INTERVIEW: NYC Indie Experimental Artist Zaliza

Hi Zaliza, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

-Been doing as well as I can be! These past couple months have been a rollercoaster for everyone. I’m in the process of writing new music which is exciting but also a shift in gears from what I’ve released before. I definitely want to stretch myself creatively and I’ve been finding inspiration from a different space.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Little Raptures”?

-For sure. I recorded it in a tiny renovated tool shed on my parents property in CT right at the beginning of quarantine. It’s a lyrical compilation of poetry I’ve written over the years about rebirth of self.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

– I guess you could say the one common thread throughout my life has been having to leave behind people, old ways of thinking and places. Sometimes I chose it, but for the most part it was not my decision. Starting from (what feels like) scratch over and over again can get quite lonely and I found that up until recently I’ve battled with that deep feeling of abandonment. It’s only just in these past couple years I’ve really allowed myself to sit with it and allow it to strengthen me by finding a sense of home and power within myself. Knowing that each season of life and state of self is temporary is both liberating albeit somewhat sad.

Any plans to release any sort of video for the track?

-Yes, absolutely. I’m currently in pre-production talks with a videographer for a music video. Since I went to film school, visuals are a really important factor for me.

How was the recording and writing process?

-The recording process was a bit of a refuge in the middle of a really uncertain time (the start of quarantine). I had been furloughed at my job and bringing this song to fruition was a really amazing thing for my spirit.

What was it like to work with Rahiem Taylor and how did that relationship develop?

-I actually met Rah at my friends music studio when I was going to practice for my Paper Cave Session; a performance inside of an art installation I made, that my friend filmed. He was practicing with his band, Blac Rabbit. I had no idea who he was outside of being another musician. We became fast friends and now he’s my romantic partner. On first meeting him I could tell he was a deep empath which is his greatest strength when producing music. He has this amazing way of tapping into what you’re feeling and the place you are writing from- which helps bring sounds and feelings in music to fruition that can be hard to explain. He just gets it, if that makes sense. We went to my parents house (where the track was recorded) the second week of March for what we thought would be a short weekend to celebrate my birthday. That short weekend turned into quarantining there for a while. Rah asked if there were any songs I had in my voice memos that he could produce and record with me in the shed on my parents property. I showed him a few and Little Raptures resonated the most.

How much did he get to influence the song?

– He definitely had some amazing ideas that elevated the sonic landscape of the track. Throughout recording we would bounce ideas off of each other. I wrote the vocals and we originally had an acoustic guitar backing the track. I asked him if we could transform it into a more synth heavy track and he was stoked to experiment. We’d spend hours testing out weird sounds and when we agreed on one that’s what we went with.

What role does NYC play in your music?

– I was born here and lived here until I was about 3. My family and I moved around a lot, and then when I was in highschool we moved back. I then moved around quite a bit on my own-  moved back here about 4 years ago and have stayed here since. I say that to illustrate why NYC is the bedrock of my perspective on the world. It touches everything I create, I’m sure in a lot of ways that I’m not even aware of.

Any plans to hit the road?

-I think COVID-19 has brought (safe) live music to a halt for some time. Until I can play safely for those who come to my shows I just won’t be. Before the pandemic I had a few shows in NYC lined up and I was planning on a bit of a mini tour from Nashville to LA. I still have the notebook pages of all the venues I was going to reach out to. Now I don’t really see that happening until mid-2021 or so. However I do have a show coming up in NYC (COVID permitting) on October 9th at 9m at Pete’s Candy Store in Brooklyn, which has been rescheduled twice now due to the pandemic. I’m thankful they are doing what they can to keep artists in the loop. A lot of other venues just cancelled, understandably so since there is so much uncertainty.

What else is happening next in Zaliza’s world?

-Currently I’m selling t-shirts and stickers through my Bandcamp that I designed to raise money for the Loveland Foundation; an organization that provides opportunities and therapy for BIPOC, particularly Black women. I’ve been able to give $250 so far but I want to keep it up to be able to give as much as possible. I definitely have like 2/3 of the shirts left to sell so I’m hoping that they all sell out so I can raise as much money as possible for the foundation.Music-wise I’m focused on a music video for Little Raptures and Below. I’m also collaborating with friends on video and photo work for their projects (as mentioned I went to college for Filmmaking). I’m also moving forward with writing new songs and hoping to have another EP to either bring to record labels or to distribute independently sometime next year.

LISTEN: Zaliza – “Below” (Single)

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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