Bending the rules of music

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How many men does it take to deliver a full electro-rock show with guitar, vocals, and electronic effects? For Canzino (Jesus/Zeus Cancino), the answer is one. His solo production pushes our understanding of what music can be with its smooth fusion of electronica, alt-rock, DJ, and looping techniques and elements of basically any and every genre in the book.

His songs are packed with heavy guitar, unpredictably enchanting melodies, illustrative vocals, and are all-around full of energy and emotion.

Zeus has been playing music for half of his life. His father, after noting the uncontrollable energy he had when it came to playing instruments, put him in classical guitar lessons at the age of 12. Zeus noted, “Although it was a great experience, it was torture at first. I didn’t learn how to properly read music until much later, because I had a good ear so I could listen to something and then know how it was supposed to be played.”

When he was in high school, his teacher and mentor, David Mills, pushed him to branch out into different musical avenues: everything from choir to jazz band, percussion to base. “It forced me to peel apart the layers of music — it kind of blew my mind,” explained Zeus. 

The unique blend of instruments and influences has shaped Zeus’ sound. “[It] allows for way more possibilities of what I can do. It’s definitely good for me because I have so many ideas.”

All of these ideas began to grow and, after high school, Zeus branched out from his rock-heavy roots, “went to a few parties,” and became interested in DJing. He stumbled upon a korg kaossilator (a device he now often uses for looping). Having both guitar and DJ equipment at hand stimulated him to think about how he could incorporate both into his music, and figure out “how it was all going to work.” 

He didn’t really find an answer to that question until he saw Super Tall Paul (musician/MC/motivational speaker/magician etc.) at Shambhala festival. This was a game changer for Zeus, who admired Paul’s “fluid presence on stage and his ability to truly interact with the audience.” 

Zeus recalls, “He would be clicking buttons, playing the ukulele and beat boxing simultaneously and I was just thinking ‘this guy’s so nutty!’ It struck a chord in me.” This pushed Zeus further into figuring out how sound blending and performance could work. 

He added, “[Paul] raised the bar in terms of presentation, to enhance the experience we have with the technology.” This is what Zeus strives for in his live show, in which nothing is pre-recorded; the organic unraveling of the music is important in his work. 

Another importance Zeus has found as a musician is listening back to his old material. He explains that this act of reflection is “self-meditating because when you’re going through rough times, sometimes you get stuck in your own head. Going back to old songs — it’s like finding an old scroll written in the distant past and you can sort of figure out why you were writing that in the first place — creating is what you are feeling in that moment.” 

As for the future, Zeus is hopeful about “working with other DJs and moving forward with genre mixing.” He finds value in flexiblility and trying new things, because “you may not like that genre, but there’s certain aspects in every kind of music that you can pull from to create your unique sound.” 

It’s this go-with-the flow attitude that has opened up space for so much musical exploration. He notes that “because plans never work out the way you want them to,” he tries to “keep this ideal of planning for 60 per cent of whatever you are going to do and then just wing it for the remaining 40 per cent.”

Zeus is currently working on his catchy single, “In Real Life,” which he just finished writing a few weeks ago. He is recording it in studio as opposed to all of his previous recordings, which  have been at home. “I really want to make it shine,” explains Zeus. You can also see Zeus busking on Granville Street and Commercial Drive in the summer months, as well as playing gigs around the city. 

If you are interested in exploring and pushing the boundaries of genre, sound, and performance, Canzino is definitely someone to check out. He has a refreshing approach to music that is forward thinking and open to possibilities. He clearly follows his own wise words: “Learn the rules first, bend them, then play your own game.”

Canzino will be performing at Falconettis on June 7. For more information, visit canzino.com.

 

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