“Zeeeeeeeeeebra Fuckingggggggggg Katzzzzzzzzzzz” croons the vocoder at the start of ‘IMA READ’, right before the pulsing bassline and deliciously menacing vocals kick in on this year’s most addictive underground rap release. It’s a track that has earned co-signs from the likes of Questlove and Pharrell Williams, rocked the dancefloors of New York and the catwalks of Paris, and taken its creator Ojay Morgan from catering manager to fashion industry darling in just a few short months. But who exactly is Zebra Katz? POST NEW met him in London to find out. Full interview at POST NEW.
Phoebe Lovatt: Where are you from?
Ojay Morgan: Originally I’m from South Florida but I moved to New York several years ago to pursue my creative dreams. I went to the New School and studied at Eugene Lang. Initially I’d wanted to go to the fashion school Parsons but it’s very competitive and I didn’t get in, which actually ended up being a blessing in disguise. While I was [at Eugene Lang] I had the opportunity to develop my own work and I created a solo performance piece called ‘Moral Contradictions’, which is what the persona of Zebra Katz grew out of. I actually made ‘IMA READ’ at that time, around five years ago. It’s great to have something that’s been online for five years finally get picked up.
PL: You made the track five years ago?!
OM: Yeah, I made it when I was studying. At that time I was always making music in my spare time. It was DJ Teenwolf who eventually told me to release it. He sent it to Diplo and soon after [Diplo] was like ‘yeah, we want to release this track’. So we shot a video in December 2011, released it in January of this year, and a few weeks later Rick Owen contacted us about using it in his runway show. On March 1st it was used in the show and the same day I quit my job! I was working as a catering manager but this was sign that I should be doing what I’m passionate about – and it was opportunity even more so. So I decided to take it and I ran with it and now I’m here in London, doing an interview in this room with you.
PL: ‘IMA READ’ has had a crazy response…
OM: Yeah, It was named the song of Paris Fashion Week and then got mentioned in the New York Times so that got me a lot of attention. It was astonishing – all this stuff happening as a result of something I did such a long time ago.