Things have been taking off for Sweden’s rising star Zikai in recent weeks. In addition to releasing her long-awaited debut EP ‘Make You Mine’ (its seven tracks already accumulating 7.5 million streams), she featured on Mullally’s recent single ‘Fire’ and co-wrote ‘Hush’ for Yellow Claw and Weird Genius. Her ascending status has been underlined with a nomination for Rookie Artist / Band at the Denniz Pop Awards, which recognises Sweden’s most essential new talents. Zikai will be looking to follow in the footsteps of previous winners such as Tove Lo.
Zikai continues to strive confidently forward by sharing her brand new single ‘Twenty Something’. The 22-year-old displays pop nous and deft soul in equal measure, as she switches between the earworm hook of her bright autotuned voice and the warmth of her natural vocal tone. Listen HERE.
While the ‘Make You Mine’ EP found Zikai exploring the stories of her life so far, ‘Twenty Something’ switches the focus to early adulthood. Growing up doesn’t need to mean growing old, however, as she sings, “Last night I brought twenty-something drinks because the summer’s almost over.”
Zikai commented, “I came home from the club knowing that I would use the crazy things that happened that night for this song. I wanted to describe that feeling of waking up and not remembering much from the night before, except the mistakes and maybe some failed attempts to reach some kind of euphoria. It’s about being in your early twenties, and not knowing exactly what direction in life you should take or what type of people you should give your energy to. I know it may sound a bit dark but the happy chords and my high-pitched voice in the chorus is my way of saying it’s okay to feel lost because we all do sometimes.”
Zikai wrote ‘Twenty Something’ with Anton Hård af Segerstad (Iggy Azalea, JoJo, Fifth Harmony), who also produced the track.
Zikai’s sound resonates with traces of global artists, but the overall artistry and attitude remains very much her own. Her songs might touch upon Snoh Aalegra’s cinematic soul, Brandy’s throwback R&B, Mabel’s crossover appeal or Dua Lipa’s postmodern disco. There’s a palpable African pop element too, sourced from her Ivorian father’s love of the influential Afropop favourites Magic System, plus the star quality of early 2000s MTV icons Rihanna and Omarion.
Realising that she needed more experiences to become an artist in her own right, Zikai stepped back from her first recording deal in her teens. She worked extensively as a co-writer before proving that the wait was worthwhile by impacting with her debut track ‘Mountain Peak’. She quickly became a hot tip, performing at Sweden’s Grammy and Oscar ceremonies before she’d even released her first EP.