text by Takahisa Matsunaga
photo by Yudai Kusano

Interview with Lolo Zouaï /ロロ・ズーアイ来日インタビュー

ーーYesterday, summer sonic was your first time perform in Japan.

Lolo: yeah.

ーーHow was it? What did you think the reaction from the audience was?

Lolo: That was surprise there are a lot of people you know when I first like ten minute before I perform it was like 20 people, a few hundred after. So it was really amazing to see I have a fun base in Japan and my music is connecting world wide. And so I was very happy.

ーーThe outfit was cute on stage.Kind of reminded him Sailor Moon’s, you know the animation is.

Lolo: Oh, yeah. I think I love just like I have a very the Sailor Moon, like Anime type inspiration tennis skirts and big jackets. specially I was here might as well. Do it up.

ーーDo you get a lot of like inspiration from Japanese culture even living in you know based in NY. Do you get a lot of information of Japanese culture in Brooklyn?

Lolo: Ahh, not culture. Because I think the culture is so different in the American culture, but I think maybe I’m inspired by the clothing without even realizing it just because NY is so diverse and there is so many different types of people and different types of fashion we see I think I just inspired by what I see on the street and what I comfortable in always tennis skirts that is my favorite things. And like I love growing up I loved everything from SANRIO, like Hello Kitty. I’ve one like for Christmas just I want Hello Kitty things and then Jiggly puff. It’s like favorite from Pokémon, it like was my instagram avatar for very long time so people come Jiggly puff, people shows me Jiggly puff stuffed animals, it’s all Japanese and so yah.

ーーAnd then you also moved around, like you were born in France, and then grow up San Francisco, then you spent a time in Las Vegas and now you are in NY. Moving around does it, do you think that you get inspiration from living in different environment?

Lolo: I think I was like I think traveling is the most special thing that we can get, and luckily I’ve been able to travel. My life I mean I was born in France and moved to live in San Francisco, lived in San Francisco for 18 years. And my parent were divorced, my dad lived in Las Vegas that I would go there summer sometimes and Dad they really like I mean culturally I don’t know what’s going on. there is so much going on. But I definitely my mum was working very hard to have my sister and I move, I mean go to France every other year to see her family and she have a vacation from us for two month but and I’ve been to Algeria that my dad come from a couple times, that was a big shift in culture and It was very special to see but I tried a taken all those cultures put into my music because I think that makes me who I am. It is interesting to meet someone who’s been who’s try culture who has all these different. but yeah, It’s very important to put it to my music that people get good sense who I am where come from to understand this stories behind my music and sound that I created.

ーーWhen you say, you know, bring in all different culture in the music like is the lyrics having mix of French and in English is also important for you?

Lolo: I think It was maybe important in my first album to just show who I am. I just did it because I felt like it sounded good but then you know people start expected and every songs like I’m gonna do that just cuz you think like It is not like I planed that I gonna put some french in a song just I do feels right. But recently the new music I’ve making doesn’t have much French I don’t really know to me I don’t over think it. but I also have some Arabic influence in my music and dose as usual I said singing a little bit because I don’t speak so fluently. I was important just start at beginning, you know now people like I’m a french artist, but I am not. you know because to me very important that my images reflectable who really I am. So that is something hard to control because It’s not you, you don’t control what people think about you. So that’s why I am just like ok, I am American, but I think people have hard to understanding you that you can be bilingual. you know that you can speak fluently and mountable language, like yourself.

ーーSo the album “High highs to Low lows” is so just came out this year. What was a story behind it? What was a you want to put across.

Lolo: To me the album was just where I was in my life at the moment it was introduction to who I am as an artist. At the time I was living with room mates in a room and I was working at restaurant kind of making minimum wage and whenever I could I would be recording but it was busy making money just put myself and then at the same time sometimes i would get flown by a label to go the Los Angels, Miami and Atlanta to record and the put up these nice hotels like would be everything is free, luxury and I go back home It would be like contrast about an High highs to Low lows one time I got flow now like first class and then I go back and I was working making milkshakes. So it’s like for me “High highs to Low lows” was like a life style also and then getting my hopes up and back down and also in the song I said it thinks GUCCI but It’s 99 scents like, sometimes be hanging out maybe hang out with celebrity oh is that designer, no I got it at thrift store so it’s in my fashion also how reflecting my fashion. So “High highs to Low lows” was just like my life at the moment, now It’s been more highs but at the same time it still hard on me because just who I am. There is always gonna be sadness, depression in my life. because that how my brain works.

ーーThen you worked with Stelios Phili, So how do you decide on sound aspect of music?

Lolo: He is first of all like one the best producer I’ve ever worked with. He completely understands my vision and he is just, I don’t know if I wouldn’t met him, where I would be right now, because I was out of looking for somebody to help me with my sound. But he, how we start kind of go through sounds and we both have a same kind of styles, we liked same things. We go through sounds, we pick we like after that, because I also had produce. we just talked about what kind of beat drums we want, and we kind of do everything together and then has he is making the beat I will be recording micro phone doing melodies come first to me and then after we have the melodies of the songs was sit down we talking we want to be write about and just write it. I think the way we write by telling each other stories all tell him what’s going in my life is and then it’s personal always he will just help me come up with **wasted write it. bounce of each other, that how we make a song. and the end, final touches like doing all the ad libs. He is really good at effecting vocals and pitching then making it sounds gives like electronic feel some times. like in Moi or Brooklyn Love, that’s yah, how we do it!

ーーThere is a little bit that like trap feeling vibes in sound, also on he feels kind of like oldster french pop kind of vibe too. Is this mixed a lot of difference sounds but It was something that in your mind? Breakdown the sound?

Lolo: Yeah I think the sound that I make it stereos reflects what I listened to, what I inspired by and so I am inspired by like 60’s or 70’s french music. like Édith Piaf, Françoise Hardy, Brigitte Bardot, and another same time I listened to a lot of Rap, might a Rap track influence that’s why that come from and I listen to that and I’m also big fun of R&B have been listening a lot of R&B in my whole life and so it just about I make what I like, so just kind of blend different sounds and then like I think genre is like GUCCI in the box a little bit. I just kind of make what I feel and people would name it whatever they are used to, you know, people would name it what they want, but that’s fine. I think Spotify playlist is good because it doesn’t the box use a genre, the box we use the feeling I think music is about feeling now I like.

ーーSo it’s like why you are making in a process of making this album, what was the High moments and Low moments. like high moments where you are very exited about being able to put something off, or being able to create sort of this music. and then low point meaning is that ok, I wish I had on that, struggle that you experienced during mix.

Lolo: I think when you making music of the best part is when you first come up the idea and like you instinctively inspired, it like omg this is great idea, this is amazing song. So that happens with every song that I like at the beginning. And then, the harder part is doing all the details and mixing, mixing part to get it because it like somebody else like mixing it and I want it to sound how I imagined it, so I think like the low moment is a finishing and the high is a starting. And sometimes melodies are very highs. And lyrics cuz I think lyrics is so important, take me so much longer because I wanted to be really good. sometimes I really get frustrated like omg I can’t find this lyric.

ーーAlso you quite involved in fashion too, So you stood tommy jeans campaign and you also doing currently with Coach. So this fashion inspire you musically, is there connection for you?

Lolo: I think that when you love somebody artist, you looking up to them like for their music, but you looking up to their fashion for their look, for their whole persona, for their being. For me, when I was growing up with you know those people like Aaliyah who was just style icon. And I really love Sky Ferreira who I love her clothes. Just different, Madonna I mean was *non far her fashion too for being transgender. And so for me it’s like since I was high schooler, I really care about I loved dressing up, going thrifting and I just being unique in my own style and so I think when people you know falling love with my music then they see I have an unique sense of style it just like a whole package that I think we need have as an artist to stand out.
I think the music has brought me closer to fashion because I’m growing up I didn’t care about the brands. I just like what I thought it was cute even shop like you know department store that was cheap and sals stores I did’t care about that stuffs. And So now people say like what is your favorite brand? and I am like Ok, hold on I am learning. you know I’ve never worn and purchased expensive clothes like I used to think 20 dollars was a lot for pants like. I’m just learning, thanks to my music so it’s exciting because I am getting invited you know fashion things, but I was very happy do the tommy jeans campaign because Tommy Hilfiger always has been really iconic in music HIPHOP, a lot of musician have collaborated with them. So that was cool.

ーーAnd then, Coach campaign that was really photo was iconic. How was working on that, do the campaign with Juergen Teller?

Lolo: So I love Kate Moss, and like he shot her when she was young. I think It was very iconic. and to be shot by him was really exciting and he was like wow you are good at this and he was telling me I was good. And his assistant said I reminded her a little bit young Kate Moss. That was the best complements ever. So it was very quick and it was great.

ーーHow do you see your future self like what’s your vision as an artist, what kind of, where you want to be in 5 years time, in 10 years time.

Lolo: I wanna you know be a great artist, I wanna keep putting out albums and I think every album I gonna evolved, my sound is evolved. you know everything is gonna, everything changes so quickly especially when we young. I wanna do that seen myself potentially being in fashion and maybe starting my own collection, doing collaborations with make-up brands, never know I really wanna do voice overs for cartoons or kind of stuff cuz I can do a lot of funny voices and what else maybe act eventually. But I think that once you’re kind of in entertainment world, there is so many possibilities and it’s really exciting to think, you know you don’t have to just make music, you can invest other things, other companies stuff because not everything is *throw in. that has *mountable perform income.

photography Yudai Kusano
text Takahisa Matsunaga
edit Ryoko Kuwahara

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