Zilo at Servant Jazz Quarters

This has been a few years in the making, which isn’t an exaggeration depending on how long you have known about the self-confessed introvert, singer-songwriter, hair stylist and artist Zilo (pronounced XYLO). She is all these things and more as she continues to add more strings to her bow, yet Zilo maintains an air of humility and gratitude for where she is today. As one of our 2018 Breaking Through acts, there was no way I would miss her show for the world, even though I did miss the drop for her first headline show the day before. Aaliyah once said to dust yourself off and try again, so with that I secured tickets the second time around to see this precocious artist as her debut project The Nature of the Beast delivered on the early promise that she displayed with her earlier works on Soundcloud.

The stage was set as Zilo and her band promptly greeted the packed lower level of the intimate Dalston venue. The small Gemini was in awe of the crowd that came out to see her and got stuck in following her introducing us to Zilo the person. She kicked off proceedings with “Sometimes” the opening track of her 2018 debut. With the soft boom bap skeleton of the beat being carried by gorgeous keys, she sings softly but with a warmth and enthusiasm which complements the beat perfectly.

“Pretty Certain” is a song she describes as “having a friend that you would go there with but wouldn’t at the same time” and is also one of my favourites on TNOTB. She sang the chorus like a modernised siren from Greek mythology, so sweet and alluring with her delivery. The song brought out her more confident side as the introvert came out to play on the Denzel Himself produced beat (can you believe she didn’t touch it for over a year?) Lines like “I’ll get straight into your head/don’t’ ask me how I know for certain/that’s just what’s gonna happen/’cause I said it would” and “if you say you’re down to get nasty/then I’m pretty certain that you’ll love it” have the 20 something in her element. She is a true fantasist!

“Cherry” slowed the pace down a bit but hearing the guitar and bass played live gave this song new life. A brief tale of kicking it with someone deemed as no good for her and vice versa doesn’t sound out of place on this project. The way Zilo performed made me think that she had looked to past performances by Syd, the lead singer of The Internet. However, Zilo owns her own personality and her ability to express herself freely. It felt like a throwback to the intimate R&B shows of old as she gave the crowd horcruxes as she got personal with us. Thankfully, there were no dark arts involved!

We were then blessed with a funky rendition of her favourite song in Pharrell’s “Frontin’” which was the icing on the cake of a very well-constructed set. She let us know that she would perform the entire project but what she didn’t tell us was that she would mix it up a bit. Even though she was the most prominent voice in the room, everyone had joined in with the singalong. It was a throwback to my 11th birthday, which was the exact release date of Skateboard P’s classic summer single.

Throughout the hour long set, she built a rapport with her crowd as she gave us the context behind every song on TNOTB as she insisted that we get to know her properly. “Ocean View” is an ode to her favourite place in the world (her room) as her inner siren again came out to play, while “Her” is a song that lists why she desperately needs a change of direction from an exhausting romantic situation.

It was fitting that she performed on World Mental Health Day as she spoke on that in a concise and thoughtful manner. By her admission, talking is therapy and she encouraged her crowd to look out for their best interests as we navigate through a world that can prey on our vulnerabilities. The applause that followed was apt as I sensed the whole room had their own pressures relating to mental health.

As she closed with the two major singles from her debut project in “Keep Up Wimmi” and “Don’t Waste My Time”, the room was sad as we had reached the end of the Zilo experience. It felt like a brief but intense sugar rush as we were all left craving more from our leading lady. Everything about the show felt like it was considered beforehand. From her dressing (she likes to be very comfortable), to her band (all friends which highlights a more personal touch). Now that she has arrived with her debut headliners, we would do well to keep up with Zilo as this is by all means the tip of the iceberg.

Written by /
Published /
October 19
Category /
Event Review