Molly Benjaminson ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff
You may have heard ZZ Ward tell you to Put the Gun Down on her new album “Til the Casket Drops” but ZZ isn’t putting anything on hold when it comes to her own musical career. From collaborating with Kendrick Lamar to having her music featured on a number of different TV shows, ZZ Ward is on her way to fame. Emertainment Monthly was lucky enough to interview her and ask some hard hitting questions her fans will not want to miss.
Emertainment Monthly: I am so excited to do this interview, I’ve been listening to your music for a while, this is pretty exciting.
ZZ: Aw, thank you. I’m excited too!
EM: Oh, thank you! Well, to start off, I read that you were from Oregon, and so am I.
ZZ: Which part?
EM: Portland, so a bit north of Roseburg, I guess. I actually wanted to know about Roseburg, and if there were lots of musical opportunities there? I don’t know much about that area at all.
ZZ: No, there are not a lot of musical opportunities there. I made them, you know, I would play wherever I could, I made demo CDs and sold them in parking lots. I did as much as I could do there. I would drive to Portland sometimes.
EM: Yeah, there’s a bit more of a musical scene there.
ZZ: I would bring my keyboard and guitars and this little crappy amp and do my own sound, and play gigs up in Portland at local coffee shops, you know. Make the most of it. I definitely had to get out of there at some point, move to a big city, collaborate with more people.
EM: Definitely. So how long have you been singing and when did you first want to be a musician?
ZZ: I’ve probably been singing since I was a little, little kid, like, I don’t know, 8 years old. I’ve always wanted to play music. It’s always been something that made me feel special, and just a good way to express myself. I’ve kind of always wanted to be, you know, a recording artist.
EM: Do you have a favorite song that you’ve written? If audiences could only listen to one song, which one would you play for them?
ZZ: I’m very proud of Last Love Song at the current moment, but it always changes, but I think that’s the song I’m really proud of. I think it really captured a moment in time when I wrote that song. I think that’s the greatest goal I can have as a songwriter to just really be honest.
EM: That being said, what’s your favorite song to perform?
ZZ: My favorite song to perform would either be Charlie Ain’t Home, because we really break it down in my show, so it’s more acoustic, it just switches it up, or probably Lil’ Darlin’.
EM: Do you have any pre-show rituals?
ZZ: I always make sure to get the boys together and we talk about the show before we go out together. We just try to figure out what the show is going to be like, anything we should expect or be ready for, with reason. You know, we do it every night, so we can’t get too comfortable, we can’t get too complacent. There are always going to be things we aren’t ready for, so always try to get the guys together, get them all hyped up. I have a great group of boys out here, they’re wonderful. We love to play! So it’s really not that hard. We just get together every night and have a little cheer.
MB: I know you collaborated with Kendrick Lamar on Cryin Wolf, but if you collaborate with any artist, alive or dead, who would it be?
ZZ: Oh my gosh, jeeze. Probably Biggie Smalls.
EM: Awesome answer! Is there any one political issue you would like to tackle with your music? Like racial issues or gun violence or anything else that’s big in the media right now?
ZZ: Not really, not specifically. I don’t think that’s my thing; I’m not that much of a political kind of person in general. I don’t really like to take a stance on things that don’t have much to do with me. I try to talk about things that are my story, or love or relationships. Things that have pissed me off in my life, I feel very entitled to talk about that. Other than that I don’t try to take a stance on stuff.
EM: I guess it is kind of hard to sing about something that you don’t feel connected to. Ok, here’s a question- do you remember what the first record you ever bought was?
ZZ: Yeah, it was called “Nomadic.”
EM: What was the last one you bought?
ZZ: The last record that I bought? Oh my god. What’s the last one? That’s a great question, I’ll think of it any minute here. Oh, “Magna Carta Holy Grail.”
EM: Oh, Jay Z! Did you like it?
ZZ: Yeah, I love it, it’s my shit.
EM: Have you ever had to work a really terrible job to pursue your music career?
ZZ: I worked at Shari’s for one day, and they made my name tag. Everyone said my name wrong! The first day I was working there, I was like, “This sucks, I don’t know what I’m doing here”. So I quit.
EM: Well, it’s good to know what you want to do.
ZZ: Well that’s definitely not what I wanted to do. I used to go to parking lots and play, but even that was getting so far away from what I wanted to do, I stopped doing that. Even though I was getting my music out to people, I felt like I was a street thug. It was too much of a hustling thing, I hated doing it, but I had to make money to get to Los Angeles, so I did it for a while. But in retrospect, I hated doing it.
EM: One final question, thanks so much for talking with me- if you had to describe your music in just three words, what would those words be?
ZZ: Dirty shine time.
What do you think of ZZ Ward’s signature style? Let us know in the comments below. And don’t forget to check out more of ZZ Ward’s music on her website.