Children of Zeus Are Born Again
Hypebeast caught up with the Manchester-based duo to talk new music and their new rebrand with fellow Mancunian creative, Ste Wing.
The term “good things come to those who wait” isn’t used enough, especially in the world of music. We’re currently living in a time where everything is demanded instantly; music, with visuals, have to be dropped weekly to garner eyes and engagement and mixtapes are gradually dominating popular music more than ever before.
In increasingly impatient times, it’s rare that we come across contextualized and soulful music, written from the heart and for the heart. It’s even rarer to build a solid discography that’s jam-packed with substance, and songs that become a part of your everyday life and routine. But for Manchester’s soul and hip-hop duo, Children of Zeus, quality over quantity is everything.
Comprized of Tyler Daley and Konny Kon, the two friends used to make their own solo music with other crews, before they met at a show in France and realized they were from the same area, era and shared the same perspective. Following their connection, the duo released its debut album Travel Light – an instant-classic in its own right, which presented Daley’s grainy, yet polished vocals with Kon’s melancholic raps that glide over a series of jazz and soul instrumentals, with a real and pure live element to it.
However, since the debut album, C.O.Z. has gone on to release its sophomore album, Balance, which is a matured effort which paints a picture of local struggles, unrequited love and their life prior to music success – all while paying homage to the hip-hop legends (such as Wu-Tang Clan) that came before them.
Now, the Manchester-raised musicians are walking a new path, one that sees them break out of the shadows and really put their faces to the name. Connecting with fellow Mancunian Ste Wing on a new creative campaign, C.O.Z. are reborn – and stepping out of their comfort zone like never before.
“Music is a small part of it in this day and age – people want to see it as well as hear it. Even if you look at our album covers and videos, we try not to be in it,” Children of Zeus rapper, Konny Kon told Hypebeast. “We’ve never been too tapped in, and we were aware that we were struggling with it.”
Hypebeast recently sat down with the Children of Zeus boys over Zoom to talk about their music journey so far, rebranding, their relationship with fashion and much more.
Hypebeast: Music aside, how are you guys?
Tyler Daley: Personally, life is bliss – I can’t complain. I’ve got kids, so as long as they’re good, everything is calm.
Konny Kon: Me too man, everything is calm. There are a lot of people that are struggling in the world, so I have to remind myself that things can always be worse.
Being from Manchester, how much does the rainy city influence your music?
KK: Sound-wise, maybe not. But community-wise, a lot. I think the people that are around us and the city are important to us, so when we release music, we represent Manchester’s music as a whole. Manchester is a very tight-knit community, not just across the kind of music that we make, but across everything. We all support each other.
TD: I think it’s important to be included in the conversation especially in soul music – because that’s what we’re bringing to the table. We’ve been doing this for a long time, and the fact that we are now included in the conversation is a big thing for us.
As real pioneers in Manchester’s soul scene, how is the rest of the scene doing in your opinion?
TD: I feel like there has been a scene bubbling just before COVID. The music has been there, the talent has always been there, and the community is there. But I think we’re currently lacking an infrastructure that brings it all together – but talent-wise, it’s all there. I don’t think we’ve ever been short of talent, it’s always been there.
KK: I agree, I think there’s a lot of talent that doesn’t know what to do with themselves and there’s nobody helping them. When we say infrastructure, we mean labels, management, and people also don’t have the business side of things checked off so they know what to do with themselves. Now though, the music is traveling further than it ever has before, but the industry just needs to listen more.
I think if we had a brand, it would just be being an underdog – one that people relate to and want to win.”
Although your numbers aren’t some of the biggest in the U.K., you have one of the most loyal fan bases in the country. How and why do you think you have garnered such a strong following?
KK: We don’t really consider ourselves to be a brand, but the one thing I think people are attracted to is the fact that we’re people’s little secret. Some people listen to us that like to keep us to themselves, and we’ve always thought that if take off to another level, a lot of people will be put off by that. I think people prefer the struggle and organic growth, rather than the industry-plugged superstars. So, I think if we had a brand, it would just be being an underdog – one that people relate to and want to win.
TD: Especially in Manchester… when we first started, there wasn’t any soul or hip-hop, everyone was making grime and dubstep. And now it’s come full circle because everyone else is doing it, but we’ve stuck to our guns and we’ve now got a following that follows us and reps for everything that we do in a big way.
“We felt like we were getting left behind with everyone doing photoshoots and fashion shoots. So we spoke to Ste and explained how we needed help.”
Your music is very juxtaposing to the areas you both grew up in. How do your backgrounds and overall sound align?
We both come from an aggressive style of music, like the hard hip-hop that we both used to make. But we’ve both always had a love for soul – that’s the conversation we had when we first met, we both grew up on soulful music. I think it gets to a point where you have to be brave and honest with yourself, and for me, I had to make the music that I love and be genuine about. Obviously, we get a bit older and wiser, but you have to go against all of that sometimes. Your environment might swing it one way but sometimes you have to counteract that and go with the thing you love. We’ve got over ourselves and the ego, grew up a bit, and decided to make music that is honest and from the heart.
Talk to me about the new creative campaign with Ste Wing. What was the reasoning behind the rebrand?
KK: Personally, I don’t think we ever had any regard for an image before that. If someone said to us that we can make as much money as we want off of music and do what we want, we’d probably just sit in the studio and nobody would see us. Obviously, music is a small part of it in this day and age – people want to see it as well as hear it. Even if you look at our album covers and videos, we try not to be in it.
KK: We’ve never been too tapped in, and we were aware that we were struggling with it. We felt like we were getting left behind with everyone doing photoshoots and fashion shoots. So we spoke to Ste and explained how we needed help – and most of it was his input, to be fair. We underwood that we were going to be uncomfortable with it, but we trusted the process – we had our shoes off! [laughs]
TD: But it was refreshing for us to have some sort of direction – we wouldn’t have worn much of the clothes, but it came out dope and we’re super happy with it.
What is your relationship like with fashion, who and what inspires you?
TD: I personally come from wearing winter clothes – black tracksuits! I come from that kind of environment. But these days, I just go with whatever I’m comfortable with. I’m massively inspired by the culture of hip-hop and just winter, all-black, hideaway stuff.
KK: Me too, I don’t think I’m a follower of fashion, but I’m a follower of hip-hop culture. I think most of the world is, a lot of fashion comes from hip-hop without people even knowing it.
TD: I would love nothing more than to wear some big, slick-rick-type jewelry [laughs]. It’s not practical where I’m from, to be honest, so I’m limited in that respect, but I’m inspired by the rappers that wear that kind of stuff. The first musician I saw wear that kind of stuff was a rapper called Just-Ice, he had gold everywhere; all over his teeth, the four-finger gold rings, the big chains. That stuff inspired me back in the day, wearing it oversized, and flipping it. Anything that brought a bit of shock value, that’s what I was into.
What’s next for Children of Zeus?
We’ve got production for other people coming out, we’re currently negotiating the plan around our own music, but we’re going to try and shine light on some other people. We have a lot of production for other people, but it’s just taking so long to come out… it’s all due to drop soon! Keep it locked.