ZAZA

16 Mar

ZAZA

“Zaza the Day – Zaza the Night”

We remain annoyingly noncommittal in regard to whether it is better to listen to Zaza in a darkened room, with dark shades covering closed eyes, or to listen to Zaza while staring straight into the blinding glow of the sun, eyes opened wide to not miss a single shaft of light. Listen to Zaza, however – that’s the important part.

Light and dark seem to color Zaza’s music in roughly equal measure, though neither element is ever quite as it seems. The darkness is a little too friendly, certainly alluring, while the light shines in a way that lacks comfort, if not being openly confrontational.

When we tagged Zaza with the (undoubtedly dubious) title of the RevoltoftheApes.com “Band of the Week” just a short time ago, we asserted that the band must sound like a disco funeral live. With the NYC-based band being part of the recent announcement of additional amazing bands slated to perform at Austin Psych Fest 4, we’re happy to be able to put this assertion to the test.

Equally happily, we present this interview with the dynamic duo of Jennifer Fraser and Danny Taylor, the two halves that comprise the inspiring, ethereal whole of Zaza.

What are your earliest musical memories? Can you recall the first music that ever moved you as a child or adolescent? What do you believe it was about that music that had an impact on you? How do you feel about that music today?

JP:My earliest rock n roll memory is my mother pulling over her little red 300ZX to show me a Stones song, to talk about the meaning of it. She liked Bowie, The Cure, The Stones, but that was popular music at the time. The impact was I could detect the raw emotion immediately; since childhood that was my greatest interest. Music today is incredibly diverse. Technology is such an overarching aspect of the creation of it currently, but it’s still about the song, the raw emotion.

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For yourself personally, how did it come about that you went from being generally obsessed with music (we’re assuming here) to actively being involved in making and performing music? Who were the people who provided the support, or the much needed glimpse into another world, that ultimately helped you find the confidence to make your own music?

JP: Danny Taylor acts for me as a muse/mentor/partner and producer, however, music to me is like any other symbiotic act in my life; it just found its way inside. Anything that consumes you initially feels preternatural. When I was a teenager music was communal; it was dancing, it was skateboarding, it was swimming in the ocean, it was the way we spent our afternoons. Music was in us.

Following up on the mention of confidence, one of the many things that we find so compelling about the ZaZa sound is that the emotion of your music sometimes teeters between something like utter confidence and something like utter dread (and we mean this only as a compliment) – it may be more simply described as a fusion of darkness and light. Do you feel this duality in the music you make? Is there a single emotion that drives the lion’s share of your musical output? Can you put yourself in the “right” frame of mind to make music?

DT: I like to think that a good song interacts with the listener – for as much as it gives it also takes emotionally. Nothing is formed by absolutes – everything is a fusion of light and dark, positives and negatives. Our lives are an unwritten recipe, the amount and mix of these ingredients … and so is our songwriting – we just grab what happens to be in the cupboard and hope the dough rises.

What music have you been listening to lately? Push comes to shove, what is your favorite Beatles song of all time?

JP: We just finished wrapping up the full length, so I’ve been mostly listening to that in recording and mixing. When I’m walking around the city I’m listening to audiobooks. Stories are one of my primary loves.

I didn’t grow up on the Beatles, so I have had a recent obsession with them. It never retires. “A Day In The Life”- it’s so imperfect in its perfection, two songs put together by an orchestral interlude. They made their own rules.

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How did you first hear about Austin Psych Fest? Are there any bands performing this year that you are particularly excited to see either again or for the first time?

JP: I met Christian and the Black Angels when I was playing with The Warlocks in Austin in 2005. The B.A. threw a party for us after one of our shows that, if I remember correctly, included projected footage of Led Zeppelin, opium and a sugarglider – pure class. They also happen to be tireless players and adorable people. I’m looking forward to seeing The Black Ryder and A Place To Bury Strangers. It’s just an honor to be among such fine company.

How would you describe the ZaZa approach to live performance? Is there a particular sentiment you wish to express in the area of live performance that cannot be expressed through recordings? Who are some of the most compelling performers you’ve ever had the pleasure to see live?

JP: ZAZA as a collective follows the direction of playing our songs live differently than they are recorded for a few reasons: Mainly, we think it’s interesting to project the same feeling without replicating the song exactly. Also, live we are 3 people. We have a third member named Dru, who adds an element of live drums and electronics. So we all do our best with looping and technology to create new versions of our original songs.

Are you aware or unaware of the existence of an album entitled “Za-Za,” delivered to the world by the one-time L.A. hard-rock/glam metal band known as Bulletboys?

DT: Bulletboys have a six-album catalog stretching back to 1988 … you should be asking them if they are aware of us.

We, like many others, were completely blown away by the song “Distance Creator,” which you made available as a free download in advance of your upcoming full-length album. What can you tell us about this album in general? Were there themes that you set out to explore with the album, or did its construction occur more organically?

DT: I think the album crystalizes a lot of the frustration and disappointment we’ve felt climbing the ladder since our EP was released, both with our environment and ourselves being within it. It wasn’t intended, it just started to revolve around the mood. And not to cast the tracks as puddles of tears – there is a theme of resolution of purpose driving them … but there are definitely some daggers being thrown.

In her memoir “Minor Characters: A Beat Memoir,” Joyce Johnson says the following:

“The sixties were never quite my time. They seemed anti-climatic, for all their fireworks. Some culmination had been short-circuited. I saw hippies replace beatniks, sociologists replace poets, the empty canvas replace the Kline. Unenthusiastically, I observed the emergence of ‘lifestyle.’ The old intensities were blanding out into ‘Do your own thing’ – the commandment of a freedom excised from struggle. Ecstasy had become chemical, forgetfulness could be had by prescription.”

Your thoughts? What type of “blanding out” have you observed, if any, that troubles you?

DT: I dislike the tendency for generations to grow misty-eyed in reminiscence of some “golden time” that has been lost – as if the past was more valid and true than the present, the future holding nothing but increasing oblivion – front porch rocking chair talk … Draw from the the failures and triumphs of the past and build the future in the present. What other individuals have done, are doing and will do is what’s important – “scenes” and “movements” are what’s bland – infernos looking for fuel till they run out and all you’re left with is ash.

What’s next for ZaZa?

DT: Hopefully give something, whether live or on record, that sticks with people, no matter how many. That’s all we want – to stick.

Zaza

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