Zakk McKenna, better known as his stage name ZTF, is a 20 year old upcoming rapper from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Orginally born in Toronto, ZTF has lived in Halifax for the majority of his life. ZTF has a very distinct style that is similar to other artists but adds his own twist to it. ZTF is a versatile artist ranging from trap, boom bap, to R&B and Indie. The young artist has potential to make big waves if he continues on the path he travels.
Where are you from?
Originally born in Toronto, Ontario, but mainly I grew up in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
How long have you been making music?
I tried rapping in high school, but I wasn’t very good at writing music. Later after I graduated, my good friend Owen (aka Slowen Steady) decided we should write a song for fun. Both of us listened to rap music heavily and I was a good writer in English class. Turns out our song titled “Rookie Season” actually wasn’t that bad for our first song, so we recorded it and released it in August of 2016, so i’ve been rapping for about 2 years.
How many songs /albums have you released to date?
I’ve released probably only about 30-40 songs in the 2 years, mostly because I never had my own setup until November of this past year. Since then I’ve been uploading frequently and I released a mixtape on Soundcloud titled “Rise of an Underdog.” I’ve privated most of the songs because the produxtion quality was low, I’ve come a long way in such a short time.
Can you tell us about your latest release and the background and inspirations behind it?
My latest release is a remix to 6ix9ine’s latest song called FEFE. I decided to release it the day after the release because it would probably get a lot of buzz. It’s my most successful song to date racking in 82.5k plays in just 10 days. Can say I’m pretty proud of that accomplishment.
How have you ended up in the music industry?
Originally it was just for fun, but since I’ve seen drastic improvement, I’ve decided to pursue it as a career. My dad has been heavy in the music business since he was 15 or 16, so I’ve connected with some good people. I’m only in the early stages of being in the industry but I’d love to keep pursuing.
What do you think of the music industry in 2018?
Although there is a lot of downside, there’s equally as much upside. The fact that management and record labels control artists is not fair in my opinion, however they are only trying to help their client better themselves. Luckily I’ve only run into good people thus far.
Who do you think the most influential artist?
The most positive icon artist in my opinion is X. Although he may have done some things in the past he regret, that doesn’t change the positive messages he pushed in his music. Not only that, he did a lot outside of music to help those struggling with mental illness. The most negative icon artist would have to be Kanye. He doesn’t realize all these things he says has a huge impact on the actions of his fans. He could be such a positive role model but instead insists on being a self worshipping lunatic.
Who have you collaborated with so far in your career?
Thus far, I have only collaborated with friends of mine who rap in the same area as me. Slowen Steady, K902, Swaze and Snappa to name a few. I have other collabs coming up with some other local artists on my project coming out August 16th. I’d love to collab with Nomad and Lightbeam from the Cape Breton area as well as Twy originally from here but moved to Toronto.
How do you think you differ from other artists?
I can switch from rapping like Lil Pump, to rapping like A$ap Rocky, to rapping like Lil Peep, to rapping to Lil Skies, etc. I’m able to change my voice and switch up my flow. Other than actual musical talent, the energy I bring to perform is that of no other. I also promote myself and other local artists very well. Unlike a lot of other artists, I mix and master my own music so I’m able to have it exactly how I want it to sound.
Dead or alive, who would be your dream collaboration?
I’d absolutely love to work with Lil Skies, he’s my favourite artist eight now. I’d also dream to collab with A$ap Rocky and Lil Wayne. Realistically my dream collaboration would be with Killy from Toronto.
What was the first album you bought?
I think it was Curtain Call by Eminem.
What’s your favourite song at the moment?
Noticed by Lil Mosey or Frfr by Wiz Khalifa & Lil Skies.
If you had to sell your music collection tomorrow, what album would you leave in your draw?
AT.LONG.LAST.A$AP by A$ap Rocky
What is your favourite saying?
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” This quote used to apply to me when I played hockey, but this applies to all aspects of life. Never doubt yourself, push yourself to do something because if you don’t take that shot, you might not get another.
What other hobbies or interests do you have?
I play video games occasionally, not as much as I used to. Mostly I jike to just relax and with my with woman.
Do you have any tattoos or piercings?
I have my ears and nose pierced, I have 6 tattoos. I plan on getting both of my arms sleeved and get more work on my chest, although my chest hurt bad.
Tell us more about your upcoming project or this new project?
Titled “44 North” because that is the latitude coordinate for Halifax. Releasing on August 16th this project will include 12-13 songs (still unsure because i’m such a procrastinator) and willcshowcase a little bit of everything I’m able to do. Will include features from Slowen Steady, K902, Swaze, and T Gravez. I wanted to make this project because I felt like I was being put into the Soundcloud rapper category and I wanted to escape that. All of my music will now be uploaded on Apple Music and music videos to YouTube.
What’s in the pipeline after this project?
After this, I’m working closely with my good friend Mike Allen from 902 Promotions and The Pavilion on hosting an All Ages Rap Event to showcase some of the younger talent we have in our city. I am also working on going on a small tour around the Maritimes and potentially flying to Montreal in October. The main focus for the rest of this year is to get a music video out and do more shows.
Thank you for your time and may you carry on making great, fresh music.
Thank you for having me, it was my pleasure !