Last Friday singer, songwriter, filmmakers, and Spotify EQUAL Ambassador for February, Zolita, dropped her latest EP, Falling Out / Falling In, along with a music video for the EP’s latest single, “Crazy Ex.” The EP features two new tracks (“Drunk With Your Exes” and “For The Both of Us”), in addition to previously released alt-pop bangers “20 Questions,” “Ruin My Life,” and “Ashley,” which all, like “Crazy Ex,” have music videos directed, written, produced, and edited by Zolita herself.
This Saturday Zolita kicks off her first-ever headlining tour, which will have her at The Foundry at The Fillmore this coming Sunday, February 19th. Although the show isn’t sold-out yet, five of the tour’s eight dates are, so I would recommend getting tickets soon for a show that I’m guessing you won’t want to miss. In the meantime, read what Zolita had to tell me about cinema, playing live, and representation in the LGBTQ+ community during a chat we had via Zoom last Thursday.
Izzy Cihak: I know you’re just about to release your Falling Out / Falling In EP. How do you think this collection of songs compares to previous releases, both in terms of sound and the process of writing and recording?
Zolita: I think it’s definitely my strongest collection of work, and I’m really, really excited for people to hear it. But I think the process of it was so different because I went into it just doing a bunch of sessions with a bunch of different writers and producers in LA that I hadn’t worked with before, and really finding the people I liked to work with in the process. And, at the end of it, I probably had like 40 songs I was choosing from, and I just chose the six songs that I thought were the strongest. So, I think sonically there’s a little bit of everything I’ve ever loved. There’s a little bit of the pop-punk vibe that was in the trilogy, and then there’s a little bit more of the smooth pop vibe, as well. There’s a little of the acoustic vibe. There’s a little something for everybody! I think there’s still a throughline, but I think that’s why it feels like it hits a bunch of different notes.
Izzy: Your first single from the EP is “Crazy Ex,” so I have to ask how this particular track came about?
Zolita: “Crazy Ex” I did with the same producer that I did “Somebody I F*cked Once” with, and it literally came about because I just had the title, “Crazy Ex,” and I was like, “I want to write a character song that basically just explores me going through every dark impulse I’ve ever had in a breakup, and what if I act on those dark impulses?” Because, in my reality, I’m definitely not [laughs]. Or, I think I’m not a crazy ex. I would never do any of the things I say in the song. So, it was really, really fun, almost theatrical, to get to do a song like that that was just fully going for that.
Izzy: And you have a really cool music video to go along with the single, which follows a bunch of other really cool videos. What is it that inspires your music videos, or the visual aspects of your work in general? I know you studied film at NYU.
Zolita: In the past, I would literally come up with video ideas and then write songs for the videos. I worked so opposite! But, for this EP, I worked in a more traditional way, where I chose the songs and then came up with a narrative throughline. I love doing episodic music videos, and I did that with my last series, so I wanted to continue that with this EP. “Crazy Ex” technically comes second; I’m releasing it last, but in the full storyline it comes more in the falling out storyline. “Crazy Ex” I feel like is the most visual song on its own, so I remember driving in the car, listening to “Crazy Ex,” and the visuals were so strong in my mind, to the point where I think I almost hit somebody [laughs]. I was like, “Oh my god, this is really unsafe!”
Izzy: On that note, since you did study film, who are some of your favorite filmmakers, or even just works of cinema itself? I’m also such a cinephile, like obnoxiously so.
Zolita: David Lynch is my favorite. I love David Lynch. Mulholland Drive I love a lot.
Izzy: You’re kicking off a headlining tour next week, and you’ll be playing Philly on the second night of the tour. What can be expected of the live show, in terms of setlist, production, and just the general vibe of the evening?
Zolita: It’s my first headlining tour, which I’m so excited about, definitely a long time coming. The entire set has little bits from every one of my eras, which has been so much fun, to take those older eras and basically recreate them in a way that makes sense with the current music. I think there’s gonna be a little something for everybody. And I have a band with me. It’s gonna be really fun to translate some of the elements from the cinematic universe into this live show!
Izzy: You’re going to be on the road with Lulu Simon, who I also really dig. How did the two of you get hooked up? Were you previously a fans of each other’s?
Zolita: Oh my god, yeah! I had heard her music before, and we have some mutual friends in LA, so we had also known of each other, and we just started talking and were like, “Yeah, this would be such a perfect fit!”
Izzy: In a few months you’re going to be playing both Boston Calling and Governors Ball. How excited are you to be on those stages? I mean, that’s kind of insane.
Zolita: Oh my god, I’m so excited. I lived in New York for six years and went to Gov Ball every year, so that just feels like such a rite of passage. And then Boston Calling, that lineup is just so insane! I feel so honored just to be included. It’s gonna be an incredible time.
Izzy: Are there any acts at either festival that you’re especially hoping to get to see live, or do you think you’re just gonna be too busy with your own thing?
Zolita: Oh my god, no! I definitely want to catch the shows! Oooh, who am I most excited to see? Alanis Morissette, for sure, on Boston Calling. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs! I’m obsessed with them. Paramore, obviously… And then at gov Ball… Kim, Rina Sawayama, who I haven’t seen live yet…
Izzy: She’s amazing live! I can attest to that…
Zolita: I’m really excited for that show!
Izzy: Do you have a particular favorite setting to play live, whether it be something huge like a festival, or even nightclub, or spaces on the more intimate side?
Zolita: I’m excited to play these rooms on this tour because they are so intimate, but they still fit a good amount of people, so I feel like those are the most special shows because you get to have really one-on-one facetime with people, but it doesn’t feel small.
Izzy: I’m always curious to hear about artists’ favorite albums, so I’m curious to hear what are a few of your favorite albums, whether things you grew up loving, or stuff you’ve discovered more recently?
Zolita: Frank Ocean’s Blonde, for sure, will always be a top one for me. Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour. I love Joni Mitchell’s album Blue. Those are my like tried-and-true favs… And then, as of late, Midnights is still going strong for me. I still listen to that a lot.
Izzy: This is a really huge question but, considering that you’ve been doing this for a while now, what have been some of the personal highlights of your musical career, so far?
Zolita: I think the opportunity to get to work with some of the producers and writers I’m working with now is really cool. I didn’t think I would be in that place and get to do that, so that’s really awesome. Other personal highlights… Playing LA Pride was really, really fun, playing mainstage. Obviously, I grew up listening to Christina Aguilera and to get to play the same stage as her is really crazy. I’m gonna be at SXSW this year with “Somebody I F*cked Once,” my music video, in the film festival, because film is obviously my other huge love. I’m really excited to get to do that, and I expanded that into a full-length script, so that also feels like a big personal highlight.
Izzy: You’ve become a pretty major voice and icon for the LGBTQ+ community, so I’m curious how you would describe your relationship with your fans.
Zolita: It definitely is the reason why I do what I do and gives me making my art a larger purpose. I feel like there is such a strong connection between me and my fans because we do have that thing in common. Like, most of my fanbase being queer, we’ve gone through a lot of similar things, and we’re both looking to feel seen and looking for that representation, so I think it kind of bonds you in a way that nothing else does.
Izzy: Finally, not to detract from your music, but you also have a really great sense of fashion. What does that draw inspiration from? Do you have any particularly significant “style icons?”
Zolita: Well, my mom is a designer. She used to work for Elie Tahari in New York…
Izzy: Oh, that’s awesome! I wear a lot of their jackets…
Zolita: Oh my god, incredible! So, I definitely grew up with that around me. She’s a huge style icon for me, my mom! And she introduced me to a lot of designers pretty young. Mugler has always been my one, my love. I just got to see that exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum a couple weeks ago, and it was so incredible to see the pieces in person. So, I feel like whenever I’m in a style rut, I’ll go back and watch some old Mugler shows.
*Get your tickets here.