Straight from the pages of the new issue of RAGGED, we’re thrilled to give you an exclusive excerpt from our featured story with ZZ Ward! Be sure to grab the full issue download (for free!) for the rest of the article and more photos with the band. (Full issue download here!)
Zsuzsanna Ward (better known as “ZZ”) was born with a bluesy voice as memorable as her given name. Though the blues-rock and R & B singer-songwriter currently resides in Los Angeles, she grew up in the “Timber Capital of the Nation”—Roseburg, Oregon—and there, she cut her teeth singing hooks for local hip-hop groups and would drive for miles down logging roads. Even before her stint as a backup singer, she would lend her inimitable pipes for performances at local dive bars for her father’s blues-rock band.
The 27-year-old artist with a voice that can make the hair on your neck stand up released her debut album Til the Casket Drops last fall. The promising record featured rising rappers Kendrick Lamar and Freddie Gibbs and melded R & B and hip-hop beats with rock and pop music aplomb. Since the album dropped, Ward has been keeping busy on tour, which she’ll continue to do throughout festival season in the US. During a break from her busy schedule promoting Til the Casket Drops’ latest single, the romance-weary closing track “365 Days,” Ward dished the goods on failed relationships, musical inspiration, the joys of thrift shopping and her keen fashion sense.
How’s the tour going so far?
Zsuzsanna Ward: The venues are getting bigger and it’s crazy that it’s all happening. It’s really fun and, as you know, we’re playing some festivals along the way. I definitely get homesick, but I’ve toured so much so I bring my packed boxes of stuff that I live out of. Even when I go home, I don’t unpack. I’m still trying to figure out things to do on the road that are relaxing. I usually try to record music if I have any downtime. Today, I’m not going to write because I’ve been singing so much and my voice needs a rest. I need to take [my dog] Ms. Muddy Waters on a big long walk. That’s something I’ve done now that I have a dog because she needs to get out or she will get stir-crazy on the bus. It gives me an excuse to explore different parts of the US I want to bring more books on the road. I also need to watch more TV shows out here. Everyone keeps telling me that I need to watch Breaking Bad.
You’re obviously a big blues fan; where else do you get your inspiration?
A lot of blues. Muddy Waters and Big Mama Thornton. Rap, too. I love Jay Z, Nas and Outkast.
“365 Days” is an impressive song to hear live. What is that song’s origin?
A lot of the album is written from the point of view of someone during a relationship and wanting to break up with someone, but not being able to do it. I probably write songs before I’m really emotionally ready to do it. I thought that if I wrote the song and sang it, those actions would kick me in the ass and I would just break up with the guy. “365 Days” is about waiting for someone to change for a really long time. It’s really silly expecting people to change. The way they are when you meet them is how they will be later on during the relationship. Bad choices are a big inspiration for my record. I wrote it on keyboard and it’s the only song I play keyboard on during my live show. It’s a song that I can really have fun with up there.
(Continued in the new issue of RAGGED…)
posted by Staff