by Snarley Brown

Alaska’s music scene is most definitely on a come-up. We’ve got artists from a multitude of genres connecting with the States, finding familiarity and recognition within the national touring circuit.

On the indy-rock side of things we’ve got Medium Build, as well as individual members of the group hitting stages in the Lower 48 on a frequent basis. There’s Termination Dust dropping yet another album and hearing up for yet another national tour circuit. We are even seeing recognition on the hip-hop end of things. Jacob Jump of Gorilla in the Trunk Music and Rhyme Different recently just signed a distribution deal with The Orchard (a subsidiary of Sony Music). Alaska Redd has forged a tight relationship with artists from Tech N9ne’s Strange Music label. Aside from bringing up artists belonging to the labels roster, he’s even managed to join them on a few of their national tours.

Duckman and the Bag Boy Nation are still going strong with their deal to Epic Records. He has consistently dropped quality tracks, linked with quality visuals, alongside quality collaborations. Even as we speak, he’s out on tour representing both city (Anchorage) and state. What used to seem like an uphill battle for local artists is now becoming a realistically attainable target we can set our sights to.

We still can’t forget about those who left us with the same objective in mind though, especially so when said artists haven’t forgotten about us. It was about a year ago I did an article on the Fairbanks native Zairah. At the time Zairah had just begun releasing singles out in L.A. she’d afforded through winning a contest.

Hornnitos Tequila gifted the hip hop artist $10,000 toward producing industry standards releases. It’s safe to say at the time she may not have had the best influences surrounding her. We, as artists, can find the outcome of having those without or personal interests in mind to be detrimental. Needless to say, Zairah still hadn’t found a sound she felt was working for her. Thank God she didn’t give up there. Being of Latin descent, she decided to dig into her roots and go down the Reggaeton route. She found instant success from that point on, and the rest is history.

As a hip hop musician, there are definitely certain pillars to be obtained that are official in defining one’s rise to success. Gaining recognition for your new single on the nationally known hip hop morning show “The Breakfast Club” classifies as one. Her producer for her new single “Sazon”, DJ Dramos, was just on the show where he premiered the track officially on the nationally known hop-hop platform. When Zairah hit my DM with the news I was more than happy to do a Q&A with her to share the news back home:

SB: Since we last spoke, your music took a very different direction. You went from a more commercial kind of rap, and are now in full swing of the Reggaetone genre. What inspired the switch?

Zairah: Haha yeah I think I went through several genre transitions before I really found my sound. I think my song “Mango” which has a lot of Latin rhythms really cleared things up for me. I realized how receptive people were to it and how connected and in place I felt. I grew up on Ivy Queen and Calle 13 and Don Omar so suddenly everything just made sense. I could use both my heritage and what I grew up listening to together.

SB: The response has been nothing short of phenomenal. How have you been handling the attention?

Zairah: Man, it can definitely be a lot to handle sometimes. I think just checking in with myself, taking breaks, and keeping in mind why I’m doing this and who really matters to me and cares about me keeps me on the straight path. It’s kind of forced me to look within and soul search and grow so I try to focus on that when there’s a lot of noise. It’s ironic but I almost think it makes you a better person.

SB: How did you get hooked up with The Breakfast Club?

Zairah: It was actually my friend Bhrama Bull who hooked it up. He’s always looking out for me and really supporting what I do. He told me to reach out and I think he was just as surprised as I was that I got such a great response.

SB: Of all the hosts on the Breakfast Club, I can honestly say I have a love-hate relationship with Charlemagne. He’s so good at playing devil’s advocate that at times it becomes beyond infuriating. How was he in person?

Zairah: I actually haven’t met him in person yet and I haven’t had a chance to meet DJ Dramos (The Breakfast Club DJ/producer whose EP the song “Sazon” is on) or Bhrama in person either, haha. We just communicate online. It’s honestly how I do a lot of business. I really need to get out to NY! But it was really cool that they aired the song and reviewed it and joked around. I’m still in shock and just beyond grateful to have had the opportunity.

SB: What can people look forward to from Zairah?

Zairah: Lots of new music honestly. I have so much of it just sitting around being arranged or in the works with labels and I can’t wait to put it all out. I think people will be very surprised at what talent can come out of Alaska.

SB: As cheesy, or after school special-esque as it may be, I like ending with this question. Seeing as how people like to say we Alaskan artists are fighting an “uphill battle” trying to gain recognition, what words of wisdom do you have for our local up-and-comers?

Zairah: It’s bullshit. No matter what you choose, everything in life is an “uphill battle.” I would advise anyone who wants to pursue anything to not listen to the opinions of someone who hasn’t been where they want to be. That’s been some of the best advice I’ve gotten from someone who’s lived what I aspire to. I would definitely say entertainment can be a very tough career choice, but I wouldn’t say you’ll have a harder time being noticed in a small town than in a big city where millions of people are trying to do the same thing. I think I fell for the hype at one point, too, but honestly, in my opinion, getting your small city/community behind you is a much better way to go about it. That’s how you build a true and loyal fan base and, what can I say, I miss home.

You can catch clips of her track being previewed on the show at DJ Dramos Instagram @djdramos. You can follow Zairah on Instagram @xoxozairah, as well as Spotify.

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