I want to keep my ramblings short today, not because I don’t have ample things to say, but because I want you to get to the great material EZA gave us.
The synesthetic EZA brings us a whole new world of music on a silver platter, a brooding, bewitching brand of ambient pop with a gravitational pull so strong it has an event horizon, and feelings so strong they could resolve even the deepest existential crisis. Her music is delectably complex, layered to perfection and topped off with gorgeous vocals.
The crown jewel of EZA’s discography is the hypnotic “Headlights.” Basically, if her this song was a pastry, it would have the consistency of a melt-in-your-mouth pull-apart biscuit, with a misty glaze and a blackberry/chocolate filling. I hope you enjoy the music and our fantastic chat with the mind behind it all – introducing EZA!
// Our Interview With EZA //
/// You say when you were young you listened/studied jazz and opera, when you started creating your own music you intertwined a darker ambiance with low end grooves and beats. What drove this evolutionary step?
EZA: I started vocal training with my teacher, Fred Scheff, when I was twelve. He first had me studying contemporary jazz, opera, and theatre to learn proper technique. I was studying vocalists who performed songs like they were telling a story. Something about their delivery helped me grasp the importance of singing with meaning. I think around that time, I really started connecting with deep, moody songs. It wasn’t until late high school when I started listening to Regina Spektor and Imogene Heap that I discovered female artists could also be super bad-ass. Game changer. I respected these women for taking on genres that strayed from the classic ballads and top 40 pop. Their style of writing was so personal and abstract that I couldn’t help but want to study it as well. A few years later Skrillex was blowing up and Kimbra was starting to emerge in the US from New Zealand as an electronic artist. The combination of these two made me fall absolutely in love with dirty, gritty, soulful, and low-end sounds. The music I make now is just a culmination of the unique and influential artists over the course of the last ten years.
/// How does your synesthesia play a role in writing your music?
EZA: Until I was 17 I never knew why I was drawn to certain songs over others. It was more than just the rhythm or catchy melody; certain songs were visually more appealing. The reason dub step and electronic music has always been so attractive to me is because of the experience. Every sample, kick, bass drop, and side chain looks different. In my own writing, it’s easy to see the chords I’m playing as colors, textures, and patterns. If, after some time messing around, the image looks bland or ordinary, I’ll move on and start writing something else. I’ll never finish writing a song that looks dull in my head. It would be like trying to paint a rainbow with a beige color palate. If you’re wanting purple… you’ll never make it. In that way, it’s absolutely affected my decisions to continue or abandon chords or melodies. In the studio, adding certain samples or layers can enhance or stray from the vision I had for the song as well. Getting cohesion takes some time, but when it’s finished it’s unbelievably rewarding.
/// Does your synesthesia help or hinder when you perform?
EZA: It hasn’t had as much of an impact performing as it has when I’m at a show in the audience. Seeing Poliçia and Skrillex live, for instance, was nearly existential. In my own shows though, I think I’m so focused on delivery that I’m not thinking about what I’m experiencing. The fun in synesthesia has been in listening or creating more so than in delivery.
/// Do you consider your synesthesia as a blessing, a burden or both?
EZA: I would say a blessing in many ways, for sure. Creatively and spiritually it’s been a pivotal part of who I’ve grown to be. Though it’s certainly an element of my mind I’d love to turn off if I could sometimes. In painful seasons of my life it takes longer to cope because of the impressions left behind. Certain people who are no longer in my life are still very much a part of me mentally. Forgetting someone is difficult because the way I always pictured them: their colors and patterns which have very much still remained. I think though I can’t escape from that, it’s something I’ve learned to accept and grow from.
/// Could you describe yourself outside of your music?
– I love psychology, philosophy, and the process of self-discovery. I’m not sure when I started to become so passionate about it, but every year I get older I have found self-awareness to be one of the most essential parts to having healthy life.
– I have three older sisters and my family and I are very close. I also have the cutest niece in the entire world.
– I’m a huge coffee-drinker, advocate for buying locally and eating healthy, and baking/decorating.
– I’m very much an introvert, but not shy in the least. I grew up doing community theatre and was in a sketch-comedy group in college similar to SNL.
– Favorite coffee shops in Nashville are Frothy Monkey, Sam & Zoe’s, Crema and Edgehill. Favorite restaurants: Taco Mamacita and Wild Cow.
/// What makes you laugh most?
EZA: My family, probably. My three sisters and brother-in-law. We get weird. Also “Tuna Melts My Heart” and the multiple teacup pig accounts I follow on Instagram.
/// What sort of positive experiences do you want people who are in similar relationships to gain from listening to High and Low?
EZA: I think the main point to drive home is that you can’t fix those who are hurting. No matter how desperately you would like for someone to get help, it’s up to them to choose when, if ever, they will seek counsel to find it. I think our generation has been accustomed to the idea that if we work hard enough, we should be rewarded- and that’s not always the case. Certainly, we should work hard to help those we love and hope for the best; but if we have expectations that we can do the fixing, and we don’t succeed, then we will start to think we are the problem. And this is an incredibly destructive thought process if we are not careful. I’ve learned we can only help those we love to the best of our abilities, and then we need to set boundaries. If we don’t, we risk losing ourselves trying to help someone else.
/// Do you have any elements, either instrumentally or lyrically that you are excited to incorporate in your future music?
EZA: I would love to get more acquainted with Ableton or Novation to enable our shows to have as much live music as possible. Eventually the goal would be triggering most or all of the samples and loops between the band and myself. I never want to use so many tracks in a show that people felt l like they paid to come watch me sing karaoke. I think we’ve all worked too hard on this music to not have it translate as well as it could