Sounds of Summer: Zella Day

Sounds of Summer: Zella Day

It's Summer, and V Have Your Guide To the Girls Who Should Be Invading Your Speakers All Season. So Go Ahead—Roll Down Your Windows and Turn Up the Volume!

It's Summer, and V Have Your Guide To the Girls Who Should Be Invading Your Speakers All Season. So Go Ahead—Roll Down Your Windows and Turn Up the Volume!

Photography: Spencer Kohn

Text: Erica Russell

Alt-pop singer-songwriter Zella Day's music is nothing short of enchanting, so it's fitting that most of her tracks have mystical titles like "Hypnotic" and "High." Incorporating elements of folk, electronica, and even classic Western, Day's music is grounded with a certain kinetic energy and spirit that seems as if it were lifted straight from the artist's whimsical upbringing in the Southwest. In celebration of everyone's favorite season, V caught up with Day to chat about her recently released debut record, her warm weather wardrobe essentials, and all things—you guessed it—summer.

Your debut album dropped in June. It’s a little Americana, a little folk, a little psychedelic, and of course has that electronic, indie rock spirit. Can you wax a little about the sounds you’ve incorporated into Kicker?

ZELLA DAY I wanted to make a record that showcased all of the different sides of who I am as an artist. It was important to me that I didn’t box myself in with one specific sound because I want to be a free bird on my next record. The completion of this record came when I started getting deep into South Western culture. (I’m from Arizona!) Songs like “Jameson” came from when I was exploring that more folksy side of myself. As for the psychedelic rock spirit, I’ve always been enchanted by the late '60s, early '70s era. Every time I pick up my tambourine I close my eyes and pay my respects to Stevie Nicks.

What does the record title stand for?

ZD Kicker was the name of the Apache man who took care of the horses on my father’s ranch. I was six years old when I met Kicker, the perfect age for believing in magic. I would walk down to the barn everyday to sit quietly as Kicker would tell me all about his culture. My head was in the clouds and it’s the first time I remember having very vivid dreams. I named my record after a person who lit a flame in my creative realm.

Is there any particular track on the album that has a special story behind it?

ZD "Jerome" is one of my favorites. It’s about the woman I was named after who was a coal miner’s wife in 1842. I picked that song to be the first track on the record because I’m essentially introducing myself by name.

When you write, is there a specific mood you have to be in or a certain place you like to be in to get inspired?

ZD Deep inside my soul where all of my emotions live in harmony. If I’m accessing my true being where my balance in grounded, I have the potential to be inspired by great happiness or great sadness. There’s a dark side and a light side to this record. If I’ve learned anything about myself, it’s that I posses both. The whole idea behind this record is embracing every piece of who you are.

I hear you put on one hell of performance. What’s your favorite thing about touring and playing live?

ZD My favorite part about touring and playing live is losing myself in the experience. I am just so at peace when I can truly be in the moment, and music provides that for me.

Can you tell me about growing up in Arizona? Do you miss it?

ZD I grew up in a small isolated part of Arizona called Pinetop. I was living amongst the wild flowers, playing music as I pleased. I wouldn’t be the same without it. I don’t miss it because that would mean I would want to go back when I am currently in love with Los Angeles, but I do have a deep gratitude towards the place I come from.

What sort of pieces do you gravitate towards when it comes to your summer wardrobe?

ZD Well, I can never pass up a good pair of leather boots, a vintage turquoise ring, or a pair of bell-bottoms that fit my butt just right.

What music makes you want to roll the windows down and take a long, sunny drive on a hot summer day?

ZD I have been completely obsessed with Patrick Watson and his new album, Love Songs for Robots.

What makes your record perfect listening for summer?

ZD Hopefully it’s perfect to listen to all year round!

Finish this sentence: “Summer is…”

ZD Summer is for sun worshipping.

Zella Day's debut album Kicker is out now via Hollywood Records.

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