Star Spot with Hans-Peter de Zeeuw (aka d’Z), professional drummer, composer, songwriter, and teacher
Believe in Yourself and Be Happy: Advice for Aspiring Musicians from d’Z
Welcome to this episode of Star Spot! I’m Merry, and in this series, I interview InterContinental Music Awards winners and insiders, bringing you exclusive insights into the music industry. Today, I’m thrilled to have with me Hans-Peter de Zeeuw a.k.a d’Z, our brilliant winner of 2022.
In this interview, Hans-Peter de Zeeuw a.k.a d’Z will discuss his challenges and inspirations as a Dutch drummer and composer. Born and raised in Rotterdam, he knew from a young age that he was destined to be a drummer. After attending the largest conservatory for pop, jazz, and world music in Europe, d’Z became a sought-after drummer known for his inherent sense of groove and ability to bring out the best in his fellow musicians.
Now, with his career in full swing, d’Z has turned his attention to composing his own music, drawing inspiration from the likes of Incognito, Steely Dan, The Brand New Heavies, Tower of Power, and Gino Vannelli. Join us as we delve into the world of this talented musician and learn more about his journey to becoming an InterContinental Music Awards winner.
Let’s dive right into the interview summary and tap into d’Z ‘s vast experience and knowledge. The full interview is available on Instagram – click here to check it out.
Can you give us a brief biography of yourself?
Of course, my name is Hans-Peter de Zeeuw a.k.a d’Z, and I’m from the Netherlands. I’m a professional drummer, composer, songwriter, drum teacher, and producer. I’m also a music enthusiast and absolutely addicted to making music. About five years ago, I released my first single called “Conviction” under my artist name, d’Z .
Soon after, I released my debut album, which included songs sung by Katie Leon, a former singer of Incognito, and other great vocalists like Chaka Khan and Victor Wooten, who have worked with Prince and Curtis Mayfield. Since then, I’ve regularly released more songs, and I’m currently working on eight new singles to be recorded and released soon.
That’s impressive! Have you always been a musician?
Yes, I knew from a young age that I was destined to be a drummer. I took my first drum lesson at the age of nine, and it felt like the drumsticks were meant for me. By the time I was 19, I attended the largest conservatory for pop, jazz, and world music in Europe, where I was taught by leading musicians in the Netherlands.
I became a sought-after drummer known for my inherent sense of groove and my ability to bring out the best in my fellow musicians. Eventually, I turned my attention to composing my own music and drawing inspiration from various artists like Incognito, Steely Dan, The Brand New Heavies, Tower of Power, and Gino Vannelli.
What motivated you to release your own music?
My passion for making music and sharing it with others motivated me to release my own music. I felt it was time to finally give voice to the melodies that filled me and see if others would appreciate them too. Releasing my first single was nerve-wracking, but it tasted like more, and I’ve been releasing new music ever since.
How did you know that you wanted to become a drummer?
As long as I can remember, I knew I would become a drummer. I remember playing on every cushion I could lay my hands on when I was just three years old. Despite coming from a family that wasn’t particularly artistic, my parents allowed me to take drum lessons. The moment I sat behind a drum kit, I knew it was meant to be.
I understood everything about the instrument, and it just felt right. It’s rare to know what you want to become at such a young age, and I consider myself fortunate to have discovered my passion early in life. When I teach my students, I often ask them what they want to become when they grow up, and most of them don’t know. So I feel grateful to have found my calling at a young age and been determined to pursue it.
What inspires you to make music? What is the source of your inspiration for the music you create?
For me, music is magic. It’s an art form that comes from a state of mind that nobody really understands. It’s a universal language that can be inspired by anything. When I was young, I just knew that I would become a musician, and that’s exactly what happened. Love is the greatest energy on this planet, and it inspires me to create music.
I believe that music is a way to connect with others, and that’s why I named my first album “Connect.” You can experience music in so many ways, whether you’re listening to it, creating it, or just diving into your own bubble with it. So, my biggest inspiration is the power of love and the connection that music can create.
How would you describe the music you create if you were to categorize it?
I would say that my music is a niche, a blend of neo soul and new jazz, with a focus on the harmonies of jazz and the energy of funk. Some people may call it smooth jazz, but I believe it has more energy than that genre.
Have you begun working on a new piece of music? What is the process like?
As a drummer, I need to work with chords and melody, so my second instrument is the keyboard. When I start writing music, I stare at the keyboard and hope something will turn out. Sometimes, it’s like channeling energy, and I hear a chord progression or melody, but other times, I just feel the urge to create something. It’s a pure energy method, and I never plan it. It’s all about feeling the inspiration and seeing what comes around.
What was your experience with InterContinental Music Awards like , and what did you take away from it?
Overall, my experience with ICMA was great. Felt a sense of involvement throughout the entire process, which was more than just submitting music and waiting for results. I had to answer questions and provide additional materials, so it was an ongoing flow of communication.
I didn’t expect to win any awards, but the experience was valuable because I received feedback on my music. When I checked my email after the ceremony, I found out that I had won an award, which was a pleasant surprise. Unfortunately, I missed the ceremony because I was on vacation in France, but I still felt connected to the process. Overall, my takeaway from the experience was that submitting music to competitions can provide valuable feedback and insights that can help improve your craft.
What challenges have you faced in your music career, and what solutions have you found for them?
When I first started my music career five years ago, I quickly realized that in order to succeed in the music industry, I needed to have an entrepreneurial mindset. However, as an artist, I found it challenging to balance my love for music with the demands of entrepreneurship. I soon realized that my primary goal was to be happy and fulfilled. And I found happiness in teaching music and creating music for clients who needed it for videos or films.
Despite the recognition and success, I have achieved, I suffered a nervous breakdown two years ago, which made me reflect on what I wanted to achieve in the music industry. I realized that being happy was my ultimate goal, and I no longer wanted to sacrifice my personal happiness for the sake of my music career. Although some people may view me as a coward for not pursuing a record deal or focusing solely on my music, I choose to take a different path that prioritizes my happiness and personal development.
I have won several awards in the past, and I continue to work on new projects and share my music with others. While I may have missed out on opportunities due to my decision to remain independent, I believe that being true to myself and my values is more important in the long run. I am grateful for my success and recognition, but ultimately, my happiness and personal growth are my top priorities.
What advice would you give to a person who is just starting their music career?
The best advice I could give is to believe, even if you don’t believe. This was inspired by a viral post of Sir Anthony Hopkins, the great actor. It really struck my heart. If you are struggling or doubting yourself, just believe. Also, try to be happy. Always make sure you are happy with what you are doing, because the world needs happy people now more than ever. Don’t focus on being famous or being the best, but instead, be the best version of yourself.
Any last words you would like to share?
There is no competition, so don’t compare yourself to others. Instead, compare yourself to the best version of yourself. Lastly, I would like to say to be happy and love yourself, even if you don’t like my music. Remember, the world is yours, and the people you are with, and the surroundings are yours to enjoy.
d’Z Contact Info:
Click here to watch Hans-Peter de Zeeuw a.k.a d’Z full interview on Instagram
InterContinental Music Awards Team