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EP 215: Ztilo (autogenerated)

Dane Reis: You booked it. Episode 215. All right. Let’s kick off today’s interview. I am excited to introduce my guest today. Steelo are you ready, for this? 

Ztilo: Okay. I’m ready, man. What’s going on? 

Dane Reis: Brilliant. All right. 

nearly a decade of experience as a recording artist under his belt, it’s hard to believe that Steelo who first hit the scene under the moniker.

Chris styles is still months away from turning 30. The bay area product emerged in 2012 with his undeniably infectious hit good times. The aforementioned single quickly opened 

doors for the young rising star. And in the next five years. 

I see, Steelo collaborate with numerous 

artists, including Mistah fab for, uh, kerko bangs along with dozens of live performances in some of the biggest markets in the country, steel that is a very quick and concise intro of who you are and what you’ve done.

But why don’t you tell us a little bit more about yourself and fill in the gaps a bit and a little more about what you do as a professional in

the entertainment industry? 

Ztilo: Yeah, man. I appreciate the intro.

So, So, yeah, just, got my start as Chris styles as a rapper and, had a slew of collaboration. So some local, some from other markets and,did a lot of cool things, man. been a part of a couple tours. had some radio singles, had some high-performing videos, but ultimately, ended up taking a hiatus as an artist and, ended up repackaging myself as is an RMBS.

And, that came pretty organically just because even when I was rapping, I was always a songwriter. And for the most part would write the hooks for a lot of the singles I collaborated with. Anyway. So, you know,now that we’re strictly in a more singing R and B Latin pop lane, it just feels organic, but, when I went ahead and changed the name to Steelo.

Was unironically, always my nickname. So there’s some continuity there, but,just taking off from where we left off, but 

in a new chapter, so to speak

Dane Reis: Yeah. 

very cool. It sounds like it just kind of went intolike an alignment really with what had always kind of been there. 

Ztilo: exactly.

Dane Reis: Yeah. Very cool. Well, I’m excited to dig into this interview, but , let’s move on to our 

first section here and Steelo look, I am a sucker for a 


What is your favorite quote you’d like to share with everyone? 

Ztilo: Man. So I could think of a lot of quotes, but I probably have to go with, you know, the only time you really lose is when you never try. for sure. I love that. can you

Dane Reis: expand on that a bit and, 

how that is? You’ve really appliedto your life.

Ztilo: I’d say that that pretty much defines me. Um, I mean, ultimately, you know, I’d say that a lot of people. That I know where a lot of people, a lot of us know, uh, won’t even attempt somethingthey either fear therejection, the judgment, theAndto me, that just doesn’t compute.Right? It’s like I would rather,I would rather, attempt something and fail and hold my head high that I went for It then to avoid that entirely by not even taking a step forward and putting my foot into that. Um, I think that applies to anything. It doesn’t have to be an attainment career. It could just be any, any life, goal and aspiration.

If this is better to try 

and not succeed than it is to, to avoid trying entirely.

Dane Reis: Yeah, I a hundred percent agree. I really liked that. And 

you know what I love about trying things, right. 

Obviously,When we are trying new things, we aren’t, 

you know, we don’t lack fear or lack apprehension. Right. It’s that we just, you just push through it. Right. And you keep expanding that, that how large your bubble 


you know, okay.

Where’s where are things a bit uncomfortable like that new, like

the bigger comfort zone, it keeps getting bigger and bigger, the bigger the project. Right. but I think what sometimes 

forget about are a way I like to. 

Help people kind of overcome that is, you know, you gotta think, all right. Yeah.

You’re all 

these anxiety, this fear of like, okay, you doing the thing. Right. And like 

what ifs? Right. but when you start looking from the 

other side and you go, okay, 

what’s the

worst thing that could happen. And when you 

really start laying it out is usually

very little, right. There’s hardly any downside and total massive 


And really it’s just. 

A bit of emotion 

getting in your 

way. So you 


oh, if you can, you can actually make it quite a very

objective kind of thing to do that can help 

you get propelled over that edge. 

Ztilo: Exactly and that’s, the, having your eyes on the right prize, which is, you know, it’s not the outcome, but just the attempt itself, as long as you attempted it, then you already won. You can respect yourself for that. 

Dane Reis: there we go. Well, let’s get into this next section here 


steal. Of course, you’re an entertainer, I’m an entertainer. And I think that you would agree that this industry can be one of the most subjective, brutally, honest and personally 

emotional industries in existence. And you know, as well as 

I, that in order to create and 

have a successful career in this industry, like you’re having now takes a little. Of dedication and hard work 

and wow. Yeah, 

there’s an outrageous 

amount of fun and excitement doing what we do. There are also our fair share of obstacles, challenges, and failures. we’re going 

to experience and we’re going to have to move forward through. Sotell us, what 

is one key

challenge, obstacle or failure you’ve experienced in your career and how did you come out the other side better because of it. 

Ztilo: man, that’s a, that’s a long list, but, uh, 

Dane Reis: I don’t. Yeah, I gotta choose 

Ztilo: the get shoes one. Um, yeah, I’d probably, you know, first one that comes to me would probably be fallouts and, you know, I mean fall outs in terms of personal relationships, business relationships. And, uh, those are tough to get through because. you know, whether it’s, uh, team that you had, that you built, that she had momentum with or somebody that you would depending on to, to keep their end of the deal or their word,you know, there’s no shortage of opportunities to hurt your pride in this industry. And I think that to sustain motivation and optimism sometimes when your expectations aren’t met. But you know, me coming out on the other side of the. it, it strengthens you in a way where, you know, your, your expectations and, you know, you take that on the chin and, and become a bit less co-dependent too, you know, it’s, it’s at the end of the day, it’s like, you know, you’re not here to make friends 

you’re here to, to, to be successful.

And sometimes, you know, that’s going to come with wins and losses. 

Dane Reis: I agree. You know, I thinkin the beginning, those, those fallouts, as you, as you put it,

Well, I guess it’s never fun. Right? You never enjoy 

a fallout some kind ofbeing let down in some way. Right. But do you find that 

it starts 

affecting you a little bit less? 

You know? Cause it’s, you’ve seen it right before and it comes up and it’s 

really difficult, 

Ztilo: That’s a 

good question. 

Dane Reis: And then as you keep 

moving forward, you’re like, oh yeah, maybe it’s almost like you don’t want it to 

happen. It’s not that you expect it to happen, but if it does happen, you go. 

You just like strap on the boots again, you go 


Let’s keep going.

Ztilo: Yeah. I mean, I don’t think it affects you less, but I think that you become prepared to deal with it. So I think that, I think that a gut reaction might be to stop letting people in and develop a trust issue and things like that. But ultimately it’s not about not letting people in it’s about having awareness that when you do. There’s always that possibility that. you know, things, things that might, might not turn out the way you want them to. And that’s not that they affect you less, but it’s now you have a, now you’re prepared to deal with it. You’re not, you’re not left guessing. 

Dane Reis: Love that. Love that. let’s take a moment to move on to a time that, I like to call your. Spotlight 

moment. That one moment time you realize, yes, I am going to be

an entertainer for a living 

or maybe it was, yes. This is what I need to be doing in this industry.

Tell us about that. 

Ztilo: So I could, I could probably go back to a really early age. So I’m thinking of a time in middle school where, you know, we had a school-wide right. And school in the gymnasium and on the stage they were doing, You know, different games or contests and things like that And one of them ended up being a rap battle. and, you know, I was already the kid who, you know, was rapping on cassette tapes and, you know, uh free-styling at, at, at lunchtime and things like that. So everybody who I was sittingyou know, they were just pointing at me. And at that point, but to go up there And, um, You know, the, the, my opponent wasn’t, he was at a disadvantage because little did he know that I was actually really intorap battle culture at the time, you know, I grew up watching freestyle Friday on 1 0 6 and park following, you know, these internet rat battle,uh, lanes and platforms.

And so, uh, we went up thereI don’t even remember, he went first And I don’t even remember what he said. That’s how relevant it was to the story. But, I basically watched him and, uh, just getting that, reaction from the crowd were probably, you know, that was definitely my first, uh, experience controlling a room, controlling a crowd.

And it may not be the moment where I decided I wanted to do this, but it was definitely a moment that reinforced, you know, the feeling. That I wanted to, to, to chase, right? The, The, 

reward of, of getting that, that, uh, affirmation from a big, you know, audience. 

Dane Reis: Oh yeah. So good. And I want to 

piggyback on that real quick and. Talk about your number one, booked it moment. Walk us through that day. What was going on in your life? And what about that moment? Makes it your favorite book? Didn’t moment. 

Ztilo: Solana highlights of highlights, but you know, the one that probably has still hold to be one of the most special is, uh, you know, how I got on radio, um, from my first radio single, it was a,

it’s a really good story, man. So basically, There was this contest, some, some weekend, contest where they play two songs by underground artists and then decide, you know, which one is the winner or something like that.

Like a one-off one-time thing. And, uh, basically you had to enter that kind of. And so I don’t know why they didn’t just accept an email or something at the time, but you basically had to go up to the radio station, present yourself, present the song, and then they’ll see if they’ll enter you in the contest.

Now I was commuting probably an hour away. My car was on the verge of breaking down. There was a bunch of traffic and I kid you not. I probably got there at the most five minutes. And it didn’t let me in. So they, Yeah, they, they were probably on some high horse, but ultimately they’re like, look, you know, we, we, we can’t let you in, even if you’re a minute late.

And so it was devastating because up until that point, you know, everybody that was in my circle or in my support system, you know, we were looking at this like a huge opportunity and it was something that I felt like I. Screwed up, you know what I mean? And, uh, interestingly enough, because I screwed it up, I ended up, running into somebody who gave me the contact information for one of the DJs, like one of their direct contacts.

And they just said, look, they just said, look, man, like, sorry to hear that. Sorry to see you upset. But you know, take, take, take what you will with this contact info. And you know, maybe you have better luck reaching out to them directly. And I’m like, all right, whatever, you know, at the time of. I have nothing to lose.

Um, so I had to get on the phone, you know tell, tell all my friends, all my, my, my entire team, like look guys, like not only do I have bad news, but we didn’t even get the shot. You know, we didn’t even get the opportunity and it’s my fault. And I remember saying.I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but I guarantee we will get on the radio.

And I, I don’t know to this day, like what my plan was, but it was just a feeling where I knew, regardless of what it takes, like I will make up for this. And, uh, I ended up reaching out to the DJ and basically just said, look, man, I have this song. And you know, I want to see what you think to see if it’s something that could be played on radio and, uh, ended up meeting up with. some DJs from the station, uh, they took a listen to the song. They said they were highly impressed. They said, look, this, this is a great record. and um, ultimately it ended in them saying, look, we want to start playing this. And, uh, that call to my team after that meeting was entirely different, right? It was, it was a.

You know, look, we’re about to have the biggest opportunity, you know, by labs. And I think that to this day, the reason it’s so special to me is the dynamic between where I was in life the level of opportunity probably can’t be recreated. You know what I mean? It’s like being down to your last, being that young.

Being that desperate being that, you know, uh, uh, helpless in, in, in terms of finances, life situations, whatever the case may be, and to be given that opportunity, it’s like, man, that was a, that was definitely a special time. And, um, you know, just to just, just the lesson to be learned where, you know, you can even turn your failures into, into successes.

So it’s not about, it’s not about losing a winning it’s about 

what you do with those losses and how you pivot from. 

Dane Reis: What you do 

with those losses and how you pivot. That’s so good. Yeah. I mean, where there’s a will, there’s a way. Right. And And who’s to 

say, you know, Situation of not getting to the 

place on time and then having that contact, you

know, just given to you, you know, was the more direct, more 

successful route in, you know, in the grand scheme of things.

Right. It’s crazy how this world works. Hey man, that’s so cool.and from there, obviously, you know, 

you said in your bio that kind of made things take off a bit for you for as well, 

Ztilo: Yeah.

I mean that, that jump-started everything, you know, that’s when I went from this obscure local act that, you know, only the people who went to school with me knew about to, uh, see, you know, a big, big, uh, having a huge, huge song here locally. And, uh, that, that just kick-started the whole thing.

Dane Reis: Yeah, that’s amazing. Well, that leads us 

into this next part here. And I want to take a moment to talk about the present. What projects are you working on now? What are you looking forward 

to and 

how do you see the entertainment 

industry more moving forward in the next couple of years considering, you know, what’s been going on this last 18.

Ish or longer than that months with, Uh, the pandemic

Ztilo: Good question. So first part. We’re always working on music. but, we basically have a whole, we basically almost have the next project done. And so we, we pride ourselves in having a diverse. mix of music. So whether it’s Latin and it’s all Spanish, whether it’s RMB or whether it’s a little bit more hip hop or pop, and not only just displaying the versatility, but being able to reach an audience that maybe resonates with one genre over the other, and then bringing them all together, you know what I mean?

That that’s a part that’s rewarding for me. And so. A lot of new music on the way, which is getting that put together, getting that wrapped up. And, uh, I mean, as far as where I see the music and the, that that’s, uh, you know, that’s a tough question because I don’t know if I’m necessarily qualified to answer that, but I think that just based on my observation, uh, technology is going to continue to dictate where this industry goes.

And, you know, if we’re looking at the last 18 months where we’ve seen. You know, a shift in just how much power there is in an artist reaching their audience directly. I think that we’re going to continue to probably see a correlation with technology evolving and an artist being able to directly reach the consumer.

And, uh, we’ll, we’ll have to see where it goes from there. I mean, if you think about 10 years ago, we were still handing out CDs, right? So what’s to say in five years we won’t be using. The same social media or streaming platforms that we are today. It could be something we don’t even see coming.

Dane Reis: for sure. I agree. I had a guest on while back. His name is cliff Goldbacher. He? There’s a song writer he’s based, he’s based out of a couple of different places, but, uh, he’s a Grammy mentioned artist. He’s worked on a couple of different, like huge hits and he’s very much involved in the music industry of course, but also on the, how do we make this fair?

How do we make this? How do we get the artists that are, you know, have all of their music on these different streaming services? How do we make the financial aspect of the industry? make more sense and be more fair to the artists that are really providing the content on all of these platforms. And it was really cool.

And because I’ve, I’ve talked to other artists and things, and they’re saying. On one hand, it’s brilliant because you can go direct to your audience and you can really niche things out and you can get a lot of exposure, right. And you can publish your own things. But on the flip side is that you don’t have the label.

You don’t have necessarily have the label or you don’t. It’s harder to break through the noise because you might not have this giant marketing PR team behind you. there’s pros and cons to

Ztilo: Always. Yeah,

Dane Reis: landscape right now. Right. and I thought it was really cool that he was one of these people that is being outrageously active in that space, trying to work on, making this thing.

Fair, whatever that, whatever that means. Right. But also trying to understanding that it needs to adapt and change within this new dynamic.

And it is time to move on to one of my favorite sections in the interview. I call it the grease lightening round. I’m going to ask you a handful of questions.

I want you to answer them as quickly and concisely as possible one after another. Are you.

Ztilo: I mean, I’m as ready as it’s going to be, man,

Dane Reis: All right. First question. What was the one thing holding you back from committing to a career as an entertainer?

Ztilo: responsibilities.

Dane Reis: Second question. What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

Ztilo: Uh, don’t give up.

Dane Reis: There we go. Third question. What is something that is working for you right now? Or if you’d like to go pre COVID, what was working for you before our industry took kind of a pause?

Ztilo: So director direct to consumer marketing, man, just not, not being afraid to reach out to people directly and send them your music.

Dane Reis: There we go. Fourth question. What is it? Your best resource? Whether that’s a book, a movie, a YouTube video, maybe a podcast or a piece of technology you found is helping your career. Right.

Ztilo: Oh, YouTube for sure.

Dane Reis: Fifth question. If you had to start your career from scratch, but you still had all the knowledge and experience you’ve collected from your career in this industry, what would you do or not do? Would you do anything differently or would you keep it.

Ztilo: I’d get to that meeting on time.

Dane Reis: Yes. Last question. What is the golden nugget knowledge drop you’ve learned from your successful career? You’d like to leave with our listeners.

Ztilo: I say that it doesn’t matter how easy or hard the journey. Because the only people that get through to that other side are the ones that push through it and hustle. So, uh, it doesn’t matter. Who’s at an advantage of disadvantage who’s talented or less talented. It’s just about, who’s going to put the work in.

Dane Reis: Do the work, right. That’s interesting. Cause there are people, you know, that inherently have a bit of a leg up, right. Or people will say that, that natural talent thing for like say sports, right? Yup. That might get you. That always gets you to a point advantages, get you to a point, but eventually.

Everyone gets the even playing field and you have to do the work. There we go. And to wrap up this interview, Steelo it is time to give yourself a plug. How do our listeners connect with you? Is there anything you want to.

Ztilo: Yeah. So social media, regardless of the platform at Steelo music, Z T I L M U S I C we have a project coming next month that just summarizes the releases this year. Man, no hard feelings that EDP, you know, whether you’re a fan of Latin music, pop music, art music, we have everything for you. It’s going to be a great body. Okay.

Dane Reis: Beautiful. And for everyone listening out there, I put the links to all of Steelers social handles in the description of this episode. So you can easily connect with him and also be sure to share this podcast with your fellow interns. Coaches teachers arts and entertainment educators, and anyone, you know, aspiring to create a career in the entertainment industry.

You booked. It is the number one resource of expertise on how to actually create a successful entertainment career. It is integral to helping them succeed and helping you create a better, more fulfilling career in this crazy industry. If you enjoyed this episode, hit that subscribe button. So you don’t miss the next one.

Steelo thank you so much for joining me today. Coming on. I love getting the perspective of the music industry a little bit more here on the podcast

Ztilo: Yeah, for sure, man. I appreciate you having me.