Jason Maek & Zaena
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Jason Maek & Zaena

Chicago, Illinois, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | INDIE

Chicago, Illinois, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2014
Duo EDM Pop




"Chicago Indie Label Challenges Majors With Electronic Visual Album"

CHICAGO — For 15 days, Jason Sizer's North Side home was transformed into a studio, and, for the months that followed, the city became his set.

The finished product is a 70-minute visual album that is thought to be the first ever produced by an indie music label.

The visual album, "Maek Pandamonium," features 18 continuous music videos woven into an abstract storyline and has racked up more than 140,000 views on YouTube and Vevo.

Paul Biasco says the label wants their work to always be free for fans:

The electronic album is the first work that Sizer and co-producer, Libya-born singer Zaena Cherif, did together.

Sizer, a 27-year-old hip hop artist who goes by the stage name Jason Maek, wanted to launch his label with a bang.

"We wanted it to be something that people wouldn’t know how the hell an independent label did it, because theses are not projects that independent labels even try to do," Sizer said.

The ambition landed the visual album on the front page of YouTube rival Vevo.com in November.

There are 15 producers on the LP, and 70 filmmakers and 10 editors who helped out on the project, according to Sizer, who grew up in Stony Island Park and lives in Rogers Park. The credits alone run two minutes long.

"It was an animal to write," Sizer said.

Beyoncé dropped the most noteworthy visual album to date in 2013.

When Sizer brought up the idea of a similar project Zaena, then a newly signed singer to his label, she thought it was a joke.

"It was a lot of crazy, hallucinating, lack-of-sleep days," Zaena said.

"It was weird," Sizer added.

The album is also available for free on soundcloud.com.

In October more than 40 schools across the country threw viewing parties for the launch of Maek Pandemonium.

Scenes were filmed all over the city including in a mansion in Bronzeville, a house in Rogers Park and on a North Side beach where Cherif leads a mock "Fast Food Fitness" infomercial.

"We wanted to make it as Chicago inclusive as possible. This is our city. This is where we are from. I grew up here. Our label is here," Sizer said.

The duo are planning a nationwide 30-city tour of college campuses this winter and plan on riding the tour into the summer festival scene.

Their energetic show features a mix of Sizer rapping over hip hop and electronic beats while Zaena mixes and at other times Zaena sings while Jason Maek mixes.

The show stage presence draws influence from Wayne Coyne of psychedelic rock band The Flaming Lips, who is a mentor of Sizer's.

Getting to this point was years in the making for Sizer, who holds a master's degree in urban planning and pursued a doctorate in sociology from the University of Illinois.

Sizer was working in architecture when he realized he could not pass up his love of music in 2010.

"I was always scared to pursue music as a dream," he said. "I thought I'm just too young to hate my life. I realized I don't want to be one of those people who is 40 and realized I didn't live my dream."

In September 2013 Sizer and co-founder Tiffany Lee launched their label, Maek.

Maek is a free music label, no strings attached.

The label relies on advertisements, tours, merchandise sales and partnerships to support its artists.

"We aren’t Sony. We aren’t trying to be Sony. We aren’t trying to be Def Jam," Sizer said. "We like being able to be a label that was created by people who just love music." - DNA Chicago


Maek Pandamonium, the first visual album from Jason Maek and Zaena, fuses 18 songs and 17 visually stunning, provocative videos into one abstract storyline about the influences of pop culture. The project was originally released on October 6th. To celebrate its release, over 45 colleges and universities hosted individual watch parties for it and drew the attention of Vevo and therefore deciding to pick up the visual album crediting its originality and creativity.

The visual album is designed to be consumed as an all-inclusive audio/visual piece from start to finish. The antithesis of a released single, Maek Pandamonium is a non-linear journey through the thoughts and visions of Jason Maek and Zaena.

Maek Pandamonium premiered on the front page of Vevo on November 3rd.

Check it out. - CUSP Magazine

"Untold Stories: Indie label makes visual album"

Untold Stories: Indie label makes visual album - FOX NEWS

"ASN Album Review: Maek Pandamonium LP, Jason Maek & Zaena’s FREE Visual Album"

Pandamonium Visual Album Review & Interview w/ Jason Maek and Zaena

Review of Jason Maek & Zaena's FREE visual album, "Maek Pandamonium LP".

The only thing better than a hot electro album is a hot electro VISUAL album. The only thing better than a hot electro visual album is when that album is FREE.

No strings, no gimmicks. Just good vibes, killer drops and 18 hot tracks. That’s what Jason Maek and Zaena bring to the table with the Maek Pandamonium LP, a 100% free visual album available for download now on SoundCloud.

Jason Maek and Zaena are a pair of fast-rising Chicago artists with 3 things in common:

They both are part of Maek, the world’s first free music record label.
They both care passionately about getting the best new electro music to new fans.

Their Maek Pandamonium LP is about to blow the hell up.
I had the opportunity to interview Jason Maek and Zaena in early November 2014, just as the buzz on the Maek Pandamonium LP was starting to take off. The Pandamonium LP, which is the first electronic (EDM) visual album ever, debuted on 40 college campuses with visual album viewing parties in October. (The album’s official “release date” was October 6, 2014).

Since then, the Maek Pandamonium LP has gotten over 250,000 downloads on SoundCloud and been viewed over 50,000 times in just under a month. All this from a free music label, charging exactly $0.00 for each download and view of their album.

Watch and listen to the FULL Jason Maek & Zaena visual album HERE:

“The music industry is changing,” Jason Maek (aka Jason Sizer, founder and president of Maek) said in our interview. “We’re trying to do something that actually works, that makes sense today.”

What Maek and Zaena’s visual album has accomplished to date is impressive. As a fully free music record label, Maek has successfully gotten over a quarter of a million downloads of its debut LP in under a month. They’ve been featured on VEVO’s front page on YouTube.

And the best part? It’s not all hype. I haven’t even started talking about how sick this visual album is yet.

From the intro to “Came Here For Love”, the Pandamonium LP drops you visually and sonically into a sea of electronic stimulation. “Broken Window” (the LP’s most popular track early on) features a sample from Styx’s “Mr. Roboto”, but rather than lean on the sample, Zaena’s vocals stand on their own. Jason Maek’s take on the Styx sample further serves to make it their own.

Zaena & Jason Maek go big w/ their LP and visual album release.
EDM and electro music place heavy emphasis in positivity and good feelings, but Jason Maek and Zaena aren’t afraid to put weight on the messages in their music. “Electric Fences” deals with a couple surviving trials together. “Pretty Ugly” draws inspiration from society’s demands for external looks at the expense of inner beauty.

And yes, the theme of “Pretty Ugly” does sound like that of “Pretty Hurts” from Beyonce’s visual album. And it might just be a little intentional. Jason Maek and Zaena aren’t afraid to tip their artistic hat to other visual albums or musical inspirations from the past, paying homage without plagiarizing.

The visual album component of the Maek Pandamonium LP is difficult for me to talk about, because much of it defies description. Compiled by multiple filmmakers over the course of 15 days (“We called in every film favor we had”, Jason told me), it’s a mash-up of pop culture, EDM influences, humor, pandas, and some altogether trippy shit.

In particular, keep an eye out for the “Fast Food Fitness” 80’s workout video, the jarring plastic surgery imagery from “Pretty Ugly” and the grindhouse-inspired “No Fucks” mini-movie.

The Maek Pandamonium LP & visual album may be the most important electro/EDM album of 2014.
If there’s a particular track destined for “single status” on the Pandamonium LP visual album, it might be “Bass Come Around”, which features a catchy lyrical hook, sick electro drums and a lot of radio-friendly ear candy (as well as an electro section at 1:15 that is pee-your-damn-pants good).

But it was never Jason Maek and Zaena’s intention to write a single for this LP. The visual album is truly that – a fully-realized album – and the tandem goes hard at every track.

By the end of the nearly 70 minute visual album, the viewer & listener will come to a few conclusions. First, you’ll realize you barely looked away from the screen. But the most important conclusion you’ll draw is that you feel satisfied, and you feel good.

And that’s what the Maek Pandamonium LP is all about. And did we mention the whole damn album is free?!

That all being said, between the quality of the music, the visually addictive visual album, and the game-changing approach to free music distribution, the Maek Pandamonium LP may end up being the most important EDM and electro album of 2014.

AwesomeShit.Ninja “Maek Pandamonium LP” & Visual Album Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 throwing stars - Awesome Shit Ninja

"Radio Extra: Chicago Indie Label Challenges Majors With Visual Album"

For 15 days, Jason Sizer’s North Side home was transformed into a studio, and, for the months that followed, the city became his set. The finished product is a 70-minute visual album that is thought to be the first ever produced by an indie music label. The visual album, “Maek Pandamonium,” features 18 continuous music videos woven into an abstract storyline and has racked up more than 140,000 views on YouTube and Vevo. - Chicago Sun Times

"Wrecked Featured Interview"

Wrecked Featured Interview - Wrecked Radio

"Maek’s Pandamonium: The Visual Album Experience"

Last Monday, I was like lucky enough to tune in with WVBU to watch the live stream premiere of the Maek’s visual album, Maek Pandamonium, a 17 song collaborative LP from artists Maek and Zaena.

So what exactly is a “visual album?” The term, as coined by Animal Collective, describes an album that pairs every song with a video (Beyoncé’s surprise self-titled album might come to mind). Unlike music videos, visual albums have videos that span the entirety of the LP and often the video is as much a part of the album as the music itself. These albums offer a new mode of creative and visual expression for artists, and are often used as a means of promotion for the album. In some ways, they take us back to the way albums used to be; before iTunes and Spotify. Albums used to be thought of as one cohesive work of musical artistry, each song representing a piece of an overall artistic narrative. Today, music is all about the “hit single,” and listeners rarely purchase a full album. The visual album brings back the idea of an album being a cohesive work of art.

Maek Pandamonium is the first of its kind in many ways. It is the first independent, the first EDM, and the first free visual album. The innovative project comes from an equally innovative record label. From its start in 2011, Maek has made waves. It is the world’s first free music record label. The founders, Jason Sizer (artistically known as Jason Maek) and Tiffany Lee realized that today, despite the music industry’s best efforts, there is always a way to get music for free. So why sell people something they don’t have to buy? Sizer and Lee decided to stop fighting the battle of free music and instead redesigned the music model. As Sizer explains:

“Our mission is to bridge the relationship between fans and artists by removing the dark cloud of direct music sales. No longer will fans have to illegally download music from their favorite artists. It will always be given to them as a sign of appreciation for their dedication and support. Going against the grain of conventional thinking allows our roster a level if creative freedom not ordinarily given by record companies concerned about chart rankings and album sales.”

2014 was the first year that digital music sales went down, and labels everywhere are trying to revamp their model to combat how accessible music has become. Maek is a product of this change in industry and attitude.

On Monday, we were one of the first colleges to tune into the live stream. It was very intimate and interactive. Maek and Zaena were chatting with us, answering questions. They even gave Bucknell a shout-out. Over 45 colleges and websites tuned in from all over the world, including Harvard, Bloomsburg, Lincoln University in New Zealand, and the popular music discovery group goodmusicallday.com. The artists gave a little background on their album and the idea behind it. They explained that the entire visual album was filmed in 15 shootings, with days that were 18 and sometimes 24 hours long. They then wanted to answer any questions viewers had about their label and the album.

Despite some technical issues, the live stream was a really cool way to get to know the artists and producers behind the album. Maek explained that “this is the proudest moment in our lives. I’ve never done something and been 100% proud of it before. I’m proud of every inch that went into performing this; I’m proud of every sound that went into the album; I’m so proud of every single one of you that is here, because you didn’t have to be, but you [are]. And that means the world to me.” You could see how proud they were of what they had done and the impact it will have in the industry. And they should be proud. Maek Pandamonium shows that independent labels can pull off the things that major labels do. Past visual albums by artists such as Beyoncé and Coldplay have had seven figure budgets. For an independent, no less free record label to pull off something like this is mind blowing.

It is somewhat surprising that this is the first EDM visual album, as the genre lends itself very well to visual expression. Think about any EDM festival and the amount of money they put into creating huge sets and effects. The genre is all about visual stimuli; its almost as important as the sound. But, for those who don’t go to shows or festivals often, the visual expression of the genre is somewhat lost. Maek Pandamonium makes this visual aspect easily available to anyone who wants to experience it. Some of the visual album is quite mesmerizing. The first track, “Bass Come Around”, is a jumble of black and white visuals, some soothing, some creepy. And while you can’t exactly follow a narrative in the video, it accompanies the track really well. In stark contrast, the second track, “Gasoline”, is a bright, comic book style video that feels more like something out of mainstream pop music. The next track, “Fire”, has a more comedic style. It’s modeled as a fitness video, with a fake disclaimer and infomercial for “fastfoodfitness.” It seems like this visual album has a little bit of everything. It’s trippy, it’s creepy, it’s emotional, it’s ironic, it’s mesmerizing, it’s even nostalgic (the track “Dance is Everywhere” includes a clip of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song). And while the entire visual album is over an hour long, it really does add to the acoustic content on the album and makes it an entirely different experience for the listener.

The buzz that Maek has caused in its short period of existence is impressive to say the least. The label’s revamped approach to marketing in the music industry allows it to pull off feats that most labels confined by album sales cannot. And their driving reason behind their free approach, that they believe music is a gift and should be shared, is inspiring. I have a feeling we’ll hear much more from these guys in the future, and I’m excited to see where their path takes them next.

You can check out the full visual album on YouTube, and download the entire Maek Pandamonium LP for free using the links below: - Campus Vinyl

"Maek It Yourself"

The "visual album" Maek Pandamonium brought together 15 producers, 70 filmmakers and 10 editors for the first-ever visual album released by an indie label. Read our profile of the label in Transmission. - Gapers Block

"Jason Maek & Zaena – Maek It"

Some people claim they can tell whether a song will be good within the first fifteen seconds. “Maek It” perhaps then, would mislead them with an old fashioned wind up lead in (sounding like a retro electronic appliance) which quickly winds down and drops into one of the catchiest and most feel good original sounds that I’ve had the pleasure of listening to in a while. What really sets this track apart is the use of what is presumably a young girl singing about admirable ambitions. Her vocals are lighthearted, innocent, and full of blissful positive vibes.The track progresses in a refreshing way — first with a retro sounding lead in, then a cheery yet upbeat instrumental, complimented by a young girls sing-sing voice leading into Jason Maek’s verse which is finally topped off with Zaena’s voice. It almost reminds me of a Kanye track, with the way Maek sounds on this one. Overall a quality track that’s more than worth downloading and putting it onto a feel good summertime or early fall playlist. Props to Montana Morris for the instrumental!Be sure to check out these two out on Twitter: @jasonmaek & @zaenaworld. - RadCircle

"(New Video)-@jasonmaek & @zaenaworld “Maek Pandamonium Visual Album”"

Chicago’s free music electronic record label Maek has officially debuted their “Maek Pandamonium Visual Album”. This project sets a first in the following three categories:

-The first visual album in electronic music
-The first visual album from an independent record label
-The first visual album produced in Chicago

The project can be described as electronic music meets Image Union crossed into early MTV music video days. It also brings to mind something of a Liquid Television hybrid with it’s clever use of artistic expressions set to a music soundtrack. Unlike the handful of visual albums before it, the “Maek Pandamonium Visual Album” focuses more on storyline and continuity, weaving all 17 videos to depict a singular, abstract storyline about the influence of pop culture. Join Jason Maek & Zaena as they lead you on a journey thru a colorful palette chock full of visual delights. - Get Your Buzz Up

"Independent record label making history with first electronic visual album"

Jason Sizer and Zaena Cherif, electronic artists with the Chicago-based independent record label Maek, are gearing up for the Oct. 6 release of their collaborative visual album, Maek Pandamonium.
Visual albums are out of reach for most independent record labels because of the amount of time and budget it takes to create one, Sizer said. The most notable visual music album, on which every song is accompanied by a video, is Beyoncè’s self-titled album released in
December 2013. Maek Pandamonium is the first electronic visual album of its kind and the first to be created by an independent label, according to Sizer, who performs under his pseudonym, Jason Maek.
Sizer, founder of Maek, launched the label officially in September 2013. All music released by the label is free.

“Beyoncè and Coldplay’s releases are the last few visual albums that came out [recently], and those had seven-figure budgets,” Sizer said. “We had to figure a way to do a visual album within our [budget] constraints and our time frame.”
Tiffany Lee, vice president of Maek, said this album was a crucial step for the musicians’ success, providing exposure for them.
“The visual album/LP was the perfect next step after Zaena and [Sizer] released their introductory EPs in March,” Lee said in an email. “We needed something with fire power to push the label and them as artists to the next level.”

Lee said the album will raise visibility both for the artists and the label as it grows.
“[Maek Pandamonium] shows that independent labels and artists can do things on the same level as major labels and mainstream acts,” Lee said. “It’s representative of Chicago and its place in the music industry.”

Sizer and Cherif began collaborating on Maek Pandamonium after they both released their first individual EPs.
“I didn’t want to do a full LP, and I don’t think Zaena wanted to either,” Sizer said. “I don’t think it was something we were ready for in relation to the scope of [furthering our careers]. But we knew if we came together, we could make something really awesome and really different.”

Sizer and Cherif gutted Sizer’s apartment and turned it into a recording studio with equipment from Guitar Center, a music store, and a vocal booth made from a tent. The recording process for the album took the duo a total of 10 days, Sizer said. They then shot the videos, which took 15 days, he said.

“In the end, [we were a lot happier] because we were able to do everything exactly how we wanted and place everything exactly where we wanted,” Cherif said. “[We were able to] redo any little part that we were not 100 percent happy with, so it turned out much better than if we had recorded somewhere else.”

Instead of an overarching story line within the videos, each is abstract and tells a different story, Sizer said.

“Every video is different, but they tie together with different media clips from television,” Sizer said. “The abstract storyline is how television and pop culture is this huge influence.”

More than 40 colleges across the world will be hosting visual album viewing parties to honor the release of Maek Pandamonium. Harvard University and Lincoln University in New Zealand are two among the many that will participate in celebrating the album release, Sizer said.
Both Sizer and Cherif said they want their fans to enjoy the album and for people to recognize the intersection of its musical and visual aspects.

“I’m really confident about it,” Cherif said. “I want everyone to experience what I’ve experienced, which is enjoying something fully. Watching it, hearing it and seeing something that’s different because there aren’t a lot of visual albums out there.” - The Columbia Chronicle

"Zaena Feat. Jason Maek: ‘Gasoline’"

Gasoline featuring Zaena. Amazing vocals here! - Rolling Out

"Jason Maek and Zaena: Maek It"

Today’s Dose, by Chicago based Jason Maek and Zaena is from their ‘Visual Album’ Maek Pandamonium, which is not your normal album. It is their debut, and is 17 music videos (totalling over an hour long) weaved together into one abstract storyline. it is embedded below for you. - Insomnia Radio


Zaena and Jason Maek of Maek Productions are teaming up to release an ambitious "Visual Album" this month. Pandamonium is a collection 12 track, which can all be all be downloaded for free here, but the full project will be released on October 6th. - The Deli Magazine

"Zaena -Top 10 Artist's To Watch in 2014"

At the age of 26, Zaena has wanted to make music ever since she was a child. “The first time I ever heard a song,” she says, “I knew I would grow up to be a singer.” Zaena tells us that signing with Maek was the first step when it came to publicizing her music. “They have an amazing staff over there that works daily on my career.” Amongst her idols are Etta James and Madonna and Gwen Stephani, all of which have changed the face of music at one point. “I want my music to empower and affect people of all races and genders,” she says.

Recently Zaena release her, “Whiskey and Beer,” and “Favorites Tunes,” videos on Vevo. Both have received enormous recognition from all over the world. Her debut EP titled, “Harlequin,” being released in March, will feature both songs. The title “Harlequin,” she tells us is based on the literature character, Harlequin, that represents how women are projected with jester or villain by our society. She adds that the EP features a “collection of songs that show a variance of emotions and ideas that women feel all the time, but don’t necessarily get to express through song.”

When it comes to life, Zaena says that, “Dreams become reality, when reality dares to dream.” Recently Zaena showcased her music outside of the studio at SXSW. We are going to have to say that that dream got as realistic as it could get!

Before signing with Maek, Zaena belonged to a different label. At the time that Jason Sizer had approached her, she says, “I [had] just left a label and despite being approached by a lot of majors and independents, signing with someone wasn’t my focus.” However, she said that Maek’s approach to signing her was different. “[Jason Sizer] kept talking about building me a long lasting career, [not] about making me the next hot artist. That made all the difference.”

Being apart of a label that gives away free music, Zaena comments by saying she didn’t want to “have [her] creativity stifled by sales projections and commercialism.” She wants her music to easily reach fans and break boundaries, cross boarders, and the stereotype of the female musician, but most of all, she tells us “one day my music will make millions of people smile.” - Elicit Magazine

"Jason Maek Named Top 10 Artist's To Watch in 2014"

Ever since he started off as a musician on the road at the age of 15, Jason Maek has not stopped working his way up the music industry ladder since.

“I sold my first song in college,” he says, “From there I became a ghost writer for a lot of artists.” He tells Elicit that he pushed himself to do music fulltime, not just as a musician, but also as a businessman. After getting a job out of college branding various artists for both major and independent music labels, Jason soon decided that he wanted to be that record label.

Now, in 2014, Jason Sizer has co-founded Maek, the world’s first free record label. “I want [Maek] to close the bridge between free music for fans and artists making a career out of their craft.”

His inspirations vary from Kanye West all the way to Ray Charles, yet Jason admits that if he could do a duet with any artist, it would have to be Zaena. For those who are unaware, Zaena is part of the Maek label, “I’m bias,” he says candidly. With the help of some amazing producers, Jason’s lyrics are brought to life, “I want people to feel every lyric,” he says.

Recently, Jason performed at SXSW and promoted his debut EP, “Do Epic Shit,” set to be released within the month of March. He tells Elicit that it is an electro Hip-Hop EP that features two singles, “God Made All of Us,” and “Ew.” To this day, the two have received over 10,000 downloads and over 90,000 views on Vevo. “Ew” touches on the ugliness of racism, and “God Made All of Us,” speaks on the behalf of equality. Jason’s EP title speaks on behalf of his future career not only as a co-founder or director of the Maek label, but also as an artist himself.

Aside from his amazing video production skills, the ability to represent artists under a label that only cares about fans getting music they love for free, the name Maek speaks for itself. “Maek represents the creation of art,” Jason says, “No matter the genre or form just Maek it.” - Elicit Magazine

"The Chicago-based emcee Jason Maek has quickly developed a reputation for lyrics that are thoughtful, thought-provoking and at times polarizing"

The Chicago-based emcee Jason Maek has quickly developed a reputation for lyrics that are thoughtful, thought-provoking and at times polarizing. “Fix It,” the latest single off Maek’s collaboration with Zaena, Maek Pandamonium describes a man’s battle to keep his son after a failed relationship — and it does so with a vulnerability and honesty that’s uncommon in the age of “bitches, cash, hos, molly” mainstream hip-hop.

Although the track is based around a Coldplay single — their “Fix You" — the track is an moodily, minimalist track that reminds me quite a bit of Steven A. Clark’s Fornication Under Consent of the King and of Beacon's work, because of its brand of aching vulnerability. - Joy Of Violent Movement



Greatness requires a delicate blend of ability, work ethic, and most importantly self sacrifice. Combining their skills in music production, DJing, singing, and rapping, Jason Maek and Zaena set aside their solo careers to form one of the most uniquely talented duos in electronic music.

Though walking separately, the careers of these two musicians have always been linked. Their EP's, which they co-wrote together, were released on the same day in March 2014. The Chicago-based emcee quickly earned a reputation for his hard-hitting and polarizing content, while the Libyan born vocalist separated herself in an industry polluted with oversexualized show ponies and one-hit wonders.

This was just the beginning of their partnership. On October 6, 2014, they released their first collaborative studio album. It set several historical milestones as the first visual album released in electronic music history and the first from an independent label. The Maek Pandamonium Visual Album weaves 17 visually captivating music videos into one cohesive story line.

"We wanted to do something that allows our fans to experience our music differently and see the vision behind every song," says Zaena.

On the day of its release over 40 colleges and universities held individual watch parties. The project has received over 400,000 streams and 300,000 views within the first month of its release. To cap off this amazing debut, the visual album premiered on the front page of Vevo on November 3, 2014.

Currently, Jason Maek and Zaena are planning a tour for the album. With a live show filled with unmatched energy, dancing pandas, and confetti guns, they are ready to bring Pandamonium to music fans around the world.

Band Members