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Lolo Zouai On Live Music, Life On Tour, And Learning From Dua Lipa [Interview]

Born with a variety of influences through a mixed heritage and upbringing in the exceptionally cultural San Francisco, Lolo Zouai is building an exceptional reputation in the modern day pop scene through her utterly compelling yet extremely witty lyrics and beats that compete with the best in the business, leading to a sound that is nothing short of infectious. 

Not only does it feel as though music comes effortlessly to the rising sensation, there is also a clear indication that she is not afraid to venture into different paths with major interests fashion and even basketball. Having already accomplished so much in such a short space of time, with highlights including touring with the global phenomenon that is Dua Lipa and singing the American national anthem in front of her home fans the Golden State Warriors, it still really feels as though Lolo Zouai is just getting started on her mission for worldwide domination.

New Wave Magazine got the chance to sit down with the Californian superstar to get an insight into the rise of her success, a birthday party that tops all birthday parties, new merch on the way, and what’s to come in the future.

Did you feel like growing up in San Francisco was a good location to enhance your creativity?

Yeah absolutely, I think San Francisco is one of the most creative cities in the world. It’s just a city with acceptance. The gay movement was there, Harvey Milk, and also self-expression is so accepted there and I think I grew up not even realising I was so lucky. I was just able to accept myself, dye my hair. In high school it wasn’t weird to be weird, it was actually cool - so I’m extremely grateful that I grew up there and I think it completely shaped who I am. I would not be the same person if I didn’t grow up in San Francisco.

Following on from your upbringing, what particular music did you grow up on?

I grew up on a bunch of different kinds of music. I was really into Bay Area rap - and then I was also really into some Indie music and I loved Sky Ferrera in high school - she was one of my first concerts. I loved Angus and Julia Stone and RnB. It ranges. I love Dolly Parton and I’d love classic French music that my mum would play and my dad would play Algerian music too, so it was a really big melting pot.

When you’re writing new music, is there anything in particular you do to kick off the creative process or is it just natural?

I go to the studio. I don’t usually write outside of the studio anymore because I think once your job is your hobby you don’t really do it as much naturally, which is sad but how it goes. When I go to the studio I try to light a candle, get good lighting, make sure I’m in a good mood. I like to get a notepad out and write it on paper, because if I’m on my phone I’ll end up on instagram or something and get really distracted. So I put my phone on aeroplane mode, throw it in a corner and then start brain storming.

And talking of your songwriting, and creative process, if you don’t mind going in to it, there’s quite an interesting story behind how you wrote ‘Desert Rose’ right? Do you mind explaining how that came about?

I was born in France and my dad is Algerian and my mum is French but I grew up in America, so I grew up very American I would say. I was supposed to go to Algeria for a cousins wedding and there was some hate I was getting from some distant family in Algeria because I live in America and I’m not conservative. I wasn’t being crazy or vulgar or anything but there was a photo of me with my middle finger up on instagram and that really angered a family member. They ended up writing some hurtful messages on my instagram and It was just too much. It ended up in me not going to Algeria because they didn’t want me to go there and thought it was better that I didn’t and there was too much drama. I was really hurt by that, because I wanted to see my family and felt really rejected by that. So when I came back to America I was like, how can I write a song that sonically makes sense to them. How can I write a song that they’ll understand? People think it’s a sexy song but it’s really just about family and asking them to love me for who I am. A desert rose is this crystal that you find in the desert that’s hard but beautiful and I thought that was a beautiful metaphor. I wrote the song for them but it ended up connecting to so many people who felt rejected by their family for any reason, so that’s incredible.

But everything worked out pretty well as your musical career really took off, especially touring with arguably one of the biggest stars in the world in Dua Lipa. What was it like being around her, and being on tour?

I felt so lucky being able to see her up close - what it takes to put together such a big tour. She’s someone I look up to. She’s so kind, so hard working and so talented. Just hearing her singing live every night, and she sounds amazing. It shows you that with hard work and dedication and passion for what you do - you can achieve whatever you want. Her whole team are so nice, it felt like a family and I’m sad it’s over but we have two more shows together in Canada. I had a band for the first time on tour and it was just a party. At first I was going to be healthy but then I realised I was touring with Dua Lipa, I’m going to party! When I look back on my life, I’ll be like, this was the time of my life.

I read she also threw you a pretty mad birthday party, what was that like?

Well, she didn’t throw it, my team threw it but she crashed the party so it was just as exciting. It was fun, she was really excited about my cake - and it was so sweet of her to show up and she also, on my birthday, shouted out: “Make some noise for Lolo Zouaï, it’s her fucking birthday!”

You also had a pretty huge landmark moment singing the American national anthem at the Warriors playoff game, what was that like, how did it feel?

That was crazy because I’m from the Bay Area and so I remember singing the national anthem at my high school game. And now, singing the national anthem for The Warriors when they won the whole thing, is something that I’ve always been nervous to do and I was nervous doing it. Because it’s your voice raw - with nothing and they just say ‘go’! And it’s a hard song! So I sang it pretty low and was like, i’m not going to fuck this one up. I’m really proud of myself for doing it because it was a life long goal and I was always putting it off because of a fear. And I conquered my fear… and they won - so it’s because of me! Haha.

And you recently released ‘Blur’ which has a really fun beat, but it’s really special how you tell a story through the lyrics, how do you go about interpolating such witty storytelling on to fun pop beats?

I think that’s it’s fun if the beat is sweet and fun, the lyrics should be a little naughty. I was just telling a story about a time in my life, you know. It’s just like, sometimes we make reckless decisions and you can either wake up feeling really bad about it or, turn it into a fun pop song, and I chose to do that.

I’ve seen from your socials that you’re also massively into your fashion, where do you draw your inspiration from when it comes to fashion?

I think just like, you know, being on socials you can find inspiration, you can find it on the street - like in New York. New York has the best fashion sense, I feel. Just experimenting. I love mixing high fashion with vintage and clothing. I still prefer thrifting over buying new, just because it’s better for the planet and everything - and then you can have unique pieces. I just went to Paris Fashion Week and it was amazing, i saw the Kenzo show, Loewe, Hermes, and I sang at the Kid Super show when they were closing the show. And it was crazy, they had J Balvin and Tyga at the front. I pretty much performed for the world’s biggest artists, haha!

Keeping in line with the fashion theme, do you have any exciting new merch on the way?

Yes of course, I think merch is so fun. I just think, why make merch ugly, when you can make it amazing and people will love to wear it.

As for the rest of 2022, what can we expect from Lolo Zouaï?

More music, you will not be disappointed and don’t miss it! And two more Dua dates and some festivals this Summer in Belgium, France and Montreal, so that’s going to be alot of fun. Keep an eye out for what’s about to come!

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