Zella Day is bringing you Arizona Pop

The singer-songwriter talks about her journey of musical growth and self-discovery, from adapting the sounds of her hometown in her music, to having her aesthetic be one that moves

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Zella Day describes her music as “twangy psychedelic pop with a hint of Americana, ultimately living in the alternative space.” One meditative listen (with five unintentional dance breaks) through her discography later, the truth of the statement seeps in. From the opening notes on “Hypnotic,” the signature hit from Day’s major label debut in 2015, Kicker, you can tell she lives in a space of pop and rock that decidedly skews away from the mainstream. But you hear traces of it on “Girls,” a twangy and rhythmic song from her forthcoming sophomore album, which makes you feel like you’re in the midst of a standoff in a spaghetti western. She appreciates cinematic and vintage culture, both in music and aesthetic—but makes it feel brand-new.

Day allows her life and surroundings to become one with her musicality, having been influenced by the sounds and experiences of life in Pinetop-Lakeside, Arizona. A cowboy father, a paint-your-own-pottery studio owner mother, and a horsetrainer sister meant that life always had color for her. “Arizona played a big role in my early songwriting days as a young writer who’s very sensitive to their surroundings,” she says. But her dreams got too big for Pinetop, and she moved to California at the age of 17. “My upcoming record is saturated with the Hollywood feels and emotions, what I’ve been experiencing in my 20’s being in such a different place than Arizona.”

Zella wears jumpsuit, bracelets, belt Chanel Top Annakiki Hat Ezgi Cinar Rings Bulgari

The success that came with her major label debut with 2015’s, Kicker—the talk show circuit, the performance at Coachella, collaborations with Lana Del Rey—all served to make Day a “name,” a “someone to watch out for,” a “next big thing.” But as she grew up and grew out of her beginnings, her life and music took on a different meaning. “By the time I was ready to write and record my second record, I felt very differently about what I wanted to be making, the approach that I wanted to take in making my records and wanting to get as close to my essence as possible,” she says.

Now, 26, Day’s second album, coming this fall, feels just as appropriate to her own evolution as it does to the progression of our world. “I went [into the studio] with these more melancholic tempos and rhythms,’’ she explains. But her producer, Jay Joyce, had other ideas. “He was always saying in the studio, ‘let’s speed this shit up,’ and I’m so happy for that because as the world is opening up, and we’re past the pandemic, the thing that I want to do more than anything is move. I have a record that moves.”

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