This week Futuristica Music released Oz’s posthumous ‘Beautiful’ album. We asked fellow Futuristica family member Mecca:83 to bless us with some words on Oz and his music
“Today Simon S at Futuristica Music and myself have the pleasure of releasing the final record from our brother Oz aka Zigsixteen, entitled “Beautiful”. Sadly Oz passed away before the world could hear what would have been his first solo record as a vocalist. I don’t want to write too much about his passing though, let’s celebrate the man and his gifts.
I first came across Oz’s music in 2006, right around the time I became involved with the family at Futuristica Music. Oz made up one fourth of the Parision future-soul group Electric Conversation, who had just released their first 12” via Futuristica and were picking up a lot of love from DJs and music fans in Europe. They had a full LP in the works (Communication, released in 2007) which Simon had let me hear in advance. To this day it’s still one of my favourite soul records. One of the first questions I asked when I listened to the record was “who the hell is the dude singing falsetto on this?!” It turns out his name was Oz and he also handled a bunch of the production on the LP. I was immediately captivated by his voice: I’m a sucker for male falsetto (see my D’Angelo & Bilaal obsessions) and there was something about his tone & delivery that caught me every time.
I didn’t actually get to meet Oz for another year. In 2007 Si & Deb at Futuristica held their annual “family day” at their house in Walthamstow: a yearly gathering of friends, family and musical associates who were all connected through the family first approach Futuristica Music became known for. I got the opportunity to meet & talk briefly with jazz pianist Robert Mitchell that year, but meeting Oz is still my biggest and brightest memory: this huge, afro haired man who barely even spoke, just smiled from ear-to-ear and continuously bobbed his head to the rhythms coming out of the stereo. I spent the majority of that day in the music cabin at the back of Si & Deb’s garden – surrounded by the guys from Electric Conversation – just jamming out on drum machines. I had my MPC500 in tow (rest in peace buddy) and the EC guys had brought an SP1200, a Microkorg and an Electribe to the party. For the rest of the afternoon we barely spoke, just hit pads and played chords until it was time for me to grab a train home.
In the following years I got a few more chances to sit and chill with Oz and the Electric Conversation crew. We shared break records, danced at Replife’s first Birmingham gig and stayed in touch via Myspace(!) and email. Oz became Zigsixteen in the space between EC’s first and second LPs, releasing a stream of self-released beat tapes (some of which you can still grab on his bandcamp, as well as the “Abstract Lullaby” seven inch via Futuristica in 2010. The guy was special: he could hold it down on a soul record in the same breath as creating beats that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Ras G set.
When I formed the Expansions label in 2012, Oz was one of the first cats I reached out to about doing work. I managed to pin him down for a track on the Expansion Sound Vol.2 compilation, which ended up being one of my favourite tracks on that tape. When we got onto the topic of solo music, he sent me some tracks he and Si had been quietly working on – the music which would eventually form the “Beautiful” EP. From listening to the first 30 seconds of the title track I immediately knew it was special. People deserved to hear this stuff.
Oz and I hatched a plan to introduce him to the world via a series of instrumental tapes, then drop ‘Beautiful’ as a 7” release when the time was right. I remember how excited he was for people to hear the music that he had put so much of himself into. Sadly we never got to make those plans a reality, but the music remained and we had a duty to let people hear it. Which brings us to this moment.
I hope you enjoy this release as much as I do, regardless of the context it’s a beautiful, heartfelt piece of work that deserves to be heard and shared. If you can share it on Facebook, or tell a friend at work about it then you’re helping to keep Oz’s music alive. Spread love.”
By Evan Jones – Mecca:83