Interview: Zuzu ahead of her return to Neighbourhood Weekender

Merseyside musician Zuzu will be returning to Neighbourhood once again after a brilliant set in 2019.
This feature was first published in issue 5 of [WAM] Magazine.
Order yours here.

Zuzu first started writing songs at the age of 7 and by 18 she had a publishing deal. Her debut single ‘Get Off’ was released in 2016, with her first EP ‘Made On Earth By Humans’ following in 2018. She released her latest single ‘Timing’ on the 11th June, accompanied by an atmospheric music video shot in Liverpool’s Williamson Tunnels. Zuzu is playing Neighbourhood Weekender on Saturday 4th September.

‘Timing’ is your first single from your upcoming debut album, have you got any more details or is it all very secret?
I think it’s very Scouse! I’ve been here for the last eighteen months. I was raised in Liverpool but I don’t think I’ve ever actually stayed in Liverpool for this long. I think that’s really crept into my music quite a lot. I can’t really talk about it yet but my album has a theme running through it, like a Liverpool underground kinda theme. ThThat’s what I’ll say without giving away any secrets!

The video gives me Tomb Raider vibes. Who came up with the idea?
The plot from the video was all my idea. I can’t really talk about it yet but my album has a theme running through it, it’s not a Lara Croft theme but it is like a Liverpool underground kinda theme. So I had been checking out the Williamson Tunnels anyway and I had done a Lara Croft style photoshoot there because I thought it would be fun, and it came out so well that I was like “I wanna do a video there” and I was thinking about what the song meant to me and how timing was so entwined with our lives and stuff and that’s how I came up with the concept of it.

You’re now releasing your music on your own label Planet Z, what made you decide to do this?
Times have been changing and I guess one thing just led to another. I’m working with other people to make Planet Z a thing – I can’t take all the credit, but ultimately I have creative control now and I get to steer my own ship which is surprisingly hard to do in this industry.

How was it to be part of the influential Sefton Park Pilot Gig with Blossoms and The Lathums?
I can’t even put into words – it was just… unreal! ThThe lead up to it was mad because when we took on the gig I was like “Oh yeah this is sick” but everyone was like “ooo you’re gonna be first on, you’re gonna be the first on” and all this stuff and it was stressing me out a bit. Then the second we walked out the crowd [gave] the most intense roar I’ve ever heard! I was lucky I got to be the one to do it! It was just insane and I cried like a baby afterwards.

How are you feeling about a return to Warrington for Neighbourhood weekender this year?
I’m unbelievably excited to be playing Neighbourhood again, especially with the Viola Beach stage. It’s such a beautiful thing to remember them and their incredible music.

Do you know much about the town?
My drummer, Nathan is born and raised in Warrington so he’s always telling me all the facts. Heard they had a famous market that’s just been refurbished and was the fifirst ever UK location for Ikea!

I haven’t googled any of that so I hope he’s right [haha].

Who were some of your main inspirations when growing up?
Taylor Swift, the Arctic Monkeys, The Beatles, Avril Lavigne – I had a real mix of worlds. The Arctic Monkeys inspired me to embrace where I’m from, to be proud of that and not shy away from the way I naturally sing. Taylor Swift, I’ve just always been the biggest fan! From her first album she inspired me to write songs that tell stories and she’s sick I just love her! She’s a prime example of how people can be relevant forever.

You moved from Liverpool to London, how was that experience?
When I moved to London I was 18 and that’s where I met my boyfriend/producer Kurran. It was a great experience, I met people that I needed to meet and it was good for me to go and experience life in the big city! But ultimately it never felt like home. It was boss, but there’s an ever-pulling thread that’s always like “come home!” to me.

The River Mersey features prominently in Zuzu’s newest single ‘My Old Life’

I’ve seen that you often caption your posts with things like “Scouse energy” and “Scouse girl”, how do you feel where you came from has influenced your music and your career?
That’s a good question, I guess it’s influenced me a lot. The second my song starts playing and my voice comes in people know I’m from Liverpool, so I’ve learnt to just embrace that because I’ve had such negative energy from that before – I’ve just had to grow a thick skin, so now I actually use it as a shield because like “I am f**king Scouse, and I’m into it, there’s nothing you can say that’s gonna make me less proud to be Scouse!”

I’m so intrigued to know about your involvement with Adventure Time! You wrote ‘Woke Up’ and
‘Eternity With You’ for the Obsidian Distant Lands episode – how did that happen?!

I have no idea – I still to this day don’t know how it happened! I just got a DM one day from Adam Muto. I love Adventure Time – I stan Adventure Time- I’ve got all the comics, I’ve got the bedsheets I’ve got the merch – I fucking love it! And I got a DM one day from the executive producer being like “I work on Adventure Time, I was wondering if you’d be down for writing some songs for a new project we’re working on?” and I was like “What the fuck!”

He said that he read in an interview that I said I would be open to working with Cartoon Network. I was like “I’d love to work with Cartoon Network! That’s my dream job!” I wasn’t just being like “I’m open to it”! He somehow read that which is crazy to me! That he managed to read [that article] from an English Magazine. We got the project through and it was Marceline who’s my favourite character ever – I think it’s the only thing I can think of that could be an example of manifestation. I can’t think of any reason why that would happen – I still can’t wrap my head around it – we’re just some average band from Birkenhead it doesn’t make any sense – but I’m glad it happened!

What local artists are you listening to a lot at the moment?
I love this question – Red Rum Club, The Mysterines, Munkey Junkey, Sophie Morgan, Amber Jay, Clean Cut Kid, Gen and the Degenerates – I could literally go on forever!

And how do you find the local music scene?
It’s boss. I feel super lucky actually because not everywhere in the world has such a roaring music scene. There’s a real community here, the music scene is special in Liverpool.
– I think it always is and always has been and probably always will be.

• Grace Calver (Editor of The Grace Note Blog)

Zuzu plays Neighbourhood Weekender on Saturday 4th September. Last few tickets remain at nbhdweekender.com/ Find out more about her at facebook.com/thisiszuzu

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