» Interviews » R&B bombshell ZZ Ward set to play Seattle’s Crocodile on Fire and Shine tour 2/17 + interview
R&B bombshell ZZ Ward set to play Seattle’s Crocodile on Fire and Shine tour 2/17 + interview

ZZ WardThe first time I heard ZZ Ward’s voice, I knew that I had stumbled upon something magical – something incredibly special. It’s not just her voice either…it’s her all-around musical depth and rhythm – it’s her radiating self-confidence and raw talent. Her debut record, ‘Til the Casket Drops, is a collection of bluesy, gritty songs with the dirtiest beats you can find (in a really good way) and if you haven’t checked it out, I suggest you drop everything and do it right now.

ZZ will be playing at the Crocodile downtown on February 17th. She was kind enough to do an interview with me last time she was in town, check it out below.

You can read our first interview here.

K: Hi ZZ! So last time we talked, you were just starting your tour with Grace Potter. How was it?
ZZ: Great! It was awesome. Grace inspires me. She’s an amazing artist and performer. Just watching her bring a show every night was really inspiring.

K: Was that the biggest crowd, I mean, were those the biggest crowds that you’ve seen?
ZZ: I think they were, I think they were. I think they were some of the biggest crowds that I’ve played for. Yep.

Evan Bogart (background): I don’t know how many were at Johnny Lang/ Buddy Guy, but…

ZZ: More. Well that’s the thing, if you’re talking about like one concert date, then I’ve played for more people than that, but on a tour in general, then yeah, Grace. Grace is the biggest artist I’ve toured with.

K: Well another big change is that your record is out.

K & ZZ: Yeah! What!

ZZ: So exciting! It’s really exciting. I never really could have imagined what it would feel like. And I don’t mean that I could never have imagined something to feel so crazy and awesome, but I mean to have something out there is awesome… I started feeling it the day before it came out and I started getting excited. But yeah, it’s wild, and I really feel like people are really responding to it, they’re really loving it, so it feels good.

K: Are there any tracks that you love more than the other ones? Or that are more special to you?
ZZ: Not necessarily. I mean, usually while I’m writing – it’s usually the newest song that I’ve written, that for a small period of time is my favorite. But no, I mean I think that I’m really happy and proud of the album in its entirety – the whole thing. I just feel like I really worked hard on entire thing and made sure that the songs – that I love them at the time that I write them. I always say, when you write something, being an artist, you have to make sure that you love it because if you succeed, you might be playing it for the rest of your life. So I would throw away a lot of things that I didn’t love.

K: Yeah, that makes sense. So last time I talked to you, I didn’t get to talk to you a lot about your background, and starting off, I would love to hear some of your early childhood memories, maybe your first childhood memory related to music…
ZZ: I think that my first memory would be just kinda watching my dad sing – watching him sing in front of people. I think it kinda desensitized me to performing, and so it wasn’t very scary for me because I saw somebody else doing it and I saw that it was fun, so I always thought of it as fun. So that would probably be my first memory. And then, my parents loving the blues. It’s funny, I hear a lot being in LA all the time, but when I hear Muddy Waters or Howlin’ Wolf, I feel right at home because that’s always what they were playing at our house all the time.

K: Yeah, that’s awesome. Well that’s interesting about you too, because you moved from a small town, to LA. What?!
ZZ: Haha yeah.

K: I would love to hear what about that transition, and like, what was LA like to a small town girl?
ZZ: Uh, it was pretty terrifying when I first moved, I’m not gonna lie.

K: I bet!
ZZ: I definitely had, you know, I– it’s really different. I mean, I still don’t know where I’m going. I have a GPS in the city, but there’s still some things that I’ll always only be able to see from an outside perspective because I’m not from the city.

But driving was the biggest thing that was different. Where I was driving before, there’d be deer on the road, and like, wild animals. And since I’ve gone back to visit, I’ve seen that that is really true. There’s wild animals all over my road when you drive it, not a lot of cars. And in LA, there’s five lanes of traffic.

I remember someone invited me to go to the Viper Room to watch a show when I first moved down to LA and I was like, “Can you come pick me up? Because I can’t drive down there.” And they were like, “You have a car, why don’t you just drive?” I was terrified to drive in LA, but now it’s you know…a piece of cake.

K: Yeah, I bet! How did you meet your manager and all that good stuff? Because you just kind of got the ball rolling when you moved to LA.
ZZ: Well it was interesting, you know, I had moved down to Los Angeles…and within three months of me living down there, I got an email from Evan Bogart – he heard my music on MySpace and wanted to hear all the songs that I had.

I don’t know…was it a coincidence that I had just moved down to LA and that I wasn’t in Oregon? And I don’t know if it would have changed anything if I was still in Oregon? I kind of didn’t get too excited about it because, you know, it takes time to find people who are really going to do what they say they’re gonna do and really be a part of something because it takes time to build something with someone. But we got together and he heard my songs and he really just believed in me as an artist and really wanted to work with me, so that happened.

K: That’s awesome. So we talked a little about the past and we talked little about the present. So what’s next for you?
ZZ: You know, that’s the interesting thing about this career, is that there’s so much variety, like, you don’t really know what’s going to happen with a lot of things. But I do know that we’ll be promoting this record a lot, so I’m going to be touring a lot, and I’m going to be going out on the road and sharing in the experience of the record with fans, and meeting new fans.

So I know we’ll be doing that. And then we’ve filmed some stuff with some of the artists that I worked with on the record, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and Freddie Gibbs, and Fitz, from Fitz and Tantrums, and we’ve filmed us actually playing the songs that we did together. We’re going to slowly put those videos out to give my fans an inside perspective of the record, and yeah. So that’s the plan right now.

K: Nice! Really exciting. Cool. Well, thank you for talking to me again, for the second time.
ZZ: Of course! Thanks for talking to me!

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