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WPGM Commentary: Zanillya Wants Women To Take Back Their Power On ‘We Are Free’

Thanks for having me. I feel really grateful to be able to share my process and details about the creation and more of my new single “We Are Free”. My name is Zanillya and I’m a rapper/singer-songwriter/ producer based in Amsterdam with roots in Aruba and Macedonia.

I’ve been creating for as far as I can remember as I was raised in a musical, creative household. I have always been in love with mixing up genres as I was raised on so many various styles of music. It came natural to me to switch from one genre to the next.

When I met Humphrey Dennis, my partner in life and music 11 years back, we immediately clicked as we both love to create without any boundaries. Over the years, Humphrey Dennis and I have always created with no set rules. This is how we feel we have come closer to the sound that we envision, which is our own blend of Hip-hop, Dancehall, RnB but all with a Caribbean touch.

Most of my songs I created, I did so first for myself but “We Are Free” was different as I felt I needed to speak on the inequality I saw women facing on the daily. I wanted to create something to uplift girls and women everywhere. Remind them of their strength, grit and ability to persevere in any situation.

Women have an incredible inner strength that I think men consciously or unconsciously fear. Not all men but a great deal of them do and therefore try to control us. By remembering this, we can take back our power and stand in our beauty and truth.

Our process of creation varies a lot, sometimes we create from nothing, and sometimes we get inspired by listening to something we really love and connect with. In this case it was the latter.

The “We Are Free” you hear today actually had a different beat when the first demo was created. It sounded like more of an ‘old school’ funky hip-hop track. The demo had one verse, which I updated and the chorus was as is.

After a while of leaving the demo on the shelf we decided to dust it off and finish it. I had a clear vision of how I wanted the final version to sound. We started with the baseline and finger snaps from that moment I got a lot of new inspiration for writing the lyrics. So I worked on perfecting the first verse and started on the second. When we laid the vocals down we then proceeded to add the drums and some vocal samples.

After several listens we felt like the chorus was missing something so Humphrey recorded some adlibs to spice things up. This sounded cool but not catchy enough so Humphrey started to play with some Talkbox samples, which gave the track a classic West Coast hip-hop feel which we both love and grew up on.

When these samples were carefully placed the song was almost complete. Now it was time to figure out a bridge. Humphrey tried a couple of ideas until we chose the one we have now. We kinda felt it wasn’t completely done but chose to leave it to start on something new. Eventually we never changed it and it’s the bridge you now hear on the track.

When the time came to release “We Are Free”, we partnered together with the community based platform named Curators. The founder Jean-Marie linked us with Etienne Copin a dope producer/engineer from Paris who mixed and mastered the track and completely elevated it.

I hope you love the track just as much as we enjoyed making it. Much love, Zanillya

Listen to “We Are Free” below.

Words by Zanillya // Follow her on Instagram + Twitter

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