Interview: ZÖ releases debut EP, 'War'
To celebrate the release of ZÖ’s debut EP, ‘War’, we spoke to Zoe about her musical journey, how she settled into the capital, all about her new EP and other projects she might have in store.
Bridget: So to start the interview off, tell us a little bit about yourself?
ZÖ: Hi, I’m Zoe Jennings and I got by the name ZÖ -- I didn’t want to go by my full name but I wanted something close to it that felt personal to me; I thought my nickname would be nice. I’m from a rural coastal town called the Tutukaka Coast in Whangarei, and I make indie pop music but I also make more acoustic folk music too.
Bridget: You grew up in Whangarei before making the move to study in Wellington. What have learnt about yourself, and life in general, in that transition from small town serenity to the big smoke?
ZÖ: I’ve learnt that, as much as I hate people telling me this, that time heals almost everything. When I first came to Wellington, it was not a great time for me; transitioning from such a small place to a big city was a huge shock, but now I’m in a good place. I really love this city and I’ve become a little more resilient I guess.
Bridget: As you’re in your final year of studying, what are your plans to carry your music beyond the university atmosphere?
ZÖ: After university, I just want to keep making and releasing lots of music that I’m proud of and I’d like to keep collaborating with more people!
Bridget: How do you find the inspiration behind your music?
ZÖ: This will sound so cliche, but it does just come to me in a weird way. It’s like my mind already knows exactly what I need to sing about. I don’t sit down and think ‘OK, I’m going to write about this thing I’m going through’ or I want to make a song about so and so’, I will just mumble a melody, and words will come out. To Be Loved was like that, I wrote it when I was upset… I just started singing and the words came out; there was no editing or re-writing; what you hear is what I sang out of the blue, and it was exactly what I needed to say. If I feel an emotion quite strongly, the songwriting process is much easier. This was my easiest song to write, every other song has been hard to finish; I really have to work at it. The initial idea will present itself, but then I’ll work out the lyrics and build on it. So long story short, the inspiration will be there, I just have to start singing to find out what it is.
Bridget: Are there any particular artists that influenced the sound of your EP, War?
ZÖ: Not really, but I did listen to a lot of melancholic music from Aurora, Bon Iver, Sufjan Stevens and Boy, so I’m sure that had an influence on the outcome of my songs.
Bridget: Is there one song on your EP in particular that sticks out to you personally?
ZÖ: It would have to be To Be Loved; it’s the most vulnerable. It’s scary to put something out that’s so honest and vulnerable like that, but it’s important, and other people might resonate with it.
Bridget: You mentioned in your interview with Muzic.net.nz, that you haven’t performed much as ZÖ. Do you have any shows in the works and what point of difference will your shows have compared to the gigs we see every weekend?
ZÖ: I do have a secret show coming up… I can’t tell you what it is just yet, but I’ll be playing the songs stripped back with my friends Jack (keys) and Grace (violin). One of the songs will be filmed, so keep an eye out for that!
I think my point of difference is the context of my music -- it’s quite honest and vulnerable, but it’s also a more mellow vibe than what is typically played on the weekend.
Bridget: Finally, where can our readers see more of you and updates on future music?
ZÖ: The best place is probably Facebook at ZÖ, www.facebook/zoeleanor
Or @zoeleanor on Instagram.
ZÖ’s EP, War, is out on all streaming platforms now! Go check it out and support our local musicians.