Despite initially pursuing a career as a professional footballer, 19-year old GZ Tian now finds himself on a different path. Traversing life between Manchester, where he grew up, and now London, the English artist with Chinese heritage has just dropped his debut EP Another Artist, which marks the start of an exciting new journey for one of the UK scene’s hottest new musical talents.

The 14 track mixtape at base level fuses enticing Chinese sonics from his Asian background with moody trap, but delve deeper and you’ll find GZ experimenting with both Hip-Hop, Chinese instruments and percussive sounds from his current London living to create genre blurring, individualistic sonic waves that fall somewhere in between dark R&B and Jazz. With the serious potential for a breakout year ahead in the world of music, but with a past rooted in the world of football, we caught up with GZ to first have a chat about his journey in the game before getting his match day playlist.

"I started my football career in Sunday league (as we all do) and ended up on a trial for Manchester United when I was 12. That didn’t quite work out, but I found myself at Wigan’s academy. Sadly, following their relegation from the Premier League and then the Championship, their academy set up changed and I moved to Crewe. From there I went to Bury, but again, it didn’t work out. At the age of 16, still in high school, I put in some performances for a lower league first team and ended up signing for York City as a professional on my 17th birthday. 

“Jackie McNamara (manager) was brilliant, but when things for the first team went bad, I was a young kid who was surplus of requirements. He got fired and a new manager – Gary Mills, came in and put me with the u18’s. By this point I had sadly fallen out of love with the game, mostly due to the politics behind the scenes. A sad truth for many lads who get burned out by it.”


“I was always making music during this time and the level and intensity of this increased towards the end, and so I decided to give it my everything when I gave up football.

"For my match day playlist, I’m choosing the top ten songs that suit my pre-match prep. I should add before starting however, that I would personally tend to listen to relaxing music in my headphones; songs that would keep me calm. In this playlist however, that goes out the window. I’ve purely picked songs as if I’m curating a playlist to get the changing room pumped before a big match!”


Jay Silva – See Me Now I have to take it back a bit for the first song. I remember one of the senior lads was playing this when I was 16 and non-league. I just went, this is an absolute banger. Always gets people moving and zoning.

Big Sean – Blessings featuring Drake and Kanye West A bit moodier this time but the dark instrumentation creates an atmosphere not many songs can... Drake at his best.  

Breach – Jack I was never the biggest fan of house music, but being in football changing rooms surrounded by scousers throughout my teenage years changed this. One of my favourites from the genre.

Pop Smoke – Dior Now we’ve laid the foundations with some absolute bangers from a few years ago, let’s bring it up to date a bit. Rest in Peace to Pop Smoke! It’s undoubtedly getting people in the right head space to go to war; the synth bass alone.   

PA Salieu – Frontline This one is too cold as well... Heard at 1am on YouTube and couldn’t sleep because of it. That’s got to be a good sign if you need some energy to lift you before you step on the pitch! 


Bugzy Malone – Spitfire Bugzy went through a weird stage in Manchester. A few people went off him for a second – seems to happen when artists blow up in the UK, but the guy is undeniable – came back even stronger. But if you’re from Manchester and don’t know this one off by heart, you ain’t from Manchester. If you kick ball in Manny play this one for your people one more time. 

Trippie Redd – Dark Knight Dummo ft. Travis Scott The UK football scene can be a bit slow to Trippie and the American guys, but I don’t care. I’ll play this song for anyone and if they don’t like it, it’s them, not you. This one is crazy – the beat and atmosphere!

GZ Tian – Ying Yang This is one of my tunes; I released it recently but I’ve had this since I was around 17/18 – it was one of the first songs I made when I stopped playing football seriously. But whenever I was going for a Sunday league kickabout, I would let the lads hear exclusives... Now it’s out and it’s getting the dressing room pumped. 

Fizzler – The Truth 2 I always think it’s good to introduce your people to upcoming artists. This will definitely have your teammates asking who this is... The guy is cold! 

Mastermind – WaveTime The final tune has got to be from another South Manny artist. Mastermind is crazy talented and everyone likes this tune. I could play this at a house motive, in a club or anywhere people are trying to live life. Liquid vocals and a smooth beat, perfect for pre-match while everyone’s in the mood to get out on the pitch.

You can listen to the full playlist here.