The musician hits the road later this year.
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blink-182’s seminal album Enema of the State turned 20 earlier this year. The record, which catapulted the So Cal trio into superstardom paved the way for a tidal wave of bands to break through, those no longer afraid to write big pop choruses whilst having a Fender Stratocaster slung over their shoulders.
In the decade following Enema of the State, the rise of artists such as Sum 41, Good Charlotte, New Found Glory and Avril Lavigne coincided with MTV becoming a staple of the lives of teenagers across the globe who, pre-internet, would have to rely on the network to get their fix of their favourite artists’ latest high budget music videos, in between episodes of Cribs, Made and Jackass.
The combination left a lasting impression on a generation. Being in a band was now no longer inaccessible. They could see people like them on TV doing it, and dream of doing it themselves one day.
One of those inspired by that generation is Liverpudlian guitarist and singer-songwriter Zuzu.
On her latest single How It Feels, Zuzu pulls through that combination of crunching guitar with a huge pop chorus to create a sound that will reignite the MTV generation. The anthemic single is perfect for a summer road trip, and wouldn’t be out of a place on a soundtrack to a huge teen movie, like American Pie for instance, which also turns 20 this year.
That’s not to say this is a throwback. Not by any means. The scouser has released a steady flow of singles over the past few years, demonstrating an ear for an indie-pop hook that competes with modern heavyweights such as Vampire Weekend and Haim.
Straddling the lines between pop and rock, Zuzu has been firmly embraced by both camps. She’s toured with the likes of Manchester indie kings Courteeners and California punkers SWMRS, and has had her tunes spun on Radio 1 by premiere tastemaker Annie Mac.
Zuzu has even caught the attention of pop legend Elton John, who played her single How It Feels on his Beats 1 Rocket Hour show.
Zuzu has spent much of the summer on the road, performing at festivals such as The Great Escape, Neighbourhood and Live at Leeds, and at the time of writing is preparing for a headline date in London and a special homecoming in Liverpool this September.
Now with the backing of major label Virgin EMI (home to Taylor Swift, Bastille, and Lewis Capaldi), Zuzu is working on releasing more singles in the run-up to her upcoming September shows, with a view of putting out her debut album in 2020.
We recently caught up with Zuzu, to talk about her upcoming London and Liverpool shows, as well as what she’s got up her sleeve for the future.
How excited are you about your Liverpool and London headline gigs coming up in September?
I’m buzzing! It’s been a while since we last went out on a headline tour. I think our last headline show was just before we went out on tour with Courteeners. I’m excited to get out there and put on my own show.
How would you describe a Zuzu live show?
I say a lot of random stuff on stage and pull off a lot of wannabe Diana Ross moves! Have you ever seen Hercules? You know those girls who are like the Motown singers? I really want to be one of them.
What can you tell us about your new single How It Feels?
I normally write songs on my own with a guitar, but with that one, I actually wrote it in the studio with my guitarist Kurran. He’s an awesome artist in his own right and makes more electronic music. So the track was inspired by that kind of stuff. We made the beat on a computer first, then I got my guitar out after and we went from there.
A few months before, we were working on a cover of Lenny Kravitz’s Fly Away which we never ended up using, but I learnt a lot from working on that cover. I think How it Feels takes a bit of inspiration from that song. It’s simple but it’s effective.
You can sense that ‘90s sound coming through, there’s definitely a Weezer vibe to it…
That’s sick! I will take that. Weezer are definitely one of my favourite bands of all time, I adore them.
What was the inspiration behind the video?
My last few videos have been more narrative based and for this one I wanted it to be more performance based, which was definitely a massive step outside of my comfort zone. It was difficult at first, I used to be quite a shy person and I’ve been trying to come out of my shell a bit. It was difficult but it did me the world of good. I think I’m less insecure now than I used to be and it’s nice to be able to show that.
Does the look and feel for your videos come from you?
Definitely. I watch a lot of films, and in particular I’m inspired by Wes Anderson and his use of colours. I don’t necessarily use his colour pallet, I use my own that runs consistently throughout my work.
Are there plans to bring those visual elements into your live shows?
That’s definitely something I would love to do. Especially with outfits, I try and incorporate stuff from my videos into a live setting. Hopefully if we get a bit bigger we can try and get more of that stuff.
What made you want to pursue music as a career?
I never have wanted to do anything else and really never have done anything else. From the age of fourteen I’ve always been in bands, wanting to make music, it’s just always what I’ve done. I’ve been doing this a long time, and now it feels like it’s something that’s not really up to me, you know? I just have to do it.
Who would you call your biggest influences?
I bought my first two records at the same time and they were by blink-182 and The Libertines. I still really love those two bands. I was really into Arctic Monkeys as well. My older cousins would show me bands like that and I just gravitated towards them. But then I always loved more pop stuff like Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus and Avril Lavigne.
Can you describe to us what Liverpool is like for an emerging artist?
It’s great – especially for guitar bands, it’s a really great environment, there are lots of great gigs going on. There’s a great magazine called Bido Lito! who are so great and so supportive of Liverpool artists. There’s also blogs like poppedmusic and Getintothis who write about artists and even put on shows. There’s a really supportive community here and it feels like everyone’s friends with everyone else.
What have you got planned for the rest of the year?
We should hopefully release three singles before the end of the year, I don’t know the exact timing yet, and then an album is the next big goal. That’s what I’m aiming for in 2020.
For any current and future Zuzu live dates head to Ticketmaster.co.uk.
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