INTERVIEW: A Conversation with Emerging Blues & Soul Songstress ZZ Ward
by Michael Carlos
ZZ Ward has a talent that contains multitudes. The singer/guitarist/pianist/songwriter/human whirlwind released her goosebump-inducing major label debut, Til the Casket Drops, last month and every person I’ve spoken to since has heard me sing her praises. About half have rolled their eyes as I’ve rambled on and on. Then they listened to the album and their eye-rolling was replaced by the aforementioned goosebumps. ZZ graciously took some time out of her busy schedule of touring in promotion of the new album and giving people goosebumps in a different city each night to answer a few questions for us and allow us a little peak behind the fedora.
Couch Sessions: On Til The Casket Drops, you mix classic blues and soul songwriting with hip-hop and pop production to create a sound that somehow feels old school and contemporary at the same time. How do you find a way to balance all these seemingly disparate influences in your songs?
It really depended on the song and what story or feel it was giving. You have to support your lyrics and melody, I made those the bones and built around it.
I read somewhere that you used to write hooks for rap songs when you were younger. If you could write a hook for any rapper, dead or alive, who would it be?
I mean I gotta say B.I.G cause that would be ridiculous, but Jay Z or Kanye would be beyond words as well.
Let’s talk about your fashion style. Is there a story behind the fedoras? Do you see yourself as a Johnny Cash-type figure, all clad in black?
I wear a fedora to pay homage to all of the blues artists that I grew up listening to. Interesting question about Johnny Cash, but no I try not to wear too much black, because I get bored, I need color and change.
You played with Gary Clark Jr. on tour stops in New York and LA. Any thoughts on collaborating with him in the future? Because that would be awesome, just sayin’.
I agree that would be awesome! He is an amazing artist and I would love to collab with him.
What is your favorite song to cover live in concert?
Well you’ll have to come to a live show and find out
Can you tell us a bit about your band? Who are they and how did you find them?
I have an incredibly talented band, we have such a blast together. My guitarist and Music Director Erick Walls is a beast on stage with a heart of gold!
Do you miss Oregon now that you’ve been on the road so much lately promoting the album?
Yes I do miss Oregon. I miss how calm it is sometimes and how it centers me and makes me feel balanced. It’s a huge part of me though and is always with me in some ways.
On “Last Love Song,” you sing, “Take these roses and this Jameson.” Is it safe to assume whiskey is your drink of choice?
I mean ideally I’d rather have tea on a daily basis but yes I like a good whiskey every now and then.