A MEETING WITH LOLO ZOUAÏ - CRASH Magazine



FASHION

A MEETING WITH LOLO ZOUAÏ

By Roisin Breen

Lolo Zouaï has just released her second studio album « Playgirl ». It’s an exuberant and playful declaration, full of power and passion, that the Franco-American singer fought tooth and nail to put out into the world. There are three « playgirls » who represent three different sounds on the album, each of them exploring a different side to her personality. She mixes R&B, hyper-pop and 2000’s hip/hop to create an eclectic sound that takes listeners on a journey throughout her innermost thoughts and nuances. She sat down with Crash to talk fashion, fun, touring with Dua Lipa and pressures in an industry she is ready to take by storm…

@lolozouai

CAN YOU TALK TO US ABOUT YOUR NEW ALBUM… HOW INVOLVED WERE YOU IN WRITING IT? HAS IT BEEN A PERSONAL JOURNEY? HOW LONG HAS IT BEEN IN THE PROCESS? 

For this album I was 100% the creator of this world. For a really long time I didn’t know what I wanted to do for my second album, and I felt pretty sure that I was never going to be able to actually do it. And then, it came to me. I got the title whilst I was making music and starting to write with Stelios (Phili, music producer) and explore some new sounds. I came up with a concept and then I had the vision for the artwork. It was probably around two years in the making. I then edited the album trailer, videos and visuals that will accompany the album. I’m extremely involved in all of it. To be honest, If I didn’t want to make this album, it wouldn’t have been made. I had to push myself to get it done. It’s been a lot of work and self motivation, but it’s worth it for me because whoever listens to this will be able to see how much work I put into it.

YOU JUST CAME OFF TOUR WITH DUA LIPA, WHAT WAS THAT EXPERIENCE LIKE FOR YOU?

I had so much fun because I had the best team. My band, her team and I would watch every single show on the side because, when do you get to see a show like that on the side stage!? I knew that it was something I’ll never forget. I had fun, I learned a lot, I overcame some technical difficulties that were next level because it’s in an arena. I also got to know Dua a little bit and her work ethic, it was incredible to be able to see that up close.

WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO PLAY FOR A CROWD OF THAT SIZE?

It would hit me the most when they (the audience) would put their lights up at the end during the last song. Sometimes you have to disconnect when you’re playing for that many people. I do anyway, because if I don’t disconnect, I get really emotional. Sometimes it’s okay to cry on stage, but sometimes you don’t really want to! (Laughs)

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE ASPECT OF YOUR JOB? WRITING, PERFORMING, FESTIVALS, RECORDING?

For me, the fun part is coming up with a concept and then trying to figure out what’s the best way to write it. I’m very picky with my lyrics, some people just write what they feel, I wish I could do that, but I start with the concept and it takes me a while to be happy with the lyrics. I brought a few more producers on this project than my first one and I was also really involved in orchestrating that, but Stelios is definitely still my main collaborator and it’s fun to grow with him.

HOW CLOSELY DO YOU WORK WITH HIM?

He lives in New York, and although I moved to L.A. a couple of years ago, I still actually find myself creating mainly in New York. I work with a few other producers in Los Angeles, but it’s a very small circle. There were three months that I couldn’t stop coming up with songs, so I would record them on the spot because I find that if you don’t record it the day or the week you write it, you’re not going to capture as much of the emotion. You might be over it, but you have to complete each task. 

SO YOU’RE BASED IN LOS ANGELES AT THE MOMENT, BUT YOU ARE ORIGINALLY FROM FRANCE?

Technically yes. I was born in France, but not raised in France at all. I was raised in San Francisco from the age of three months to 18 years old. So technically speaking I am French but culturally, I’m very much from San Francisco. It is my music that has brought me back to France, thankfully. I love France and my mom is French and I speak French with her. So, Paris is where I was born, San Francisco is where I was raised, and New York is where my music career started and where I feel most at home. L.A. has been a big challenge for me to push myself to meet new people and producers and to surround myself with people who I could collaborate with. I still don’t love it as much as New York, but I’m trying to figure it out. A  lot of my family is still in France, and my dad is from Algeria so I have a lot of family there too. It’s nice to be able to go to different countries and have a homebase.

YOU SING IN ENGLISH, FRENCH AND ARABIC. DO YOU FIND YOU HAVE A DIFFERENT IDENTITY OR VOICE AS A SINGER IN EACH LANGUAGE YOU SING IN?

I think when I sing in French it’s when I want something to sound more romantic or pure, because French is such a romantic language. Since I didn’t grow up there, I don’t necessarily have the language to write using slang and sometimes when I listen to French music I don’t understand the words because it’s so fast. Which is strange because I’m fully fluent in the language. I can have more fun in English because I just know more. And then Arabic I barely know at all so I just take keywords that a lot of people probably understand.

BEING BASED IN THE STATES AS A YOUNG FEMALE ARTIST, DO YOU FEEL INCLINED TO SPEAK OUT ABOUT THE POLITICAL CLIMATE THERE AT THE MOMENT OR DO YOU FEEL THAT THERE’S TOO MUCH PRESSURE PUT ON ARTISTS TO BE OUTSPOKEN POLITICALLY?

I care about a lot of the issues but hard when it comes to sharing it. People seem to think if you don’t share it (online), that it means that you don’t care in reality. But that’s not true. There’s things we can do in silence. You can donate privately without having to shout about it on social media. But at the same time it’s definitely important when you have fans and you are a public figure to express your political views or social views at least. I know that it is a lot of pressure for certain people, but I think that it comes with being in the public eye. When you support someone, you want to be able to support their values too.

DO YOU FEEL A PRESSURE THEN TO PROMOTE YOURSELF AND SHARE A LOT OF YOUR LIFE ON YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS?

Yeah, it can be hard, but I think as an artist you decide that you’re either going to be super public or super private. Some people just want to make music and not be a public person, but they’re still successful, perhaps that was an older way to do things. Nowadays people want to see your personality get to know you, it can become tiring. I’m super outgoing and I’m hilarious (laughs), but sometimes I don’t feel like showing it. It’s definitely a different industry now, especially with Tik Tok and how quickly something can go viral but also how quickly people can forget about it. I try to remind myself that I’m making music that I love and that it’s a creative outlet. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s only positive. There’s so many factors that can make a song go viral and there’s so many factors that can make a person become extremely successful. At some point you realize there are certain things that are out of your control and you just have to keep putting music out and seeing where it goes.

DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE SONG PLAYGIRL?

I love Room and I love VHS. But it depends. I think the album is very diverse but there’s three distinctly different sounds.

DO YOU HAVE PLANS TO GO ON TOUR?

Yes I’m definitely planning on doing my own tour because the last one I did on my own was in 2019. Before it was the normal way to go – you put out an album and you tour it! (Laughs) So I’m excited about being able to get back to that.

ARE YOU GOING TO COME FRANCE?

Of course! Duh! (Laughs) Paris is like one of my biggest markets! I always go to Paris for events, pop-ups and shows. It’s one of my strongest fan bases, and I love the fans there.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE PARISIAN SPOTS… BOULANGERIE, NEIGHBORHOOD, RESTAURANT? 

Honestly, all the boulangeries are good! It’s like any old boulangerie in Paris is better than the best one in America. It’s crazy – the croissant juste tastes so much better in France. In terms of neighborhoods, I like the 11th a lot. I spent six months in France and I lived in a chambre de bonne next to Marché Poissonnière. I worked in the Marais, which is obviously amazing. If could have an apartment in the Marais – I would love that! (Laughs) I recently went over to the other side, which I never have before, the rive gauche – the bougie side! Laughs) It’s so beautiful! I know this isn’t a French place, but whenever I get homesick, I like to go to Holy Belly to eat a good old egg breakfast. (Laughs) I think brunch is becoming more popular, though, in France. I also love PaperBoy – the guy is very cool, he’s a great artist.

YOU’VE WORKED WITH DIOR, TOMMY HILFIGER, NIKE, COACH, REEBOK, JUST TO MENTION A FEW. WHAT DO THOSE BRANDS MEAN TO YOU PERSONALLY AND WHAT’S YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH FASHION?

One of my first campaigns was for Tommy Jeans, and I thought that was so cool because they were in the phase of rebranding and throwing it back to the 90s. I’m a huge fan of Destiny’s Child and Aaliyah, and they were all Tommy girls. It was so cool to be part of a legacy like that. It’s just fun! I’ve been taking photos just for fun for years, and so to get to do it for a brand like that is just a fun thing to do. I used to thrift a lot and I didn’t really buy expensive clothing. I prefer to thrift because it’s better for the environment and you get to find unique pieces and be yourself in a way that nobody else can put together. But doing campaigns and being invited to Fashion Week opened my eyes to fashion and made me understand why things are expensive. I want to support up and coming designers. It’s an art form, too!

DO YOU HAVE ANY FAVORITE YOUNG DESIGNERS?

I mean, I love Chet Lo, Chopova Lowena, KNWLS… I have so many! I have recently been discovering all these brands, and I’m like, this is so fun!

IT’S GOOD TO HAVE FUN WITH FASHION. DO YOU STYLE YOURSELF FOR YOUR MUSIC VIDEOS OR DO YOU HAVE A STYLIST?

I do not have a consistent stylist because when I can get the clothing I want, putting things together is so fun for me. I’ve definitely worked with amazing stylists who help find pieces. I’m very involved in every aspect of my career because to me, there’s no point in making it if I don’t do it by being myself. I don’t want to just be famous. I would like to be recognized for my art. From a fashion perspective, this album is split up into three characters, and a big part of visually differentiating the characters is my style. I have different styles depending on the day. I have a cuter, more childish side with cute colors and big pink boots more inspired by kawaii fashion. Then there’s more of the grungy side which reminds me of my high school self and my reckless side. Then there’s the cyber girl, which is a way of having fun with digital and futuristic fashions. Fashion is very important for the vision of this album. 

DO YOU HAVE ANY DREAM ARTIST COLLABORATIONS? 

That’s so much pressure! (Laughs) There’s a lot of people that I think would be really fun to collaborate with.. I love Sampha, Kehlani, Stromae, Rosalía, Shygirl, Jeremih, Sky Ferreira. There’s just so many cool artists..  The weekend! (Laughs)

WE CAN PUT IT OUT THERE IN THE UNIVERSE FOR YOU AND MANIFEST…

Okay! (Laughs) Rihanna! SZA!  Actually, when I put out “Give me a Kiss” SZA commented and messaged Stelios saying “this is crazy!” I tried to get her on the remix, but it didn’t happen. (Laughs)

ARE YOU INTERESTED IN MOVING INTO THE DIGITAL SPHERE AND THE METAVERSE AS AN ARTIST? 

I’m going to definitely tap into things like that. I have to start doing that investing… but I don’t even know what the website is called! (Laughs)

BITCOIN? (LAUGHS)

Oh, no. I’m already invested. (Laughs) I’ve been invested in crypto for too long! I am into investing. I don’t put all my eggs in one basket. I want to be set up when I’m older and I’ve invested in alcohol companies – I’m a businesswoman. (Laughs)

OKAY. SO WILL YOU GO ON A METAVERSE TOUR?

Not anytime soon… But maybe when I’m 70 and I don’t want to get out of bed, I can just use the digital version of my 20 year old self! (Laughs) 

GREAT… CAN’T WAIT! THANKS FOR YOUR TIME LOLO! 

 

VASSO VU AND FURMAAN AHMED

VASSO VU AND FURMAAN AHMED

COLLIN SOLAL CARDO

OSCAR OUK

OSCAR OUK

 

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