Tyler Daley and Konny Kon are not new to this. Despite the fact that the two individuals that form Children of Zeus released their first single – ‘Still Standing’ – as recently as 2016 and are currently on the verge of releasing their debut album Travel Light (July 13), it was the preceding years spent honing their musical attributes that has made their introduction as a duo so impactful. The Mancunians met on tour in 2005 as part of their respective Hip Hop groups, before gradually creating a rapport that would lead to collaborations and eventually Children of Zeus.
Over an extended period of time, the pair made a collection of songs that became The Story So Far – a compilation that was used to demonstrate their interpretation of the “street soul” style, though they both initially had reservations. “We didn’t want to put [The Story So Far] out because everyone would think it was our first album, which they still do. We didn’t want that as a representation of our debut album,” shares Konny. Thankfully, they were soon persuaded by people around them to unveil the songs as a project and the decision is now viewed as “the best thing in the long run” due to the positive reception and subsequent exposure. “We were proud of the music [on The Story So Far]. It’s not like we don’t think it was a good project, it was just more wanting to put our best foot forward,” explains Tyler about their original reluctance, before adding, “The album will tell them more of the story of where we are now as far as the whole production side of things and the overall execution of things. I just feel like we’ve got to a more comfortable place.”
That feeling of comfort allowed for a pressure-less environment when creating the album, instead, leaving space for excitement and anticipation ahead of the final product. Both Tyler and Konny believe that Travel Light is a better depiction of Children of Zeus, mainly due to the difference in the creative process when compared to their previous work. “The difference with Travel Light is we actually got to sit in a room for three solid months, crafting it and working together. Spending all our time on every little aspect of it and just making sure it all works as one project,” says Tyler, before Konny supplements the comments by expressing how the album’s materialization was a simple process. “It was easy, it was quick, it was pretty stress-free. [The album] made itself, we didn’t make loads of songs and cut it down to the best 13, we just made 13 tracks.”
Such is the signature style that they have adopted, Travel Light acts as a continuation of their blend of Hip Hop and Soul, but finding a balance between the amount of rapping and singing involved is something that weighed heavy on the mind of Konny when putting the album together. “I feel it was more of a case of if we both rapped [throughout the entire album] people might say it’s good, but I know what separates us is Tyler’s singing. I don’t mind holding a back seat because the singing is what separates us [from other acts]. I’m not saying it’s what makes us better, but I think the singing is what separates it. The rapping will only get us so far and we see that from other people’s stuff. There’s a certain level in this country where you can take that, I suppose. The singing is what draws people to us and, hopefully, they stick around long enough to hear the bars.” However, Tyler disagrees, instead suggesting that it’s the result of the mixture that is attracting attention, not the separate ingredients. “I think the overall sound is everything. The fact that we make those beats – nobody else makes the beats the way that we make the beats. No one else raps the way we rap in this day and age. No one else is doing it our way.”
The Children of Zeus sound certainly evokes feelings of eras gone by. Tyler and Konny’s contemplations of the present day with a sound inspired by Soul of the 70s through a prism of the 90s, which has led to the belief that the music they’re making could only thrive at this current moment. “The actual music we make probably would have got lost in among the very similar type of sounds of the [90s],” suggests Konny. “The other part is that it wasn’t just that the music wouldn’t have worked as well in the 90s, but me and Tyler – what we’re doing now could only have worked after everything we’ve been through, I think. We just wouldn’t have done this when we were younger, it just wouldn’t have worked.” Any previous doubts that Konny may have had concerning the ability to build a successful career making Soul music have been erased primarily due to the success of other breakthrough artists of recent years, including the likes of Jorja Smith and IAMDDB.
This has encouraged Children of Zeus to remain true to their soulful sound and they say that they are currently working on multiple projects that they’re aiming to complete by the end of the year, in addition to supporting the many emerging acts from Manchester. Before that, of course, is the release of Travel Light – a title that is especially pertinent to them. “I just think we’ve learnt so much. Obviously, we’re not new to this, but this time around was new and I’ve definitely learnt loads of stuff making this album over the last three months,” admits Konny. “I feel like we had to get rid of some of the stuff we already knew and get rid of some of the ways of working to make it work. The extended version [of the saying] is ‘travel light, you travel far’, so, to me, getting rid of all this stuff is going to help us take it further than where we’ve been before.”
As for the album itself, expectations as to how it could affect their career is not of concern. “I feel the expectation for me was just to do this album where Konny and I could both say ‘we love the album’, and it’s not been an over compromise,” declares Tyler. “I hope people like it, that’s all we can really ask for.”
Travel Light will be available on First World Records from July 13.