We sit down with the most handsome man in music, Zak Abel.
Moroccan-English singer songwriter Zak Abel used to be a national table tennis champion. No seriously, he was! These days, he might have laid down his bat and ball, but he’s found a new craft to excel in – music (and modelling too, tbh!) Signed to Atlantic Records, his 2017 debut album, Only When We’re Naked, was a 10 track masterpiece that featured a collaboration with Wretch 32 and had production credits from Adamski, who was responsible for the greatest song of the 90s, “Killer”.
Most recently, he teamed up with Saweetie for his new single “You Come First”, which followed collaborations with Jonas Blue, Tom Misch and Avicii. Still hard at work in the studio, we’re hoping to be hearing something new from him soon. When he’s not in the recording booth, he might be found on-set for a major brand campaign or fashion editorial as part of his work with the UK’s leading model agency, Models1. Does this kid ever rest?
We managed to catch him on a rare day to take him on a quick trip to the chippy, where we quizzed him on dreams, death and Insta DMs.
Do you remember your dreams? Tell us about a recent dream you’ve had….
I remember some of my dreams! I had food poisoning one night when I went on tour with Tom Misch and had a high fever which meant my dream was very strange: I was dreaming about wanting to get 8 hours of sleep. One guy in my dream was saying I should invest 1 hour of sleep into stocks and shares, one hour of sleep into a startup company, in the hopes of generating 8 hours of sleep over the course of the night. It was really weird.
What is the closest you’ve ever come to death?
I got bitten by a dog in India when I was there this Christmas. I thought I might have rabies. I had to get a load of jabs. It scared the shit out of me.
Tell us, what is your first memory of music?
I was 4 years old. It was me, my friend Leah and another little boy and we were running around the table, naked to the sounds of Bamboleo by the Gypsy Kings. We were having a whale of a time until the other little boy pooed on the floor and then we had to stop.
What’s your star sign? (and are you a typical *whatever your sign is*?)
I’m a pisces but I don’t display many of the traits of your typical fish.
When was the first time you had your heart broken? (who by? how did it feel? what did you do?)
I was 7 and I had a crush on this girl in my class called Corall. I bought her a little bunny toy with a love heart in the middle thinking I could win her heart that way, but when I gave it to her, she said she was going to throw it in the bin (trash for any American readers). I haven’t looked at rabbits the same way since.
Who was your first celebrity crush?
Kristen Kreuk (Lana Lang from Smallville). She was my screen saver between the years 2006/2007.
Tell us one thing nobody / not many people know about you.
I have been vegan for the last 1.5 years. By the way, did I mention, I’m vegan. OMG speaking of food, I’m vegan!
What would your biography be called?
Id probably just do a self titled auto-biography. So, “Ainsley Harriot”
What was the first song you ever wrote?
It was a song called Haze. I wrote it when i was 14 about feeling overwhelmed by life and the decisions I had to make (which school I was going to go to ). I felt like I was in a constant haze and I remember writing that song was a really cathartic thing which helped out a lot.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Be clear about what you want. Define your own criteria for success. Plan out the most effective way of reaching your goals and then be relentless in your execution.
What has been your biggest achievement?
Putting out my debut album, ‘Only When We’re Naked’. I had been working on an album for so long and there were many times where I thought it may never come out. Reading people’s messages to me about how certain songs on the album really resonated with them means so much to me and makes all the struggle worth it.
Which fictional character do you most relate to and why?
Naruto. He was a ninja who, when growing up, was greatly misunderstood by the other kids in his village. They didn’t include him in their plans and made fun of him at school. However, through hard work and determination, he became the best ninja of all time and gained the respect and love of everyone in his village.
How was high school?
I was late. A lot. I was too nerdy to be in the cool group but also too cool to be in the nerdy group. I was “the ping pong guy”. I was also a late bloomer, which made me “the small ping pong guy”.
Who is the most famous person in your DMs?
Either Shawn Mendes or Keenan Cornelius who I’ll have you know is very popular within the Jiu Jitsu community.
Describe your own personal idea of hell…
Going shopping with someone who doesn’t know what they want followed by large amounts of queueing and no phone signal.
What’s a lie you’ve told and what was the fall out?
I just lied about what I’d call my autobiography. Lets see what the fall out is.
Which super power would you most like to have, and why?
I’d like to be able to live forever (if I want to) because theres so many amazing experiences that id love to have in life but will not have the time for. Imagine how many incredible books there are that we will never have time to read, or incredible arancini balls that are cooked in a remote village in Tuscany that we’ll never be able to try out.
What is one album that totally changed your life?
Michael Jackson’s Off The Wall was essentially the first album I ever obsessed over. It was my introduction to Michael Jackson and good music in general.
When was the last time you cried and why?
The last time I cried was when a family member was telling me how inspirational my grandpa had been when they were going through a tough time. It brought back memories of him and reminded me to stay positive and hopeful in the face of adversity.
Where/what will you be doing at the end of the world?
I will most certainly not be alive when its time for the end of the world. I don’t believe the world will end in the next 80 years!