From Moscow to Missoula, Southwestern songstress Zella Day is blowing up

interview with zella day coachella next tour

Life is moving quickly for psychedelic-pop act, Zella Day.

With a new full-length album, a 100-stop world tour under her belt, and debut Coachella performance, the Arizona native’s growing popularity can only be described as meteoric.

The free spirited singer made the move to Los Angeles four years ago to pursue a career in music. Already a seasoned performer, Day began playing at her grandmother’s coffee shop at an early age. “So I started playing there when I was 9 years old, started writing my own music at 12 because I was learning theory at the time … by the time I was 13, I had a record done,” the singer recounts her instant love of making her own music. “It’s been music for a while.”

Her debut LP, Kicker, collects and processes Day’s entrance into early adulthood. Her expression of vulnerability and loneliness are filled with sonic sentiments of the southwest and the lyrical sensibilities of preceding folk legends. “I was in a tumultuous phase of moving of out my house with my family, getting my own apartment, dating this rockstar that didn’t give a shit about me, me feeling totally alone, reflecting on my hometown and what that was to me, who I was now in this big city … I wrote Kicker.” Now with her album out she is ready and on her way to bigger and brighter things. “That is a very good chapter, and it was documented well with that record. Now, with the songs that I’m writing, I’m in a completely different place because a year later, I’m 21, so life is moving very quickly. I’ve heard so many people say over and over again that from 18-21, you’re a completely different person, and I feel that way.”

Digital Trends: You released your full length album this past year.

Zella Day: Yeah, about 8 months ago. Which is still fairly recently. I think about it, and it wouldn’t make sense for me to come out with another record now because I had to tour off the record. I’ve been touring for the first time ever. I’m very used to being in the studio and writing behind the scenes. The past year of my life has been spent out on the road.

How’s that been?

You know what, it’s been great, lovely, terrible, happy, sad, all in one basket. Touring is so much energy that you are giving to every moment, whether it is in the van, staying in a hotel room that you’ve never been in before and you have to sleep in a new bed every night, eating foreign food, and you have to be completely plucked out of anything that is normal or routine for your life and you have to be on the road.

What were some of the highlights of touring?

We only progress by doing something different and individuality is very important.

Arriving in Russia, playing in Moscow to a crowd of 500 which was a lot because I have never been anywhere near that country. It’s the phenomenon of our culture right now. People from across the world have been listening to me since I came out with my record and you obviously know that because of the internet and streaming metrics but it’s a really different thing to see it in person. That was incredible.

Streaming metrics are such a good indicator to tell you where people are listening to you. Did that inform how you planned your tour?

Yeah! Because the metrics actually tell us where to tour and how to tour. I did a European run for a month straight. We went everywhere from London to Sweden to Amsterdam, I did Germany, Russia, covered a lot of ground. It was very strategic based on what my metrics were.

You’ve mentioned before that you are a fan of Stevie Nicks and Bob Dylan. What were some of the first things about their music that you connected with?

When you listen to my music, it doesn’t sound anything like Bob Dylan or really Fleetwood Mac, but when I was growing up and I was figuring myself out as a lyricist I knew what I wanted to say, but I didn’t know how to say it. Those artists helped me formulate my ideas. It’s poetry and it’s art, and I really take a liking to and focus a lot on my lyrics because I love listening to what people have to say and that’s why artists are artists. They have something different to express.

What inspires you that isn’t music? I’ve found that very few musicians cite other musicians as their main sources of inspiration.

I’m glad to hear that because I never modeled myself after anybody. It was never, “I want to be like that.” It was more about how I wanted to find what I’m doing in a deeper way so that I can express it more clearly. And that’s the point. Because you don’t want another Stevie Nicks, you don’t want another Dylan. Then it’s just a cover band. From here, where we are, there’s been so many greats. It’s hard because the legendary music has been made. But now, in our generation, we have to progress. We only progress by doing something different and individuality is very important. Of course you’re going to take from the world around you, I do. I was never trying to be anybody but myself. People have a hard time with that because they want you to say, “I want to be like this person.” Or they’ll ask, “If you could model your career after anyone, who would it be?” and you’re just like, “I don’t know, it’s different for me.” Not everybody’s journey is the same, and if it was then nobody would listen or watch.

Day’s stage presence is equal parts commanding and ethereal. She picks up touring again in July supporting Fitz and the Tantrums, followed by supporting Michael Franti & Spearhead in August, making stops throughout the United States. Though touring for her debut album, the bohemian songstress is already inspired and writing music for her follow up. “ … the music I’ve been making now feels a little bit less cautious and self-contained. I’m inspired right now by this man in my life that I love so very much and that inspires my music by his art. We get to experience beautiful images together which makes me want to write different songs. I’m not struggling as deep and as dark as I was, so I’m inspired by the light right now because I can see it.”

Home Theater

As Amazon turns up the volume on streaming, Spotify should shudder

Multiple players are all looking to capitalize on the popularity of streaming, but it has thus far proved nearly impossible to make a profit. Could major tech companies like Amazon be primed for a streaming take-over?
Social Media

‘Superwoman’ YouTuber Lilly Singh taking a break for her mental health

Claiming to be "mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted," popular YouTuber Lilly Singh has told her millions of fans she's taking a break from making videos in order to recuperate.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

Bigger than Black Friday: Don’t miss the best Single’s Day deals

Thanks to AliExpress, Single's Day – the world's largest retail day – is no longer a foreign affair. If you're ready to do some early holiday shopping or want to score some discounts ahead of Black Friday, we've rounded up some of the…

Want to set up your own virtual private network? Here's how

Take a look at our walkthrough for creating a virtual private network and why it is beneficial for more than just increased privacy and security. We go step by step, detailing how to set up a VPN in both MacOS and in Windows 10.

Rapper Mac Miller died of accidental overdose, autopsy report finds

According to an autopsy report, rapper Mac Miller died September 7 at age 26 of a drug overdose, following a longtime struggle with substance abuse. Miller was scheduled to begin a nationwide tour in October.
Home Theater

No subscription, no problem. Free Spotify users can soon use Spotify Connect

Spotify Connect, which allows users to stream their favorite tunes to any Connect-enabled speaker, has long been one of the best premium-only features on the Swedish streaming service. Soon, free users will get it too.

Tune in to the best internet radio stations for your listening pleasure

Even in the streaming era, radio stations get some of the best exclusives and curate some of the finest handpicked playlists around. Here are the best internet radio stations, for your listening pleasure.
Home Theater

Keep those albums sounding great by converting your vinyl to a digital format

There are all sorts of reasons for ripping records and storing them digitally, but what's the best way to do it? We cover the different types of equipment and software available for ripping records at any price in this guide.

A wealth of rich tunes: Cash in with the best songs about money

There may not be as many songs about money as there are songs about love, but it's a close second. If you're looking for a skrilla-inspired playlist, check out our picks for the best songs about money.
Smart Home

How’s your Spanish, Alexa? Some Amazon Echo devices pick up a new language

Amazon's Alexa voice assistant and Echo devices are now available for customers in Mexico. Alexa has been customized for the Mexican market with local knowledge, a new voice, and support for the Spanish dialect spoken in Mexico.

New Tidal app will bring a wave of music to your Samsung smartwatch

Tidal fans now have another way to enjoy their music collection. The Tidal app is coming to Samsung wearables, including the Samsung Galaxy Watch, Gear Sport, and more. Tidal will also be bringing its wearable app to other devices.

Cyber Monday 2018: When it takes place and where to find the best deals

Cyber Monday is still a ways off, but it's never too early to start planning ahead. With so many different deals to choose from during one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year, going in with a little know-how makes all the…

The best new music this week: Charles Bradley, Muse, and more

Are you looking for the best new music? Each week, we scour the internet to find the most compelling new releases just for you. On tap this week: Charles Bradley, J Mascis, Muse, and Smino.