Zachary Watkins and Ishma Valenti started making music together 12 years ago.
On Nov. 20 at 8:30 p.m., AZP, an Indie R&B Lincoln-based band, is playing its final show of the year at the Zoo Bar. Inspired by the Doors, Pink Floyd, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye, the group has played its music for sold-out crowds at Vega and in venues ranging from California to Texas.
“Everywhere we go is exciting and refreshing,” Valenti said. “Everyone wants to be a part of our movement.”
That movement is to redefine music culture. Valenti said AZP makes music that is not only socially conscious but represents what black music is. They’re reverting back to African roots and making music that listeners won’t feel guilty about enjoying.
“One of the biggest things we’re looking to do as founders of AZP is to turn back what is considered black music,” said Watkins, AZP vocalist and pianist. “A lot of people of black culture believe the only thing considered that type of music are top 40 hits and crazy rap. It’s not righteous and positive.”
AZP is determined to change that. AZP’s lyrics don’t demoralize women or promote drug use. They want to bring music back to a gold standard, according to Watkins. This difference landed them a licensing bill, making AZP’s music available for commercial use.
After the show at the Zoo Bar, the band is taking a leave to produce two full-length albums and work on the business aspect of the group. They’re opening up to listeners, revealing the reality that the group has its flaws.
“We want to walk on the other side where we’re opening our own journal and being more personal,” Watkins said.
The righteous and honest values aren’t the only thing that sets AZP apart from the rest of Lincoln’s local music scene. Watkins believes their indie sound in combination with everything AZP stands for made the band a standalone.
“It’s like putting a needle in a haystack,” Watkins said. “At some point you’re gonna find that needle and that kinda sticks out.”