Lolo Zouaï can’t be defined. The 27-year-old doesn’t fit neatly into one specific typecast or industry box–rather, she’s full of surprises. With every new project she puts out, another aspect of the musician unravels. And Lolo’s latest album, PLAYGIRL, is a continuation of just this. Why commit to one when you can play off them all, the artist argues? Exploring all the various personas that make up her identity, the album is refreshing, bold, and undeniably her.
“For me, being a ‘playgirl’ means so many different things,” she shares with V. “You can be silly, and you can be sexy. You can be all of these things, and no one can define you by one thing.”
Lolo divides her album and resulting tracks into three distinct characters: the fun “pl4yg1rl,” the sympathetic “dreamgirl,” and the allusive “partygirl.” They’re all full of vigor, character, and most uniqueness–they all have that one thing that makes them stand out. And while they’re each distinct, the spirit of budding love (for others and for yourself) ties them together. With Lolo’s signature glitchy hyper pop sound, she transports us from this realm into the cyber-future, rich with crackling drum machines, whirling synths, and candid lyrics. At times she’s a soft pop queen soothing our worries, while on others, she’s a cyber-dominatrix ruling the metaverse.
“It took me a while to find my voice because I was still trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted to say. Now that [the album] is out I can finally say I’m so proud to have gone through the journey of self-discovery because it made me a better writer and artist,” the recently minted Forbes 30 under 30 star shares about her album creation process, which wasn’t always the easiest of journeys. After stepping away for a bit, she slowly began experimenting with different sounds and living her life based on what she enjoyed. And shortly after, the musician created a body of work she’s ready (and excited) for everyone to hear.
At the top of next year, Lolo hits the road, bringing her extensive discography for a spin. In the span of three months, the artist will visit 34 cities. Lolo will kick off the whole stint in London and move through Berlin and New York to finally end in Los Angeles. And as Lolo guides us through the sonic landscape of the digital world in her album, the tour brings this to a new dimension–physically transporting us vis-a-vis cyberspace visuals and explosive outfits. “It’ll be four years since my own headline tour in 2019, so I want to bring something really, really special to the stage,” she beams. And as Lolo pushes at the boundaries of music and performance, she ever so slyly creeps closer to superstar status.
From her home in Los Angeles, Lolo sits down with V, answering our questions about this whirlwind of a year and the one ahead. For more on Lolo, read below.
V MAGAZINE: Hi Lolo. How are you doing today?
LOLO ZOUAI: I’m doing great, how about you?
V: Doing well too! Thanks for chatting with us. We’re excited to talk about your latest album, PLAYGIRL. It’s amazing. Now that it’s been out for a bit, how does it feel to have it like out in the world? What are some emotions running through right now?
LOLO ZOUAI: I’m really excited. I’m glad you like it. I worked really hard on it. It was two years of figuring out what I wanted to make after my first album, and I wanted to do something that was playful but also touched on different sides of my personality as a woman, as an artist, and my style. These are all really connected to my personality. And for the album, I split it into three different characters–three different playgirls. There’s the dream girl, which is the style I started with. She’s soft and sensitive, represented by R&B. It’s really the inner child in my music–very nostalgic. Then there’s the darker side, which I know a lot of my listeners discovered in “Desert Rose.” That’s the grungy side.
V: Yeah, sometimes you want the darker mood, and sometimes you want the fun, party side. You can switch it up. So how long has the album been in the making?
LZ: I tried to make it during the pandemic, and then I realized that my brain wasn’t in the right place because there was so much stuff going on in the world and I just felt really consumed by that and really distracted. I was like, “You know what, I’m just not gonna make it this year.” I started recording and writing in November 2020 and then really went full force in 2021. the whole year, and finally got all my creative juices back. I was still working on it when I was on the Dua [Lipa] tour, pretty much finished it right before that started.
V: On tour? Wow, that’s amazing. And I saw on your Instagram post for the album announcement that it took you a long time to understand what you wanted to say with your music. How did you get here?
LZ: It took me a while to find my voice because I was still trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted to say. Now that [the album] is out I can finally say I’m so proud to have gone through the journey of self-discovery because it made me a better writer and artist. Once the first album came out, and I got a little bit of success. I was like, “Well, I’m pretty comfortable now. I’m not working at a restaurant. This is my job.” It took me a little to realize that I can be intimate in my songwriting and I could also have fun. I can make music about a gummy bear and still make it really good songwriting. I was like, “It doesn’t have to be about family trauma every time.” It can be about something cute and still be good.
V: Amazing, and I know that you played with The Marias earlier this year. Did you learn any lessons while with her?
LZ: Yeah, I played one show with them in Los Angeles at the Greek Theatre. It was an incredible experience to play in such an iconic venue and just to watch their set. She was late to the show, and everybody was wondering what was going on, and she actually spoke about having a serious panic attack the night before and having anxiety on stage. I thought it was so honest and raw for her to mention that onstage. Because I know that I’ve had moments like that, and sometimes I don’t feel like mentioning it. I thought that her being so open about mental health on such a big stage was admirable. I was like, “Maybe I’ll take away from that because the whole audience was connected to her and felt her very deeply. That was really beautiful.
V: Yeah, that’s amazing. And how was the Dua Lipa tour? Any lessons from the pop queen?
LZ: I think we did 37 shows together or something. It was an honor to be on that tour–seeing how an arena tour works and watching her and the band go hard every single night. It was pretty much a perfect show every night. Growing up, I wanted that level of success, and it’s really cool to see how you can achieve it. She’s a hard worker, she’s incredibly talented, she stays true to herself, and she’s really kind. So from that experience, I was like, “I’m going to just keep going doing my thing,” but at the same time, I got to play Madison Square Garden, so I already have some level of success. It’s definitely energized me. I’m just going to keep making music that I love.
V: I love that. And now that you have so much tour experience, you’re about to embark on your own tour. How are you preparing?
LZ: This end of the year is just about relaxing and finding balance so that I feel calm and excited and confident for next year. So far, to prepare for the tour, I put so much work into the visuals on the album. I definitely wanted to create the PLAYGIRL world in a physical space. I also wanted to incorporate instruments so I’ve been practicing the piano. It’ll be four years since my own headline tour in 2019, so I want to bring something really, really special to the stage.
V: We’re so excited to see you take over the world with your tour. Your aesthetic is so cool, full of color and patterns. I’m curious, how do you go about curating a good outfit for tour?
LZ: Thank you. I think the photos for the album are the blueprint for the tour. I’m going to bring all three playgirls to the tour. Each show will have a different playgirl, so a little skirt ensemble and some really fun shoes. I’ve been talking to designers about potential custom looks, and that’s something that I built over the years–relationships with fashion designers. On my first tour, I threw on a NASCAR jacket, a short skirt, and some Docs. Now, I’ve done a lot of editorials, and I’ve met so many incredible people, so I want to do unique pieces for specific shows.
V: That’s so exciting. I can’t wait to see it. And message wise, what message do you hope to send to your listeners with PLAYGIRL?
LZ: You can be confident in all your emotions. You have so many different sides to you as a person. For me, being a playgirl means so many different things–you can be silly, and you can be sexy. You can be all of these things, and no one can define you by one thing. So feel free to explore all those sides.
V: That’s a beautiful message. Last question for you, Lolo–as we round out 2022, are there any intentions for the New Year?
LZ: I’m kind of a person who doesn’t get stuck in the present. I just keep moving. I’m going to keep making music videos, doing my thing, and just being myself. Hopefully, that attracts the right people and positivity.
For more information on Lolo’s tour, click here.