been?
I’ve been great, thanks!

We hear you are back with a new album, “Timeline.” Tell us how that new adventure in Joe Zangie’s career came about?
Yes! Finally after many years of releasing singles, my debut album “Timeline” has been released!! This album was a work in progress for many years. Even while I was away from recording and touring, I was still writing songs and thinking about the possibility of hopefully releasing new music one day. Eventually, I had the chance to get into the studio to record some demo’s, and once I was back in the booth, I realized that I wanted to put these songs out and the album really began to take shape.

What can we expect on this album? Is it more of the traditional Joe we know from the Tazmania days or is it a more refined Joe with a new dance twist?
This is definitely a freestyle CD, although there are also a couple of ballads and trance tracks as well. Yes, I think the people who have followed my career over the years will hear more refined sound on these songs, but at the same time I made a conscience effort to not deviate from the hardcore freestyle tracks that the freestyle community would expect on an album from me. So, it is traditional in that sense, but at the same time I did want to balance those songs with tracks that could show more of a range, and I think we accomplished that on the album.

How does it feel to be back again doing the thing you love best, making music and doing performances again?
It’s an extremely awesome feeling to be back. Since my time away from the scene was not by choice, I had always felt that I had unfinished business to take care of, so in one way I feel a sense of accomplishment, but even more so a greater sense of gratitude to everyone who has been supporting the album and coming out to the shows. I think when you get a second chance at doing what you love, you appreciate and enjoy it even more…and that is how I feel right now, I’m enjoying everyday in this new chapter of my career.

For a brief moment, it seemed that you would never sing again when tragedy struck you in your life a few years back. What happened and how did that
event inspire or play a key role in the “Timeline” album.

I wish it was a brief moment, but it was actually a little over 5 years before I began to record again, and 7 years between show bookings. For those who don’t know, I was involved in a bad car accident that severely injured my jaw (as well as other injuries) and was literally told by my doctors that I would most likely “never sing again”. If anything, that time of my life just made me stronger and more thought out, so when I had the chance to record this album, I was very aware, (sometimes overly critical) of every detail. I really wanted this album to be worth the wait.

Why “Timeline?” Does it have an underlining meaning that is special to you?
Yes. When I was thinking of what to title the album, there were a lot of suggestions that were considered. But, I just kept thinking about “time” and “clocks”… and about the long break in my career, actually my overall journey in the music business. That’s when I thought about “Timeline”.
To me it represents the path that I’ve been on since my first single, “In My Dreams” (which is included on this CD), all the way through to the big tours with Rockell, (who is also on the album) and it just felt and sounded right.

Have your fans received your return and your new music in a positive way?
Definitely!! The fans could not be more supportive. I get incredible emails and comments sent to me, and I’m really lucky that everyone welcomed me back with so much love. Like I said, there were conscience efforts made to put songs on this CD that I knew that my fan base would want to hear from me. So this CD is just as much for them as it is for me, and knowing that they are feeling the new material is awesome.

We see you have returned to the stage performing and promoting the new album. What cities can we expect you in the near future?
Yes, I love touring and meeting people at the shows. Last summer I reunited with my great friend and touring partner Rockell, at the Freestyle Explosion tour in Philly. We’ve recently performed in New York, Connecticut and Michigan and we have dates coming up in Rochester, Detroit and Jersey but we’re really looking forward to performing at the “Freestyle Music Awards” in Miami on March 26!! Other cities are in the works (Chicago and parts of TX)… so stay tuned for more dates once they’re confirmed.

So, if I am a Joe Zangie fan and want to not only buy the album but send a quick shout out to him, how do I go about doing all that? Give us the 411!!
The best way is to hit up my myspace ( I try to get on there as much as possible…so everyone stop by and hit me up!!! You can also find a link to purchase my album on that page, and there’s a link to my itunes page as well!!!!

With all that you have going for you now, do you ever reflect on the “Old” Tazmania days and how you have evolved as an artist from then to now?
Sometimes, but it’s usually when people hit me up with a comment or question about those days, or one of those songs. But, overall I try to keep moving forward, and I can’t do that if I get caught up in the past. There’s no denying that those were some good times, but yes I definitely feel that I have evolved and matured since I first signed with them when I was 18! But, these days I have to stay focused on the new…but it is very cool to have those memories.

Speaking of Tazmania, share with us how was it working with that legendary label and how did that relationship come to be? Many stories have surfaced
on how it was a shady label on the treatment of its artists but despite those rumors or truths I think no one can take away the great music it continuously put out in the early to mid 90s. What is your insight on it?

I had a great time at Tazmania, in the early years there was a big “family” atmosphere among the artists and the label heads. We actually used to hang out together a lot…and some of my former label mates are still good friends of mine. Pure Pleazure, Samantha, Stefanie Bennett and many others come to mind when I think of those days and I’m glad to have been a part of what they brought to the freestyle world in the 90’s. I landed at Tazmania because Anthony Ponzio (Owner/Producer) heard my demo, and he called me and told me he had a song for me to record. That record ended up being my first release, “In My Dreams”. What started out as a single deal quickly lead to an exclusive contract with them. As far as the shady stories, I don’t know. There will always be rumors and they are usually not worth buying into. I think what people usually refer to when that comes up is the financial aspect of things. All I can tell you is what I experienced there, and my experience was a great run. They consistently had me in the studio and had my name on new records every year. Because of that I had a lot of shows, and developed my fan base. I left the label on good terms, and the reason being was to step out of my comfort zone and to grow as an artist. Within weeks of leaving Tazmania is when I started touring with Rockell. So I only have good things to say about Taz, they gave me my start and I wouldn’t be where I am today with out them!!

How many total tracks did you record during your time there? Which one would you say was your favorite?
I had 10 singles with them, and I’m on numerous compilations. As far as a favorite it’s hard to choose because each song meant something different to me. “In My Dreams” and “Can You Feel The Love” are favorites and also “Missing You”, that’s why I included new versions of those songs on my album…but I also have a strong connection to tracks like, “My Baby”, “True Faith” and “Mad About You”. It’s hard to pick 1!

For years, there have been many speculations on what really happened to Tazmania. What caused the demise of Tazmania in your opinion? Was there no
more market for freestyle anymore? Or was it the business dealings and the damage it had done with some of its artists that forced their doors to close
earlier then what they wanted? Would you like to comment on that?

I don’t know if there was one thing that we can all point to and say “that” was the reason the label closed shop. Also, I left the label before they decided to do so…so I wasn’t there when they made that decision. I do feel like the label was peaking in the years between Taz volume 5 and Taz 10, but that’s just how I feel when I think back on it. As far as there not being a market for freestyle anymore, that was not the case, because there was less of a market for freestyle when the label started, and I feel that Taz was a major contribution to the resurge of freestyle in the mid to late 90’s. Sometimes, when you put out that many songs in such a short amount of time you can start to feel burned out. I’m not saying that is exactly what it was, but it’s a possibility. But Anthony Ponzio is really the only one who could truly answer that question.

So, after the Tazmania days, you briefly joined Rockell on tour, correct? How was it working with what many have dubbed as the “Freestyle Princess?”
I actually joined the Rockell tour with-in weeks of leaving Tazmania, to sing “Can’t We Try”, her follow up single to “In A Dream”. I originally thought it would just be a few shows, because Collage was unavailable. After the first couple of shows, she asked me to do the whole tour, which lasted for almost two years. We were booked solid, usually performing 5 days a week and were traveling the US and Canada extensively. This past year, we hooked up again, and 2008 marks our 10 anniversary of working together. I have heard of the “Freestyle Princess” label given to her, I think it is fitting, her hits are undeniable smashes….and her vocal ability is top notch pro (to say the least). I love working with her just as much as I appreciate our close friendship off the stage as well, she is family to me.

Out of all of your experiences performing and touring, is there one experience that stands out as a memorable one? Did you ever have that “Beatles” moment of girls screaming?
Y es, I have had those “Beatles” type of moments a few times in my career!
Definitely, while on the Backstreet Boys tour, (who were like the Beatles of that time) the crowds were deafening, some nights it was hard to hear the music over the crowd. But on my own as well, there were some shows that were extremely crazy too. All I can say is I truly appreciate the fans that come to support!! My favorite show, hmmm I probably have a top 5 list, someday they’ll be posted up on youtube!!

Obviously, before the Tazmania days and beyond, something or someone had to have played a major role in your destiny of becoming an artist/singer. What or who influenced you to become a singer and performer?
Well, I had always been a fan of all the old school acts like George, TKA, Coro etc but the most influence on me, with out a doubt, would be Adam Marano (Collage, TPE). I met Adam when his first single “Then Came You” was doing really well. We talked about him producing a track for me back then, but I still had a few years of High School to finish! So, the dream was put on hold for awhile. My first single came out on Tazmania about 10 months after graduation.
I finally had the chance to work with Adam after my Taz yrs, and he has produced one of the tracks on my new album.

At what age did you know definitively this was your calling?
I think I was about 15. It was during freshman/sophomore year in HS. I was one of those little kids going to the teen club to catch all the shows on the weekends!!

Was freestyle always the choice of music or did you have an underlying passion in some other type of genre?
From as far back as I remember it’s always been freestyle. I grew up on it! These days, being a part of this industry is surreal at times. Especially, because I was always a fan of many of the acts that I get to perform with today.

Knowing all that you know now and have experienced, would you change your legacy as a freestyle artist?
No. I wouldn’t change anything. I feel blessed and proud of what I have been able to do in my career so far. The big tours, my new album, all the singles…I have enjoyed every part of the way, even the rough times. I do think it’s more challenging at times because my songs came out after the initial freestyle boom in the late 80’s early 90’s, but I’ve found my way and my own audience.
I know that this is still only the beginning of great things to come.

I think I speak for many when we, as a freestyle nation, consider you as a key artist and legendary pioneer in the new school movement. Do you see
yourself as that?

Thank you, that’s very flattering and I appreciate you guys saying so. I will not lie, I do strive to be the absolute best that I can be. If you guys see me as “a key artist and legendary pioneer in the new school movement”, it is because of the very long hours that I put into my career. I try to always be overly prepared and thought out on all aspects, which translates into long hours in the studio and even longer hours in show rehearsals. Everything I’ve accomplished thus far is the product of hard work and determination. So, if I see myself as anything, it would be someone who is professional, hardworking and always striving for more!

Many have dubbed freestyle to be a dead genre. Do you think there is still a chance for freestyle to survive and thrive going forward? Or do you think
it will become dead once and for all like “Disco?” So far, every year we have new tracks from up and coming artists. Give us your take.

No, freestyle is not dead. It may not be on mainstream radio, but as you said new music is still being made. If you want my take, it’s very simple. New songs and new artists need to be recognized by the freestyle community, and that means everyone, old school fans and artists included. But also, the new music and artists need to rise up to the bar that the old school set. True, a lot of the new music is not as good as the old school, ALTHOUGH there are many exceptions…these shouldn’t be overlooked, and we should not be trying to divide this genre of music, which is already small enough. To keep it going we must unite and not hold each other down. Enough with the haters already, there’s room for everyone…just come correct and remember this is a business, be professionals. If that happens, freestyle will most definitely continue on and will attract even more new fans.

I ask this to many of my interviewees, “what do you define freestyle to be and what does it mean to you?”
I have heard various definitions of freestyle. I think my definition is the overall sound of the production, combined with lyrics that are usually an open love letter sung for the world to hear and relate to… it’s wearing your heart on your sleeve to some bangin’ beats!!!!

I am sure you have toured with many artists and acts, but is there someone who stands out to you as someone you idolize or admire? Many have named
some of the freestyle greats such as George Lamond and Safire as artists they admired coming through the ranks. Who does Joe Zangie admire?

Yes, I’ve been fortunate to have toured with some major acts both in freestyle and mainstream music. I admire everyone who has paved the way for me! The TKA guys, Geroge Lamond, Coro, Adam Marano…Cynthia, Judy Torres, Gioia/Expose’, the Cover Girls…there are too many great acts to list.
I admire and appreciate their talents and contributions to the freestyle world…and for always staying pro!!

Ok, Joe, I have few more questions but I think some of your fans would like to know just a lil more, LOL!!!

Whats your favorite freestyle song?
That’s tough… but some songs are just undeniable like, “Louder than Love”, “Love Me Tonight”, “Within My Heart’, “Bad of the Heart”, “Show Me” ,“Together Forever” and “In a Dream”. But, I could list a lot more!!

Whats your favorite movie?
I am really not a movie buff at all!! But, overall I like comedies!

For the ladies, are you married or single?

Refresh us, do you have a fan email, myspace or website?
Yes, contact me through myspace! My website is still under construction!

What can we expect to find in Joe Zangie’s IPOD?
Diversity! I listen to everything.

Finally, What do you think of the new freestyle that is coming out today?
Well, unfortunately I haven’t heard that much new freestyle recently. But, like I said before, the new material really needs to live up to the quality that made this genre successful to begin with. I’m looking forward to hearing the new acts, and I wish them all the best.

Joe, it was a pleasure for you sharing some intimate details of your life and career with us. Is there anything else you would like to share or add
with the freestyle nation?

It’s been my pleasure talking with you. I just want to thank everyone again for the continuous support over the years and especially with my new album, “Timeline”. As always I look forward to seeing you all very soon at upcoming shows!!! Also, be sure to check me out this year on Micmac Records “Bangin Beats 4” in April, and I also have a new track called, “Voices” on Hyrda Production’s remix EP titled, “Liquid Flashback” set for release in June.

Well, Joe thank you so much for this interview and just know that all of us are glad you are back full in effect. Remember, you will always have our support here at FM. Much luv in 2008, PEACE!!!!

Thank you!!! PEACE!!!!


About freestylemania

Freestyle fan since day 1. I started back in 1997 but finally got a real looking website in 1999 and have never stopped since.