Our latest Urban Beardsman is living proof that the quote, “Without music, life would be a mistake”reigns true. Meet Z.A.N.E., whose early musical influences not only shaped his skills as a talented lyricist and emcee, but also inspired him to help the youth in his career in mental health. When he’s not spotted performing at shows throughout CA, he can also be found providing guidance to his clients, often with a little something called music therapy.
A Southern California native, Z.A.N.E. instantly fits the bill as a stand-up guy with the gift of gab. He speaks eloquently regarding where he draws inspiration to form the razor sharp lyrics to his music. His songs tell stories about life, and he brings his own experiences into his art. Like many kids growing up, he had his own unique struggles—including Tourette’s syndrome, which helped him find his passion in hip-hop.
Throughout his high school years, Z.A.N.E. discovered a way to avoid feeling out of place by blending his unique persona with his love of music, sharing, “Being I had a lot of energy, instead of saying weird things, I was able to spin it. Freestyling was an outlet to express that and get it out. I started hanging out with some friends making music and rapping with them. Soon after, we were doing local shows—it was a lot of fun.”
Z.A.N.E took a brief hiatus from music to focus on his extended education; earning a bachelor’s in psychology and social behavior, along with receiving his master’s in counseling. During his education, he still found ways to fuel his artistic fire by creating and producing beats, stating, “I started to realize I wasn’t being true to myself if I wasn’t being creative and sharing on that level as well.”
Having both parents who were already practicing therapists, Z.A.N.E. admits he never thought (or wanted) to be the same as his folks, “Eventually as I got older I realized I’m my best self when I’m helping others. Being able to help someone shift their perspective a bit, while watching them grow and see the their potential in life—that’s one of the most rewarding parts for me.”
As he found his path while completing his educational goals, he delved back into hip-hop and learned how he could use art to help others. He was introduced to a therapeutic modality that seemed on beat to his quest to help others, known as music therapy. “It’s an awesome way to bring art and creativity into the healing process. You can use music to connect to kids in a unique way, and build rapport. You can do anything from analyzing lyrics, to beating a drum; to writing and recording hip hop songs. Because of the positive impact it had on my life, I wanted to show others how they could use music to promote growth, and I feel lucky I’m able to mesh my love for music with my career.”
Aside from sharing his creative outlets with music therapy, Z.A.N.E. encourages the youth to not be afraid to pursue their own artistic dreams and shares, “Finding a kid’s spark is one of the most powerful things you can do. If they follow it, they are more likely to succeed in life. I meet a lot of kids who don’t always get that aspect nurtured from others, and I’m fortunate that I get the opportunity to provide that. I once had a kid who sent me a letter one day that said ‘thank you for helping me find out who I am—I am an artist’, and it was one of the best feelings I’d ever had.”
One other impact he may not intentionally mean to make occurs with the awesome beard on his face. “When I don’t have a beard I look young, so being in my field its not necessarily questioned and it works to my advantage. My boss likes it, and the kids have even told me, ‘if you ever trim it I won’t like you’!”
While Z.A.N.E. will admit it started out as a translucent “ghost goatee,” it’s also undeniable there’s quite an impressive mustache to complement his beard. “I feel that the mustache adds to the uniqueness, and I’ve grown it out thick cowboy style. I believe you can be a Beardsman even if you don’t have a beard.”
Z.A.N.E. however receives notable recognition from the beard community on sites such as Reddit.com—earning titles of best beard and best mustache, and states, “Reddit kept me going and I felt like I had friends on there. Next thing you know I began entering beard competitions, such as the one in LA where I met Beardbrand’s own Eric Bandholz.”
Although one would think by the looks of such a full beard he’d have an intense grooming regimen, but he admits, “I’m fortunate to have very straight beard-hair. I use shampoo, towel dry it and use a giant unbreakable comb before applying the Tea Tree Beard Oil. After that, I’m good to go for the rest of the day.”
Whether he’s rocking an amazing face mane or rocking the mic, there’s one thing you can count on seeing more of in Z.A.N.E.’s future—sincerity. “I’m currently working toward my licensure in marriage and family therapy, and I’d also like to do more benefit shows and touch more people with music. I just want to be happy and others to be happy as well. If nothing comes of it, at least I had a great time doing it and I got to share it with people around me.”
Be sure to keep your ears open for Z.A.N.E’s upcoming projects with his buddy 8 bit bandit, (known together as: Lazer Talk), and keep an eye out for one of their shows coming to a town near you!