Q: Thank you for taking time to speak with us today, Ms. Ward. I know how crazy tour life can be. How is this run going so far? Last time you were in Denver it was a very different setting for you (being in such a smaller venue). How has this tour been different than the last?
ZZ: It's going great! Denver is an amazing city and the show last week at the Gothic was incredible! The energy was electric. This tour has been mostly about hitting cities I've never been to before, routed in between festivals, with the exception of Denver. Couldn't stay away!
Q: You also got a chance to perform at SXSW in Austin, TX this year. How was that?
ZZ: It was a really fun experience returning to SXSW this year and actually having fans and music that's been released. It's a whole different world being able to interact with fans and connect through my songs.
Q: Your album, Till The Casket Drops, not only sounds a little morbid, but a lot of the songs and song titles sound a little...dangerous. What mindset were you coming from when writing this album?
ZZ: Til The Casket Drops the song AND the album are about going to war for someone that you love. Love isn't always easy. Sometimes its painful and my album represented a very real up and down relationship that I had gone through. There were some songs that were embellishments where I took a creative leap, but most of them were very true to the heart and the situation I was going through.
Q: What is your musical background like? I'm sure some of our followers don't know your story. Do you mind sharing it briefly with us?
ZZ: I was raised on the blues by my parents and grew up listening every day to Etta, Howlin Wolf, Robert Johnson, Big Mama Thornton and others. So that's what I started singing and loving as a child. In high school I stole my brothers rap CD's and became a fan of hip-hop. That's what I love the most so that's what inspires my own music the most. I always love Tina, Bowie, the Beatles, Zeppelin and the classics.
Q: You have worked and collaborated with so many talented writers on your journey so far, and all from such diverse, different musical backgrounds. (Ryan Tedder, Kendrick Lamar, Theron Feemster) What has that experience been like?
ZZ: Ryan and Ron produced records I wrote entirely on my own. They are geniuses, both of them! Ryan walked into the studio and knew exactly what he wanted to do with Last Love Song and jumped right into it. Ron, or Neff-U as he goes by, did half of my album and really knew how to accentuate and elevate my songs. Kendrick jumped on Cryin Wolf, a song I cowrote with Blended Babies and just destroyed it!
Q: Do you mainly write from personal experience, or are your songs the result writing exercises to help spark creativity? I know many writers use imagined personas, or incidents to write from. I'm just curious how much of your stories come from your own life events?
ZZ: The majority of my album was written from VERY personal experiences, maybe 90%.
Q: Is there any music that you've been really jamming lately? What albums or artists have caught your ear recently?
ZZ: My buddy Fitz's new album is great. Still bumping Kenrdrick's Good Kid and Gary Clark Jr's Blak and Blu. Love Alt-J's record, Jamie N Commons, Reignwolf, Willy Moon, Chance The Rapper and so much more.
Q: You have been all over the place, playing for so many people and turning so many heads recently! Have you had any of those very surreal "I-can't-believe-this-is-real" moments recently you'd like to share?
ZZ: This past week in Denver at the Gothic sure felt like one. To have over 1000 people singing along to every song is just incredible!
Q: Are there any big moments you're looking forward to? Or any particular goals you have in your career? (i.e. venues you dream to play, people you dream to play with, etc.)
ZZ: I played Sasquatch recently at The Gorge and that was so beautiful. Everyone keeps telling me Red Rocks rivals it. I want to play there!
Q: Till The Casket Drops has been out for almost eight months right now. It's still very new to many fans, but do you have anything else new or exciting in the works currently?
ZZ: My new single 365 Days just went to radio and we have a video right on its heels later this month. I also am releasing a 365 Days EP digitally on June 11th that has a new version of the song, my Son House cover and two alternate versions of Move Like U Stole It and Blue Eyes Blind. Later this summer I'll be dropping a remix EP and maybe some cool collaborations for other people's records coming out too.