‘I want to transport the listener and encourage them to not run away from difficult emotions.’
Following the arrival of the dramatic EP ‘Symptoms of Nature’, we got in touch with LA-based singer-songwriter-producer Zosia to discover what drives her musicality, the best place to experience her tracks, and what lies ahead in the future.
Hi Zosia, thanks for taking the time to chat with us. When did you first know that music would be a huge part of your life? I started writing music around age 9, and I immediately knew it would always be a part of my life in some way. I performed a bit growing up and learned to record my songs in high school, but I wasn’t sure if I would pursue it seriously. Then I began studying music business in college and quickly realised I wouldn’t be happy unless I was actively creating music. That’s when I moved to LA and became serious about it.
Which 5 words would you use to describe your sound? Dramatic, reflective, yearning, dark, hopeful (I know those are a bit contradictory)
Which artists inspire you the most and do these impact your sound in any way? Two artists and bands that have inspired me the most are Bat for Lashes and Coldplay. When I first heard ‘Daniel’ by BFL on the radio, I felt like this was the style of music I’d been searching for. It’s hauntingly beautiful, and her lyrics are so poetic and evocative. When I saw Coldplay live during the ‘Viva la Vida’ tour, I was mesmerized by the epic feel of their songs. After that experience, I aimed to write songs with universal themes and a larger-than-life feel.
Turning to your incredible new EP ‘Symptoms of Nature’, what is the concept behind it and the title? Thank you! The concept was largely a result of a college course I took called Communication and Death. It was an experimental course, and I really didn’t know what to expect, but it sounded intriguing. After a few weeks of regularly discussing death, I started to have terrible anxiety. I was already quite anxious and this put me over the edge. For the final project I wrote a song, and it became the last track on my EP, ‘Survival.’ Writing that really changed my views on mortality, with me becoming much less afraid of it, and actually finding it a beautiful thing now. I wrote ‘The Alter’ and ‘7 Suns’ after that experience, so they have a more hopeful feel. ‘Water’ and ‘Matter’ were written before when I was still very overwhelmed with anxiety. The title derives from an Alan Watts quote that I love: “Why be hostile to nature? Because after all, you ARE a symptom of nature. You, as a human being, you grow out of this physical universe in exactly the same way an apple grows off an apple tree.”
Who was involved in the creation of the EP what did they bring to it? Stephen Lukach produced ‘Water,’ and the rest of the EP was co-produced by me and James Gordon – James really helped bring the songs to life. I wrote all the melodies and lyrics, but ‘Matter’ stemmed from an instrumental by writing duo Caswell. Leggy Langdon mixed the majority of the EP, and I created the cover art.
‘I aim to write songs with universal themes and a larger-than-life feel.’
You mentioned drama earlier, and this really runs through the release. How important was it to you that this was the case? Very! I always gravitate toward dramatic music. I love it when music takes you on a journey away from ordinary life, so I aim for that in my songs. I want to transport the listener and encourage them not to run from difficult emotions.
And linked with this, ‘The Alter’ is a beautifully emotional contrast to everything else. What led to the atmosphere of this track being so different? It wasn’t necessarily intentional, but I’m glad it added some variety to the EP. I wrote ‘The Alter’ after a sudden death in my family, and since the lyrics were very heavy, I didn’t want the instrumental to distract too much. However, I wanted the song to have a climax to reflect the emotions I was feeling.
Thinking about your recording process, what would people be most surprised by? James lives in New York now, so we’ve never been in the same place while working on the production. I usually start it and then send him the stems so he can finish it. I now have a home setup for recording my vocals, so the recording process is quite remote and easy! I actually recorded the vocals for ‘The Alter’ in my dad’s closet while I quarantined with him.
So how does being a producer as well as a singer-songwriter influence the development of a release? I love being able to direct the overall tone and structure of the song. When I’m writing a melody I often begin to construct the production at the same time, and that really helps my writing process. When I pass it off to another producer, I’m able to better explain what I’m looking for, but I also love being surprised by what they add.
If you could create the ultimate setting for people to listen to your music, what would it be like? I would say it’s best to listen to it while driving. Maybe that’s because I wrote a lot of the music while driving, but I find it a nice time to reflect and get a new perspective on life.
With your 2017 single ‘Water’ having been remixed a couple of times, are there any plans for alternative versions of other tracks? I would like that! At the time, I wasn’t ready to release new material, so it made sense to put out a couple of remixes. Now I have so many songs I’d like to get out, that I’m not focusing on remixes, but if someone is interested in reworking one of my songs, I’m open to it!
And finally, what is the one thing that music has enabled you to do that you never thought would be possible? I’m so grateful for the opportunity to make videos like the ‘7 Suns’ music video. I’ve always been interested in acting, so it was a great chance to explore that. The whole experience creating that video was a dream and I can’t wait to make more!
Thanks Zosia for chatting with Listen to Discover
Photography Credit: Eden Shohat