Meet Musician, Performing Artist & Producer W.M.K.T.
PLEASE, BRIEFLY INTRODUCE YOURSELF. WHO ARE YOU, IN YOUR OWN WORDS?
I am Zeljko Vasiljevic, a musician who goes by the name W.M.K.T. and I was born and raised in Belgrade, Serbia. I began making music at the age of twelve and I have never looked back. I am twenty-seven now and I can honestly say that creating music is my life! The essence of music to me is experimentation and innovation, pushing the boundaries of art in order to create something new and exciting. The separation of music into genre’s is something that I detest and so I incorporate elements of many genres into my music. That way, when someone hears my music, they will have to say that they have never heard anything like it before! My goal is to make quality songs that connect with the listener by combining seemingly incompatible elements together and then boom….AMAZING ART! I often say that what I do as an artist should not work, but it does work because I create from a place of genuine love of music as an art form.
WHO ARE SOME MUSICIANS WHO HAVE INFLUENCED YOU AS AN ARTIST
My dad introduced me to music when I was a child. He got me into Rock & Roll through his collection of vinyl. Bands like Deep Purple, The Doors, Pink Floyd and Guns & Roses were my first musical loves. I developed an appreciation for songwriting and for fusing a strong message into catchy songs by listening to these bands. As I got into my teenage years, my taste expanded to include hip-hop. I went through some personal struggles and many rap songs were key to getting me through these trying times. Artists like Eminem, Ludacris, The Game, Xzibit and later Chance the Rapper, Lil Peep and Macklemore wrote lyrics that spoke to me very strongly. Their messages of constantly refusing to back down, regardless of the difficulty that you have to go through in order to achieve your goals, was a huge inspiration to me. Living in Central Europe, Euro Dance music was extremely popular in the 90’s. Euro Dance combined rapping and singing with club music rhythms. Technotronic, C&C Music Factory, 2 Unlimited, The Prodigy and Skrillex are some of my favorites from this genre. At this time in my life I fell in love with electronic music but I still loved my rock and rap albums as well.
HOW DO YOU GET INTO A CREATIVE MINDSET WHEN WRITING MUSIC?
My goal as a songwriter is always to create music without boundaries and music that defies classification. I believe that the most important thing when writing music is the idea! If the underlying concept of the song is unique, quirky and interesting, it will lead to great art being the outcome. When an idea comes into my mind, I immediately start writing the lyrics first. Only after I have the main themes of the story I am trying to tell in place do I begin to work on the melody. My creative process is very much like a brainstorming session with myself. I let my imagination run wild and I try to put elements together that seem to be at odds with each other. Both lyrically and sonically. I have always admired Kurt Cobain’s approach to lyricism, you know? On the day that he was going to record vocals for a particular song, Kurt would assemble bits of poetry that he had written over the years in a way that sounded good to him at that moment. Kurt wasn’t constrained by any societal preconceptions of how words should be put together, or even proper sentence structure. He let his poetic sense be his guide, and I try to incorporate a similar sense of artistic randomness into my lyricism.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO BE CREATIVE?
The environment I am in and the people I am around are my greatest inspirations. I know a lot of musicians who complain about lacking inspiration and I don’t understand that at all. I see no reason for that. Everything you need is in your environment, you just need to open your eyes and ears and let it in. Whether it is a person in your life, someone you meet on social media, your job, the city you live in, or even a mundane daily activity like taking out the trash; inspiration comes from your interaction with these things. Success in life is mostly dependent on how YOU react to what happens to YOU. So inspiration is all around, it is just that most people do not perceive it. To me, being creative means dealing with reality in your own way. Not avoiding what is in front of us, not keeping our head down, not trying to cover your eyes when something bad happens, but dealing with it. Everyone chooses their reaction to their circumstances and I choose to accept my lot in life and turn it into something beautiful! If my music makes people dance and have a good time, then I have succeeded in the mission of my music. Walking around with a cloud over my head is not my plan. I have a lot of smiles to put on people’s faces!
When it comes to my interactions with people, I mean, every day I hear people say something funny, something truthful, something offensive, something disgusting, something crazy, whatever. People talk to me about their job, their plans for the weekend, vacation ideas, their relationship goals, and I just take every message I get from the outside world and I store it away in my brain as possible inspiration for my music. You never know when inspiration will hit you as an artist and so I keep myself open to inspiration at all times.
ACCORDING TO YOU AS AN ARTIST, WHAT MAKES YOU STAND OUT FROM OTHERS?
I find comparing myself to other artists disagreeable. My goal is to make an impact on everyone who listens to my music. Because when you make an impact on someone through art, it changes that person, and in that way music is extremely important. In order to attract and keep listeners interested in your music, you have to make songs that have a profound meaning to you as an artist. Your music can’t be meaningful to the fans if it doesn’t first have meaning to you as its creator. When it comes to how I put songs together, I like to be spontaneous in my arrangements. Sometimes I rap and sometimes I sing and I like to switch between the two vocal styles, sometimes within the same verse. Experimentation is one of the hallmarks of my music and I like to keep the listener guessing as to what I will do next. My goal is to engage the imagination of the fans by writing interesting lyrics and combining innovative sounds from many diverse genres of music. Creativity is the key!
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT SO FAR?
I am most proud of being signed to Bentley Records and having released my first single with them “Marshmello”. Bentley has been very supportive of my career and I look forward to releasing my first EP with them, which I am calling “Not Satisfied About What My Therapist Says”. My next single will be coming soon and it is called “Boobies as Freedom Fighters” so you know this will be an interesting song!
HOW IMPORTANT IS PERSONAL BRANDING AND WHAT DO YOU DO TO GROW YOUR PERSONAL BRAND?
Personal branding is how you make yourself recognizable to the outside world. I have been working on personal branding with my manager Patrick. I have always been authentically the artist that you see before you today. But Patrick, RMRstarPat as he calls himself, came to my team as a fresh voice. After listening to my music, he told me how he perceived me as an artist and also how he felt that we could use branding to present me and my art to the world in a marketable way. I had never really thought about branding as a strategy and I am grateful for his guidance. I recommend every artist gather a team of people you trust and have them all have input into the branding of your movement. No man is an island. Having teammates that you trust will lead to better song ideas and making sure that every move you make is beneficial to the brand you are building.
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR OUR READERS WHO ARE TRYING TO BREAK IN THE INDUSTRY?
Be creative and be yourself. Go with the crazy ideas that come into your head and don’t let society and its norms make you shy away from these crazy dreams of yours. What’s the worst that happens? If you fail to make a great song, you will learn from that failure and be better off for it when you make your next song. Persistence and hard work! Keep going! You are only one song away from a hit record!